Part 66: Q&A - December 10
Empire Total War: The Second 80 Years War quick online Q&A
Q: Could the Dutch have set up puppet states in their foreign colonies to help defend their frontier?
A: To a certain extent they could have, and to a certain extent they could not. By 1726, the British were allies with the Cherokee, the only natives the Dutch were adjacent to, which prevented them from paying them to become an ally on their flank. Obviously, the British held colonies would not do either, leaving the Dutch without options in the Americas. In India, since the Marathas were present across their entire front this was impractical in India as well.
The Dutch were reticent to make their colonies into independent nations under the protective banner of the United Provinces, for as the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy. With the betrayal from Westphalia and Britain, the Dutch wanted firm control over their frontier towns. As well, colonies were used entirely to ship raw materials, food and trade goods to Europe. Losing control over those would require trade agreements with the puppet state, but since it was possible for a puppet state to acquire more trade agreements, it was always possible for them to earn enough income to break free from unilateral Dutch trade agreements.
Unlike in their colonies, the Dutch holdings in Europe would not tolerate the indignity of being under direct Dutch rule, and so they were formed into republican nations that were partly responsible to the cabinet of the Western Atlantic Federation, making them partly responsible to the head of that party, the Dutch. These pseudo puppet states were simply a part of the United Provinces when one boiled the situation down to it's essence and the Dutch expended considerable amounts of the total tax revenue taken across their empire to protect them. Ultimately, these protected nations were no different than parts of the United Provinces, meaning the Dutch couldn't rely on them to protect themselves (as they tax money required to do so was taken by Amsterdam) and the troops would have to be paid for by the Dutch. Since many of the European states were well developed, rich and highly populated, they weren't willing to drop the tax revenue by allowing them complete independence either.
In medieval days, the idea of vassal states or vassal lords under an emperor or king meant one could create a firmly loyal puppet state that could defend and rule itself. That practice had long since evaporated in the enlightenment. Without a single, stable ruler that controlled with absolute certainty, the various ministers under him (which were also more fluid than in past ages) were less inclined to remain loyal, and without guaranteed loyalty, paying the immense fee to convince a government of the value in becoming a protectorate was rarely worth the cost.