Under the heading, “Blankenende [the Dutch Prime Minister] had no grasp on Iraq policy,” the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad publishes additional comments and reactions to today’s unveiling of the Davids Commission report on the Dutch government’s policies leading up to the Iraq invasion.
The following are some translated excerpts. The entire translation will be available at Watching America (watchingamerica.com) later.
The American-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 lacked a mandate under international law. Prime Minister Balkenende has claimed otherwise. Moreover, in the run-up to the Iraq war, Parliament was not fully informed.
This was especially the case when it came to the U.S. request for military support
Those are the most important conclusions of the investigation report by the Davids Commission. On Balkenende’s role, the commission writes: “The Prime Minister initially gave little or no direction to debates on the Iraq issue.”
The commission expresses sharp criticism over the way the former Balkenende government came to its position, and subsequently defended it: “Because the government and ruling parties entrenched themselves behind their first position, a substantive exchange of views between government and parliament on the Iraq policy did not get off the ground.” Information from its own intelligence services was selectively and without nuances passed on to Parliament.
There is also “a certain insincerity” in the way the government persisted that the dismantling of Iraq’s weapons arsenal was the goal of the invasion, while it knew that the objective of the Americans was regime change—the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
According to Davids, no evidence was found of Dutch military commitment to the invasion. The first Balkenende government decided to support the invasion of Iraq because Iraq ignored the Security Council resolutions. That reasoning is erroneous, the commission concludes. “The government did itself a disservice by basing its policy on a position on international law that could not be properly defended.”
An earlier post on the Davids Report can be read here.
Update: For the full NRC Handelsblad translated article, please go here.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.