The Two Faces of the Dutch: A Multilateral Approach to the Dilemmas in Dutch Policy Regarding the Korean War and the NDVN ‘Nederlandse Detachement Verenigde Naties’
Ruijter, Clarissa de
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It is not well- known in the Netherlands that nearly 5,000 soldiers served from December 1950 to January 1955 during the Korean War. From these 5,000 soldiers, 120 soldiers lost its lives on the Korean peninsula. During the beginning of the Cold War, the United States led the United Nations in a mission against the communists in Korea. The Netherlands, amongst fifteen other countries, answered the call of the United Stated, and sent several naval ships and most importantly the ‘Nederlands Departement Verenigde Naties’, the NDVN. This battalion of volunteers served under United States command and were part of some of the most crucial battles during the war. Existing literature reveals that the Dutch government was not a willing participant of the Korean War, but were persuaded by the United States because of its political pressure. The Korean War came at an inopportune moment for the Netherlands because they were rebuilding its nation after the Second World War and had just lost the majority of the Netherlands East Indie. The limited existing literature state describe the course of the Netherlands in Korea and show that the government withdrew its attention to the conflict almost immediately after entering the war in 1950. Nevertheless, the war lasted 2 more years and Dutch troops stayed in Korea until December 1954 where they worked closely with the United States under the flag of the United Nations. These previous studies have looked at the actions of the Dutch government in a descriptive manner. They have failed to analyze these decisions critically or academically. As a result, this study has drawn from these descriptive studies and has analyzed the foreign policy of the Netherlands in regard to the Korean War through the lenses of multilateralism and allyship with a focus on the Dutch-American alliance specifically as this relationship has shown to be to most influential in regard to the Dutch government’s decisions during the Korean War. Additionally, small-state theory has been applied to look at the Netherlands’ position in international politics and whether the relationship between a large state, the United States, and a small-state, the Netherlands, has been affected by the Netherlands’ position. During this study, the following research question was analyzed ‘How was the Netherlands influenced internally and externally in its foreign policy regarding the Korean War and the deployment of the NDVN’? Dutch policy regarding the Korean War was influenced by several aspects. The Netherlands was undergoing a change in foreign policy from an independent and neutral policy to one that was influenced by Atlanticism and focused more on alliances. Although these alliances, especially the Dutch government-American alliance, were at the center of foreign politics for the Dutch government, the Netherlands had a complicated relationship with the United States. While the Netherlands did confront the United States several times regarding its Korean War policy, Dutch diplomats were generally a loyal ally within United Nations and NATO context. This is partly due to the position of the Netherlands as a small state that felt the need to side with bigger states such as the United States. In regard to the Korean War, the Dutch government cabinet did not prioritize its participation and sacrificed the welfare of its troops because of the lack of attention from the government after the NDVN’s initial deployment. The Dutch government focused more on issues closer to home such as the development of NATO and the unresolved issue of Netherlands New Guinea instead.
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