New Evidence on the US Response to Decolonization in Indonesia, Southeast Asia

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tags: books, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, decolonization

Drawing on previously untapped archival resources, a new book released today provides a meticulously researched account of US relations with Indonesia before, during, and after that nation’s revolution. Written by William J. Rust, The Mask of Neutrality: The United States and Decolonization in Indonesia, 1942–1950 examines three periods of America’s evolving engagement with Indonesia and the groups battling for control there: 

* The World War II years, 1942–1945, when the US government’s rhetoric was more anti-colonial than its policy;

* The Indonesian revolution, 1945–1949, when US policy initially tilted toward the Netherlands and then shifted against it; and

* The first year of Indonesia’s internationally recognized independence, 1950, when the legacy of colonialism created internal security problems and when the United States began pressing the Indonesian government to take a more forthright anticommunist stand in the cold war.

“William Rust once again reminds us that we can find no better guide to the labyrinthine origins of America’s tragic entanglements in Southeast Asia,” says Temple University historian Richard Immerman. “Deeply researched in a broad spectrum of archives and uncovering a range of hitherto little known or even unknown intelligence activities, The Mask of Neutrality explores the twists and turns of the US posture toward the decolonization of Indonesia with insight, nuance, and historical sensibility. A sobering account, it will remain the go-to history for years to come.”

Read entire article at Before the Quagmire

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