407 Hodgson to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 272 PARIS, 20 December 1948, 9.02 p.m.



I attended the Council's meeting on Friday anticipating the Indonesian question would be on the agenda but it was not considered and no individual member of the Council raised it. I spoke to the President and several members of the Council and indicated the gravity of the situation which in the light of our information was likely to result in an explosion at any moment.

However I learned subsequently that President Langenhove supported by his Prime Minister Spaak who was in Paris flatly refused to entertain any idea of placing the question on the agenda although he had received a request from the Indonesian Federal Government here. I also learned today that the State Department had given strict instructions to their representative here to ask Belgium to join with them in placing it on the agenda. Belgium refused and the United States representative had no liberty of action to raise the question unilaterally.

It was the representative of the United States who first gave me information yesterday morning about the renewal of hostilities and said he had received instructions from his Government to ask if the Australian Government would be prepared to associate itself with the request to the President of the Security Council for the immediate calling of a meeting on Monday. He also indicated that the United States would be prepared to take a strong stand in the circumstances. In the light of our own policy I took the responsibility of saying that we did desire to be associated. Soon afterwards I had a conversation with Mr. McIntyre who confirmed the desirability of working in close concert with the United States representatives.

During the day I also got in touch with the Indonesian and United Kingdom representatives. The latter had no information or instructions but I have now learned that their attitude will not be known until the arrival of Cadogan tomorrow. Mr. Bevin was discussing the question with his Prime Minister late last night and I also understand Mr. Beasley is meeting Mr. McNeil this afternoon so I assume you will receive earlier information from London than I can give you as to the attitude and policy of the United Kingdom.

This morning's provisional agenda was not adopted because it seems that at the end of Friday's meeting the Soviet representative asked that at least three days' notice be given to members of any meeting of the Council before the end of this month and no objection was then raised to this. In the meantime Malik and Manouilsky had both gone to Moscow and Molotov personally sent a telegram to the President of the Council referring to what he called an agreement of the Council and asking that the meeting be postponed until Wednesday. The United States, Chinese Minist[ers] asked for immediate consideration pending further urgent reply to be sent to Moscow indicating that any such understanding by the Council did not apply, and could not apply under the charter to a grave emergency such as the present question. The President, however, was not disposed to send any such telegram. After the afternoon's aimless discussion it was decided that the President should send a telegram to the Good Offices Committee with the view to obtaining all information possible prior to the next meeting of the Council which was fixed for Wednesday morning, thus tacitly accepting the understanding of the Soviet representative. Jessup pointed out that Australian and Belgian members of the Committee were in Kaliurang and the United States representative was in Batavia and that Military Authorities had prevented any communication between them. Therefore, the President should ask the N.E.I. authorities to facilitate their reunion to enable a complete report to be sent.

This morning Jessup indicated to me the lines he was prepared to follow, and this afternoon, I obtained a copy of their draft resolution, which reads. Begins:-

'The Security Council noting with concern the resumption of hostilities by armed forces of the Netherlands against the Republic of Indonesia and having taken note of reports of the Committee of Good Offices, considers such resumption of hostilities to be in conflict with the resolution adopted by the Security Council at the 171st meeting on August 1st, 1947, calls upon the parties, (a) to cease hostilities forthwith and (b) immediately to withdraw their armed forces to their respective sides of demilitarized zones established under truce agreement of 17th January, 1948. Instructs the Committee of Good Offices to report to the Security Council fully and urgently by telegram on events which have transpired in Indonesia since 12th December, 1948, assessing the responsibility for the outbreak of hostilities.' [1]

You will note that this is very strong and direct but I think it a big advance that the United States is prepared to initiate such a resolution. It is only the first draft, however, and has not yet been cleared with the State Department. We have asked to be associated with it but there may be some technical difficulty about this which we are now examining. They will probably get the Chinese and either the Argentine or Colombian representatives to join with them. There should be a good chance of this going through with the support of the Chinese, Syrian, Soviet Union, Ukraine, Argentine, and Colombian representatives. With such a positive vote it is hardly likely that France or the United Kingdom would veto especially as the United Kingdom has been kept closely informed of the concern of the United States and deterioration of the position in the Netherlands East Indies and of action taken by the United States on December 9th.

As you may be unaware of this action I shall briefly summarise it.

On that date the Acting Secretary of State and American Ambassador at The Hague presented simultaneously aide memoire [2] in which the consequences of a breakdown in negotiations were emphasised and which said that Hatta constituted the best hope of reaching reasonable agreement. He had performed an excellent task in suppressing recent Communist outbreak and any further weakening of Hatta's own position would only result in the extremists taking the credit, to the detriment of the whole economic position not only of the N.E.I. but of the Netherlands itself. This would gravely affect United States policy and programme for E.R.P. and might well endanger E.R.P. assistance to the Netherlands.

I was informed that this was the strongest warning presented in recent times by the United States to a friendly power.

The Netherlands reply [3] next day was quite uncompromising and equally direct. It pointed out that the facts of United States were incorrect and that assumptions which flowed from them were unfounded. The note then reiterated the well known Dutch case with accusations of violations of the Renville and other agreements.

Concluded by stating that if these deductions [sic] continued, and if the Indonesian Republic did not give a clear undertaking to accept the conditions imposed by the Netherlands Government, the Netherlands Government could not be held responsible for the consequences which might ensue.

The wording of the final paragraph was such that on that day, December 10th, it was very clear that the Dutch proposed to take the action which has now, in fact, occurred. The State Department also interpreted the note accordingly. Copies of these notes will be sent to you tomorrow by air mail.

I am keeping in touch with, and have had conversations with, most of the other delegations but, at this stage, they are rather non- committal in the absence of instructions from their Governments.

So far as I can ascertain it is only the United States and Australian representatives who have concise instructions.

In my conversations with the Americans, I have indicated points made in your telegram P 273. [4] They are largely in agreement with them though at this stage I did not mention points (6) or (7) to them feeling that they were rather premature and points which might be kept in mind for the present. We would suggest another point under (3) namely that as the four chief executives captured in the capital Djocjakarta in present operations are only political leaders they, and other political and governmental captives must be released.

1 Submitted by Syria, Colombia and the United States to the 389th meeting of the Security Council on 22 December as a draft resolution on the Indonesian Question. For the text see United Nations, Security Council Official Records, Third Year, Supplement for December, pp.294-5.

2 The text of the aide-memoire is given in Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, vol. VI, Washington, 1974, pp.531-5.

3 The text of the Netherlands reply, dated 10 December, is given in Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, vol. VI, Washington, 1974, pp.544-8.

4 Document 396.

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