THE defeat of Japan in 1945 brought with it a wave of decolonization throughout East Asia. To an extent few in the West had realized, the Japanese humiliation of the white man in 1941 and 1942-together with worldwide currents at work in India and elsewhere-had prepared the way for the rapid end of colonial rule. In this process, the Philippines had only to grasp the independence already promised before the war by the United States; the same promise had been made to India under the pressure of the war, and its early realization under Lord Mountbatten and a Labour government contributed to the rapid grant of independence to Burma and the extension of believed assurances for the ultimate independence of Malaya and Singapore. Only the Netherlands East Indies-already styled by its nationalists the Republic of Indonesia-and French Indochina stood out from the first as deeply contested cases, where the colonial power was not ready to yield and where powerful nationalist movements were at work.

The possibility of a link between the two was seen at the time by at least one man. In November 1945, Ho Chi Minh, in the course of an interview with the American correspondent Harold Isaacs, sent a personal letter to the leaders of the Republic of Indonesia, proposing that the Indonesian and Vietnamese nationalist movements work closely together.

Isaacs delivered the message, and the suggestion was tempting to the idealism of Soetan Sjahrir, then Prime Minister of the Republic. It appealed especially to his younger associates, but in the end, contrary to their advice, Sjahrir's response was negative. To his associates he explained that the Indonesian movement would succeed because the Dutch could be beaten, but that the Vietnamese movement would fail for a long time because the French were too strong.[i]

And so it proved. By the summer of 1950, when Communist control of China and the Korean War combined to bring the cold war full-blown to East Asia, Indonesia was independent, free and clear, while in Vietnam the Vietminh and their Democratic Republic of Vietnam, under Ho, were at war with the French. It was a fateful difference in process and result.

Why did the two roads diverge, almost from the first? Dutch weakness and comparative French strength were beyond doubt critical elements. But there was much more at work, especially the influence of nations external to the area-an influence exercised in ways and degrees that may today seem surprising and at variance with cold war stereotypes. Not least, Indonesian independence was in a real sense a triumph for the United Nations-just as Indochina was, as it has been since, an area of U.N. failure.

Many critical elements for a full comparison are of course buried in the long histories of all four of the central parties, and especially of their paired interaction in the colonial period. To explore all of these would be too much for one essay. Let us, rather, start arbitrarily in 1941, with the Japanese conquest.


In form alone, the Japanese occupations of Indonesia and Indochina differed considerably. In Indonesia, after their surrender in March 1942, the Dutch were completely eliminated from all spheres of life and interned for the duration. The Japanese did not set up an ostensibly independent government in Indonesia, as they did in Burma and the Philippines. But they did utilize Indonesians extensively to replace Dutch officials, particularly in the lower ranks but also, late in the war, in higher ones. And although for the most part-with some 23,000 Japanese in the administration in 1945-the Indonesian official was now merely the servant of the Japanese instead of the Dutch, he was often able to exercise real authority under his new masters who, being ignorant of the country, were less efficient than the Dutch.

In Indochina, it was not until March 1945 that the Japanese eliminated the French administration. Yet the wartime French Governor-General, Jean Decoux, partly to counter the Japanese Greater East Asia appeal, adopted policies that stimulated nationalism somewhat as it was stimulated in Indonesia. Much more attention was paid to national history and tradition, and efforts were made to increase the prestige, although not the powers, of the three reigning hereditary rnonarchs in Annam, Luang Prabang and Cambodia. Not only was the national language emphasized in elementary education, but also more schools were established, technical and vocational subjects were introduced, and more Indochinese were admitted to French schools. Similarly, more Indochinese were admitted to the administration and permitted to rise higher in its ranks while, for the first time, Indochinese employees were given the same salaries as their French equivalents. Of equal, if not greater, significance, Decoux organized a youth movement emphasizing physical education and paramilitary training which reached a membership in the hundred-thousands.

These developments, like similar ones in Indonesia, raised the level of nationalist fervor and vastly expanded the circles in which it was felt. But in Indonesia, more than in Indochina, there emerged truly national leadership, able not only to mobilize mass support but also to operate effectively and with relative cohesion in the political arena. Because they had full responsibility for operating the machinery of government, the Japanese found themselves obliged to utilize the members of the Javanese bureaucratic class, already incorporated into the political structure by the Dutch, in ways that increased their responsibilities and elevated their status. But because they also wanted to mobilize and motivate the masses, they gave new positions of leadership and political prestige to others held down by the Dutch: secular nationalists and Islamic leaders. These newly potent elements were exposed to Japanese political mobilization techniques, as well as introduced to a theatrical style of politics compatible, as the Dutch style had not been, with the Javanese tradition. Given the facilities of a far-reaching radio network, and opportunities to travel in Java and the outer islands, men like Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta became national figures. Mass organizations of all kinds were permitted and encouraged; for the first time, the nationalist élite had large-scale organizations among the people and an armed and indoctrinated youth at its command. As Benedict Anderson has put it: "By 1945, for the first time in Indonesian history, there were political organizations continuously and fairly efficiently connecting the rural family to the centers of political power and decision- making in the capital."[ii]

In Indochina, in contrast, continued French repression helped to perpetuate the conspiratorial, atomized and élitist characteristics of Vietnamese political activity. To this the highly autonomous Japanese Kempeitai (military police) contributed by unofficial and secret activity among local political groups. In Cochin China, the Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao, politically oriented religious sects, tended to use their Japanese connections to enrich and strengthen themselves at the expense of each other and of nonbelievers. The Kempeitai also involved themselves in clandestine politics in Tonkin, but unlike the two southern sects the organizations operating under Japanese patronage in the north had little, if any, popular following.

In sum, while the French remained in ostensible control there was some political activity, but it neither trained new leadership nor stimulated new, widely supported nationalist organizations. When the Japanese displaced the French in March 1945, titular power was transferred to the hereditary rulers, men who aspired to independence but were also tied to the status quo and thus inclined to believe it could be altered only gradually.

Nationalists generally thus benefited much more from the war years in Indonesia than in Indochina. It was the reverse, however, for the respective Communist parties. Benefiting from Chinese hospitality aimed against the Japanese or the French, Vietnamese Communist leaders had joined other nationalists in refuge in Yunnan. Their fellow exiles had followers but no organization. The Communists had both a highly disciplined Leninist party structure and a front organization, the Vietminh. Although the Chinese would have preferred to see their own protégés dominate the Vietnamese nationalist movement and tried to help them when they could, they had to recognize the superior organization and capabilities of the Vietminh. The latter in due course became a major element in the Chinese- sponsored Dong Minh Hoi, which included the VNQDD (modeled on the Kuomintang) and eight other nationalist organizations.

