501.BC Indonesia/1–349: Telegram

The Consul General at Batavia ( Livengood ) to the Secretary of State 2


8. Gocus 520. 1. Am wholeheartedly in accord with negative attitude in Deptel 711, December 31.3 My views relative this type approach expressed in paragraph 9 of Gocus 517, January 1.4 I see no reason for any effort help Netherlands in selling their plans in situation which they, heedless to all advice and admonitions by US and other powers, have themselves created.

2. Nehru5 announcement yesterday re meeting of Asiatic conference to discuss Indonesian situation confirms and underlines fears expressed your cirtel 31 December6 reference division world on lines Asia vs. West.

3. As member GOC I am convinced no appropriate role remains for me. On other hand I believe I have succeeded in course of months in winning confidence of Sukarno,7 Hatta8 and other republic leaders. I have been mentally exploring every possible channel by which I could possibly utilize this confidence, not to support an unworthy Netherlands plan but in manner which will benefit Indos and at same time serve to maintain US prestige in this area.

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4. Under certain conditions, with dissolution of GOC and acting in personal or other capacity which would not limit my freedom of activity, there is bare possibility I could contribute constructively toward salvaging something from situation.

5. I anticipate that I may be faced in immediate future not only with Netherlands solicitation of type revealed in your 711 but also with appeals from Republicans for advice as Netherlands’ approaches to them are made. I request such instructions as will prepare me for meeting this issue in that way which will be most consistent with Department policy.

6. In my view I shall be confusing issues and weakening American position if I am called upon to act further and personally in reconciling parties unless under following conditions:

US clearly and publicly disassociate itself from present Netherlands policy. This requires definite unequivocal statement by us made either individually or in SC that in our view Netherlands is aggressor. This to be followed or accompanied by public notice that further ECA aid both to Netherlands and Indonesia is suspended until fair and reasonable settlement of Indonesian question has actually been achieved. Fact and public nature of such suspension is important thing whatever verbal formula may be used to express it. See Gocus 517, paragraphs.
Netherlands cease hostilities forthwith and free all Republic leaders. This would be of token value although I recognize that such steps at this stage will be only nominal compliance with SC resolution. Better still would be withdrawal of all Netherlands forces to SQL but that is probably not now politically, tactically or even economically feasible.
Dismissal of Beel9 who, although only one of numerous militaristic leaders here, may be taken as symbolizing whole group. Better still dismissal of Spoor10 as well. Dismissal of Beel is particularly important as it is hard to envisage resonable functioning of any federal interim government Netherlands is likely to provide in which Beel would exercise tremendous powers of High Representative of Crown. Believe if Stikker11 offered job he would accept. Although standing here has necessarily suffered in light action taken by government in which he participates, he would still have better chance organize fair government and bring peace than any Netherlander I have met.

7. Only if Department is both prepared and able to obtain above as conditions precedent do I recommend that I be instructed to act as intermediary/Department may of course view this as an entirely unrealistic approach. I am not so sure that it is, Netherlands defiance [Page 121] of UN has caused real world criticism that threatens future confidence in international organization as instrument of right and justice. Reaction SEA promises to break into that storm which may divide east from west irreparably. US may be forced by Asiatic movement and/or popular sentiment in US and Congress to cut off financial aid. If this likely be done eventually, why not use now as lever for getting most possible out of Netherlands for Indonesia while maintaining our own reputation for defense of national aspirations for freedom, whatever SC decision?

8. While ECA does not desire be used as political weapon, should we not be equally conscientious and solicitous to see that funds given under guise economic recovery are not used to conduct what is generally viewed as war of aggression against a people seeking promised freedom?

9. If Department would come out separately at once, or promptly when SC reconvenes, along lines above indicated, its stand would be unequivocal and chances of Netherlands taking more reasonable attitude toward Indonesia might be enhanced. If Netherlands then still desirous use me as intermediary, US position would be so clear that our government should not suffer, whatever results obtained. While I am not sanguine I could help effectively, I believe Republicans will not yield far toward Netherlands position in absence third party. Any aid we give now should be on our terms and not at behest of Netherlands while they acting in disregard of all their international obligations.

10. Please note your 711 of 6 p. m. December 31, received here only 0930 January 3 Batavia time and your cirtel of 1 a. m. December 31 received at same time, illustrating delay in communications which may be serious at time rapidly moving events. In light of this urge all significant messages be sent urgent. Signed Cochran.12

  1. Repeated in telegram 6, January 4, 8 p. m., to The Hague.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. vi, p. 623.
  3. Telegram 1, not printed.
  4. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. vi, p. 617.
  6. President of the Indonesian Republic, under Netherlands house arrest since December 18, 1948; transferred from Java to Sumatra by the Netherlands authorities.
  7. Mohammed Hatta, Vice President of the Indonesian Republic and Prime Minister, also under house arrest since December 18, 1948, and transferred to Sumatra.
  8. Dr. L. J. M. Beel, Netherlands High Representative of the Crown in Indonesia, at Batavia.
  9. Lt. Gen. Simon H. Spoor, Commander-in-chief, Royal Netherlands Indonesian Army.
  10. D. U. Stikker, Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  11. H. Merle Cochran, U. S. Representative on the United Nations SC Good Offices Committee in Indonesia.