Indonesian National Revolution | diplomacy and military offensives

Diplomacy and military offensives

Linggadjati Agreement

The Linggadjati Agreement, brokered by the British and concluded in November 1946, saw the Netherlands recognise the Republic as the de facto authority over Java, Madura, and Sumatra. Both parties agreed to the formation of the United States of Indonesia by 1 January 1949, a semi-autonomous federal state with the monarch of the Netherlands at its head. The Republican-controlled Java and Sumatra would be one of its states, alongside areas that were generally under stronger Dutch influence, including southern Kalimantan, and the "Great East", which consisted of Sulawesi, Maluku, the Lesser Sunda Islands, and Western New Guinea. The Central National Committee of Indonesia (KNIP) did not ratify the agreement until February 1947, and neither the Republic nor the Dutch were satisfied with it.[8] On 25 March 1947 the Lower House of the Dutch parliament ratified a stripped down version of the treaty, which was not accepted by the Republic.[55] Both sides soon accused the other of violating the agreement.

...[the Republic] became increasingly disorganised internally; party leaders fought with party leaders; governments were over thrown and replaced by others; armed groups acted on their own in local conflicts; certain parts of the Republic never had contact with the centre-they just drifted along in their own way. The whole situation deteriorated to such an extent that the Dutch Government was obliged to decide that no progress could be made before law and order were restored sufficiently to make intercourse between the different parts of Indonesia possible, and to guarantee the safety of people of different political opinions.

— former East Indies Governor H. J. van Mook's justification for the first Dutch "police action".[56]

Operation Product

At midnight on 20 July 1947, the Dutch launched a major military offensive called Operatie Product, with the intent of conquering the Republic. Claiming violations of the Linggajati Agreement, the Dutch described the campaign as politionele acties ("police actions") to restore law and order. This used to be the task of the KNIL. However, at the time the majority of the Dutch troops in Indonesia belonged to the Royal Netherlands Army. Soon after the end of World War II, 25,000 volunteers (among them 5,000 marines) had been sent overseas. They were later followed by larger numbers of conscripts from the Netherlands. In the offensive, Dutch forces drove Republican troops out of parts of Sumatra, and East and West Java. The Republicans were confined to the Yogyakarta region of Java. To maintain their force in Java, now numbering 100,000 troops, the Dutch gained control of lucrative Sumatran plantations, and oil and coal installations, and in Java, control of all deep water ports.

A Dutch military column during Operation Product

International reaction to the Dutch actions was negative. Neighbouring Australia and newly independent India were particularly active in supporting the Republic's cause in the UN, as was the Soviet Union and, most significantly, the United States. Dutch ships continued to be boycotted from loading and unloading by Australian waterside workers, a blockade that began in September 1945. The United Nations Security Council became directly involved in the conflict, establishing a Good Offices Committee to sponsor further negotiations, making the Dutch diplomatic position particularly difficult. A ceasefire, called for by UNSC resolution 27, was ordered by the Dutch and Sukarno on 4 August 1947.[57]

Renville Agreement

The Van Mook line in Java. Areas in red were under Republican control.[58]

The United Nations Security Council brokered the Renville Agreement in an attempt to rectify the collapsed Linggarjati Agreement. The agreement was ratified in January 1948 and recognised a cease-fire along the so-called 'Van Mook line'; an artificial line which connected the most advanced Dutch positions.[59] Many Republican positions, however, were still held behind the Dutch lines. The agreement also required referenda to be held on the political future of the Dutch held areas. The apparent reasonableness of Republicans garnered much important American goodwill.[57]

