Diplomatic and Military Relations with the United States of America

Before the war the United States had participated in the second and third Allied staff conferences held in Singapore. When the war broke out, America and Britain took the initiative to establish ABDACOM and after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines American naval and air forces escaped to the Netherlands East Indies. The Americans were critical on the unexpectedly rapid fall of Singapore on 15 February and the Netherlands East Indies on 8 March, as they managed to put up a more stubborn defence in their own struggle on the Philippines. Before the war the United States had promised independence to the Philippines, and Philippine troops were a large part of the forces defending the archipelago against the Japanese. The last American and Philippine units only surrendered on 6 May 1942. During the war many in the State Department wanted to encourage the Netherlands to grant the East Indies independence or autonomy once the war would be over, but General MacArthur was prepared to restore the Dutch colonial government unconditionally. The Van Mook-MacArthur Civil Affairs Agreement was meant to arrange for this eventuality, but the American Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, protested and delayed the official signing of the document.
MacArthur planned on using the Australian divisions under his command for the liberation of the Netherlands East Indies (Operation Oboe). However, only Tarakan and Balikpapan were liberated by the Australians before the end of the war; the planned invasion of Java (Operation Oboe IV) was cancelled by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On 15 August the responsibility for the liberation of the Netherlands East Indies (with the exception of Sumatra, which was already the responsibility of the British) was transferred from MacArthur's SWPA command zone to Admiral Lord Mountbatten's SEAC. During the decolonisation conflict the United States acted as a neutral party in the Good Offices Committee. They played a decisive role in the last phase of the conflict, when the threat to stop providing Marshall aid convinced the Netherlands to begin preparations for the immediate transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia.


Frances Gouda en Thijs Brocades Zaalberg, American Visions of the Netherlands East Indies/Indonesia. US Foreign Policy and Indonesian Nationalism 1920-1949 (Amsterdam, 2002)
D. Clayton James, The years of MacArthur, vol. 2, 1941-1945 (Boston, 1975)

Information a.o. in:

Access Number 2.22.21,
- inv. no. 1 to 18 (Serie: General records of the Department of State Decimal Files: 1945-1949) National Archives and Records Administration, College Park).
- inv.no. 46, 47, 48 and 53
- inv.no. 942 to 988 (Collectie F. Gouda)
Access Number 2.05.80, inv.no. 286, 314, 656, 1117, 1131, 1162 and 1178
Access Number 2.10.14, inv.no. 4132 and 4133
Access Number 2.12.72, inv.no. 1321 and 1335
Access Number 2.21.123, inv.no. 32, 33 and 34

See also:

- Negotiations between the Netherlands and Indonesia
- War in the Pacific

- Dutch Military Actions