Aaron Schacter: A memorial service was held today in the Netherlands for those who died on Flight 17. The majority of the victims, one hundred and ninety-three of them, were Dutch citizens. The Dutch government has been outspoken in demanding a full investigation, but the government's response to the incident has also come in for criticism at home. Bas Heijne is a Dutch writer and columnist. He wrote an op-ed in Politico.com today saying that it's time for the country's politicians to man up. Heijne says the Dutch government has misread the nation's mood and should take a tougher stance with Russia.
Bas Heijne: I know people who knew people who were in that plane. A lot of people know someone who was in that plane. So it's the kind of government we have that really has no sense of binding a community or creating kind of public spirit. So in that sense I think they really failed.
Schacter: What is it though that the government might have accomplished by I guess essentially doing what our president has done, which was blame Russia? What might that have done to bring the public together?
Heijne: Well, people are very angry of course, especially after the images of the separatists holding up a journalist and researchers. There is a bit of a history with the difficult relationship between the Netherlands and Putin and I think people feel sad and very shocked, but I think they also feel outraged and humiliated by the blatant disregard for any sensibility that Putin shows.
Schacter: Right. Maybe a little bit fed up with Russia I guess is what you're saying.
Heijne: Yes. They are so wary of putting at risk the trade relations because the Dutch are a big exporter of goods to Russia, number six, and the other way around of course, the Netherlands imports a lot of oil and gas. So that's the kind of relationship that's not really healthy in a moral sense, that a lot of things are put under the carpet because we don't want to hurt trade relations. And I think the Dutch have always been of two minds historically because they of course were great merchants and they still are. They tried to sell anything. There is also a kind of what they call [??] in them and they feel quite moral about things, and these two, the merchants and the [??], have been warring in our foreign policy for a long time.
Schacter: Do you really expect the Netherlands to do anything? Or you want them to express themselves, to express an outrage?
Heijne: My piece was not about sending the troops in because that would be asking for a lot of trouble, I'm aware of that, and I think to be hesitant on that front is OK with me. But economically, the Dutch are afraid that if you put up the sanctions, more sanctions than there are now, that of course the economy, which is still a little fragile in Holland like in a lot of places, would be hurt by that, and I think that's the main hesitation of doing anything. And I think we've paid already with two hundred Dutch citizens and I think if we don't do anything now it will cost us even more.
Schacter: Amsterdam-based columnist Bas Heijne. He wrote an op-ed on Politico.com about the Dutch government's response to the Malaysia Airlines disaster.