Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman, this is The World. It's hard to trust polls but there are polls that track President Obama's popularity on a daily basis and today one of them says he's got a 48% approval rating. Anecdotally, I can tell you that next week he's heading to a place where that number is much higher. I'm talking about the Netherlands. If you listen to historian Willem Post who lives in The Hague, it all makes sense.
Willem Post: These countries in Western Europe are really "Obama" countries. I think that has to due with the fact that this is a US president that calls himself a "global citizen" and urges for diplomacy first. That's a little bit different than in the Bush era. And here this Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague is a multi-lateral phenomenon and one of the top priorities of the president. So people see this is Obama once again stressing diplomacy and saying â€˜let's do it together.'
Werman: I was in London about a year and a half ago, right before the 2012 election, and I felt that there was some dulling of Obama's polish and reputation. That hasn't really happened in the Netherlands, though?
Post: No, I don't think so. We are very much a strong ally of the United States of America. We in the Netherlands also have some sort of a Tea Party Movement like in the US. Geert Wilders is the right wing populace leader in the Netherlands. He is in the opposition now but he's quite a phenomenon. So, in the Netherlands, a lot of people understand what the challenge is for President Obama in the United States in this very polarized, political climate. People understand how complicated the world is and these rather small Western European countries also feel, compared with a superpower, vulnerable. They have to work together. Let's be honest, Obama is the first president who talks about "The United States, we don't have unlimited power. There are budget cuts in the military. We understand in Western Europe that we're all in this together and that there's multilateral behavior." That is what a lot of people in Western Europe ask from the president in Washington, for him to also be an actor in this field of diplomacy.
Werman: Is it true there are Obama clubs in the Netherlands.
Post: Yes, there's even an Obama Club in the Netherlands, the first Obama club in the world, the largest.
Werman: What do they do at these clubs?
Post: They like to shake his hand, of course. But very serious discussions about an issue like diversity. The first African American president that made an incredible impression here in the Netherlands, his whole message of reaching out to the Arab world. The Dutch are sober Calvinists, still, a bit, so we're not used to the magic of Obama and the campaigns, but that's a very, very warm welcome the president gets here in the Netherlands.
Werman: What did the revelations of NSA surveillance by Edward Snowden do to dull president Obama's image in the Netherlands.
Post: It's a big issue. On the other hand, we also know that we live in a time where Secret Services are having their role. This whole Nuclear Security Summit, the Dutch are not that stupid, we all know terrorism is there so you have to take your measures. So although there is a lot criticism on this whole Snowden thing and the NSA, we also know that our own security services work together, the British and American Secret Services. It's not a big, big issue for general public, so from an international perspective, here we have a president who governs in a transition era and we can relate to this, as smaller countries with our vulnerability.
Werman: So a lot of reasons for Obama love in Holland. Lest anyone forget, the president is actually going to be there to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping in The Hague and also he's going to have this Nuclear Security meeting as well. Any specific examples of how the Dutch will be rolling out the red carpet next week?
Post: President Obama will go to Amsterdam to look at "The Night Watch," one of our most famous paintings. Maybe also to The Hague to see the "Victory boogie-oogie" of Piet Mondrian. Those are very famous paintings. He's an art lover. I don't think there's a lot of time but we hope that President Obama will visit the Obama club in the Netherlands because his most passionate fans are in the Netherlands. We will see what happens in these coming days.
Werman: Time for one painting "Night Watch" and that would be of course by the great:
Werman: Rembrandt van Rijn. I was testing you, Willem.
Post: Well, this is a question I know.
Werman: Of course you do. Willem Post, US history and foreign policy specialist and Hague resident, thank you for your time.
Post: Thank you.
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