INDONESIA: Sputtering

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In the bastion of empire the proconsuls gathered. To Singapore, at the request of handsome Lord Louis Mountbatten, Allied "Supremo" for Southeast Asia, hurried Britain's genial Lieut. General Sir Philip Christison, commander in Indonesia; France's dashing Major General Jacques Leclerc, commander in Indo-China; Holland's determined Hubertus J. van Mook, Acting Governor General of the East Indies. Waiting to meet them and assess their problems was Britain's peripatetic Sir Alan Brooke, chief of the Imperial General Staff. While houseboys served cooling drinks, the masters conferred on a new policy toward 94,000,000 rebellious colonials.

An official spokesman said that the British felt "a moral and military obligation which included the bringing about of conditions of law and order." In Java, the most troublesome and disaffected region, there would be "a strong policy—more force and more troops." The objective was an atmosphere "without fear or violence," in which Netherlanders and Indonesians could settle their differences by peaceful negotiation "within the framework of the Netherlands kingdom."

Gloves Off? Back to their respective stations hurried the proconsuls. New levies of Dutchmen drilled in Malaya. French battalions disembarked in Indo-China. The British 6th Airborne Division, veterans of the Battle of Arnhem, stood ready at Singapore to buttress the strong policy in Java.

Indonesian extremists vainly assaulted the airfield at Batavia. At Ambarawa they laid down a barrage with captured Japanese 75s; the British retaliated with air strikes.

Indonesian moderates, led by Premier Sutan Sjahrir, tried to curb the violence, announced their readiness to meet with the Dutch, "although we will stick to our claim to self-determination."