The Constants of Dutch Foreign Policy
Peace, Profits and Principles is the catchy alliterative title of a book on Dutch foreign policy by Joris Voorhoeve, one-time parlia?mentary leader of the VVD (1986-90). Under these three headings he sought to analyse the major traditions of this foreign policy, which he defined as 'maritime commercialism' 'neutralist abstentionism' and 'internationalist idealism'. Others have objected to the concept of traditions in this respect, even arguing that the Dutch have insufficient historic sense for traditions. Such authors prefer to speak of tendencies, themes, or constants, and some of them have amended or enlarged Voorhoeve's list. On closer inspection, however, the themes mentioned by other authors remain closely related to the clusters of attitudes mentioned by Voorhoeve. There is also little disagreement concerning the origins of such tendencies or traditions.
Both the size and geographical location of the country have left their imprint on the country's external relations. The Dutch domestic market being quite small but ideally located to serve as a gateway to the European hinterland, the Netherlands came to rely on maritime trade. This has brought an Atlantic perspective to its foreign policy, sometimes bordering on anti-continentalism. Already in the seven?teenth century, Pieter de la Court, a Leyden merchant and political scientist, advocated creating a wide swathe of water to the cast of the province of Holland, to separate it fro...