506 Hodgson to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 302 PARIS, 3[1] [1] December 1948

Indonesia. I have tried to keep you fully informed both as to Council proceedings and background as Indonesian case has been dealt with over past couple of weeks and there is little which can now be added in the way of general comment.

2. The outstanding fact is not specially related to Indonesia and lies in the disturbing deterioration of the Council as an effective instrument at all. The clear lesson is that it is little more than yet another sounding board for Great Power disagreement, and the protection it can afford any small power against aggression is small. The calibre of representatives is much lower than before, with consequential effects on the exercise of discretion in debate.

3. It was reasonable to hope last week that, with the USSR, US, and UK all favouring withdrawal, the only action likely to save the Republic would be taken. I have described to you the tragic inability of the Great Powers to reach a formula on which they could agree. This week, with a hardening in the UK attitude against the Republic which leads one to the belief that this is what they really felt all along, and with the US not wishing at any cost to side with Russia against Western Union, any hopes that might have been entertained soon faded. The Russian attitude towards the GOC, and her determination to make political capital at any cost, was a contributory factor of at least equal force.

When the negative, even irresponsible, attitudes of Argentina and Canada are also taken into account the lack of results is understandable. The French and Belgian positions had at least the merit of consistency, and the other members of the Council were fair and objective throughout.

4. I find it hard to see what more Australia could have done. I know you were working hard through diplomatic channels, and here I spared no effort to impress our views on all members of the Council (and on those non-members participating) continuously. We intervened in the debates as often as possible, consistent with the somewhat anomalous and powerless position of a non-member. We were in close touch with Palar and Desai (India) as to tactics throughout. So far as the US is concerned, it is not going too far to say that we were directly responsible for the strength of their initial approach. It is disappointing to record, this week at least, a coldly uncooperative attitude on the part of the UK. I attribute most blame to weakness and vacillation of UK and US who steadily retreated from the reasonably firm initial stand.

5. The Dutch clearly do not understand the nature of the resistance they will encounter, or what is likely to happen in the long run-the triumph of extremist forces in Indonesia with attendant dangers to all white races in the area. To suggest, as Jessup did yesterday, that the work of the Council had enabled the people of Indonesia to look to the future with hope is, in my view, playing with words. It seems, apart from uncoordinated guerrilla action, that we are faced with a military fait accompli in Indonesia. Netherlands calculated correctly on the weakness and divisions in Security Council and throughout was determined to defy Council opinion and resolutions.

6. Question now is what can be done in New York. Suggest something along following lines. GOC should present report with programme for creation of a representative United States of Indonesia and a recommendation as to action SC might take. All their reports since December 18 have been good and their findings clearly establish Netherlands violations. Replace or merge GOC in wider body on spot with increased functions and powers, as constant tendency in Council to challenge any action GOC does other than bringing parties together.

7. It is essential to preserve as much of integrity of Republic as possible in United States of Indonesia. Wider body could mediate and assist in negotiations to ensure fair play, bring about early elections, and to prevent reprisals and executions. While Council was loath to take firm action on immediate problem it was clear that feeling against Netherlands was hardening and in United States the Council might well be persuaded to take strong action in solution long-term problem.

8. To this end, diplomatic representations could be made at Washington, London and especially Ottawa. Idea is to obtain assurance that US and UK will give definite lead and for US to enlist support of Cuba and Argentina and for UK support of France and Norway.

9. I am inclined to think idea any form of Trusteeship impracticable and in any case would involve long consultations and consequent delay.

1 Date of dispatch corrected with reference to a copy on file AA :

A1838, 403/3/1/1, xx.

[AA : A4387/2, A/48/19H]