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The Dutch decision to join the Atlantic Alliance was opposed only by
the Communist party, and has never been seriously questioned. The
original support for NATO should be understood against the backdrop of,
on the one hand, gratitude for the American effort to liberate the
Netherlands in 1945 and for Marshall Plan aid for rebuilding the ruined
Dutch economy, tempered only marginally by anger over American pressure
to end the successful military actions against Indonesian insurgents
and, on the other hand, of growing anxiety over Soviet imperialism,
fuelled particularly by the Communist take-over in Czechoslovakia in
1948. Perhaps the Dutch embraced NATO membership because it allowed them
to continue as a naval power by compensating for the loss of the
colonies .

Despite later criticisms of the participation in NATO by the then
dictatorial regimes of Portugal and Greece, despite opposition to
American involvement in Indo-China and Latin America, and even despite
misgivings over NATO's nuclear strategy, public support for NATO
membership has never wavered. The percentage in favour of leaving the
Alliance has never exceeded 20 per cent, and no major party has ever
advocated withdrawal from NATO, not even a 'French', partial, one.
Especially during the first decades of the Alliance, the Netherlands
acted as a particularly staunch ally and a loyal supporter of US
leadership in the Alliance.

The Dutch share in NATO's defence expenditures has always been
relatively high compared with that of other smaller member states such
as Belgium, Turkey, Greece, Denmark, or Norway. The Dutch were among the
15 countries that joined the USA in the Korean War (a UN mission de
iure, a US mission de facto). In 1957 the Netherlands wasted no time in
becoming the first European ally to accept American nuclear missiles on
its territory. While other member states demanded a say in the
engagement) of such weaponry ('dual key'), the Dutch would have been
happy to leave this responsibility entirely to the US government.
Another quarrel with the Americans about Dutch colonialism, this time
about the Dutch—Indonesian conflict over Papua New Guinea in 1961—2, did
little to weaken the Dutch enthusiasm for the Atlantic Alliance. The
long-serving Foreign Secretary, Joseph Luns (1956—71) stead-fastly
refused to convey the protests of the Dutch Parliament over American
intervention in Vietnam to Washington. As we shall discuss in the
following section, the Dutch government always objected to plans for
European rather than Atlantic defence arrangements, and served almost as
an American proxy in the EC. One author even struggled to find a
distinction between the Dutch role of faithful ally and that of a vassal
or satellite state: the submission of .the Dutch to American leadership,
he suggests, was not imposed, but voluntary.

With the retirement of Luns as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1971, the
Dutch role as America's small but staunch ally abruptly came to an end.
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