Dutch Foreign Policy since 1815: A Study in Small Power Politics

By Amry Vandenbosch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III

THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND THE FOREIGN SERVICE

THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

As a result of the adoption, after the secession of Belgium, of a policy of thoroughgoing abstention from involvment in great power politics, the minister of foreign affairs played a minor role in Dutch politics. All parties and sections of public opinion were agreed upon the policy of playing a minor, cautious role in world politics. This general attitude naturally influenced the character and position of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The place of the Department and its director in Dutch politics and public opinion was described by a Dutch historian as follows: "Foreign Affairs had in this country, which is by no means situated in an out of the way corner of the world, become a forgotten department. One heard of it only when new cabinets came to power and one unknown succeeded another in this office. Not that the succeeding Ministers for Foreign Affairs were such obscure members of society: they usually bore respected family names, but as to their achievements or failures in the office no one ever enquired. The department was not popular; the few citizens who came in contact with it observed that it was enslaved to routine and very musty. The Department did very little to acquire a better name; nor was it spurred from the outside to do so. People apparently were perfectly satisfied provided the Department effaced itself as much as possible; not to bring the Netherlands in ill repute was all that was expected of it."1

This popular attitude toward the minister of foreign affairs and his department steadily reduced their position and influence in the Government. During the world depression when a more vigorous foreign economic policy was needed to protect the Netherlands against the aggressive trade policies of other powers seriously threatening its economy, it was not to this department

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1
Colenbrander H. T., "De Internationale positie van Nederland tijdens, voor en na den Wereldoorlog," in Nederland in den Oorlogstijd, H. Brugsmans, editor.

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Dutch Foreign Policy since 1815: A Study in Small Power Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 6
  • Chapter III 32
  • Chapter IV 44
  • Chapter V 57
  • Chapter VI 70
  • Chapter VII - THE NORTH SEA DECLARATION 89
  • Chapter VIII 101
  • Chapter IX 108
  • Chapter X 140
  • Chapter XI 149
  • Chapter XII 164
  • Chapter XIII 172
  • Chapter XIV 191
  • Chapter XV 217
  • Chapter XV 241
  • Chapter XVII - RELATIONS WITH GERMANY: FAILURE OF NEUTRALITY 271
  • Chapter XVIII 289
  • Index 313
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