756D.00/4–350: Telegram

The Ambassador in Indonesia (Cochran) to the Secretary of State

secret   priority

466. RefEmbtel 419 and Deptels 268, 272, 277, 301, and 306.1 Admit some basis statements by Stikker, van Kleffens and Boon. Most their information, however, either out of date or so distorted or exaggerated as to give untrue picture.

Note from Chapin’s 384 (Deptel 306) Stikker anxiously awaits from me “unbiased account actual situation.” Respectfully submit:

Since transfer sovereignty, at least one Netherlands Cabinet officer Indonesia most of time. Past several days Stikker’s leading colleagues van Maarseveen, Lieftinck, van den Brink and Goetzen with score top advisers and assistants here for conference in intimate contact with RUSI leaders and some of them now traveling East Java. They amply able report Stikker re Indonesia.
H. G. Hirschfeld was Stikker’s principal and trusted assistant on-international affairs before coming here and now reports copiously daily to Hague. He has been embarrassed greatly by treachery to RUSI of Netherlands military officers and civil officials and advisers left in Indonesia. He is handicapped by hatred and opposition old colonials including some of his immediate assistants well as Netherlands planters and businessmen. Hirschfeld told me at closing Union Conference session was glad of chance show some of Indonesia to visiting Netherlands delegation (Embtel 464) since many Netherlanders writing personal letters from Indonesia to Netherlands Cabinet playing up their own troubles in way to give unfair picture. He said Stikker impressed by these and wanted van Kleffens protest to US. Hirschfeld had warned Plague “go slow.” Believe Hirschfeld trying honestly to do good job and succeeding better than could any Netherlander with whom I am acquainted excepting Van Royen if he were physically capable this trying task. I collaborate squarely with Hirschfeld and do not want lose his confidence through revelation to Stikker of information obtained through friendship with HC.
If either party to Indonesian dispute still before SC desires unbiased factual report on actual situation, believe it should address UNCI and not look to ex-member now responsible solely to his own government.
Consider it characteristic Stikker that he “cry wolf” this juncture. He has done it repeatedly past two years and always in manner to embarrass US. I am particularly mindful his attempt blame threatened fall of Drees2 government on me at RTC when I submitted plan for financial settlement at his request.

Appreciate opportunity afforded comment on Department’s proposed note to Netherlands outlined Deptel 301. Have no objection [Page 1001]passing on sentiments point One. Honestly believe Department should refrain from expression views anticipated point Two. Strongly advise against Department intervening in differences between Union partners through either criticism or approbation of one or both. Any comment by Department on propriety of unitary state might embarrass US if case revived in SC. Let partners solve their own problems through union conference such as that just terminated in good spirit and success.

Especially object to Department bringing to Netherlands attention my reports on Westerling affair (point Three). Believe facts as I reported have been correct. My sources were certainly highest and most authoritative. On more than one occasion inquired of Hatta whether I should ask my Government make representations to Netherlands Government on Westerling case. Hatta always responded negatively. He considered Hirschfeld acting in good faith and sought straighten out troubles here directly with HC and any visiting Netherlands Cabinet Ministers rather than have case taken Hague. He repeatedly sought and I exercised my good offices in explaining RUSI situation to Hirschfeld, Maarseveen, Fockema Andreae3 and others. I cannot submit documentation in proof my reports of implication Netherlands military and civil officials in Westerling case, but have been informed again from highest sources ADN [Aneta?] that even high ranking Netherlands military involved including Generals van Langen and Engles. Only recently reported F. Andreae’s intervention. Should Department enter controversy on handling of Westerling matter conceivable Netherlands Government might retort with charges US involvement mentioning specifically Malloy and McMahon.4 Since both Union partners endeavoring workout of Westerling difficulty amicably see no reason we should stir up trouble. Reference point Four, do not believe Department should go far as predict dissolution Netherlands-Indonesian union.

