Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Research Progress Report

Three days into my research trip in The Hague, I have learned a great deal, not just about the history of Operation Market Garden (the weekend's tourism), but also about the main project and related ones.
Min of Foreign Affairs

  • Absent-minded Prof-ness pays off: arrived way too early at a think tank because I thought the meeting started earlier.  Which meant that I ended up talking with these folks far longer than was planned, and it was incredibly useful.
  • Comparing the Danes and the Dutch may end up being a Tale of Two Xenophobes.  Turns out that the two countries both have anti-immigration/anti-Muslim parties that play crucial roles supporting minority coalitions (both countries have center-right coalitions that fall short of majorities), but given the complexity of xenophobia (see Kin or Country), the two parties have very different positions towards Afghanistan.  Yep, one's hostility to Muslims leads to support for deploying the military to Afghanistan, while the other's is more focused on the homeland.  
  • My timing is accidentally both good and bad.  The Dutch politicians are debating this week sending a new police mission to Afghanistan, which means that the politicians have no time to meet with me, but it also gives me a clear view of how the process works and how the politics have developed.  Plus a nice comparison to when I was in Berlin in 2009 when the Germans were working a decision through the Bundestag.  
  • The lesson learned from the Dutch experience in Srebrenica (the Dutch troops were present when the Bosnian Serbs overran the UN safe zone and executed 7,000 or so Bosnian Muslims) is always bring your own air support (F-16s), even to a police mission.
  • Min of Defence
  • My justification for the trip--to understand "Early Departers"--will actually lead to an article as the Dutch and Canadian experiences have some neat comparisons that should be fun to develop.  Including the applicability of Godfather 3:

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