The Dutch army is increasingly involved in police raids, observation of criminals and the search for missing persons. This according to Nieuws.nl (NL), noting with unseemly enthusiasm that the various peacekeeping missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have bred a skill set in the Dutch forces that is eminently applicable on the streets in the Netherlands (emphasis mine – KV).
This regards capacities the police and fire brigade do not have. For instance, specialists of the army and navy analyse the patterns of movement of suspects. Additionally unmanned surveillance planes are deployed quite regularly over the Netherlands at the request of mayors or the justice department. (…)
The cooperation with the police has lifted off tremendously in recent years. In all 25 security regions members of the military are stationed, whose job it is to translate requests for assistance by the police, the justice department or mayors into offers from the armed forces.
On the face of it this is an innocent development. If it means criminals are plucked from our streets, so much the better, right? And the police is right, and prudently so, to hire capacities and skills they need, but don’t have.
And yet there is something distinctly worrying and downright icky about mayors ordering surveillance flights by UAV’s over Dutch cities. This is the Netherlands we’re talking about, not Iraq or Afghanistan. Our damp corner of the world is not a war zone. So, I really fail to see why such heavy-handed measures as deploying UAVs should be necessary.
There is nothing wrong with members of the military being seconded to police forces around Holland to apply their trade in fighting crime. But there is something very wrong when the armed forces as a whole are getting into the crime-fighting business. That is not what they are for, it is not a trade they naturally ply. In peacekeeping operations armed forces are used to pacify. But pacification is something a world apart from policing.
Accepting this misuse of the armed forces sets a dangerous precedent. Putting all manner of nuances aside, the armed forces of the Netherlands are evidently being deployed against the Dutch people. Let that sink in for a second or two: The Dutch army is being used against the Dutch people.
Such would possibly be acceptable in the case of a violent insurrection. But there is none. Hence, there is no reason, it is not acceptable. Not in a free and democratic state, ruled by law. Think about it: When hearing of a nations army set upon the nations people, what regimes do you associate with that. China comes to mind, more recently Syria. Is that the example we want to emulate? By accepting these first tentative steps to deploy the Dutch army in this manner, this nation has set itself on a very slippery slope, away from freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
Crime fighting is the core business of the police. The core business of the armed forces is to defend the Netherlands against enemies. The fact that UAVs and other resources of the armed forces are used against the Dutch people should give us pause. It should alarm us. UAVs and special operatives are assets that are normally used in war-zones against enemies and hostile civilians. If Dutch mayors think it reasonable to deploy such assets within the borders of their own municipality, against their own citizens, what does that say about how they view us? What does that make us? The enemy? Whose enemy?