My recommendation is that to several Netherlands approaches listed hereinabove, Department reply orally and only orally to van Kleffens. To assist with background for such reply respectfully submit following appraisal, but with reservations hereinabove made as to extent and character of any answer due Netherlands:

A. Political.

Move toward unitary state has been rapid, ruthless. Moving force has been Republican Government Jogja aided by old TNI now Nationalist army, this force going beyond plans which RUSI Government [Page 1002]itself had set in motion for eliminating certain Negaras. Little blood but lots of jobs lost in process. Most BFO governments were found weak and populace genuinely desirous returning to Republican leadership. Opposition remains somewhat serious in East Sumatra where Mansoer has personal army but not enough strength or political acumen to hold out. East Indonesia is only really serious hurdle. I have had long talks past week with such East Indonesians as Anak Agung, Tahija and Latuharhary and on other side with Sukarno, Hatta and Jogja Sultan. Delay in despatching TNI troops to East Indonesia together with planned conference here this weekend between RUSI, Republic and East Indonesia, Anak Agung’s present visit to Makassar Sukarno’s goodwill trip to East Indonesia latter part April with Jogja Sultan and one or more ministers are designed promote peaceful arrangements.
Old Republicans have shown organizational strength and political experience lacking in BFO’s. Hatta and moderate colleagues in RUSI Government have been disappointed in search for competent BFO’s to use in Cabinet and embarrassed by poor showing made by most of few taken in. Nevertheless Hatta endeavoring retain such ministers including Sultan Hamid who has been difficult to utilize helpfully, and who has threatened repeatedly to resign following his failure to be given post Minister Defense and after he became suspect in Westerling case. Similarly, Hatta trying keep Anak Agung notwithstanding difficulties over East Indonesia.
Hatta, Anak, Agung, Jogja Sultan and Sukarno all cooperating wisely toward keeping peace Indonesia and resolving internal political difficulties through negotiations and visits. True Sultan dispatching troops contrary wishes East Indonesia. Difficult to argue, however, that RUSI Defense Minister should be prohibited from garrisoning national troops in any part RUSI territory. Furthermore, some suspicion Netherlands advisers seeking estrangement between East Indonesia and RUSI with ulterior plot of Federalists in East Indonesia joining Borneo leader Sultan Hamid in secession from RUSI with plan these two areas form with New Guinea new colonial empire under Netherlands. Whether this may be far-fetched remains to be seen. I personally do not expect it but do not intend remonstrate against Sultan for dispatching troops any part RUSI. I have, as cables indicate, talked with him and other Republican leaders, even before requested by East Indonesians, to use moderation and patience in dealing with East Indonesia.
Believe unitary state with Republic, East Indonesia and other Negaras all amalgamated therein will be form of government best suited to needs Indonesia. Believe Sukarno and Hatta, who are among original Republicans, will continue dominate Republican movement and with support Jogja Sultan continue head central government with [Page 1003]headquarters Djakarta, although some concessions may be made to Republican nationalists who have been stimulated by Netherlands record here since sovereignty transfer. Conceivable provisional constitution will be altered by Constituent Assembly and perhaps even name of state. Believe initial aspects of RTC will be respected. Believe streamlined strongly centralized government only type can bring law and order Indonesia and can be afforded by presently impoverished state. I have promises from Sukarno, Hatta and Sultan that once unitary state is achieved and nation consolidated trend will be toward giving provinces greatest possible autonomy.

B. Military.

Believe TNI under Sultan did good job keeping peace during RTC conference and through transfer sovereignty. Consider record good first three difficult months new state. In spite massacre TNI troops Bandung by Netherlands-sponsored Westerling, RUSI forces kept their heads and now getting situation in hand. Netherlands military have been slow transferring to RUSI weapons requisite to maintaining order. RUSI troops have recently dealt severely with Darul Islam gangs. Bandits of various kinds roam many parts Indonesia and have since beginning World War II. Am confident Jogja Sultan will mop these up and achieve order in Indonesia as political consolidation achieved, KNIL troops amalgamated and KL troops withdrawn. As reported Embtel 458,5 incorporation KNIL into RUSI Army now definitely scheduled. Likewise plans for Netherlands military mission worked out. In absence unforeseen developments, feel RUSI Government will be rough rather than weak in dealing with evil doers re-remaining after Netherlands forces withdrawn. RUSI has lately indicated intention change from military to civilian area by area soon as conditions permit. Believe RUSI civil police better adapted certain tasks than military. Sukanto6 promised, me, for example, that once his civil police take over from military in harbors, they will end present pilferage. True some TNI bands have lived off land and levied on planters. Weakness of TNI supply and pay arrangements being remedied quickly as possible and military mission will utilize several hundred Netherlands officers to improve this further. Stories of Stikker’s constituents deserting plantations and leaving Indonesia greatly exaggerated.

