Memorandum of Conversation, Prepared in the United States Embassy in the Netherlands 1

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Yesterday afternoon a formal call was made on Mr. W. F. Schokking, the Netherlands Minister of Defense, by Secretary Johnson2 and Ambassador Chapin. After the termination of a purely technical conversation concerning defense, Mr. Schokking called in Dr. Fockema Andreae, Netherlands Secretary of State for War, who had just returned from a five-weeks’ visit to Indonesia.

Dr. Fockema Andreae, who is apparently resigning shortly, expressed even deeper pessimism after his first-hand view of affairs in Indonesia than had Mr. Stikker, the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his conversation on March 27 with Ambassador Chapin (this conversation was reported to the Department of State by the Ambassador in a telegram marked personal for Mr. Acheson, numbered 384 and dated March 28). Dr. Fockema Andreae felt that the situation is deteriorating at a much more rapid rate than is generally [Page 994]known, and that there would be complete chaos shortly unless strong measures are taken immediately.

As in the case of Mr. Chapin’s previous interview with Mr. Stikker, Dr. Fockema Andreae was pressed as to whether he saw any definite signs of an early native Communist movement. He said, like Mr. Stikker, that he did not, but added that Dutch officials had definite information of constant new arrivals in Indonesia of Chinese Communist Military officers who then disappeared within the local Chinese community. He stated that the arrival of other Russian agents had also been reported. The greatest difficulty, in Dr. Fockema Andreae’s opinion, was complete lack of control, not only in the provinces but also in the cities. He cited as evidence of the helplessness of the Indonesian Government the fact that Westerling, who had been wanted by the Indonesian Government, had openly circulated in territories under their control from mid-January to mid-February when he could have been picked up at any time if the Government had so desired. This, he claimed, was a typical example of the indecision, lack of coordination and effective intelligence in the Indonesian Government. In the same way, said Dr. Fockema Andreae, smuggling all through Indonesia, particularly in Sumatra had reached an all-time high so that little revenue was coming into the Indonesian Government. This smuggling, he asserted, was not confined to goods but also to arms and subversive individuals, much coming from Singapore which is an underground Communist center.

Although with apparent reluctance, Dr. Fockema Andreae then turned to what he called an “extremely delicate matter”. He implied some doubts as to the present effectiveness of our Embassy in Indonesia, which, he said, is the only influence today able to exert the requisite pressure on the Indonesian Government to maintain order. Both he and Minister Schokking paid great tribute to Ambassador Cochran’s past services and stated that he had earned the universal respect of all clear-thinking Dutchmen. He said, however, he had the impression that Mr. Cochran is “extremely tired” and a very disappointed and disillusioned man. Dr. Fockema Andreae said that he had had several talks with Mr. Cochran in which the latter had expressed this disappointment. He implied doubt whether our Embassy now had the necessary sources of information as to real conditions throughout Indonesia. The inference was inescapable that Minister Schokking and Dr. Fockema Andreae felt that it might be desirable to replace Mr. Cochran with someone whose health and frame of mind would permit him to be more vigorous.

Of particular interest was Dr. Fockema Andreae’s statement that in Indonesian Government circles there was a developing feeling that the United States was seeking to infiltrate its influence throughout Indonesia with a view to substituting its “own control” for that of [Page 995]the Dutch. Dr. Fockema Andreae was unable to explain how and why this new feeling had arisen but left the inference that it might have been fostered by pro-Soviet elements. Nevertheless he appeared to feel strongly that only the prompt exercise of vigorous United States influence upon leading Indonesian officials could rectify the situation.

In response to a question whether he, Dr. Fockema Andreae, thought that Dr. Hatta could still “get on top of the situation”, he replied that Dr. Hatta was in such poor health (seriously ill with diabetes) that he doubted whether he would have the physical strength to enable him to do so.

The two Ministers reiterated the line of argument given by Mr. Stikker on the danger to all of South East Asia should chaos develop in Indonesia, so creating a vacuum which would inevitably be filled by Communism which then could only be ousted by force of arms.

  1. The source text was attached to a memorandum by George Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, to Secretary Acheson, dated April 5, not printed, in which he stated that the Dutch had an unfortunate tendency “to embark upon ‘character assassination’ of various United States officials when the going is particularly tough for the Dutch in Indonesia.” Because of their character, Perkins believed that the Department of State should Obtain immediately Ambassador Chapin’s appraisal of the remarks made by Fockema Andreae.
  2. Louis Johnson, Secretary of Defense.