497 Jamieson to Forde


OTTAWA, 30 December 1948 I saw Riddell (Head of United Nations Division, Canadian Department of External Affairs) today in his office and subsequently had lunch with him.

He made known to me, on an unofficial basis, the contents of two telegrams recently despatched by his Department.

The first was addressed to the Canadian High Commissioner in Australia and repeated to New Delhi and The Hague. It was a personal telegram from Mr. Pearson and contained a resume of his conversations with yourself, Sirdar Malik (High Commissioner for India) and Beelaerts van Blokland (Netherlands Charge d'Affaires during the absence at Paris of the Ambassador, J. H. van Roijen).

The resume of the conversation with yourself appeared to coincide generally with your own impressions of the discussion except that greater stress was, perhaps, laid by Mr. Pearson on his disagreement with the form and content of Colonel Hodgson's speech before the Security Council. Otherwise, the Minister appears to have fully appreciated the firmness of the Australian approach and to be disturbed by the divergence between Australian and Canadian points of view. He referred, in some detail, to your Aide Memoire [1] and appears to have grasped fully the points you made.

There were one or two rather surprising features of the telegram in references to his subsequent conversations. For example, the Minister stated that Sirdar Malik had agreed with him that any form of sanctions against Holland was impossible. So far as we know, this question has not arisen. On the other hand, I presume we can be fairly certain of Indian support for expulsion of the Netherlands but there was no mention of this in reporting the conversation with Sirdar Malik. In fact, the telegram made his representations appear very mild. it seems to me highly unlikely that so experienced a diplomatist as Mr. Malik would have diverged very far from the line adopted by his Government; therefore, his agreement that 'sanctions' were impossible must be construed strictly and his statement could not extend to other drastic action against the Dutch. Mr. Malik had emphasized especially to Mr. Pearson the extremely deleterious effect of the Dutch action on Asian sympathies and had expressed an earnest hope that Canada would take firm action on this occasion.

The discussions reported with Mr. van Blokland contained one even more surprising feature. The latter had apparently contented himself, in his interview with Mr. Pearson, with presenting a list of the acts of provocation and terrorism alleged by the Dutch and with a general statement of their reasons for their recent action.

He had then, however, had an interview with Mr. Riddell which had opened by his expressing the thanks of the Dutch Government for Canadian support in the Security Council. Mr. Riddell, in answer to my question on this, stated that he had denied any support and had emphasized to Mr. van Blokland the fact that Canada was seriously disturbed by the Dutch action. The mere fact, however, that Van Blokland could make such a statement and that Mr. Pearson did not see fit to comment on it in his cable appears to me to be rather significant. It is apparent that the Dutch are under the impression that they have, in broad terms at least, the support of Canada before the Security Council and that very little has been done to disabuse them of this notion.

The second telegram was addressed to The Hague. It outlined some of the reactions of the Canadian Government to the Dutch aggression which have already been indicated to you by Mr. Escott Reid and by Mr. Pearson himself, but it requested the Canadian Ambassador at The Hague to take up with the Dutch Government the Canadian disappointment at Dutch action and to urge that the Netherlands take steps to undo as much as possible of the harm they have done. This section, however, was far from firm and consisted largely of the detailed suggestions made by Mr. Ritchie in Paris (see next paragraph).

The telegram outlined a discussion between Mr. Ritchie in Paris and Mr. van Roijen in which the former had suggested that Holland should take immediate steps to implement its undertaking to introduce democratic forms of government in the area which it had occupied and to expedite the self-government of this area at the earliest possible date. Mr. Ritchie had suggested that the Dutch should invite United Nations observers to the area to report on the carrying out of these steps. According to Mr. Ritchie, Mr. van Roijen had been impressed by the suggestion and had communicated it to his Government indicating, however, that the attitude which he had so far taken before the Security Council was as far as his Government was prepared to go at present and that his instructions did not allow him at the present time to put forward the suggestions made by Mr. Ritchie. The Canadian Ambassador at The Hague was, therefore, to urge these steps.

The Canadian telegram to The Hague, while it instructed the Ambassador to bring before the Dutch Government Canadian concern at the turn of events, did not appear in its general terms to be at all a strong document. The instructions were certainly not such as to lead to real Canadian pressure on the Dutch Government, at least at this stage. Nor was there any indication in the telegram which I saw by which the Canadian Ambassador might gain the impression (which was given to you by Mr. Pearson) that if the Netherlands remained obdurate, the Canadian Government might be forced to take a stronger line.

