The Constants of Dutch Foreign Policy

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It is only in the late 1980s and early 1990s that the Atlantic orientation seems gradually to have been pushed into the back­ground. The causes of this change - it is still little more than a shift in emphasis — are to be found on both sides of the Atlantic. The USA is perceived to be less focused on Europe than it was in the past. In the 1970s there were already growing doubts about the American guarantee of European security, and subsequently there were calls to develop a European defence option within the context of the Western European Union (WEU). Now that the Soviet threat has collapsed, the USA need no longer give priority to Europe's defence. A new, more globally-oriented, USA foreign policy is reflected in President Bush's 'new world order'. In economic terms, the US is forced more and more to look westward. This Pacific economic orientation of the USA has also weakened America's cross-Atlantic ties. At the same time, the international situation has changed for the Dutch, too. The Europe of the Six has become the Europe of the Twelve. From the Dutch point of view the most important of the new member states has been the UK. There is less need for an Atlantic reservation to European integration now that the Community includes a large extra-continental power to counter-balance Franco-German aspirations.

The Dutch are also less opposed to European political cooperation because they have learned from the 1973 Arab oil embargo that it can be risky to stand alone. Before 1973 the Netherlands had a strongly pro-Israel reputation, perhaps not always warranted by its actual policies. The Arab countries took particular offence at the Dutch adherence to the English version of resolution 242 of the UN Security Council, calling for Israeli withdrawal from 'occupied territories', rather than 'the occupied territories' mentioned in some other versions. When war broke out in the Middle East in 1973, the Dutch government unequivocally condemned the Arab countries, just as it had done in 1967. It refused to join the other EC member states in a common reaction because of the more pro-Arab attitude of the French in particular. For these reasons, in October 1973, the Arab countries imposed an oil embargo not only on the USA, but also on the Netherlands. The embargo of the Netherlands was even kept in place four months longer than that of the USA. Despite panicky reactions at first - 'car-free Sundays' were declared to save oil - the economic effect of the embargo was insignificant because oil was diverted from other EC countries to the Netherlands, despite their irritation over the Dutch obstinacy. The political effect has been more important. Not only have the Dutch distanced themselves more and more from Israel, but they have also come to see the advantages of a common European foreign policy.

Now that the renewed momentum of European integration has spilled over into closer military cooperation within the WEU, and in renewed proposals for a European Political Union, the Dutch take a less deviant stance than they did in the 1960s. Yet, when the Netherlands took over the EC presidency in July 1991, it attempted to redraft the existing Luxemburg proposal for the treaty to establish a European Political Union to include more supranationalist elements, and to allow a common security policy only as a complement to NATO, much to the annoyance of several other member states. Apparently the traditional reservations have not yet been completely abandoned.


In the past the third constant of Dutch foreign policy, 'internation­alist idealism' primarily took the form of the promotion of international law. More recently it has also surfaced in foreign policy statements and documents in the form of role-conceptions such as 'example' and 'developer': protecting human rights abroad and providing aid to developing countries. These activities are pursued primarily, but not exclusively, within the context of the UN. The peace-keeping missions of that organisation have also been supported either financially or militarily (as most recently in what was formerly Yugoslavia), but that has not been the most conspicuous Dutch contribution to the UN.

Реферат опубликован: 17/03/2009