Film Merah Putih

Aug 24th, 2009, in History, by

Review of film Merah Putih, evil colonialists & brave patriots.

As promised, a review of Merah Putih, which we viewed in the Wednesday late-night screening, barely fifty people in the audience, at Bioskop Slipi.


As you’d expect from a country which, despite its constant troubles and endless disappointments, maintains a healthy national pride, (and in contrast to American and a lot of other Western countries where one’s own armed forces are often cast as fools, villains or worse) the film is unashamedly patriotic, and the Dutch depicted as almost Luciferian in their wickedness. (My resident Indonesian consultant was only moved to comment once,

jahat benar

during one of the first Netherlands atrocities. I don’t doubt they were no angels, but history suggests that every side in every war contained a fair sprinkling of sinners, and saints)

Apart from the satanic Hollanders, the least likeable character is the posh twerp Marius, (Darius Sinathrya) who looks down on just about everyone and gets straight on the case of the feisty Christian Tomas, (Donny Alamsyah), while to provide some sentiment of pancasila we have the Hindu Dayan (Rifnu Wikana) and a serious honourable Muslim named Amir (Lukman Sardi) as well as an all-purpose nationalist, Soerono (Zumi Zola).

Merah Putih

They all join up, fall in, fall out and ultimately redeem themselves, predictable, I suppose, but full of action and heroism.

The ladies play important but lesser roles, Melati, Amir’s pregnant wife (Astri Nurdin) and Soerono’s sister (Rahayu Saraswati) – again unlike western movies, these actresses rely on their talent rather than having their boobs flop out or a quickie every time the action slows down, which it rarely does, the grand finale being an ambush, the depleted handful of Indonesian soldiers re-inforced by the male survivors of a village burned and massacred by the evil Dutch.

One wishes that the imbecilic louts who ran amok in South Jakarta on Hari Kemerdekaan could use the heroic characters portrayed in this movie as their role models, rather than whomsoever they have chosen from gang-banger US crime yarns.

Whatever the short-comings of the men who fought for self-determination, (and I’m not talking about those who surfaced at the end and claimed the political credit), they were brave and idealistic, as well as patriotic, qualities that appear to be as lacking in the ruling class today as in the afore-mentioned louts near Blok M earlier this week.

107 Comments on “Film Merah Putih”

  1. Arie Brand says:

    “post colonial schadenfreude on the part of apologists for Dutch imperialism has a distinctly unpleasant aroma about it.”

    Schadenfreude – what the hell are you talking about? I get worked up when I am confronted with assertions of which I know that they are plain lies. That does not just hold for this topic. My main emotion then is close to rage and very far from Schadenfreude.

    Of course it is the easiest thing in the world to accuse a (former) Dutch national of being an “apologist for Dutch imperialism”, no less, when he attempts to comment on things that have, after all, also got to do with the past of (what used to be) his own country. If that has a “distinctly unpleasant aroma” for you that is just too bad. I am not here to please you. And just for the record: I never said that the Dutch were “marvelous rulers” . “Marvelous rulers” don’t exist. I just maintain that they weren’t what popular legend over there (for which you apparently have fallen hook, line and sinker) has made them out to be.

    I have another reason for rage though. I was working for the UNTEA administration in Papua, at the end of 1962 and the beginning of 1963, when the Indonesians took over. I saw at first hand the discrepancy between their rhetoric and their actual practice – a practice which became, after UNTEAs demise, even more “luciferesk’ (to borrow the word Ross used for Merah Putih’s depiction of the Dutch). And yes, that was “distinctly unpleasant” and no that was no occasion for “Schadenfreude” because the “Schade” was all on the side of the Papuans (among whom I had lived earlier for years).

    I understand that, if you live permanently in Indonesia, you would rather not get too worked up about such things because it might detract from the enjoyment of shopping in Sarinah and the convenience of having household help etc. for a fraction of the price in wherever you are coming from (I guess the US). OK – but don’t hold up your unease about hearing critique as some kind of moral criterion.

