United States Policy towards Indonesia in the Truman and Eisenhower Years

By Andrew Roadnight | Go to book overview

8
Conclusion

It took the tumultuous events of 1965 to achieve US foreign policy objectives in Indonesia. Only then was Washington able to look forward to the archipelago's integration into the world capitalist economy under a friendly and anti-communist government. Four years previously, Indonesia had seemed to be well on the way to becoming a communist-dominated state and the Eisenhower Administration appeared powerless to prevent it happening. This failure of US policy occurred primarily because successive postwar US governments had tried to apply their formulaic Cold War strategies to a situation in which they were not appropriate. However, this was not the only reason for the failure. In the decade and a half after the end of World War II, both the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations wasted opportunities to win over Indonesian nationalism to the West's side in the struggle with the USSR. Indeed, the management of relations with Indonesia was, in defiance of the presumption that US foreign policy was conducted on a rational basis, heavily influenced by the often stereotypical and patronising attitudes held by senior Administration officials.


Cold War policies fail in Indonesia

In 1945, Washington's main foreign policy concern was the restoration of a functioning capitalist system after the dislocations of the Great Depression and World War II. In Indonesia, the State Department fully expected that the return of the Dutch would result in the reestablishment of prewar economic relationships with the colony. However, the appearance of a vibrant and capable nationalist movement presented Washington with a challenge it was not well-placed to meet. The Truman Administration's natural predisposition towards its European

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