Discussions are flaring up in the Netherlands with the remembrance of the fall and massacre at Srebrenica. Questions of guilt and responsibility are being asked again. The Dutch government holds the position that we were send out on a peace keeping missing and were not in a position, nor had the mandate, to do anything more that was done then.
There are groups in the Dutch society who think we should admit that we were to blame and take full responsibility for the fall and the massacre. I don’t belong to that group.

The international community decided at that time that a peace keeping missing was at it’s place. The Dutch troops were sent into a hostile environment with limited resource and limited mandate. I clearly remember the pictures and stories in the newspaper where a military spokesperson explained that they had removed the ‘heavy guns’ from the armoured vehicles because they were on a peace keeping mission and the ‘heavy guns’ would only provoke the local population. They were going to patrol the area and act as a buffer between the two fractions. As a result Dutch troops had to hand over there equipment at gunpoint, simply because they were ‘outgunned’.

Who is to blame? Well, if you want to blame somebody, you may blame the Dutch government. They were too eager to send in our boys to Bosnia, they should have known that the troops were not equipped to defend themselves, they should have known that there was no clear mandate and support. And, what became clear after the fall of Srebrenica, they should have known that we were being played by the US, France and UK who acted on their own agenda.
So, are we to blame for 8.000 people killed, I don’t think so, we all screwed up.

The future of the EU

This weekend the heads of the European states couldn’t agree on a new EU budget for 2007. The Dutch want to pay less, the UK want to keep their rebate, the Swedes are also worried, the French want their agricultural subsidies and what the Spanish want, I don’t know. They probably want to keep their subsidies as well, as they have received a lot in the last decades.

It is an interesting development because the issue is not about the budget but about in which direction the EU is going develop in next 10 – 20 years. There are those who want to develop the EU into one political and cultural integrated European state and there are those who want an integrated Europe, but only on an economical level. Up to now the development has been to move to a political and cultural integrated Europe. But decisions made in the past about the agricultural subsidies and the UK rebates are like a ball and chain and are blocking any development and discussion about this. The expansion of the EU with the Eastern European countries also raises questions whether this is the right way and whether this is feasible in this short timeframe.

Going back to the recently held referenda in France and the Netherlands you could conclude that a political integrated EU is too ambitious. I think the EU leaders should concentrate in building the EU into a lean and mean organisation focused on making the EU a strong economy.

Has war broken out in Europe?

With two clear “No’s” from the Netherlands and France and some unsure upcoming results in Denmark and other EU members, it seems as if war has broken out in Europe.

Recently the Netherlands went to Brussels with the message “we want to pay less”. Now the France and the UK are bickering about the EU budget as a whole. The UK is threatening to use its veto right if the discussing about the EU budget is limited to the £3bn annual rebate the UK receives. The UK only wants to discuss EU budgets and the £3bn annual rebate if the whole of the EU and its spending is discussed.

They have a point in this. Forty percent of the [EU] budget goes on CAP [the common agricultural policy’ – which has 5% of the population and less than 2% of the output of the EU.
The EU members apposing a possible change in this policy are the members receiving a lot of money from the EU, e.g. France.

Italy wants to introduce the Lira

The Italian minister of reforms, Roberto Calderole, wants to introduce a new national currency called the Lira. The currency should be linked to the dollar. Roberto is a member of a small fraction within Italy, Lega Nord.

Interesting point is that the European Committee has started a procedure against Italy because it has failed to keep its budgets deficiency below 3%.

Question: How would the EU Consititution have helped?

Medical use of marijuana banned in the USA

On Monday the American Supreme Court has declared the use of marijuana on doctors’ prescription illegal. With that decision the court rejected laws in Ten American States that allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Thousand American patients use the anaesthetizing means as a painkiller. Some time ago two serious ill women from California accused the then minister of Justice John Ashcroft, in an attempt to get permission of the judicial power to smoke, to grow and to buy marijuana. When they received the permission of a lower court of Law, the authorities went into appeal.

Six of the nine judges of the Supreme Court decided that opponents of the marijuana ban should address this issue at the Congress and not at court.

In 1996 Californians accepted a law that allowed men in the state to grow, to smoke and to buy marijuana if they were in the possession of a doctor’s explanation. According to the constitution, the American Congress may meddle with the economic activities of states, if these activities the cross state border. The American authorities based their case on this definition.

It is generally presumed that in the case of the two women, the marijuana was grown in California, was free of charge and was not exported to other states.

So France said ‘No’, what is the Netherlands going to do?

So France said ‘No’. 45% in favour and 55% against the new EU Constitution. Will this change anything for the result of the Dutch referendum?