    Laredion, this is what you said: ” Empty promises, the Dutch virtually invented it and the Indonesians learned from their former masters”

    That didn’t sound to me like pointing to “‘perfect examples of normal human behaviour” that you now attempt to make of this but rather like a particular kind of wickedness the Javanese were unacquainted with until they met those dastardly Dutch. And since you chose to inquire about my age I must, from my side, confess that that statement sounded …uh… rather childish to me.

  2. sighjay says:

    Indians may have a slightly less charitable view of British rule than most British, most particularly the WW2 years when the largely forgotten great famine took the lives of millions with a cynical and callous disregard for any possible resolutions from Churchill

    Ultimately, millions of Bengalis died because their British rulers didn’t give a damn and had other strategic imperatives. The Bengal Famine and its aftermath for the debilitated Bengal population consumed its victims over several years in the case of complete British inaction through most of 1943 or insufficient subsequent action. Churchill had a confessed hatred for Indians and during the famine he opposed the humanitarian attempts of people such as the Prime Minister of Canada, Louis Mountbatten, Viceroy General Wavell, and even of Japanese collaborationist leader Subhash Chandra Bose. The hypothesis can be legitimately advanced that the extent of the Bengal Famine derived in part from sustained, deliberate policy.

    Madhusree Mukerjee’s Churchill’s Choice goes into it in some detail, and, Bayly & Harper’s Forgotten Armies, from a couple of year back argues that the toll was likely in the tens of millions.

    They were all busy warring down each other – we hardly introduced conflict, merely were, by virtue of technology, better at it.

    Not in NZ. The British didn’t ever win a battle against the Maori, who were much better scrappers and bush fighters than the red-clad UK forces. The reason the British won at the end of the day was simply that the Maori were weekend warriors, and needed to feed their families, thus they had few strategic victories despite the tactical victories.

    As Afghanistan and Iraq are ample evidence, technology is rarely enough. 8 years and hundreds of casualties later the US led forces in the the Afghan theatre are probably further away from any victory over a donkey riding enemy than they were in 2003.

  3. Berlian Biru says:

    You’re wrong on pretty much all of your assumptions Arie old son.

    Just for the record I never fall hook line and sinker for anything, I can see the faults of the Republic of Indonesia very plainly, it might do you a bit of good to examine your own (former) country’s faults. Sukarno didn’t just emerge out of thin air, he was a product of Dutch colonial rule. Maybe if the Dutch had been able to put up a half decent defence of their empire prior to 1946 or at least persuade a sizeable proportion of Indonesians to do so then the Dutch would have got to have a say in post-independence Indonesia but they didn’t so they weren’t.

    As the French say tant pis.

  4. ET says:

    BB said

    The fact that they utterly failed to do so speaks volumes about how the natives of Indonesia viewed Dutch imperial pretensions.

    It isn’t quite as simple as that. International global politics came to play an important role in the outcome of the Dutch-Indonesian conflict. If it wasn’t for the Americans to take the side of Sukarno and putting the Dutch under pressure during the 2nd ‘politionele actie’ as a token of their appreciation for his crackdown on the Madiun communist uprising, Indonesia’s future might have had a totally different outcome. Not to say that there wouldn’t be ‘Merdeka’ but maybe one of a different kind – not the negara kesatuan Sukarno had in mind but a looser confederation instead of a Java-dominated centralized government – with a smoother transition and a different political elite in which the Dutch could still have a role to play. The British with their Commonwealth idea might have proven to be a valuable example. Of course the question remains whether the Dutch would have been able or inclined to give away much of their power in favour of such an ideal.
    As to how the natives themselves viewed Dutch pretensions I have no idea but I doubt if the majority would have had any idea about what was going on above their heads.

  5. Ross says:

    I thought the Dutch did indeed attempt a version of the Commonwealth, with the Queen of the Netherlands as its titular head, but it got swept away when the federal experiment was dissolved.

    As to what the average Joe, or Budi, felt, who knows, though the hysterical reaction of the in-crowd from SBY down at the unveiling of the RSM flag during a sports event recently makes me wonder.

