Paradise in Peril
Paradise in Peril is the PhD Thesis by Herman Bussemaker for the University of Amsterdam. In this document he describes in great detail the diplomatic maneuvering that took place between the Colonial regime in the Netherlands East Indies and, in turn, with each of the main international powers ( Japan, US, Britain, Australia and France) during the decade leading up to 8 December 1941. He also describes the final frenetic and difficult diplomatic exchanges that took place between the Governor General of the Netherlands East indies, his excellency Jonkheer Tjarda van Starckenborgh Stachouwer and the Dutch cabinet in exile in London England between May 1940 and 8 March 1942. All of this effort to stave off impending disaster for one of the most remarkable western colonial experiments was an exercise in futility culminating with the Japanese Invasion of Java in early March 1942.
Key challenges were the need to contain revolutionary unrest by ensuring a strong economy which became, after the capitulation of the Netherlands by Hitler, even more dependent on trade with Japan. This conflicted with the need to purchase military equipment from the United States in order to strengthen the defense against a threatening Japanese military and economic aggression while the United States was restricting its trade with Japan in response to Japanese aggression in China. A further complication was the reluctance of the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina and her exiled Cabinet to authorize constitutional changes leading to greater independence without being able to secure Parliamentary approval. Added to this was deep seated American public hostility to European colonialism combined with suspicion among the European population of the Netherlands East indies about the competence and trustworthiness of Indonesian nationalists, while being convinced of inherent western superiority