Diplomatic efforts between the Netherlands and the Republic continued throughout 1948 and 1949. Political pressures, both domestic and international, hindered Dutch attempts to decide upon objectives. Similarly, Republican leaders faced great difficulty in persuading their people to accept diplomatic concessions. By July 1948 negotiations were in deadlock and the Netherlands pushed unilaterally towards Van Mook's federal Indonesia concept. The new federal states of South Sumatra and East Java were created, although neither had a viable support base.[60] The Netherlands set up the Bijeenkomst voor Federaal Overleg (BFO) (or Federal Consultative Assembly), a body comprising the leadership of the federal states, and charged with the formation of a United States of Indonesia and an interim government by the end of 1948. The Dutch plans, however, had no place for the Republic unless it accepted a minor role already defined for it. Later plans included Java and Sumatra but dropped all mention of the Republic. The main sticking point in the negotiations was the balance of power between the Netherlands High Representative and the Republican forces.[61]

Mutual distrust between the Netherlands and the Republic hindered negotiations. The Republic feared a second major Dutch offensive, while the Dutch objected to continued Republican activity on the Dutch side of the Renville line. In February 1948 the Siliwangi Division (35,000 men) of the Republican Army, led by Nasution, marched from West Java to Central Java; the relocation was intended to ease internal Republican tensions involving the Division in the Surakarta area. The Battalion[clarification needed], however, clashed with Dutch troops while crossing Mount Slamet, and the Dutch believed it was part of a systematic troop movement across the Renville Line. The fear of such incursions actually succeeding, along with apparent Republican undermining of the Dutch-established Pasundan state and negative reports, led to the Dutch leadership increasingly seeing itself as losing control.[62]

Operation Crow and General Offensive (Serangan Oemoem)

We have been attacked.... The Dutch government have betrayed the cease-fire agreement. All the Armed Forces will carry out the plans which have been decided on to confront the Dutch attack

General Sudirman, broadcast from his sickbed.[63]

Two men with rope around their necks are handcuffed by TNI officers on September 1948 in Madiun, Indonesia.

Frustrated at negotiations with the Republic and believing it weakened by both the Darul Islam and Madiun insurgencies, the Dutch launched a military offensive on 19 December 1948 which it termed 'Operatie Kraai' (Operation Crow). By the following day it had conquered the city of Yogyakarta, the location of the temporary Republican capital. By the end of December, all major Republican held cities in Java and Sumatra were in Dutch hands.[1] The Republican President, Vice-President, and all but six Republic of Indonesia ministers were captured by Dutch troops and exiled on Bangka Island off the east coast of Sumatra. In areas surrounding Yogyakarta and Surakarta, Republican forces refused to surrender and continued to wage a guerrilla war under the leadership of Republican military chief of staff General Sudirman who had escaped the Dutch offensives. An emergency Republican government, the Pemerintahan Darurat Republik Indonesia (PDRI), was established in West Sumatra.

Dutch forces in the East Indies, 1948

Although Dutch forces conquered the towns and cities in Republican heartlands on Java and Sumatra, they could not control villages and the countryside.[64] Republican troops and militia led by Lt. Colonel (later President) Suharto attacked Dutch positions in Yogyakarta at dawn on 1 March 1949. The Dutch were expelled from the city for six hours but reinforcements were brought in from the nearby cities of Ambarawa and Semarang that afternoon.[64] Indonesian fighters retreated at 12:00 pm and the Dutch re-entered the city. The Indonesian attack, later known in Indonesia as Serangan Oemoem (new spelling: Serangan Umum '1 March General Offensive'), is commemorated by a large monument in Yogyakarta. A large-scale attack against Dutch troops in Surakarta on 10 August the same year resulted in republican forces holding the city for two days.[65]

Once again, international opinion of the Dutch military campaigns was one of outrage, significantly in both the United Nations and the United States. In January 1949, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding the reinstatement of the Republican government.[13] United States aid specifically earmarked for Dutch Indonesia was immediately cancelled and pressure mounted within the US Congress for all United States aid to be cut off. This included Marshall Plan funds vital for Dutch post-World War II rebuilding that had so far totalled $US 1 billion.[66] The Netherlands Government had spent an amount equivalent to almost half of this funding their campaigns in Indonesia. That United States aid could be used to fund "a senile and ineffectual imperialism" encouraged many key voices in the United States – including those amongst the US Republican Party – and from within American churches and NGOs to speak out in support of Indonesian independence.[3]