    Certainly the Papuans were let down, though the Dutch did try to resist UN/Kennedy pressure to sell them out.

  6. Ross says:

    Oya, and re the Indian famine referred to by Sighjay, it is just possible that with the Japanese hovering in Burma and the British Isles themselves under seige, Churchill was pre-occupied with defense of the realm. Not that that means he should have been indifferent to the Bengalis’ plight, but he hardly had a lot of free hands to divert to famine relief.

  7. Arie Brand says:

    “Sukarno didn’t just emerge out of thin air, he was a product of Dutch colonial rule.”

    Oh, is that the whole story? How come that other Indonesian leaders (Hatta, Sjahrir, Sjafruddin) not only turned out rather differently but, in their critique of Sukarno, apparently never considered that he should be excused because he was just “a product of colonial rule”?

    I am pleased to hear that you “can see the faults of the Republic of Indonesia very plainly”. Please refer me to writings in which you have made that clear. I am interested.

    And as to my former country’s faults: I thought that I had clearly identified them. They were the general faults of the colonial system: it was based to a greater or lesser degree (greater in British colonialism and lesser in that of Portugal) on “colour caste” stratification that is incompatible with the belief in merit as the sole basis for a person’s advancement. It was also unable to extend the democracy at home to the colony.

    These are the inherent contradictions on which the colonising ventures of democratic countries must strand.

    But signalling these faults does not require acceptance of the childish horror story that has served the Indonesian elite to cover up the often nefarious character of its own regime.

    I don’t quite know what you are referring to with the words “a half decent defence of their empire prior to 1946”. If you refer to their defeat by the Japanese I just remind you that they were hardly alone in this. The British, having far greater resources at Singapore, also were overrrun and so were the Americans in the Philippines. Neither the Malays nor the Filipinos hold, as far as I am aware, any particular grudges about this. Have you noticed the opposite in Indonesia? Tant pis, as somebody recently said.

  8. Arie Brand says:

    Ross wrote:

    “I thought the Dutch did indeed attempt a version of the Commonwealth, with the Queen of the Netherlands as its titular head, but it got swept away when the federal experiment was dissolved”

    That is correct as far as the factual situation was concerned. De jure the Dutch- Indonesian Union lingered on for years until Indonesia unilaterally dissolved it in 1956.

    The demolition of the federal structure, proclaimed on Independence Day 1950, barely eight months after the Republic had consented to it, had its biggest repercussion in Holland after Ambon (where the RMS had been proclaimed) was attacked. I wish to quote what I wrote about this elsewhere:

    “After Sukarno had officially proclaimed the unitary state on the 17th of August 1950 the forces of the central government invaded Ambon on 28th September. After five weeks of fighting the capital Ambon fell into their hands. The government of the RMS took refuge in the neighbouring island of Ceram where the struggle was continued for more than a decade (there is still a RMS government in exile in the Netherlands). The fighting in Ambon, between troops of the Indonesian Republic and those of the self styled Republic of the South Moluccas, made a deep impression in Holland. It is again Duynstee who has testified to this. I quote:

    “Few Indonesian actions have made such a deep impression in Holland as the subjection of Ambon. Specifically as a consequence of this tragedy the matter of the right of self-determination in Indonesia was discussed year after year in parliament, even though the Government refused … to take any steps with the Indonesian government in this matter. This problem has constituted the worst possible background for a reasonable treatment of the difficulties concerning New Guinea (Duynstee, 1961, p11 – my translation AB.).”

    I was still in high school when this happened but I do remember the general commotion and the placards of the Foundation “Loyal through the Ages” with the text “Ambon moet vrij” (Ambon should be free). These were renewed year after year.

    It is close to midnight here. I call it a day.

  9. Ross says:

    Sounds familiar…those who were our best friends get kicked in the teeth. Ulster again!

