Courtesy Reuters

Indonesia and the Problem of Southeast Asia

THE Indonesian problem is one out of many that were thrown up by the earthquakes and the eruptions of World War II. Like many others, it fell among a world of nations disorganized and disunited, and therefore unprepared to cope with it along the lines of an agreed and well-tested policy of peace and reconstruction. Its solution was and is primarily the concern of the Netherlands and Indonesia themselves. Unfortunately, both countries, at the end of the war, were weakened and shaken by years of enemy occupation. And as none of the Big Five carried any direct responsibility in this matter, it came to be treated internationally as a problem open to all for debate and interference. So it was exposed to the dislocations that accompanied the winding up of the war and to the growing-pains of the United Nations. But now, at last, the problem seems to have reached a stage where a better understanding of its essentials becomes possible. Agreement on the spot need no longer be retarded by conflicting views and interests among the democratic nations.

It belongs to a group of similar problems in Southeast Asia concerning dependent or semi-dependent areas in transition to nationhood. As a category they have obtained thus far very little special attention and study from the leading victors and the United Nations. They hardly figured in the fateful conferences before and just after the end of the war. If any concerted policy toward them was tentatively outlined at Yalta, Potsdam, London and elsewhere, it did not get beyond the stage of generalities. Even the Politburo seems really to have tackled these problems only something like a year ago. Ever since the final partition of "backward" peoples on this globe among the late imperialist Powers, any collective interest in Asia by those Powers gravitated to Japan, China and the oil-producing deserts of the Middle East. Peaceful and orderly Southeast Asia could be left to the care of the individual western nations concerned, it

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