Meanwhile, within Vietnam the Communists husbanded their strength, building up their underground organization but not risking it in action, concentrating on maintaining contact among local groups and with the leaders abroad, and laying the groundwork for the return of their headquarters to Tonkin, which took place in October 1944. Guerrilla activities already underway in the northern provinces were facilitated by the removal of French authority in March; by June 1945, six provinces between the Chinese border and Hanoi were in Vietminh hands. While effective Communist control thus contributed heavily to making the Vietminh a potent threat to the French, the other side of the coin was that it gave the French a telling label to use in the postwar years in damning and opposing the nationalist movement as a whole.

Neither factor applied in Indonesia. For the Indonesian Communists the fortunes of war were almost entirely bad. The Dutch having evacuated political prisoners before the surrender, many of the Indonesian Communists spent the war in Australia, others in the Netherlands; those who remained in Indonesia were too few to mount the anti-Japanese resistance current Communist doctrine demanded. When the war ended, three separate parties emerged, all tending to oppose Sukarno and Hatta. By the time the Communists had pulled themselves together, the nationalist parties were in full control of the Indonesian revolution. Thereafter, the Communist Party (PKI) became a strong force on the Left, and remained so as long as it kept its policies within the nationalist mainstream, but its role was never strong enough to provide the Dutch with ammunition to use against the nationalists generally.


The circumstances of the Japanese surrender in the two areas provided the next factor of critical importance. Because of the atom bomb, the end came abruptly, and before France or the Netherlands-or Britain on behalf of either-was prepared to move immediately and in strength into the Japanese- occupied colonies. The result in both Indonesia and Indochina was a brief but significant hiatus, in which exhilaration at Japan's defeat had a chance to flow wholly into the channel of nationalist self-assertion. By mid-September, the returning Allies were confronted not by peoples awaiting liberation, but by peoples who, having in their own view liberated themselves, were now seeking a new relationship with their former rulers.

The rest was contrast. In Vietnam, the Potsdam division of responsibility between British and Chinese, at the 16th parallel, facilitated rapid restoration of French rule in the south and strengthened the Vietminh in the north, increasing the tensions between the French and their opponents but reinforcing the confidence of each in ultimate victory. In Indonesia, the inability of the Dutch to replace British forces with any speed created both problems and a special sense of responsibility for a Britain newly under Labour Party rule; the result was the beginning of the external pressures on the Dutch that became a decisive factor in Indonesian independence.

Numerous Vietnam histories have made the first story well known. In September 1945, the British commander just arrived in Saigon, General Gracey, progressively expanded his mission from the mere taking of the surrender and liberation of prisoners to the keeping of order throughout the southern zone. Under his protection, French forces quickly took control from the weak and divided Vietnamese Committee of the South. By the end of the year, with close to 30,000 troops in Indochina, the French were able to take on full responsibility for maintaining order south of the 16th parallel.

It is worth noting that, at meetings with French commanders in Singapore on September 28 and in Rangoon on October 9, the British had urged negotiations with the nationalists. But in contrast to Indonesia, their pressures were neither strong nor influential.

Dealing with the Chinese in the north was a different matter. The British had been simply motivated-they believed that the position of the juridical sovereign should be protected, and they wanted to carry out their responsibilities as quickly as possible and depart. The motives of the Chinese were mixed, complicated further by differences between the central government in Chungking and the generals who ruled the southern provinces. Neither particularly wished to assist in the restoration of French rule. But on the question of how obstructive a role they should play, opinion was apparently divided. The commander of the occupying forces, like many southern Chinese military leaders, was strongly interested in political and economic opportunities in Tonkin; he favored a long occupation, during which the Chinese would strengthen their own position by supporting the Vietnamese drive toward independence. In Chungking the dominant view was that the length of the Chinese occupation should be determined solely by the speed with which it was possible to extract concessions from the French in exchange for its termination.

That the latter view won out did not prevent the Chinese from playing local politics and supporting the Vietnamese against the French during their occupation. Chiang Kai-shek at the outset had disclaimed territorial ambitions, but expressed hopes for Vietnamese independence, meanwhile promising that the Chinese would remain neutral between the French and the nationalists, This, in fact, was precisely what they were not: in the south the British had facilitated the restoration of French administration; in the north the Chinese disarmed the French and blocked any similar restoration. Originally the Chinese had hoped to advance the political fortunes of their own protégés, replacing local Vietminh committees with their friends as they moved south. Later they obtained Ho's promise, whatever the outcome of the January 1946 general elections, to allot 50 seats in the National Assembly to the VNQDD and 20 to the Dong Minh Hoi. But the strength of the Vietminh, as demonstrated in these elections and otherwise, convinced the Chinese once again, as during the war, that bringing this group under their influence would pay the largest dividends.

It was at this point, however, that serious French-Chinese negotiations began. In due course, the Chinese emerged with considerable profit. In February, France agreed to restore concessions in Shanghai, Tientsin, Hankow and Canton and to give China a free port in Haiphong and customs- free transit of goods to the port. The French-owned Yunnan railway was sold to China and guarantees were provided for Chinese nationals in Vietnam, In return, Chinese forces were to be withdrawn by March 31, 1946. Chiang, in greeting the treaty, no longer spoke of independence. Instead, he expressed sympathy with the nationalist aspirations of the Indochinese and hope for "an equitable settlement."[iii]

The agreement with the Chinese did indeed expedite an arrangement, if not a settlement, between the Vietminh and the French, who had been negotiating intermittently since late August. Ho wanted to come to an agreement while the Chinese were still in occupation, so that he could gain the maximum advantage from their presence. To bolster his position he had some six months of functioning government north of the 16th parallel during which, despite the locust-like depredations of the Chinese, campaigns to increase agricultural production and reduce illiteracy had had some success. The French, for their part, were anxious to reoccupy the north, but recognized that resistance there would be by forces more formidable and tenacious than in the south. Accordingly, they, too, were anxious to come to terms before the Chinese left so that their own troops could replace Chinese forces peacefully. The upshot was the agreement of March 6, 1946, in which the D.R.V. was recognized as a free state made up of Tonkin and Annam, with its own government, army and finances; and in turn agreed to become part of the Indochinese Federation and the French Union. Cochin China was to determine by referendum whether it would become part of Vietnam or remain separate. France was to be permitted to station up to 25,000 troops in Vietnam but they were to be withdrawn in five annual increments. Much remained unspecified, however, in what was largely a statement of general principles.

