Dutch Coalition Collapsing Under Afghanistan Pressure

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As far back as when I was in the Netherlands in late 2007 it was clear that the Dutch military deployment in Afghanistan was causing political problems for the main center-left party, PvdA. They’ve been in an awkward position as junior partners in a coalition led by the main center-right party, and standing by an unpopular extension of an unpopular deployment past its 2010 deadine risks further erosion of the party’s base vote in favor of other left-of-center parties.

Erik Voeten ably breaks down the details but I think he goes wrong in explaining the resulting situation as an example of the limits of presidential appeal:

On average, it is better for diplomacy to have a President who is admired by many than one who is not. In the end though, this is not going to help when it conflicts with the bread and butter of politics.

I think this is actually an example of exactly the sort of diplomatic problem that could be solved through having a President who’s admired. The problem is really just that the President in question isn’t admired enough. Or, at a minimum, that he’s not been sufficiently persuasive on the topic at hand. This isn’t really a question of “bread and butter” politics, it’s pretty directly a consequence of the fact that the Dutch population doesn’t have confidence in Obama’s strategy. Consequently, it looks like the Dutch coalition may collapse.