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Networks of Empire

The US State Department’s Foreign Leader Program in the Netherlands, France, and Britain 1950–70

Series:

Giles Scott-Smith

Exchange programmes have been a part of US foreign relations since the nineteenth century, but it was only during and after World War II that they were applied by the US government on a large scale to influence foreign publics in support of strategic objectives.
This book looks at the background, organisation, and goals of the Department of State’s most prestigious activity in this field, the Foreign Leader Program. The Program (still running as the International Visitor Leadership Program) enabled US Embassies to select and invite talented, influential ‘opinion leaders’ to visit the United States, meet their professional counterparts, and gain a broad understanding of American attitudes and opinions from around the country.
By tracking the operation of the Program in three key transatlantic allies of the United States a full picture is given of who was selected and why, and how the target groups changed over time in line with a developing US-European relationship. The book therefore takes a unique in-depth look at the importance of exchanges for the extension of US ‘informal empire’ and the maintenance of the transatlantic alliance during the Cold War.

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PART III. THE NETHERLANDS IN THE 1960S

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PART III THE NETHERLANDS IN THE 1960S 235 CHAPTER 6 Coping with Irritations: The Early 1960s During the early 1960s Dutch-American relations, which had re- mained positive since the end of WWII, worsened considerably. A report from the Consulate in Rotterdam stated that all the signals they were receiving both personally and from the press indicated “that rela- tions seem to have reached an all-time low”.1 The main cause of this change of atmosphere was the issue of New Guinea, which remained under Dutch control until 1962. Expecting support from the United States in its attempt to prevent handing sovereignty over the territory to Indonesia, the Dutch were disappointed when the Americans were not prepared to categorically take the side of The Hague. But there were other reasons, such as the dispute over KLM landing rights in the United States. Within domestic politics, support for a neutral position in the Cold War had developed into the formation of the Pacifist Socialist Party (PSP) in 1957. Although this was a small movement, taking only two seats in the 1959 national elections, the US embassy was alarmed: “The mere fact that a group, such as the PSP, has developed an organi- zation and a certain following within what is surely one of the most stable and traditionally conservative populations in Europe is not with- out significance”.2 These concerns meant that during the early 1960s the Americans made a greater effort to overcome actual and potential disturbances in political and economic...

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