In Indonesia, the impact of Allied occupation was quite different. Again at Potsdam, the area had been transferred from General MacArthur's responsibility to that of the Southeast Asia Command; British and Australian forces thus became responsible for taking the Japanese surrender. When the British forces landed in Indonesia on September 29, the new Republic of Indonesia-like Ho and the D.R.V.-had already asserted its jurisdiction over the archipelago and made clear its adamant opposition to the return of the Dutch on prewar terms. Moreover, in its six weeks of existence (compared to Ho's two weeks of control in the south of Vietnam), it had maintained a functioning administration in Java, Sumatra and much of Madura.

The crucial difference was that the British forces, themselves extremely small and incapable of keeping order on any large scale, had no expectation of significant Dutch reinforcement for some time to come; for the Netherlands, liberated completely only in the spring of 1945, had been unable to put together and move to Asia any significant force. Hence it was natural for the British to accept Japanese advice to leave the Indonesian administration in place-the Indonesians, the Japanese thought, would be happy to coöperate with the Allies if this would help them toward independence.

At a press conference held upon his arrival, the British commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Christison, announced that "things will have to go on as they are" until Dutch civil administrators arrived. This was taken as de facto recognition of the Republican administration. At the same time, however, the British were bringing Dutch military and civilian personnel in with them-too few to be of much help if the situation should get out of hand, enough to arouse suspicions. The result was confusion and disorder on a mounting scale, culminating in ten days of intense fighting between British and Indonesian troops in Surabaya in November. The British now fully recognized the alternatives with which they were faced: either they would have to expand their forces in Indonesia very considerably and accept the prospect of major hostilities, or they would have to induce the Dutch to embark upon serious negotiations.

The first course was unacceptable for a host of reasons. The military resources of the Southeast Asia Command were already very badly stretched. Moreover, its ground forces were predominantly Indian, and their use against Asian nationalists-particularly against Indonesians-was at once a source of intense irritation to an All-India Congress with which Britain was already negotiating the terms of independence. Britain also was deeply involved in efforts to alleviate Asia's postwar food shortage, an effort to which it was thought that Indonesia's sugar, tea, fats and oils could make an important contribution.[iv] Finally, having vigorously attacked Churchill the year before for his military support of the conservatives in Greece, the Labour Party had no stomach for playing a similar role in Indonesia.

Pressure for negotiations was the obvious course, not because the British had any desire to end the Dutch role in Indonesia, but because this seemed the most hopeful way of saving it at least cost. Some efforts had already been made. Early in October in Singapore, Mountbatten had urged the Dutch (as he had the French) to abandon their negative attitude and meet with Indonesian leaders, including Sukarno. Thereafter both sides had taken some steps toward each other. On November 6 the Dutch had issued a statement promising full partnership in a future commonwealth. Sukarno, with whom the Dutch refused to deal, had named as Prime Minister Soetan Sjahrir, untainted by collaboration with the Japanese, and Sjahrir had brought into his cabinet a number of other noncollaborators. In mid-November, Lieutenant- Governor Hubertus van Mook held several meetings with Sjahrir under General Christison's auspices.

Following the Surabaya fighting, Christison's mission was clarified. He was to try to reëstablish law and order in as wide an area as possible, but the Dutch were informed that it was not part of British policy to engage in widespread offensive action against the Indonesians. The British now moved rapidly, and on December 27 Prime Minister Attlee held a conference at Chequers with Netherlands Prime Minister Scherrnerhorn. Agreement was reached on a number of points. Attlee agreed to replace Christison, regarded by the Dutch as overly sympathetic to the Republic, and the Dutch, in turn, withdrew two "old-guard militarists" who had been leading their forces in Indonesia. The British agreed to increase their efforts to maintain law and order, the Dutch to try more actively to reach an understanding with the Indonesians. And on January 19, as an outgrowth of the Chequers conference, Sir Archibald Clark-Kerr (soon to be named Lord Inverchapel) was designated Special Ambassador to assist both sides in reaching a settlement.

Inverchapel's instructions spelled out some of Britain's reasons for acting, and called for his seeking "every opportunity to encourage and facilitate" a settlement through direct agreement between the parties. Proposals already made by the Dutch, including those of December 6, 1942, and November 6, 1945, "offer a fair and reasonable basis of settlement." The Indonesian leaders should be urged to give them earnest and favorable consideration and to keep in mind that the British government recognized the sovereignty of the Netherlands.[v]

While Inverchapel was preparing to depart, another development attracted international attention to the British role. On January 21, the Ukrainian representative lodged a complaint in the Security Council accusing the British and Japanese of suppressing the Indonesian national liberation movement and calling for a fact-finding commission. The Ukrainian resolution was generally considered less the product of interest in Indonesia than of a desire to retaliate for the ongoing Security Council consideration of Soviet forces in Iran. Although easily voted down, it was a portent for the future.

The talks under Inverchapel's auspices were arduous but in the end fruitful. They were accompanied by an enlarging Dutch presence, punctuated by sporadic violence and ruptures, and influenced by political shifts and developments in both the Netherlands and Indonesia. Although they were for the most part bilateral, at crucial moments the British presence was used to effect.

Finally, on November 15, 1946, in the Linggadjati Agreement, the Dutch recognized the Republic's de facto authority over Java, Sumatra and Madura, and the Republic agreed to coöperate with the Netherlands to form a federal Indonesia and a Netherlands-Indonesian Union to deal with subjects of common interest such as defense and foreign affairs. Both were to be formed no later than January 1, 1949.

On November 30, 1946, the British withdrew, leaving what had then become a force of 92,000 Dutch troops in place, 10,000 of them trained by the British, who also left behind them arms for 62,000. As in Indochina, their military forces had helped to restore the islands to the European sovereign. But, unlike their role in Indochina, the British had been instrumental in crucial steps toward Indonesian independence.


When France signed the March 6 agreement and the Dutch the Linggadjati Agreement, Britain and the United States felt that real progress was being made toward the outcome they desired-peaceful achievement of a status for Vietnam and Indonesia analogous to India's in the Commonwealth. These hopes proved illusory. Neither France nor the Netherlands was prepared to see her empire thus altered. Both were willing to accept general principles open to interpretations sufficiently broad to fulfill all but the most extreme nationalist demands. But when the time came for implementation, liberal principles seemed to evaporate and, when a stalemate developed, both France and the Netherlands acted on the belief that prior military success would make negotiations more fruitful.

