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

By Amry Vandenbosch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII

THE HAGUE AS PEACE LABORATORY

Though committed to the policy of isolation in foreign relations, the Dutch nevertheless strongly adhered to the idea that their country was cast for the role of world intermediary. This idea became especially strong in the early decades of the twentieth century. Increasingly the Dutch came to rely upon it as one of the chief pillars of their national security.

The geographic position of the Low Countries on the North Sea near the English Channel and on the deltas of the three important rivers of Western Europe, namely, the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt, had given them an early lead as a commercial intermediary. Likewise, their position on the Germanic-Romance linguistic boundary gave them advantages in becoming a cultural intermediary. Early in the modern period Bruges, Antwerp, Leiden, Rotterdam, Delft and The Hague enjoyed international positions in the commercial and cultural life of Western Europe. It was in the Low Countries that Sir Thomas More conceived his Utopia and Descartes spent his most productive years. Erasmus of Rotterdam enjoyed a personal international position. Holland gave asylum to numerous refugees and exiles. The Mennonites from Bern, the Lutherans driven from Salzberg, and the Hugenots from France found an asylum in this hospitable country. By giving aliens the opportunity to think and write in freedom, Holland played an important part in the Enlightenment. Its universities attracted professors and students from many lands. The country has always been freely accessible to foreign ideas and cultures; its life has been deeply penetrated by waves of French, German and English cultural influences.1 Educated Holland-

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1
See the interesting lecture by Professor Huizinga given January 27, 1933, at the German Hochschule für Politik under the title "Die Mittlerstellung der Niederlande zwischen West and Mitteleuropa." Professor Huizenga suggests that this easy accessibility may have had its unfavorable side in that it tended to stifle cultural creativity in Holland.

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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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