501.BC Indonesia/1–1749

The Netherlands Embassy to the Department of State 1

Adoption of the United States working paper2 would mean increased intervention by the Security Council in the Indonesian question to such an extent that the Netherlands Government does not see at this juncture how this paper could be made acceptable to it by way of amendment.

For that reason the hope is expressed that it will not be presented to the Security Council as a draft-resolution, and that the Netherlands Government will not be denied the time necessary for carrying out its constructive program, details of which are well-known, a program which completely fulfills the wishes of the Security Council, its purpose being the early establishment of a sovereign and democratic United States of Indonesia.

The Netherlands Government has the following primary reasons of a general political nature for declaring that it cannot accept the United States working paper:

In the course of the last three years the Netherlands has striven sincerely and with what the Netherlands Government does not hesitate to call exemplary patience in the face of great and constant provocation, to form out of the Archipelago’s heterogeneous parts at the end of a short transitional period the sovereign and federal United States of Indonesia, having a status equal to that of the Netherlands, and linked with the Netherlands in a Netherlands-Indonesian Union;
the sole unsurmountable obstacle in the way of the realisation of this goal was the unwillingness and impotence of successive governments of the Indonesian Republic to carry out agreements they entered into;
the Netherlands Government believes that conditions now permit the inception of the short transitional or interim period by the establishment within one month of an Indonesian national federal Interim Government. As soon as established this government can at once start the organisation of free elections which should be held not [Page 158] later than the third quarter of 1949, and should pave the way for the institution of a Constituent Assembly. It will be the task of this Assembly to adopt the Constitution of the sovereign United States of Indonesia, following which sovereignty will be transferred in the course of 1950 simultaneously with the establishment of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union and of economic, financial and military agreements.
In order to carry this firm program into effect, discussions are to take place, a beginning with which has already been made in the course of the last few days. Continuously increasing intervention on the part of foreign countries as well as increasing interference by the Commission of Good Offices in the situation in the shape of reports to the Security Council which are not free from bias, result in delaying the realisation of the aims which are those of the Netherlands as much as they are those of the countless people outside the Netherlands, rather than in advancing it.

In addition to these reasons of a general political nature, the attitude of the Netherlands Government in respect of the United States working-paper is motivated by the following special considerations:

Adoption of the paper would in effect be a premium on the Republicans’ attitude of non-cooperation, for the reason that it holds out to the former Republican leaders the prospect of a position in Java, Sumatra and Madura which is so greatly at variance with possibilities as they are in reality that these leaders are encouraged to adopt a negative attitude in respect of the discussions which have begun between the Netherlands Prime Minister, the Government of Indonesia and the federal nationalists for the purpose of establishing a federal interim government.

Should the United States working-paper be presented to the Security Council as a draft-resolution and should that draft-resolution be adopted despite Netherlands warnings and objections, the only result will be increased unrest, a delayed peaceful and satisfactory solution, and a multiplication of existing difficulties.

The Netherlands Government has pledged itself in the most solemn manner, both as regards Indonesia and the Netherlands Nation represented by the States-General, to do its utmost to abide by its promises and to carry out its declared program. In its details the scheme set forth in the United States working-paper is inconsistent with that program, which is now anchored in the Netherlands Constitution as a result of a recent constitutional amendment. In addition, a Decree has been worked out on a basis, of consultation with a comprehensive group of Indonesian leaders, in which provisions are laid down for the admininstration of Indonesia in the interim period, and containing a clause (article 69) by virtue of which this Decree can be altered after consulting Republican leaders.

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Should adoption of the United States working-paper by the Security Council force the Netherlands to pronounce a non-possumus, the inevitable consequence will be:

that the Netherlands will be fatally weakened as a vital element in the community of western nations; and
that chaos arises in Indonesia, for the reason that apart from the constructive program designed by the Netherlands together with the federalists, there is no other possibility in Indonesia than the dictatorship of a small extremist minority, with the result that yet another element is added to the growing number of Asian states which as a consequence of internal weakness fall an easy and welcome prey to communism.

In the opinion of the Netherlands Government there can be no doubt that, in assuming jurisdiction in the Indonesian question (which is what the Security Council would do if it were to adopt the United States working-paper), that Council would far exceed the measure of its intervention in other disputes now before it, thereby creating a dangerous precedent for the future. Unquestionably this degree of intervention is in derogation of article 2 paragraph 7 of the Charter of the United Nations, and creates the danger that faith in the Charter is undermined.