The story of France's handling of the March 6 agreement is, again, now oft- told. In June 1946, ignoring the provision for a plebiscite in Cochin China, the French went ahead unilaterally to create a separate state there. And through the summer of 1946, Ho at Fontainebleau was treated in a belittling manner, confronted with technicians unable to deal with political questions, and in the end forced to settle for an almost meaningless modus vivendi. Throughout this period Ho seemed to lack interest in taking his case to the world; perhaps he remained hopeful that the Left would come to power in France; conceivably he was urged by the same Left to lie low. At any rate, when the French shelling of Haiphong in December 1946 brought on war, the world was not watching or caring.

In Indonesia, Dutch tactics paralleled French, starting with a determined effort to cut down the Republic of Indonesia by making it (despite its status and dense population) part of a new artificial federal state, on a basis of equality with small states created by the Dutch. Then, as disputes on this and other issues became stalemated, the Dutch resorted to force, in the so-called First Police Action of July 1947.

But at just this point-as events in Greece and elsewhere were leading toward, but not yet into, all-out cold war-two crucial differences manifested themselves. The first was the international status of the Republic of Indonesia; with the signing of the Linggadjati Agreement eight countries-the United States, Britain, Australia, China (under Chiang), India, Egypt, Syria and Iran-had accorded the Republic de facto recognition. While it was not a full-fledged state or a member of the United Nations, its complaints could not be lightly dismissed as a domestic matter excluded from the purview of the Security Council.

Secondly, the Republic of Indonesia had powerful friends, outside the circle of the great powers and thus perhaps especially influential at the United Nations. In July and August of 1947, when Britain and the United States would have preferred mediation, it was Australia and India (on the verge of independence but already active at the United Nations) which insisted on Security Council consideration, found sympathy, and carried the day. First the Security Council-debating but then ducking the troublesome issue of sovereignty and whether the issue was domestic under Article 2(7)- brought about a ceasefire on August 4; then the Republic was invited to join the debate as a party to the dispute, thus further elevating its international status. Machinery was created to keep the Council informed- and most important, to establish a Good Offices Committee consisting of Australia, Belgium and the United States. From this time on, the presence and prestige of the United Nations were heavily engaged.

Might they have been in Indochina-notwithstanding the lesser public attention that crisis had received? Certainly Ho tried. Published records of the State Department and other sources show no less than five D.R.V. appeals for U.N. action: to the four great powers in February 1946, and again in August; through local representatives to the American Embassy in Bangkok in February 1947; to the Secretary-General, formally, in September 1947 (influenced by the Indonesian case then pending?); and to Nehru in October 1947. These sources show no response to any of these appeals.

The reasons were various. On this as on other issues, the United States was not prepared to push France or see her embarrassed; here one may pause to note that American appeals to Paris were throughout couched in significantly different terms from communications to The Hague.[vi] And, of course, France held the veto, as the Netherlands did not.

But it is plain also that Indochina, for reasons to be explored later, had neither an accepted international status nor determined friends-the one flowing in part from the other. Hence, no real effort was made, and the view took root at this time that the United Nations had no role in Vietnam.


The involvement of the United Nations changed everything in the Indonesian picture. Henceforth, in contrast to the deliberately murky way in which the French in 1947-49 fought a half-war in Vietnam and produced the Bao Dai "solution," the story in Indonesia was played in the open and to a world audience. Henceforth, too, while American policy toward Indochina remained a difficult calculus between the value of the French in Europe and their obduracy in Asia, American reactions to Indonesia were heavily affected by its having become a test case for the United Nations itself, at a time when reliance upon the world organization stood higher in government, and far higher outside it, than perhaps at any time since.

Not that the Good Offices Committee was an angel of instant independence. On the contrary, its work in 1948 led to an agreement, reached aboard the American cruiser Renville, in which Dutch "political principles" generally prevailed over others drafted by the Committee, so that the result was accepted only with great reluctance by the Indonesian side. Within months, relations had deteriorated, deadlocks developed on central issues, and truce violations became increasingly frequent. Finally, on December 19, 1948, the Dutch embarked on a full-scale military offensive, the Second Police Action.

The offensive achieved complete surprise. Most of the Republic's territory was overrun, and most of the members of the government-including Sukarno and Hatta-were captured. Politically, however, it soon proved to be a disaster for the Dutch. In the Security Council the Netherlands was bitterly criticized for defying the United Nations, On January 28, 1949, the Council called upon the Dutch to restore the government of the Republic to its capital, Djogjakarta; strengthened the authority of the Good Offices Committee (now the Indonesian Commission); and for the first time established a timetable for steps leading to a transfer of sovereignty, to take place not later than July 1, 1950.

Confronted with these requirements, with defections among the Indonesian Federalists, with the prospect of continued guerrilla warfare, and with mounting opposition at home, the Netherlands proposed a Round Table Conference at The Hague to settle all outstanding issues. The Security Council did not find the Dutch proposal wholly responsive, however, since it did not provide for a ceasefire or the restoration of the Republic's government before the Conference. In March, in the so-called Canadian Directive, it drew attention to these requirements. Meanwhile, the General Assembly had voted to take up the Indonesian question. This continuing pressure, reinforced privately by the United States and others, brought results. In May 1949, the parties reached the Roem-van Royen Agreement, the Dutch agreeing to restore the Republican government, release political prisoners, and refrain from fostering new federal states on territory conquered from the Republic. Seven months later the work of the Round Table Conference was completed with agreement reached on all points (except the deferred issue of New Guinea), and sovereignty was transferred on December 27, 1949.

Until the Second Police Action, the role of the United Nations tended to favor the Dutch. The Security Council was pushed in this direction partly because influential members, including the United States, were highly sensitive to the issue of Dutch sovereignty, and partly because, to get anywhere at all, even the most pro-Indonesian members had to accept substantial elements of the status quo, which most of the time favored the Dutch. For example, the November 1, 1947 resolution favored the Dutch in permitting them to remain in control of territory they had conquered between the initiation of the Police Action and the August 4 ceasefire. But the U.N. role was not one-sided. Its involvement also acted as a deterrent to the Dutch, who made no further important inroads on Republican territory until December 1948. Similarly, the Renville Agreement would have been even more unfavorable had the Good Offices Committee not been able to add its Six Principles. Because it was reached under U.N. auspices, it was much better than no agreement at all.

