Coalition Collapse: Belgium is First to Smell US Regime Hypocrisy

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Belgian Air Component F-16 multi-role combat aircraft. Courtesy: Open Source

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 11 July 2015

On the 2 July 2015, the Belgian Air Component, aka. the Belgian Air Force, of the Belgian Armed Forces quietly withdrew its six F-16 Fighting Falcon's, a single engined multi-role combat aircraft, and 120 support personnel from the Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan citing budgetary reasons: the Belgian Ministry of Defence claimed it had not funded its involvement in the US Empire inspired Operation Inherent Resolve, a coerced coalition of nations to ostensibly counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in both Iraq and Syria, beyond 30 June.

Belgium's annual GDP in 2014 was US$434.5 billion.

Unsurprisingly, Belgium's unilateral withdrawal from the operation received scant attention from the worlds' media: the news was first broadcast on the Belgian RTBF news channel but then received no coverage whatsoever in any of the print or online publications throughout the West, only appearing briefly in the East on the Chinese Xinhua news agency website.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that both Denmark and the Netherlands, aka. Holland, are also contributors to Operation Inherent Resolve: the Royal Danish Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force joined the coalition of the coerced in September 2014, the same time as the Belgian Air Force. Denmark's contingent includes seven F-16's, based at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, while the Netherlands contribution includes six F-16's based at the Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan. Neither Denmark, nor the Netherlands have withdrawn their forces, yet.

Denmark's annual GDP in 2014 was US$238.7 billion while the Netherlands was US$794.6 billion.

Of course, the costs of owning and using an F-16 are horrendously expensive: the hourly in-the-air costs range from US$11.5k to US$15k, dependent on age, condition and the stage of the maintenance cycle of the airframe. Nonetheless, these costs are, particularly for large or complicated pieces of military equipment, always taken into consideration where whole-life-cycle-costs invariably include costings for initial procurement, on-going development, maintenance, operating and end-of-life disposal expenditure. Out of theatre operations, i.e. operating in the Middle East as opposed to Central Europe, are a matter for contingency planning but only represent a minor additional burden in comparison to the already committed fiscal base load.

Thus, the notion that budgetary funding, i.e. affordability, is the reason for the withdrawal of the Belgian Air Force contingent to Operation Inherent Resolve is entirely spurious and simply proffered for public consumption. The truth is, Belgium's unilateral withdrawal from the US Empire's coalition of the coerced is based on pragmatism: the nation has evaluated the likelihood of success of the operation in either Iraq or Syria as being nil while the negative implications of their involvement are already being felt given the increase in terrorist related incidents back at home. While the bombing of the Jewish Museum in Brussels on the 24 May 2014 may have contributed to their initial eagerness in addressing the perceived source of their difficulties as the Middle East they have now refocused their attention on the causes at home and not the effects abroad.

Belgium's pragmatism was prescient.

A few days later, on the 6 July 2015, whilst visiting the Pentagon in Washington D.C. for a briefing on the progress of Operation Inherent Resolve, Barack Obama began the slow process of changing both the public perception of the conflict and the most likely acceptable outcomes. In essence, the rhetoric of September 2014 when Obama said he would degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy while his minion, Biden, was heard saying he would pursue ISIS (aka.ISIL) to the gates of hell had all but evaporated. Now the campaign is described as this broader challenge of countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort but this larger battle for hearts and minds is going to be a generational struggle. In other words, our long term objective is global hegemony and we plan to achieve this through the application of endless war: ISIL, akin to our earlier creations, the Mujahideen of the 1970's and 80's and al-Qaeda of the 1980's and 90's, are our current partners in this project.

That Belgium is the first member of the coerced coalition to smell the putrid stench of hypocrisy emanating from the US regime is laudable. Just how long it will take for the other members to realise that the pungent odour of terrorism enveloping their nations is yet another creation of the same regime remains to be seen.

Fragrant words cannot mask the putrid stench of hypocrisy.
Ann-Marie de Veer