'A mass psychosis': the Netherlands and NATO’s dual-track decision, 1978-1979


When NATO took its so-called dual-track decision on Theatre Nuclear Weapons in December 1979, the Dutch government, while joining the decision, declared that it would not decide on the deployment of the Dutch share of the new weapons for another two years. With the help of new documents from Dutch archival collections, this essay examines the reasons behind this decision by the centre-right Van Agt government. It shows that there was great reluctance in parliament, but also in the cabinet, to contemplate the coming modernisation. In order to survive politically and keep the Netherlands within the NATO fold, the Van Agt government tried to align NATO's decision as closely with Dutch policy as possible while seeking majority support in parliament for its proposed compromise solution. The essay provides new detail on both efforts, including the response of allied governments to the Dutch reservations

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Last time updated on 9/3/2017

This paper was published in NARCIS .

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