In the denouement of 1949, the U.N. role ceased to cut both ways. Thus, the decisive reaction to the Second Police Action derived a good deal of its intensity from the Dutch defiance of the United Nations. In the American Congress, where concern over the situation had been rising, there were moves to cut off Marshall Plan aid, supported by warnings that the United Nations might go the way of the League of Nations if its members permitted its authority to be flouted. Senator Frank Graham, earlier the American representative on the Good Offices Committee, told his colleagues: "The ghosts of Ethiopia and Manchuria . . . haunt today the chambers of the United Nations."[vii] The desire to vindicate U.N. authority reinforced the impetus to action supplied by the desire to settle the Indonesian question. As Hubertus van Mook, with no great pleasure, later summed it up, it became "an aim in itself to maintain the authority of the Security Council in the single instance of a political conflict about which its decision had not been partially or completely disregarded. This unique success could not be jeopardized whatever the Dutch might contend. And they were not strong enough to resist the Council, as others might have done under more favorable conditions."[viii]


But the mere outline of events, while it shows the critical breakpoints in historical causation, does not get at the deeper reasons why influential outside nations behaved as they did. The support of such nations, in the end, was perhaps more vital to the Indonesian success even than relative Dutch weakness; likewise, the absence of such support prevented Ho and the D.R.V. from ever truly testing whether France might have been brought to concede independence before the fateful 1950 confluence of events.

Start with India and Australia, both active at the most critical stage, bringing the United Nations to accept involvement in 1947. India's role was perhaps most unremitting of all, and of very great influence indeed, at a time when Nehru's principles stood pure and untested. As early as October 1945, he had offered all the help of which India was capable and made the first of a series of protests against the use of Indian troops. India did what she could to bolster the Republic's international standing: agreeing to an exchange of goods in April 1946; according it de facto recognition after the Linggadjati Agreement was signed; providing a plane to fly Sjahrir to a hero's welcome at the Indian-sponsored Asian Relations Conference that same spring; proposing the Republic's admission to the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) in June 1948; and appointing a consul-general in Djakarta in November 1948. In response to the First Police Action, the Indians not only turned to the United Nations, but also prohibited Dutch planes from landing on or overflying their territory. After the Second Police Action, Nehru invited the Republic to form a government-in-exile in India, and postponed indefinitely the departure of India's first ambassador to The Hague. Most important, however, Nehru convened the New Delhi Conference in January 1949, at which 15 Asian and Middle Eastern countries demanded in strong terms the restoration of the Republic and the expeditious transfer of full sovereignty.

Unquestionably, India's position rested on moral conviction. Having won their own freedom, Indians could not, as Nehru put it, "conceive it possible that other countries should remain under the yoke of colonialism."[ix] Added to these strong feelings was outrage over the use of Indian troops to suppress nationalists. Indians, again in Nehru's words, watched the troops doing "Britain's dirty work against our friends" with "growing anger, shame and helplessness."[x]

When the Indians made general statements of this kind condemning the use of their troops or asserting the universal right to freedom, they usually included Indochina among the areas of their concern. But practical assistance to the D.R.V. was conspicuous by its absence. The shelling of Haiphong was widely condemned in India, and there were unofficial efforts to recruit volunteers and collect money, food and clothing. However, when government support was suggested, Nehru replied, "so long as the Government of India is not at war with another country, it cannot take action against it." When, in February 1947, the Indian government did take action, it was a very limited one, cutting off French military overflights only.

A few months later, in the spring of 1947, the Vietminh delegates to the Asian Relations Conference were quite coolly received. Although the Indian government rejected the Dutch-established federal states in Indonesia as puppets, two delegations were invited to represent Indochina at the conference, one speaking for the D.R.V., the other for the French-supported governments in Cochin China, Cambodia and Laos. When the D.R.V. representatives appealed for help, Nehru's response was sympathetic but noncommittal. As summarized in the official account: "He did not see how the Indian Government could be expected-or for that matter, other Asian countries-to declare war on France. That was not the way to proceed and by such precipitate action they were likely to lose in the long run. Any wise government would try to limit the area of conflict. It would, however, bring sufficient pressure to bear but that could not obviously be done by governments in public meetings."[xi]

Why the continuing difference in Indian behavior toward Indochina and toward Indonesia? One reason was that the aggravating British use of Indian troops went on longer in Indonesia. Another, possibly, was Communist control of the Vietminh, though at this stage this was surely not central. The Indians, however, had two practical reasons for remaining on good terms with the French in those early postwar years. They expected negotiations over the return of French enclaves in India to move fairly swiftly (in fact they moved very slowly). And as long as the Kashmir dispute, which had been submitted to the United Nations in December 1947, remained under consideration, it was important not to antagonize a veto-wielding power.

Probably of greatest significance were the intangible ties that bound India to Indonesia and not to Indochina. One was culturally Indianized, the other Sinicized, Just as the Vietnamese nationalists had looked to Sun Yat-sen and China, so the Indonesian nationalists acknowledged an intellectual debt to Gandhi and to India; their contacts with Indian leaders went back to the twenties. Moreover, there were strategic and political considerations. Commanding the passage between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, Indonesia must have seemed far more important to India in the forties than did a small country on the southeastern fringe of the Asian land mass. And, politically, because Indonesia was a Muslim country, India by supporting it could hope to win favor in the Arab world and demonstrate that her difficulties with Pakistan need not be reflected in relations with other Islamic countries.

In the case of Australia, support for Indonesia reflected a growing preoccupation with nearby troubles rather than distant historic loyalties. To be sure, during World War II, the Labour government had unhesitatingly supported the restoration of the Southeast Asian colonies to their former juridical status. After the war, performing the functions originally assigned to her as a component of the Southwest Pacific Command, Australia assisted in taking the Japanese surrender in some of the outer islands, also selling to the Dutch large stores of arms and equipment in Borneo. And in voting against the Ukrainian resolution of 1946, Australia had emphasized that Council action could be justified only by a threat to international peace.

Nevertheless, even before the First Police Action, the Labour government showed sympathetic interest in the Indonesian cause. After the signature of the Linggadjati Agreement, it not only granted de facto recognition to the Republic but also underwrote its permanence by referring to it as "a future essential element in the Interim Federal State." In part, this benevolent interest stemmed from Labour's general support for liberal treatment of colonial peoples, and from the belief that the attempt to reimpose Western rule on unwilling Southeast Asians was bound to be futile. In part, it stemmed from determination to assert a leading role for Australia in Southeast Asia, a role expected to be more important as the European powers departed. Indonesia's greater proximity gave these general considerations a weight they did not have for Indochina. Said the Australian representative in the Security Council: "Not only is Indonesia adjacent to our territory, but we are bound by the closest economic and commercial ties with this important area . . . we feel that the interests of Australia are especially affected by the dispute. . . ,"[xii]

After the First Police Action, Australian public opinion became aroused, generally against the Dutch. The Communist-dominated Waterside Workers Federation, hitherto alone in its boycott of Dutch shipping, was joined by other important and less radical unions. When Australia used her pivotal seat on the Security Council in 1947 to call for action, she in effect abandoned her previous emphasis on Netherlands sovereignty. Thenceforth in the United Nations she was to be in the vanguard, using especially her continuing role in the Good Offices Committee.


