International: Cease Forthwith

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The Indonesian mess was almost providential in its timing. Joyfully, the Security Council dropped the Greek situation to cope with a situation cut more to the U.N. size. With unprecedented speed the Council voted (8-0) a stern resolution: the Council "calls upon" The Netherlands and the Indonesian Republic "to cease hostilities forthwith." It further called upon the combatants to settle their disputes by arbitration.

Such swift action was something new in U.N. Newest and strangest was the line-up on the vote. The U.S. and Russia voted "yes" together. Britain, France and Belgium abstained.

The discussion was coolly legalistic, for there was some question whether U.N. had any right to interfere in the Indonesian dispute. Britain, France and Belgium, all colonial powers, had listened sympathetically to The Netherlands' Eelco van Kleffens: he argued that the Indonesian trouble was a domestic quarrel in the Dutch household, that the Indonesian Republic will not be an independent government until Jan. 1, 1949, The neighbors, said Van Kleffens, had no business to butt in.

Russia wanted to order the Dutch to withdraw immediately from all territory seized in the current hostilities. For his proposal Gromyko rallied only one other vote: predictable Poland's. So Gromyko strung along with the milder U.S. view.

The U.S., too, had doubts about U.N. interference. But on the side, Washington had tendered its "good offices" to bring the Dutch and Indonesians together. The Dutch promptly accepted. The dispute might still be settled before U.N. had to decide on drastic action.

Meanwhile, action in the Indies on the U.N. demand was as swift as at Lake Success. Although Acting Governor General Hubertus van Mook denied that U.N. had any right to intervene, he promised to halt Dutch troops.

Republican leaders also agreed on a cease-fire order. Indirectly, they turned down the U.S. "good offices." They said they would accept arbitration by "several countries" under U.N. supervision.

Before the cease-fire order went into effect, the Dutch had won control of most of the Indies. Last week, with an amphibious stroke, they chopped big Sumatra in two, seized oilfields and rich rubber and coffee plantations. Republicans still held south central Java. With all major Javanese ports in Dutch hands it was an isolated stronghold.