I'm not the world's most spiritual guy, but in this case the Lama took the words right out of my mouth:
In other words, Us is Them.
See also: Axioms
The Lama's visit provided the world with another stunning example of Dutch diplomacy: allow the Lama to come, but don't let the prime minister meet with him. But do let the foreign minister meet with him.
*Eyes glaze over*
What's the strategy here? As far as I can see, the intention is to sow confusion about the Dutch position. Because it's a) complicated and b) just the Dutch, no one will pay much attention.
The Chinese will see the Netherlands as a 'borderline' case and the Dutch won't be first in line for economic retaliation. Dutch western allies, to the extent they notice, will regard this as a bit of a weasel move. But how mad can they be? The government did let the Lama meet the foreign minister and after all, it's just the Dutch.
It reminds me a lot of the Dutch position on Iraq: support the war politically but not militarily.
I can just see Osama bin Laden at the meeting where al-Qaida is planning future attacks and going down the list of "coalition of the willing" members.
"The Dutch, I don't quite get this. Were they for the war or against it?" he asks his Western Europe attache.
"Well, it was complicated sir. You see..."
OBL: "Give me the exective summary, curse you!"
"They're not a top priority, sir."
Mission accomplished: the Netherlands stays in Washington's good graces but doesn't make itself more of a terrorist target.
This strategy is kind of like not taking vaccination shots: good for the individual (Holland) but bad for the herd (the rest of the West).
Do I have a personal opinion about Balkenende not meeting the Dalai Lama? Well, I think B. should spell out the exact reason why not. Who knows, it could be...enlightening?