Generally speaking, in their fight for independence the Indonesians won the support of their fellow Asians and of other countries in what is now called the Third World. In 1946-48, Asian leaders often took an unenthusiastic view of what they regarded as crusades against Communist countries and-with the outcome of the China civil war still uncertain-were rather detached from cold war issues. But virtually all had experienced contact with the Communists of their own countries that had left them bruised and suspicious. The D.R.V. worked hard to dissipate these suspicions. It took neutral positions on cold war issues, avoided vituperative attacks on countries figuring prominently in Moscow's then-pantheon of enemies, even praising some of them like Burma and India, and attempted to keep Communist control of the Vietminh and the government as inconspicuous as possible. But these efforts seemed to bear little fruit with other Asians-who did not become more trustful when, in mid-1948, Communist violence erupted in India, Burma, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaya.

For Indonesia, the backing was universal and unequivocal. During the key 1947 Security Council debates on the Indonesian question, the Philippines, Burma and Pakistan asked to participate and were invited to do so. In particular, Carlos Romulo, the Philippine representative, was a frequent and eloquent speaker. Moreover, the Indonesians themselves made what proved to be a successful effort to court their fellow Muslims. Indonesian Muslim leaders visited the Middle East, set up a headquarters in Cairo, and established contact with the Arab League's New York headquarters. By mid- June 1947, the Republic had received de facto recognition from Iran, Egypt and Syria (which held a seat in the Security Council at that time) and promises of assistance from Transjordan, Saudi Arabia and the Yemen, Pakistan also associated herself with the Indonesian cause, joining India and Ceylon in closing her harbors and airfields to Dutch craft en route to Indonesia.

The climax of Third World effort on Indonesia's behalf was reached at the New Delhi Conference in January 1949. Called by India, it was attended by representatives from Afghanistan, Australia, Burma, Ceylon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the Yemen, with observers from China, Nepal, New Zealand and Thailand. As much as any single event, this conference crystallized Third World sentiment by its strong pro-Indonesian stand.

To the general rule among Asian nations-support for Indonesia but indifference to Indochina-it appears that there were only two exceptions, both in defiance of subsequent stereotypes. One was Chiang Kai-shek's China, whose role in Indochina has already been noted. China also followed Indonesia closely (partly for the sake of the Chinese community there) and in the Security Council often came to Indonesia's defense.

The only other exception to the general rule was Thailand, which for a brief period permitted Vietminh propaganda and purchasing agents to operate on her territory and provided aid and asylum to Lao rebels, some of whom were associated with the Vietminh. These activities reflected continued Thai-French differences over the return of Lao territory, traditional Thai interest in Laos, and the views and attitudes of the then-dominant Thai political figure, Pridi Phanomyong. They ceased shortly after Pridi's downfall in November 1947.


When the Indonesians achieved their independence, they had little reason to express any particular gratitude to the U.S.S.R. By December 1949, in fact, Moscow was fully launched on a campaign of vilification against non- Communist nationalists, and had already added Sukarno and Hatta to its list of imperialist running dogs; it even vetoed a resolution welcoming the Round Table Conference on the ground that Indonesia's new status was merely a variant of colonialism. Along the way, however, caught in compulsions to act created by the Security Council involvement, Moscow was a good deal more helpful to Sukarno's Indonesia than to Ho Chi Minh's D.R.V. The confusion and contradiction evident in its policy toward both stemmed from Moscow's predominant interest in Europe, which in turn contributed to the slow development of postwar Communist doctrine on the colonial issue.

Toward Indonesia, Soviet declaratory policy and bilateral treatment fluctuated sharply from 1945 right through 1947. After a period of verbal support for the Republic, Moscow turned hostile and in late 1946 denounced the Linggadjati Agreement and declined to extend de facto recognition. Relations became warmer when the Republic had a Left-leaning government in late 1947, and a consular agreement completed at that time appeared to the local PKI to foreshadow Soviet aid-which was then not forthcoming.

Apparent confusion over Indonesia reached a peak during 1948. At the Communist-sponsored youth conference in Calcutta in February when the Zhdanov line dividing the world into two camps was brought to Asia, Indonesia was described as having attained "the highest form of armed struggle." In August, there suddenly arrived in Indonesia a veteran Communist leader, Musso, fresh from a long exile in Moscow. And in mid- September, the Communists attempted a coup centered in Madiun, third largest city in Republican territory, but within three months were crushed. The sequence of events-the Calcutta conference with its new hard line, the return of Musso, and the uprising-led to wide suspicion that Moscow was behind the Communist coup attempt. The Soviet press, however, had paid no attention to Musso's return or subsequent PKI developments and continued to describe the Republic as courageously defending its independence. In August, there were a few unfavorable references to Hatta but no sustained campaign, The Madiun revolt itself was covered in a few short, confused and extremely cautious reports, receiving no analytical treatment until January 1949 when New Times accused Hatta of having provoked it with U.S. support in order to behead the progressive movement and crush democracy. It was only then that the U.S.S.R. began to vilify Hatta and other Indonesian leaders-the shift apparently stemming primarily from international doctrinal developments that had accorded the same fate to the leaders of India and Burma.

While Soviet declaratory policy thus fluctuated, the U.S.S.R. followed at the United Nations a consistent policy of support for the Republic and its leaders and of attacks on the "imperialist" powers. Throughout the debates, it was a strong supporter of arbitration rather than the milder remedy of good offices, it pressed for enforcement machinery representative of Security Council membership (instead of the one-sided Good Offices trio), and it favored coupling requirements for Dutch troop withdrawals with ceasefire arrangements. Unlike Australia, with which it frequently voted on resolutions embodying these principles, it was reluctant to compromise and its typical vote was thus an abstention.

Finally, as the independence of Indonesia came into sight in 1949, Moscow made its choice between ideology and anticolonialism in favor of the former. Charging that the transfer of sovereignty was "a gross deception," the Soviet representative at the United Nations described the Indonesians as once again "wearing the chains of colonial enslavement with the complicity of the representatives of the Hatta clique, which has betrayed the interests of its people."[xiii]

In the case of Indochina, Soviet focus on Europe was a primary factor affecting its interest in, and even its understanding of, the revolution Ho was leading. More specifically, from 1945 to late 1947, Moscow's expectation of Communist parliamentary victories in Western Europe, especially in France, made it anxious to avoid any action likely to cast a shadow on the prospects of the French Communist Party (FCP). Accordingly, while it expressed appropriate sympathy for the Vietminh and while the Indochinese struggle was appropriately hailed on the correct Communist occasions, the U.S.S.R. did nothing either diplomatically or through international Communist machinery to provide practical assistance. Typical of its treatment of events during this period was the comment on the modus vivendi of September 1946, in an article published in December, after the shelling of Haiphong: "The further development of Vietnam depends to a significant degree on its ties with democratic France, whose progressive forces have always spoken forth in support of colonial liberation."[xiv] If there was a road to Hanoi, it led through the working-class suburbs of Paris.

