Modern Times

The ms Rotterdam still visits New York harbor, but only as it comes and goes on its cruises. Travel to Holland is now by jet. The decade and a half since that festive visit by Princess Beatrix has seen many changes and upheavals.

It would be pointless to deny that the feelings and links between Holland and the U.S. had their ups and downs in that period. The basic alliance was too much part of the world pattern of those years to be really changed by that. But as the Cold War abated and politics and loyalties appeared more complex than many had thought in the first years after World War II, military and economic ties were seen in a new light.

In 1973, The Netherlands joined in a `formal expression of confidence' that NATO `would continue to play a fundamental role in the maintenance of peace, the improvement of East-West relations, and the furthering of security and well-being.' Typical of the new climate was the Dutch desire that the fate of the poor nations of the world be made one of the NATO countries' main concerns, and that `henceforth the furthering of detente be made paramount among the objectives of the Atlantic endeavors. The Netherlands at that time were no longer speaking as a single country but as a member of the European Economic Community, the `Common Market.'

This community, in the words of a Dutch Foreign Minister, aims for a Europe neither a super power nor isolated in neutrality, but that `sets great store on mutual understanding, on feelings of solidarity between the privileged and the less prosperous, on tolerance...' From the war-torn country receiving Marshall Aid, The Netherlands had changed into a nation itself able to give aid to what we now call the Third World. Its seriousness in this was shown by the fact that in 1980 a total flow of 1.24 percent of its Gross National Product went to development aid. Such aid, if disinterested, is in the best tradition of both the United States and of Holland, and remains without doubt one of our best hopes for the future.

In the 1980's and 1990's the Dutch-American relations were still as strong as they were before. Dutch financial interests in the US only increased: KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines - now owns a part of North West Airlines, which gives it a foothold in the important market of US internal flights. However, the merger between Dutch aircraft-factory Fokker and an American partner failed.
During the Gulf-war the Dutch provided naval support in the Gulf and sent patriot-systems to Israel as defence agains Scud attacs from Irak. In 1995 the diplomatic relations came under some stress when the US refused to support the candicacy of the former Dutch prime minister Lubbers to become secretary general of NATO after the former Belgian prime minister Willy Claes had to give up that position because of allegations of corruption during his period as prime minister. Another disturbing element is the role the DEA claims to be played by the Dutch Antiles in the drug-traffic to the United States.
The cultural relations are strong and healthy. In 1996 a great exhibition of the works of the famous Dutch painter Vermeer opened in the US, but could not be visited by as many people as might have wanted because of the shut-downs of the federal government early that year. There is a vivid exchange of students between the two countries and a growing interest for eachother's history.