Colbert, Evelyn
April 1973
Foreign Affairs;Apr1973, Vol. 51 Issue 3, p608
This article focuses on decolonization and independence in Indonesia and Indochina. The defeat of Japan in 1945 brought with it a wave of decolonization throughout East Asia. To an extent few in the West had realized, the Japanese humiliation of the white man in 1941 and 1942, together with worldwide currents at work in India and elsewhere, had prepared the way for the rapid end of colonial rule. In this process, the Philippines had only to grasp the independence already promised before the war by the United States; the same promise had been made to India under the pressure of the war, and its early realization under Lord Mountbatten and a Labour government contributed to the rapid grant of independence to Burma and the extension of believed assurances for the ultimate independence of Malaya and Singapore. Only the Netherlands East Indies, already styled by its nationalists the Republic of Indonesia and French Indochina stood out from the first as deeply contested cases, where the colonial power was not ready to yield and where powerful nationalist movements were at work. Generally speaking, in their fight for independence the Indonesians won the support of their fellow Asians and of other countries in what is now called the Third World. In 1946-48, Asian leaders often took an unenthusiastic view of what they regarded as crusades against Communist countries and with the outcome of the China civil war still uncertain were rather detached from cold war issues. But virtually all had experienced contact with the Communists of their own countries that had left them bruised and suspicious.


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