The Dutch politicians in favour of the EU Constitution have changed their message during the weekend. Up to the weekend they emphasised that the EU Constitution would improve our position in the EU, give us more power of control, more jobs, a bigger fist against the US and Asia, more and better. Now they have changed their tone of voice and are telling us now that a ‘No’ from us would mean that we would be isolated in Europe. Together in the corner with France and the other European countries are going to decide what to do with us. Without us being able to do anything against it!

What a bullshit!
Today polls show hardly any movement in the Dutch opinion. About 3% of the people have switched sides.
So it’s probably going to be close, I guess 53% will say ‘No’ and 47% ‘Yes’.

European referendum

Tonight the chairman the European committee was on TV (Mr. Barroso).
Guess what the message was: If you vote “No“, we will punish you! Look what happened to the others who tried it after the Nice treaty (Ireland and ..). We just went ahead and we changed nothing in the treaty, so just roll over and play dead.

Don’t worry, you are to stupid to understand this question

The remarks about the referendum are getting better and better these days.
Lately the politicians are getting more nervous about the possible outcome and are covering their ass by making remarks like: “There is no problem because 80% of the house of representatives wants the new European Constitution” and “You cannot blame the people because the question is to difficult for them”.

Furthermore, I’m really surprised that the politicians haven’t thought of a procedure in case somebody doesn’t agree with the proposed Constitution. We might be too stupid to understand the question but I think we are smart enough to understand that there might be a possibility that someone doesn’t agree with it.

This morning another crack showed up in the EU castle. The UK, the wealthiest country in the EU, with the best running economy, refuses to become a normal paying EU member. Since Thatcher the UK is paying less (they got a rebate because they didn’t use that much agricultural subsidies) than everybody else and they want to keep it this way. So now the new EU members are paying even more than the UK.
So how would the EU Constitution have changed this situation?

European Constitution and the Netherlands

The debate is heating up in the Netherlands. Better said, the debate is about nothing these days but everybody is shouting.
Our government is spending another 3.500.000€ to convince the Dutch people to say “Yes” at the referendum.
The opposition is playing in on our frustration about the EU as a whole. Dead easy of course as we were never asked whether we agreed with all the money going into that bottomless pit.

This is a situation in which our government cannot win and are going to shoot itself in the foot. Every remark they make that this referendum has nothing to do with the Euro, that it will improve our position in the EU, that ‘we’ will get a voice in Brussels because we can suggest new bills to the Euro Parliament, that we have a real veto right on the big issues, is counter productive for me. It reminds me of all treaties they made, treaty of Maastricht, treaty of Amsterdam, treaty of Nice, Portugal and what a mess they made out of it.

Do you want to make a bet on the outcome?

Staatssecretaris wil meer respect

DEN HAAG – Staatssecretaris Van der Knaap van Defensie vindt dat bewindslieden met meer respect moeten worden bejegend. De CDA-bewindsman, een vertrouweling van de premier, wil dat ze weer met ‘excellentie’ worden aangesproken.

“Het geeft wat meer cachet als je met excellentie wordt aangesproken”, aldus Van der Knaap zaterdag in een interview in de Volkskrant. “Er mag ook best enige afstand zijn.”

De staatssecretaris zelf wordt binnen de hiërarchisch ingestelde krijgsmacht wel nog voortdurend ‘excellentie’ genoemd. Hij vindt dat “fantastisch”. Maar buiten de muren van Defensie is er minder respect. Premier Balkenende hoort het woord alleen als hij met Van der Knaap in een militaire omgeving is.

Volgens Van der Knaap is er te weinig respect voor ministers en staatssecretarissen “die vaak in heel moeilijke situaties moeten opereren.”

De aanspreektitel excellentie voor bewindslieden was tot in de jaren zestig algemeen gangbaar, maar wordt tegenwoordig nog maar zelden gebruikt. Volgens Van der Knaap geeft het woord aan “dat je een bijzondere positie hebt”.


De staatssecretaris ergert zich ook aan de de cultuur van het elkaar aanspreken met de voornaam. Dat haalt volgens hem “de status van bewindslieden helemaal onderuit.” Hij zag een keer toenmalig vice-premier Jorritsma uit een vergadering komen. “Ze zocht haar chauffeur, die over het Plein schreeuwde: Annemarie! Ik ben hier! Dat is voor mij de wereld op zijn kop.”

Fractieleider Dittrich van D66 heeft geen goed woord over voor de uitlatingen van Van der Knaap. “Bewindslieden moeten respect afdwingen door hun beleid, door de problemen in de samenleving op te lossen, en niet door van bovenaf op te leggen dat ze met excellentie aangesproken willen worden. Dit is betutteling. Ik vind dat Van der Knaap zich hiermee belachelijk maakt.”


PvdA-kamerlid Noorman-Den Uyl noemde de uitlatingen van Van der Knaap zaterdag voor de NCRV-radio hooghartig. Onder het bewind van haar vader, die premier was in de jaren ’70, werd het gebruik van de term excellentie formeel afgeschaft.