This position did not go unopposed within the party; for example, in the balloting on appropriations for the Indochina war in March 1947, while Communist cabinet members cast affirmative votes, Communist deputies were permitted to abstain. Even more evident was the disquiet of the Vietminh. In a conversation with the American Ambassador in December 1946, a French official described the telegrams from Indochina that had been bombarding FCP leaders and the appeals to trade unions for a dock strike to bar the transport of troops and supplies. The Embassy commented: "This pressure has been of considerable embarrassment to the French Communist Party, coming, as it does, at a time when party is trying to persuade French public that Communist government would be safe custodian of France's international interests, and more particularly, to persuade Radical Socialists to enter left-wing coalition government."[xv]

In May 1947, the Communists left the government on another issue, but for some time they still hoped to win power through electoral victories. By December, the French Communists were at last in full support of the D.R.V. as a member of the anti-imperialist and democratic camp. More slowly still, Moscow's line shifted, reflecting disappointment with Communist prospects in the West and the newly stated "two camps" doctrine of the Cominform. In neither case, however, was the shift quickly reflected in concrete assistance; only in 1950 did the French Communists embark on a campaign of strikes and demonstrations to obstruct troops and supply movements to Indochina. To Ho, it must have seemed late in the day.


In American priorities at the end of the war, Europe came ahead of Asia; and within Asia, Northeast Asia and China overshadowed the rest. Speaking in October 1945, John Carter Vincent listed the Southeast Asian colonies last among American concerns in the Far East. He took note of conditions in Indochina and Indonesia and said that the United States, while recognizing French and Dutch sovereignty, judged it to be the first duty of the colonial powers to assist dependent peoples toward independence, and, above all, hoped that differences could be resolved peacefully.[xvi]

At about this same time, the Office of Strategic Services was ordered to withdraw its mission from Hanoi. In later years many have wondered what might have been, had American policy-makers been guided by the reports of that tiny band. However, the really fateful decision behind Vincent's pious but detached view had long since been taken. Well before the war's end, American plans for empowering the postwar international organization to supervise the transition to independence had begun to conflict with demands for unrestricted postwar American control of the Japanese-mandated islands, and had finally given way before these demands.[xvii] Equally fatefully, as plans for the final assault on Japan increasingly centered around Pacific Ocean air and amphibious operations, the United States lost much of its interest in Southeast Asia-the Philippines excepted; its military withdrawal from the area was formalized in the Potsdam arrangements for Indochina and Indonesia. Through these choices, made before the end of the war, it became most unlikely that the United States would support colonial independence, especially in Indochina, with all the vigor that Roosevelt's wartime statements had implied.

While thus standing aside, the United States did seek to dissociate itself from the French and Dutch. As early as October 1945, Secretary Byrnes announced that the British and Dutch had been requested to remove U.S. insignia from military equipment they were using in Indonesia, and, at the beginning of 1946, the War Department was informed that it was not in accord with U.S. policy to employ American flag vessels or aircraft to transport troops, arms, ammunition or military equipment to Indonesia or Indochina. Official statements continued to reiterate the availability of good offices should both sides request them, as well as American respect for existing sovereignty and American conviction that, if both sides proceeded in good faith and with due respect for obligations and responsibilities, a peaceful and equitable solution would emerge.

As time went on, the dilemma became increasingly clear. A message to the U.S. Embassy in Paris early in 1947 put the case and the policy well: any setbacks to the West European powers anywhere are setbacks to the United States; but South and Southeast Asia are also areas of great importance and there newly emerging nations stand in grave danger of plunging into internal discord or being captured by forces antithetical to the West, whether Communist or pan-Asian; the best safeguard against these and other dangers lies in close association between newly autonomous peoples and their former rulers; but this can only be achieved on a voluntary basis- attempts to perpetuate the relationship on any other grounds are doomed to failure and will redound against the West as a whole; the United States, for this reason and because of its own interests in East Asia, is inescapably concerned; but, while it wishes to be helpful, it has no solution to offer and does not propose to intervene.[xviii]

In Indochina, the conflict between European and Asian interests continued to plague American policy until 1954; meanwhile, nonintervention was helpful to the French and intervention, when it came, was on the French side and was of sufficient size to compensate for the irritation of constant American reformist pressures. In Indonesia, on the other hand, when the First Police Action precipitated the problem into the Security Council, nonintervention became an impossible posture; finally, the Second Police Action forced a choice in which European interests yielded.

Thus, although it was extremely reluctant to see the United Nations intervene in 1947, the United States came to play a major part in the decolonization of Indonesia largely through its relationship with the United Nations and the U.N. machinery developed in Indonesia. In stimulating U.S. interest in and, ultimately, support for Indonesia, other factors were also important. There was an American economic interest, with investments before the war in oil alone estimated at $70 million and in rubber at $40 million. Although in overall terms the amounts were small, and economic factors as such do not seem to have been important in shaping American policy, the fact that the investments existed at all contributed to the greater interest Americans showed in Indonesia than in Indochina, which had been effectively sealed off from non-French economic activity. Moreover, Indonesia's leaders, while willing to accept Communist allies, were clearly not themselves Communists, and when the PKI gave trouble, were quite prepared to use force to put it down at Madiun. This did not pass unnoticed in Congress: the Indonesians, Senator Wayne Morse observed in April 1949, "are the only people in that part of the world, who, up to this hour, have made a successful fight against Russian communism within their borders."[xix]

But the Security Council element was most crucial. Once seized of the problem, the United Nations provided a rallying point not only for American friends of the Republic, but also for proponents of a strong international organization, already dismayed by the impact of the cold war on U.N. effectiveness. Involvement in U.N. operations made U.S. interest self- reinforcing. Americans of some standing, Frank Graham, President of the University of North Carolina, and Coert duBois and Merle Cochran, senior Foreign Service officers, served in succession as the U.S. representatives on the Good Offices Committee; their own prestige and that of the United States became linked to the Committee's success; and the work of their staffs made it possible for them and for Washington to be reasonably well informed. In Hanoi, during the same period, the United States was normally represented by a vice-consul; in Saigon the consulate was not much more heavily staffed and was operated as a satellite of the American Embassy in Paris.