C. Economic.

Neither RUSI nor UN nor US should be held responsible for condition of political and military chaos and economic bankruptcy in which sovereignty transferred. It was not UN or US that pressed [Page 1004]for Immediate transfer of sovereignty. Idea Came from Beel plan,7 not Cochran plan. Indonesians who had been given little opportunity under Netherlands regime to gain experience have encountered plenty difficulties in taking over sudden responsibility. Problems enhanced and confidence diminished by plotting and sabotage on part leading Netherlands advisers. In circumstances, consider Indonesians have done well. They have exercised great restraint and patience in retaining any Netherlands advisers. Hatta and his colleagues realize, however, their great need for advisers and have preference for keeping Netherlands in accordance RTC agreement if Netherlands do not themselves make this absolutely impossible. Happy to report some Netherlands technicians appear honestly endeavoring do good job. Consider many Netherlanders and Eureasians on RUSI payroll unnecessary and not worth higher compensation they are given over Indonesians. Believe economy of country as well as common sense will dictate dropping many of these lesser non-technical employees as government develops, since they demanding pay, prerogatives and pension above natives of comparable qualifications.
Labor situation improving except around Medan. Exports slowed up during first three months. Certain factors responsible therefore being eliminated such as threatened civil war incited by Westerling and hoarding of stocks as result uncertain future of inflated currency. Still too early predict results monetary measures but convinced definitely of right character. Necessary modifications can be made as circumstances warrant. Big danger comes from Netherlands colonials who still dominate banking, shipping and economy of Indonesia sabotaging RUSI efforts through failure export or cooperate with new regime. Netherlands economic royalists backed by sterling and are sharpest critics of monetary measures. Some British interests strongly sympathetic with them. Chinese who control retail trade practicing habitual evasions but RUSI beginning punish. Netherlands has been slow to discuss credit and RUSI still fears Netherlands will endeavor exact embarrassing guaranty.
Believe US acted properly in Export-Import credit. Hope some agriculture or CCC credit for cotton or Japanese textiles can also be arranged. Looking forward visit Griffin Mission for discussion possibility further economic assistance and advice which may be useful in mitigating radical tendencies of extreme nationalists.

D. Police.

Believe mobile civil police constabulary would benefit greatly from projected receipt of US equipment and through training of intelligence [Page 1005]officers in US. Hope submit list shortly giving Naval equipment which would be useful in preventing loss of revenue through smuggling and entrance of undesirable alien agitators. CAS cooperating helpfully with Ministry of Defense and chief of police on intelligence matters, but training program in US urgently required. Indonesians seriously handicapped through Netherlands officials having removed Netherlands all dossiers on Communists. Netherlands could help materially by returning such files. By recognizing Communist China and planning for exchange of missions, Netherlands is not aiding RUSI oppose admission Communist Embassy to Indonesia. I believe Indonesia’s non-Communist; I criticize to leaders naive statements or acts their part which might be interpreted contrary; I argue constantly against admitting Communist missions, to point my risking press reaction.


Believe Netherlands should be advised exercise patience and be honestly helpful with RUSI in difficulties yet to come. Withdrawal and punishment of their officials whose treachery to RUSI has been demonstrated would appear more appropriate than repeated condemnation of Hatta as weakling. I am constantly exercising what influence I have with Sukarno, Hatta and other Indonesians toward their preserving in Indonesia ideals expressed when we championed them before and at RTC. I consider them worthy of our continuing confidence and support. Hatta is not well and dangerously overworked. If Netherlands Government really wants union to exist, it should aid and encourage Hatta rather than cast aspersions on his ability and permit old colonials undermine and defy him. It is nonsense for Stikker imply Netherlands no longer has influence here and that task devolves upon US to push Hatta into acting forcefully. I will continue use my best offices toward having in prosperous RUSI moderate, friendly, effective government that can be helpful union partner.

  1. Telegram 272, not printed; regarding telegrams 419 and 268, see footnote 1 to telegram 301. March 30, p. 995, and footnote 4 to telegram 277, March 22, p. 985; telegram 306, not printed, transmitted to Djakarta the text of telegram 384 from The Hague of March 28.
  2. Dr. Willem Drees, Prime Minister and Minister for General Affairs of the Netherlands.
  3. Netherlands Secretary of State for War.
  4. Lt. Col. John T. Malloy, Assistant Military Attaché, and Maj. John P. McMahon, Assistant Naval Attaché, had been recalled in February for their contacts with Westerling. Further documentation regarding their involvement is in file 120.32256D/2–1050 ff.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Raden Said Sukanto, Chief of the Indonesian State Police.
  7. For documentation on the plan of L. J. M. Beel, Netherlands High Commissioner of the Crown in Indonesia, announced on February 26, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vii, Part 1, pp. 225 ff.