  10. Berlian Biru says:

    The Ambonese chose their sides in the Indonesian War of Independence, if their side (the Dutch colonialists) had won they would have continued to enjoy their privileged position within Dutch Imperial rule, as it was their side lost and they were left to face the consequences, such things are not unusual in wars. Today the Ambonese are accorded equal citizenship of the Indonesian Republic and rightly so, an equality and citizenship that their ancestors were very happy to violently suppress when their Dutch paymasters asked them to.

    The Dutch are not a barbarous people and I am quite sure the British model of disengagement would have been preferable to them, with a phased withdrawal on their terms and the appropriate friendly regime left in place. The Dutch however failed to achieve this. For the Dutch to then blame the Indonesians for what was a signal Dutch failure, and to criticise the Indonesians for the manner in how the Dutch came to be ignominiously sent packing from their East Indian empire for the second time in less than a decade is to view the world through the wrong end of the telescope and rather smacks of sore losers. As I said before, and just to emphasise the point, the Dutch lost, end of story, stop whingeing.

    We can certainly have a debate about the rights and wrongs of Indonesian occupation of Papua but one thing I can tell you for certain and that is that the Dutch had no bloody right to be there!

  11. Ross says:

    The Ambonese could have had their own little state, no skin off anyone’s nose except Javanese hegemonists. There are plenty of countries smaller, and why not?
    The Papuans certainly seem to have been reluctant to see the Dutch go.

  12. sighjay says:

    it is just possible that with the Japanese hovering in Burma and the British Isles themselves under seige, Churchill was pre-occupied with defense of the realm. Not that that means he should have been indifferent to the Bengalis’ plight, but he hardly had a lot of free hands to divert to famine relief.

    His own generals and civil servants were aghast at the callousness and frankly stupidly of his approach to the crisis in India. The man simply didn’t like Indians, and regarded them as sub-human and incapable of self determination. He fought tooth and nail against Indian independence. His public statements about non-whites are not hard to find.

    I think he was a great man on many levels but an utter monster on others.

    Why stupidity? Well, in 1943 the UK was completely dependent on the massive Indian Army in the Burmese and Far Eastern Theatres, and to a lessor extent, in the Middle East. Much of that army was from Bengal and was understandably less than happy with what was happening in that state. He played into the hands of the Japanese sponsored Indian National Army, who had massive public support in India and it could be argued was a factor in the disintegration of Burma in the post war years, when the Indian Army was no longer reliably available to stem the chaos. It was, and his own advisers and generals agreed, militarily as well as morally unsupportable. It remains the one huge blemish on Churchill’s war record and it’s a massive and quite ugly one.

  13. Odinius says:

    Churchill also made some incredible strategic blunders in his time. Galipoli being the most famous, but determining that Italy–narrow stretch of mountains that it is–constituted the “soft underbelly of the Axis” was another.

    @Berlian Baru and Ross:

    The RMS was hardly the “choice of the Ambonese.” It was the choice of a portion of the disgruntled ex-KNIL officer corps, making the RMS more palace coup than popular uprising. They had very limited support from the local population, who are probably best described as ambivalent on the whole deal, and even from the influential civil servants, who would benefit from the expansion of bureaucratic privilege in Indonesia.

  14. Ross says:

    Yes, Odinius. Churchill was not perfect. Switching allied support from the Cetniks to Tito’s Partisans was a major blunder.

    But he understood better than the Americans what Stalin was up to; sadly, Britain was not the dominant power in the Western camp by then. US policy was being shaped by high-level traitors like Alger Hiss.

    America’s heart was in the right place, but its head was befuddled by the enemy within.

  15. Odinius says:

    Think Truman was pretty militant on Stalin too, though. Don’t you think?

    Roosevelt was more relaxed, yes. But Stalin also seemed to genuinely like Roosevelt, whereas he held Churchill and Truman in contempt. So it’s not clear what kind of arrangements might have been possible had he lived. Impossible to tell, but it’s at least possible that Stalin might have been convinced to be softer on at least a couple of the satellites, esp Czecho. Hard to tell, though, given that he was also a paranoid delusional who saw enemies behind every building, couch and probably in the kitchen too.

