Research project on Indonesian War 1945-1949: ignorance and lost opportunity

Let’s start with the objective of the project, “to answer questions regarding the nature, scale and causes of structural violence in Indonesia, considered in a broader political, social and international context”; “attention will be paid to the chaotic period spanning August 1945 to early 1949”. There were many factors that caused the violence and chaos, but the only one relevant to the Dutch people was (and still is) the fact that they annexed Indonesia after its independence. Before performing this project, the Dutch government should first and foremost evaluate the socio-economic and political factors that lead to the Dutch decision to re-occupy the country. Why did the Dutch come back after their defeat by the Japanese imperial army and after Indonesia gained its independence? To ignore that very question is not only offensive but also unhelpful to improve our lack of understanding of the history; it would create more suspicion and even weaken the narrative of progress in Indonesia-Netherlands relations that we all want to foster. The source of the budget is the Dutch government, the very government who refuses to formally recognize Indonesian’s independence of Aug. 17, 1945 to avoid the legal implication of their Indonesian occupation; had they recognized that date, their occupation in the period of 1945-1949 would have been illegitimate with myriad negative legal implications against them. This is the very government whom Indonesia paid 4.5 billion guilders (approximately US$10 billion nowadays) to leave the independent nation that they had long occupied in peace. This reminds me of tobacco companies which funded research projects to show the positive impact of tobacco on health in the US 60 years ago. How could the public value the results with any sense of credibility?

Juhaeri Muchtar in Research project on Indonesian War 1945-1949: Ignorance and lost opportunity (