856d.00/10–1949: Telegram

The Chargé in the Netherlands (Steere) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret

973. Called on Stikker this morning to discuss latest Indonesian and RTC developments. Found him extremely tired, discouraged, and rather apathetic.

Stikker began by saying he thought he sensed Indonesians might be “backing down” a little, although he could point to nothing very tangible. Said Netherlands Government felt events beginning take course which Netherlands powerless to influence. He had given repeated warnings of developments which have come and had sought outside assistance in preventing them but without avail. Netherlands Government had no intention of making any further démarche and would have to accept whatever came.

He said he thought rift was developing between Hatta and Sultan Jogja. The latter was proving in his view to be opportunist. Netherlands had been surprised that Sultan with his background had early espoused Republic cause when it was clearly extremist movement. Now, with clear sense of impending events, Sultan was espousing and seeking assume leadership of extremist wing Republican movement (Stikker feared Hatta might well lose ascendency).

Stikker professed great discouragement RTC prospects in view of week’s loss of time in getting small financial committee to work. He had gone Luxembourg Conference last week believing all agreed. Netherlands proposal (Lieftinck plan) had aimed at short cut to enable successful completion of conference this month. Present efforts to broaden terms reference, he feared, would doom committee to failure complete work in few days remaining. Indonesians giving many indications intention return Indonesia end of month while he and Hirschfeld must go to Paris for OEEC October 27. He said Indonesians, particularly Djuanda, bore heavy responsibility for delaying tactics. He referred to Netherlands Government aide-mémoire on Indonesian developments which UNCI had been requested to forward to SC. Said it was not Netherlands desire to precipitate any discussion [Page 542] SC which would jeopardize RTC. Their desire was to make Netherlands position a matter of record; as they might have to raise matter later.

Impression gained from Stikker was that Netherlands have not given up all hope that something might yet be salvaged from conference; but that they are discouraged, somewhat embittered and beginning to show signs of confusion. Government obviously does not know what to do if impasse comes. They will not ask for it but they are undoubtedly hoping against hope that the US will at the last moment intervene to save the situation.

In latter connection, British Ambassador called last night for discussion and reported talks with Stikker and Cochran under instructions from Bevin. Ambassador said as result these conferences he would be making certain suggestions his Foreign Office. This morning he has handed me copy of suggestions reading as follows:

HMG should consider with State Department the following action:

  • a. Instruct British, US and Indian representatives in Batavia to bring pressure to bear on both sides, but primarily Indonesians, to ensure that spirit as well as letter of the cease-fire regulations are meticulously observed, thus giving conference time to end its labors.
  • b. British, French and Indian representatives at The Hague to speak to Hatta in similar sense as a above and to urge him to bring the whole weight of his influence to bear in Indonesia in this direction.
  • c. British, US and Indian representatives at Hague to urge Dutch Government to make announcement as soon as feasible designed to prevent further deterioration of local situation in Indonesia. This would in effect mean, I believe, publication of actual date when sovereignty would be transferred.
  • d. Tell each party what we are saying to the other. Other alternatives may commend themselves to you and to State Department but it seems to me essential that effort should be made at this moment by outside powers or by UNCI to ensure that situation does not further deteriorate in Indonesia, for, if it does, Hatta’s position will be undermined and chaotic conditions will supervene.”

Embassy view is that while every possible step must be taken to prevent outbreak hostilities Indonesia it is equally important, if not more urgent, to prevent termination or breakdown of RTC without achievement of success so near at hand. Cochran is doing masterly job but he may need Department’s help at last moment.

Embassy has watched carefully development and evolution of Dutch feelings on Indonesian crisis and wishes to emphasize once again the strength and depth of underlying Dutch sentiments that the course they have followed the past six months has been taken because the US advised and, in fact, desired and insisted upon it. Dutch feel they have made a genuine, generous and, all out effort to reach agreement [Page 543] and that if there is failure, it is because the Indonesians have felt that they have American backing in this conflict and can reach agreement on their own terms. In these circumstances Embassy believes that breakdown of conference and resultant deterioration of conditions in Indonesia would have the inevitable result in the Netherlands of an outburst of bitterly anti-American sentiment and other consequences which it is hard to foresee. As for Indonesia, we have been repeatedly told by high Dutch authorities that if they are forced to withdraw their armed forces from Indonesia under conditions of a breakdown of efforts to reach peaceful conclusion, there inevitably will be an immediate great exodus of Dutch nationals, in fear of their lives, regardless of the effect this will have upon their property interests. This, of course, would be catastrophic for Indonesia, not to mention the damaging effect upon Holland’s overall economic position.

  1. Repeated in telegram 522, October 20, 5 p. m., to Batavia.