In its appeal to the Netherlands Government alone to cease military operations, the United States working-paper ignores the fact that the Netherlands Government some considerable time ago caused hostilities to be stopped whilst on the other hand on the part of the Republic no order has ever been issued to its armed forces to observe army resolutions. This, incidentally, is wholly consistent with conditions as they existed prior to the beginning of the recent operation, the Republican Government having little or no authority over its armed forces, the remnants of which have now completely disintegrated.

Re-establishment of the Republican Government, at first, it is true, in the city of Djokjakarta, but later on, in the discretion of a United Nations Commission, in the whole of Java, Sumatra and Madura, is wholly unacceptable. The Netherlands, until next year sovereignty is transferred, is not only the sovereign power, but at present also exercises de facto authority. The possibility cannot be countenanced that, as result of the adoption of the United States working-paper, there would come into being a second, parallel Government. In addition, it should not be forgotten that this paper proposes to grant a priori to the republic a dominant position in the federation, thus derogating from the Renville principle which prescribes that it will be the people itself which will determine to what state it wants to belong.

Resumption of negotiations with the Republic on the basis of the plan presented by the United States member of the Commission of [Page 160] Good Offices on September 10, 1948, is tantamount to the obligatory imposition of a specific solution from which both parties have deviated in an earlier phase on important points, and which the Netherlands Government could not accept.

Nor could the Netherlands Government see its way to accepting the extension of the powers of the Commission of Good Offices to be transformed according to the United States working-paper into a Commission for Indonesia, inasmuch as:

it would appear that the sphere of action of the Commission is to be extended to the whole of Indonesia, in other words: to areas which were no party to the dispute between the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia. The Security Council, it seems, would extend its jurisdiction to regions where there is no dispute at all;
the Commission is to take decisions by a majority vote, which means in effect that the United States member is to act as an administrator during the interim period, a construction which is incompatible with the responsibilities and duties devolving for the Netherlands from its sovereignty during that period;
the contemplated powers of the Commission far exceed those which any organ of the United Nations possesses in the territory of any other state. This would seem to constitute a dangerous precedent for similar interference on the part of the Security Council in Malaya, Indo-China, and even in countries where conflicts exist between national groups.

It seems inadmissible that the Commission should have discretionary power to determine which parts of Java, Sumatra and Madura will revert to the Republic and where Netherlands troops will be allowed to remain to maintain order. Existing provisional political organs would thus be destroyed against the freely expressed will of the people; the areas concerned would become ungovernable, existing constructive nationalism being denied further possibilities to express its desires. During the interim period the Commission would in reality become an organ having wide powers of administration; in the exercise of these powers it could make use of such means as it considers proper in its own judgment, whilst at the same time responsibility for public order would continue to rest with the Netherlands.

Re-instatement of the Republican Government, coupled with giving it facilities throughout Indonesia, would not only open up possibilities for fruitful activity on the part of Tan Malakka, trained in Moscow, and his communist associates whose influence was previously confined to Republican territory, but would also extend Republican power far beyond its previous scope. To the Netherlands this would be utterly unacceptable, in addition to being inconsistent with elementary requirements of impartiality.

According to the United States working-paper, a date would be set [Page 161] for holding elections without any evidence being shown in that paper that the need is acknowledged of conditions having to be brought about beforehand guaranteeing free and democratic elections. There is, furthermore, no indication as to how such elections are to be held in a country where the population has not been registered, where the rate of illiteracy is a special difficulty, and where so far the formation of political parties has hardly developed beyond the rudimentary stage, difficulties such as have been and to some extent are still being experienced also in India, various Arab countries, and elsewhere.

It is not possible to make use of Republican armed forces in restoring peaceful conditions, for the simple reason that it was these very armed forces who before the recent operation were the main cause of unrest and disorder in and beyond Republican territory, forces moreover who since have split up in roving gangs which for the time being are the chief element threatening security and public peace.

According to the United States working-paper, the Netherlands Government is in practice to be obliged to place its public organs at the disposal of the Security Council to ensure that the wishes of the proposed commission be carried into effect, a commission which is to carry out experiments in territory of a sovereign state without there being any assurance that the agreed Netherlands-Indonesian Union will come into being. As a matter of honor, of conscience, and of policy, no Netherlands Government could accept such a state of things.

The Netherlands Government, far from wishing to limit itself to a negative reaction with regard to the United States working-paper, is now working on positive suggestions for a final resolution for the consideration of the Security Council, to be presented at the earliest possible moment.

  1. Handed by the 2nd Secretary of the Netherlands Embassy (Schiff) to the Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Thompson) on January 17.
  2. See footnote 1, p. 146.