Who’s Your Buddy? American-Dutch Relations throughout Times

American-Dutch Relations through Times

American-Dutch relations have had a long and closely intertwined history. The recent appointment of Pete Hoekstra as Dutch ambassador brought these relations into focus. The Trump administration has made some sharp divergences from long-term American policy, which opens up the possibility of a rift between the two countries. This was exemplified by the now infamous exchange between Hoekstra and Dutch journalists. They laid siege to his claims of supposed fire and fury (pun intended) in Muslim dominated areas in the Netherlands. One journalist, in particular, offered him a piquant reminder of the power of a free press by saying – “This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions.”

We’ve decided to take this opportunity to answer questions you may or may not have had about the history of American-Dutch relations. Let’s start right at the beginning:

America and the Netherlands: We are old mates!

The relationship began almost as soon the United States was formed. John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers, travelled to The Hague in 1782 on a diplomatic mission. The Netherlands became the 2nd country, after France, to recognize the new nation. Adams then purchased a house in The Hague which became the first American embassy in the world and stands to this day.

Two years ago, the US embassy was moved to a new location:


American-Dutch Relations : The Dutch got your back!

During WWII, the Dutch government-in-exile was at war in Europe. It also had control over the East Indies, a colony with resources like oil and rubber. The Japanese empire wished to secure this supply and sought to invade it. As tensions rose, the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was a tipping point. The Dutch declared war on Japan the very next day – even before the US did (according to reports, the Dutch government in London actually sent the proclamation of war before the news of the attack reached them).

American-Dutch Relations: Freedom!

More than 150 years after the Dutch recognized American independence, the US took the opportunity to return the favour. Although it was the Canadian army that liberated the biggest parts of the country by May the 5th, 1945, the US played a key role in the liberation and eventual victory of the Allied forces. However, this was only the beginning of American support for the Dutch.

A new beginning!

American-Dutch Relations: After the war

Once the war was over, the US continued to support the Netherlands through the Marshall Plan. Officially known the European Recovery Program, it was named after it’s originator, Secretary of State George Marshall. It provided billions of dollars in economic assistance to countries in Western Europe. The intent was to set up and preserve institutions of free trade and liberal democracy. As a consequence, the US and the Netherlands share a similar outlook and value system in politics and economics. There have, of course, been some sharp divergences.

Candid before it was hip


Currently, the two countries are close partners in trade and policy. The US is the largest foreign investor in the Netherlands and the Netherlands is the 3rd largest foreign investor in the US. The Dutch have also supported NATO war efforts in Korea, the Middle East and the Balkans. With the Brexit, the Netherlands is now perhaps the most transatlantic-leaning member of the EU.

Surprise! We have differences too

Sure, talking about American-Dutch relations, there have been some bones of contention along the way, most prominently the tolerant Dutch attitude towards soft drugs as opposed to the hard line taken by the US. More recently, the winds of political change in the US have induced further discord, with the Dutch for example remaining strong supporters of the pro-choice movement on the international stage while American policy shifts to a pro-life focus.

Where does this friendship go from here? Well, as the world comes to accept the departure of the US from the centre of global affairs, someone will have to take its place. If it is the EU, the Dutch will have a critical role to play.

Anything to add on American-Dutch Relations? There’s of course tons of stuff to tell about, feel free to add to it in the comments!

Feat image: Wikimedia/National Archive R.C. Croes / Anefo

Karan Narayan
Karan Narayan
Karan is studying sustainable energy technology at TU Delft and is always on the lookout for an excuse to visit Leiden (for the library, of course). When he isn't trying to save the world he burrows into the depths of the internet for pieces of humanity's greatest creation - cat videos.



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