  16. Odinius says:

    Sorry Ross, missed this:

    Switching allied support from the Cetniks to Tito’s Partisans was a major blunder.

    I disagree. It was the only option. The Cetniks were only organized in Serbia, and stopped resisting by 1942. In Bosnia, they had even begun collaborating with the Nazis. This meant that they were not helping the war effort at all, and in fact hindering it. At the same time, they could do nothing in the western regions of Croatia and Slovenia, where all the ports and much of the industry were.

    The Partizans, on the other hand, were kicking Nazi ass across the entire country, and Churchill correctly sussed out (thanks to FW Deakin and others) that their nationalism was at least as important to them as their communism, and would inevitably lead to conflict with the USSR, which it did only a couple years after the war ended.

  17. Arie Brand says:

    Berlian Biru, once again I am not ‘whingeing’ about the ‘loss of empire’ as you insist I do. I am protesting about the habitual distortion of recent colonial history on the Indonesian side and the thoughtless manner in which their tale has been adopted by (some) foreign ‘observers’.

    And I am protesting with somewhat greater fervour about the way Papua has been treated after Indonesia came to ‘liberate’ it. That the Dutch had no ‘right to be there’is now hardly relevant. The far more relevant question, especially for the people involved, is whether Indonesia has that right. Even if it had had that it would by now have been forfeited because of its absolutely abysmal record there.

    The Dutch had the clear aim to hand the place over by 1970. The Papuan flag and national anthem were officially recognised. A New Guinea Council based on general elections (in some places by ‘whispering ballot’) had been instituted.This is all on record.

    I agree with you that Dutch withrawal from Indonesia could have been handled much better – and it would have been if the Dutch Labor Party had held sole sway. Britain was fortunate in this matter in that it has an electoral system that ensures the rule of one party and that it happened to be Labor that came into power after the war. Had Churchill come back the story would have been quite different. He had no sympathy for Indian nationalist aspirations.

    The Dutch electoral system, based on proportional representation, ensures that the country can only be governed by coalitions. It was Labor that was mainly responsible for the Accord of Linggajati which could have been (if one manages to keep Sukarno out of the picture for a moment) a reasonable basis for withdrawal. But its then main competitor, the Catholic People’s Party, ran against it in the next elections on an anti-Linggadjati platform and had a better harvest from the ballot boxes.

    I have now decided that you are an Irishman. I could have guessed from your hints about those bars where differences of opinion seem to be decided by simple means. Doesn’t your smugness about other countries’ colonial record have something to do with that? At any case Ireland’s own past seems to have led to it having the strongest West Papua Association in Europe, with the possible exception of Holland.

    Incidentally, where is that critique of Indonesia you were referring to? Did you publish it under your own name?

    I have also noticed that you don’t really enter into counter arguments. You prefer to ascribe motivations to people that aren’t really there.

  18. Berlian Biru says:

    I am bewildered as to where you think I wrote some “critique” of Indonesia, I have done no such thing, indeed as a guest of this nation I would consider it to be a bit of an impertinence. I merely said “I can see the faults of the Republic of Indonesia very plainly”, which I can, as indeed I can see the faults of most countries of which I have an intimate knowledge.

    I am not “smug” about other nation’s imperial roles, I have no reason to be, much of the heavy lifting involved in building the British Empire was carried out by my fellow countrymen. I also agree that many nations were better off under colonial rule but that is now irrelevant because those nations chose independence and their independence should be respected. I am not entirely in disagreement with you about the role of Sukarno in Indonesia’s development, it might well have been better if a different leader had come to the fore. However as I repeatedly said, we are where we are now and it is not for foreigners, and especially not Dutchmen who have a rather romantic idea of Dutch colonial rule, to lecture Indonesians about how they handled their independence or how the Indonesians came to rule a former part of the Dutch Empire.