Their U.N. role, moreover, seemed to make it easier for American representatives to take the initiative. For example, in January 1947, Abbot Low Moffat, then in charge of Southeast Asian affairs in the Department of State and en route to Canberra after visits to Saigon and Hanoi, pleaded for a U.S. effort to bring about an end to hostilities in Indochina. He warned that Asians saw Washington's hands-off policy as supporting French military reconquest. The French effort, he argued, could result at best in only seeming success-bringing enough bitterness in its wake to defeat French objectives and threaten all Western interests. A permanent solution, he urged, could be based only on an independent Vietnam. When his requests to return to Washington to report more fully were rejected, however, no further action was open to him.[xx]

In contrast, when Coert duBois in Indonesia saw that his warnings of further Dutch military action were not eliciting new instructions from Washington he moved on his own initiative. In June 1948, he joined with his Australian colleague, T. K. Critchley, in an informal proposal for an elected constituent assembly to form an Indonesian government and join with Netherlands representatives to frame a statute for the Netherlands Indonesian Union. Nothing came of the plan, but its rejection by the Dutch in the face of Indonesian acceptance was another black mark against the former, intensifying the anger aroused by the Second Police Action.

When the Dutch initiated the First Police Action, the United States and Britain, in hopes of avoiding U.N. involvement, immediately proffered good offices. Both had greeted the Linggadjati Agreement as Dutch acceptance of early self-government within the framework of continued Netherlands sovereignty. Both had granted de facto recognition to the Republic and, as negotiations moved toward breakdown, the United States pressed the Indonesians to accept Dutch proposals for an interim government, promising economic assistance as soon as political problems were resolved. Hopes that the Netherlands would accept informal mediation and thus stave off U.N. intervention reflected doubts over the efficacy of Security Council action and, presumably, with the Ukrainian resolution in the recent past, fear that the U.S.S.R, would exploit propaganda opportunities to good effect against the West. Also of great concern to the United States, as well as to Britain, were the implications of accepting the jurisdiction of the Security Council on a question closely resembling what each might wish to regard as a domestic affair.

With these considerations weighing on one side, and concern for the deteriorating situation in Indonesia on the other, the United States bent its efforts in two directions. It sought to fend off proposals for a more active U.N. role and more extensive requirements than the Netherlands (and its Belgian, French and British supporters) could be expected to tolerate. And it sought compromises-giving some satisfaction to supporters of the Dutch-that could attract the seven affirmative votes required for passage and thereby keep the U.N. role in being. Behind its parliamentary maneuvers in the Security Council lay three principles: The United States preferred good offices to arbitration, was unwilling to insist that troop withdrawals accompany ceasefires, and opposed allocating responsibility for breakdowns to one side or the other. In partial balance, American members of the Good Offices Committee in the field tended to attribute lack of progress more often to the Netherlands than to Indonesia and to be as activist as possible in carrying out their responsibilities.

This generally even-handed posture changed after the Second Police Action. The American representative at the Security Council for the first time explicitly condemned the Netherlands. U.S. pressures were then mounted from all sides. American statements and proposed resolutions in the Security Council became much stronger. On December 22, the transfer of still unspent aid funds ($14 million out of $68 million) allocated to the Netherlands for Indonesia was "suspended pending further developments." Vociferous congressional critics of Dutch behavior put forward an amendment to the aid bill cutting off all funds from any government failing to comply with a Security Council request, and mustered substantial support, particularly from the Republicans. This was stronger action than the Administration favored at a time of heightened diplomatic effort, and a final compromise merely incorporated in the aid bill the article of the Charter prohibiting assistance to any state "against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action." In March, Secretary of State Acheson put the need for compliance to the Netherlands Foreign Minister in most urgent terms. For the Dutch government, the new American stance was probably the decisive factor in this last phase, underlining the futility of continuing to face guerrilla resistance in the Indies, political opposition at home, assaults in the United Nations, Third World opprobrium and the pressures of its allies. Beginning with the resumption of Dutch-Indonesian negotiations in mid-April, the road to independence was relatively smooth.


By the summer of 1950, the cold war had established itself in Asia and for both sides Vietnam had become an important prize. The D.R.V., strengthened by an ally at its rear and finding that its moderate pretensions had won it no international support, proclaimed its membership in the Communist bloc, reorganized internally along Communist lines, and in 1950-the year of the Korean War-moved into large unit warfare. Seeing all of Southeast Asia threatened by the addition of China to the Soviet bloc, the United States was forced by these circumstances-as it had been forced by other circumstances in Indonesia-to make a choice. And, in the atmosphere of the times, its choice in Vietnam seemed as inevitable as its choice in Indonesia. It would press when it could for greater concessions to Vietnamese nationalism. But it would give greater priority to supporting the French effort against the Vietminh in hopes of preventing further Communist expansion in Asia, while permitting France to make her contributions to the defense of Europe.

The struggle in Indonesia had been internationalized in circumstances that helped to end it. The struggle in Vietnam was internationalized in circumstances that helped to perpetuate it. When Giap said in 1950, "Indochina has become the forward stronghold of the democratic world in Southeast Asia," he was expressing the views of Moscow, Peking and Hanoi. But the same thought-however different the image evoked by the word "democratic"-prevailed in Washington, London and Paris.

[i] I am indebted for this story to Mr. Isaacs and to Mr. Soedjatraoko, recently Indonesian Ambassador to the United States and one of Sjahrir's close associates at the time.

[ii] Benedict Anderson, Some Aspects of Indonesian Politics under the Japanese Occupation, 1944-1945, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1961, p. 46.

[iii] Alfred Grosser, La IV République et Sa Politique Extérieure, Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1961, p. 255.

[iv] Lest this seem surprising, Ernest Bevin said in 1947: "Were the Netherlands Indies at peace, the fat-rationing difficulties of the world would, in twelve months, be solved." One may recall how desperate the world situation, and Britain's own, were in this period-and still find echoes of a prewar faith in the wealth of the Indies.

[vii] Congressional Record, Vol. 95, Part 3, p. 3847.

[viii] H. J. van Mook, The Stakes of Democracy in Southeast Asia, New York: Norton, 1950, p. 260.

[x] Allan B. Cole, Conflict in Indochina and International Repercussions: A Documentary History, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1956, p. 50.

[xii] Security Council Official Records, July 31, 1947, p. 1622.

[xiv] Charles B. McLane, Soviet Strategies in Asia, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966, p. 271.

[xix] Congressional Record, Vol. 95, Part 3, p. 3668.

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