United States Policy towards Indonesia in the Truman and Eisenhower Years

By Andrew Roadnight | Go to book overview

4
The US and Nationalism in Indonesia (January 1950 January 1953)

The day after the formal transfer of sovereignty, President Truman issued a fulsome statement welcoming Indonesia to the ‘community of free nations’. Praising Sukarno as a ‘great leader’, Truman set the scene for future bilateral relations by promising Indonesia ‘the sympathy and support of all who believe in democracy and the right of self-government’ and he announced that Cochran would be the first American Ambassador to Indonesia. 1 The Australian Ambassador to Washington, Norman Makin, was not impressed by the American celebrations, as he informed his government. Questioning the depth of US commitment to Indonesia, he archly reported that the occasion of the transfer of sovereignty had been ‘a two-day wonder’ in the US and might have been even less conspicuous but for an ‘unintended delay’ in the granting of recognition to the new regime. Makin noted that Washington's attitude towards Jakarta 2 was conditioned by its expectation that Indonesia would assist in the containment of communism in Southeast Asia and that the end of hostilities would allow the reintegration of Indonesia into the world economy. 3


Indonesia as a free nation

Beyond the diplomatic niceties, Administration officials knew that much still needed to be done to cement relations with the new nation and that Indonesia faced many problems after its ruinous occupation by the Japanese and the gruelling independence struggle. However, Washington was confident that it could assist the new Indonesian Government to complete successfully the transition to nationhood. Washington wanted to maintain and strengthen ‘a politically stable, economically

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