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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Wednesday—On Tuesday the documents were signed which placed the stamp of final legality on the new United States of Indonesia. There has been created a Netherlands-Indonesian union, with Queen Juliana at its head, but each is free to go its own way. This instrument will govern the new conditions under which these countries now operate on a basis of cooperation, free will and equality.

Indonesia is no longer a colonial dependency. It remains to be proved, however, how successful the new government will be. Naturally the Dutch government will be fearful and wonder if the Indonesians have the ability to maintain a stable political life and bring the resources of the rich islands back to the type of prosperity they had before the war.

It will not be all plain sailing for the Indonesian government. Their immediate needs are going to be difficult to supply, and there will appear among their own people extremists who will probably try to bring about disturbances here and there, or even a real revolution. There has been, and perhaps will continue to be, a certain amount of guerrilla warfare.

All of this is not easy for a new nation to face and there are still certain details that must be settled with the Dutch government. There is a debt owed by the Indonesians to the Dutch. The question of how that is to be paid will have to be settled before very long.

Some might think that the turning over of these islands to the Indonesians themselves was a defeat for the Dutch. Many people felt similarly that the granting of freedom to India was a defeat for the British. Yet, I think India is probably, on a free and equal basis, a greater strength to the British Empire than she was beforehand. India knows she must rely on Great Britain for protection if force is needed in just the same way that the Indonesians know that while they want the protection of the Dutch they still want their soldiers withdrawn, even though they must not be too far away. Should Indonesia need them again at any time they will not hesitate to call upon them.

In both India and Indonesia I surmise there will be greater loyalty to the mother country than there has been in the past. Each country will build up its own strength with a great deal more interest than if it had remained a colonial possession.

These are some of the reasons why it seems to me unlikely that Tuesday was a day of defeat for the Dutch. I think it would be more nearly truthful to say that it was the beginning of greater strength for the cooperation between the Dutch and Indonesians. They will need each other in the future just as they have in the past. It will be possible for both of them to remain close together, but the feeling on the part of the Indonesians will be warmer. They will not resent a protection which they are obliged to ask for instead of having it taken for granted that they accept it.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 29, 1949

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.