208 Hood to Burton

Letter NEW YORK, 12 July 1948


I take it from the absence of directions from Canberra lately that you are as puzzled as we are here to know exactly what can be done next to help the Indonesian matter along. Up to the present, there has quite definitely not been a majority in the Council for doing anything which looks like interference with the Committee of Three or which could be regarded as putting any sort of pressure on the Dutch. Even for the obvious and innocuous action of asking the Committee to forward the text of the Australian/American plan [1], we only got six votes at the last meeting. [2] All the other suggestions current, such as increasing the powers of the Committee, would probably not have got even that much support if they had been put to the vote.

The reason has been, of course, that both the Americans and the British, on account of other considerations, have not wanted to put the screw on the Dutch, especially in advance of the general election in Holland. But at the same time I know that neither of them has swallowed the Dutch line of propaganda which Van Kleffens has been putting out in the Council to the effect that everything is going alright and that the parties should be left to settle matters between themselves on the spot. The British have told me privately that in the recent period the Foreign Office has been telling the Dutch to go carefully and not overreach themselves either with the Security Council or in the local negotiations. The Americans also say that they are not at all taken in by Van Kleffens' soothing reassurances. One of their delegation told me last week that the State Department is getting more than a little tired of Dutch manoeuvrings and delaying tactics. They were prepared to let the Dutch go over their election period, but if still nothing happened in Batavia within a very short time after, they would want to know from the Dutch exactly what the latter were aiming to do. The delegation here is satisfied that the Australian/American paper is a good approach and would be quite happy to see the discussions go ahead on that basis, but they want to save the face of the Dutch as much as they can and are therefore thinking whether some other way can be found of bringing the plan back in again, but in some form different from that which the Dutch have already turned down two or three times.

I think therefore we can reasonably expect a bit more support from now on in trying to get the Council to take a more active interest in [the] [3] Batavia talks. I judge that even Belgium is becoming a bit embarrassed in having to back Van Kleffens up every time in the face of the very specific charges of delay and prevarication which Palar, ourselves and others have made in the Council, and would like some sign that the Dutch intend to pay attention to such criticism. Although the Council has so far done nothing about it, it is my impression, and that of others, that the Dutch case has of late not gone down any too well in the Council as a whole, and that the idea has really begun to sink in that things are not going in the way in which the Council meant them to go earlier in the year, the fault not being with the Republic. At least a certain persistence has resulted in the position being brought out into the light of day, and I don't see how the Council, having gone this far, can with any credit to itself now let the matter drop. One thing that would help would be much more frequent reports from the Committee, even if they are short and incomplete as they arrive. Otherwise it is too easy for the Council to find the excuse of waiting until a 'full review' is received from the Committee, which may not be easily digestible when it comes anyway.

1 Document 173.

2 See Document 203.

3 The word in square brackets was added by hand.

[AA:A1838, 403/3/1/1, xviii]