I had a long discussion with Mr. Riddell on the question. I told him that it seemed that the Canadian attitude at the present moment appeared to boil down to two features:

(A) No action should be taken of a stringent kind, partly because the United Nations lacked power to enforce it and partly because no stringent action had been attempted in earlier cases, such as Kashmir, Palestine or Greece. It appeared that neither ground was really tenable. The first reason was not correct because the solution advocated by Australia (the expulsion of the Netherlands from the United Nations) could perfectly well be carried out without any use of force and that, therefore, no question of lack of power arose. Secondly, the suggestion arising from lack of strong reaction in the past amounted merely to an attempt to make one right out of two wrongs and seemed to us unworthy of Canadian external policy.

(B) In these circumstances, it seemed that the only positive suggestion made by Canada was that the Canadian Ambassador at The Hague should approach the Dutch Government on the lines set out in the second telegram. I said that it appeared obvious that the telegram did not instruct the Ambassador to make any really strong representations and I asked if Mr. Riddell felt at all optimistic of the result. I said that unless Canada felt very optimistic, that she really could secure some change in the Dutch attitude, it seemed that her line of conduct amounted largely to a polite 'Tut- tut'. Mr. Riddell said that he could not honestly say that he was very optimistic of the result of actions at The Hague but that his Government felt that stringent action at this point would produce more harm than good.

He based this argument, as before, on the inability of the U.N., as at present constituted, to carry out any really drastic steps against the Netherlands and stated that the attempt to do so might well wreck the United Nations itself. I repeated that expulsion was well within the capabilities of the United Nations and required no sanctions. I asked whether it was his opinion that a failure to act on this occasion might be just as large a nail in the coffin of U.N. as the chance of a split caused by more drastic action. He did not reply directly to this question but indicated that the series of failures by the United Nations to act in such crises was having an extremely harmful effect on its future. He was able to reply to this point only with a tu quoque argument on the Australian opposition to drastic action in connection with Yugoslav aggression against Greece. I pointed out that the cases were by no means on all fours and that the aggression in this instance was all the more disastrous because it came from a nation which was normally regarded as a responsible Western power with a long tradition of diplomatic decency, and which had itself experienced the horrors of aggression.

Mr. Riddell then stated that in his opinion the Dutch action had merely served to do two things. First, it had strengthened the Communist hand. (This he stated may have arisen largely from the fact that Communist intrigues and terrorism in Indonesia had contributed to the precipitate action by the Dutch. I was forced to point out that the emergence of a strong Communist element in Indonesia was largely due to the fault of the Dutch themselves in failing to deal with the moderate elements at an earlier stage of negotiations.) His second point was that the present Dutch action would merely serve to hasten the time when they themselves would have to quit portion at least of Indonesia. Since this was inevitable, it was better that the Dutch should not be put in a position where they could claim that outside pressure had compelled their retirement.

I pointed out in this connection that though Dutch anger in the matter was largely directed at Australia, one of the basic causes of the renewed attempts since the war by the Indonesians to gain their complete freedom was the action of the United Kingdom in granting complete sovereignty to Burma and Dominion status to India. Fundamentally, it was this example which had buoyed and given strength to the Indonesian freedom movement and the Dutch would find it difficult in view of these examples to maintain their position. The Communist element in the movement was an incidental one at the moment, though, in the face of Dutch aggression, it might yet gain control of the movement. Whatever the cause of their eventual retirement, the Dutch would blame outside influences.

I reverted to the question of Canadian influence on the Dutch Government and pointed out that Canada was in a peculiarly favourable position to bring real moral pressure to bear. First, there was a favourable field in the more liberal elements of the Dutch Government and, secondly, Canada's name stood very high with the Netherlands. Canadian troops had been mainly responsible for the liberation of Holland. The Dutch Royal family had sought refuge in Canada and diplomatic relations between the two countries had been very close since the war, a fact which had been exemplified by the appointment of Mr. van Roijen to the Netherlands Mission here and by visits of most leading Canadian Cabinet Ministers to Holland. I said that it appeared that Canada's attitude must be merely negative unless his Department had some real hope (and intention) of bringing strong moral pressure to bear on the Dutch Government. He replied that pressure would be resented. I said this would not happen if it were applied in a reasonable and friendly manner.

It was obvious from his replies and from the telegram which I have mentioned that the Canadian Government was not prepared to go further than it had stated and that its only concrete suggestion so far had been directed towards acceptance of the fait accompli with the somewhat uncertain safeguards of United Nations observers to see that the Dutch carried out their stated intention of introducing democratic government. I formed, however, the same impression which you gained from Mr. Pearson, that Mr. Riddell was far from happy about his Government's reaction. He is, as you know, a man of strong idealism and his arguments appeared 'ready- made', as though they did not derive from his own convictions.

1 See note 1 to Document 493.

[AA:A3100/1, G48/1241