    You feel the role of the Netherlands in the history of Indonesia has been unfairly criticised, you might well be right and I have some sympathy for that point of view but you lose my sympathy when you try to deflect criticism of the Dutch by unfairly condemning the history of Indonesia. You cannot have it both ways, neither Indonesia nor the Netherlands are perfect societies with unblemished histories but you seem to be the Dutch pot who yells “black!” at the poor Indonesian kettle.

  19. Berlian Biru says:

    Ross, it is one of the most perennial myths of the Ulstermen that they are always being betrayed and indeed it was a myth I would have bought into in my youth. The facts however would point otherwise. Northern Ireland has always been in receipt of massive subventions from the poor, much put upon, English taxpayer, the economy of the province is now reliant on the UK public sector to the tune of over 76%, a higher rate than Cuba!

    At the height of the “Troubles” there were no fewer than 22,000 British troops deployed to protect tiny Ulster, almost three times the size of the force currently in Afghanistan, in hindsight it is hard to see where this paranoia about being “betrayed” actually comes from and we’ll leave aside the dubious claim of the Ulstermen to being the “most loyal” of the British subjects, some embarrassing facts might need examining in such circumstances.

    On the subject of myths the idea that Churchill was responsible for the disaster at Gallipoli is another. Churchill was utterly appalled at the way the generals were throwing British lives away on the Western Front and he sought a way around this, had his plan been properly followed through the slaughter on the peninsula could have been avoided.

    It was Churchill’s plan to use outdated old battleships to blast through the forts of the Dardenelles, he was of the opinion that old ships were simply that, old ships and were expendable, they could be sacrificed if it meant not having to land infantry on a hostile shore. The Royal Navy thought otherwise and despite blasting the forts apart they took fright when a couple of mines took out some ships and turned tail and ran.

    The Navy abandoned the Straits for the Army who then had to wade ashore against the Turks who now had a week to get ready, precisely the scenario Churchill had desperately tried to avoid. Gallipoli was a disaster but it wasn’t Churchill’s making however he had the decency to resign as his colleagues and the top brass in the Army and Navy looked for a scapegoat.

    One other thing, the reason Roosevelt was so friendly with Stalin was that half of his cabinet and perhaps even his wife were Communists, this odd little fact usually gets airbrushed out of the later story about the McCarthy “witch-hunts”.

  20. sighjay says:

    One other thing, the reason Roosevelt was so friendly with Stalin was that half of his cabinet and perhaps even his wife were Communists, this odd little fact usually gets airbrushed out of the later story about the McCarthy “witch-hunts”.

    I’m intrigued by this. The names of his last cabinet are here and try as I might, I can’t find any source anywhere that reliably ascribes a communist philosophy to any of these people. Most were card carrying Democrats of some standing and reputation.

    Perhaps you could define communist? Or is it communist in the same way Obama is a communist (or socialist / fascist / muslim or all of the above etc)?

    Henry Wallace, Secretary of Commerce, was endorsed by The Communist Party as a presidential candidate, although he was a candidate for the Progressives, but he also supported the US in Korea, so hardly a card carrying pinko. Much of what he advocated was picked up by centrist parties in the US within a decade or two…pure commie philosophies like Civil Rights. Unless I can see some reliable data supporting the claim, I’m called BS on this.

  21. sighjay says:

    Whoops: must proof

    “I’m calling BS on this” (although I suspect you’d rather call me BS on it)

  22. sighjay says:

    Churchill was utterly appalled at the way the generals were throwing British lives away on the Western Front and he sought a way around this, had his plan been properly followed through the slaughter on the peninsula could have been avoided.

    Of course the big problem was that there was nowhere to go with the plan. The idea of blasting the forts was a good one, but it was ultimately a no-win situation as they had insufficient forces to take Istanbul and likely the naval force would have been trapped. The forts were damaged but hardly destroyed and it was soon obvious that naval power was insufficient to destroy them, thus an invasion was needed.

    If they had taken the peninsula they would have had to have held it, and that would likely have been a massive bloodbath as it was deep in Turkey. There was nowhere to go unless the occupation of the Ottoman Empire was a reality, and it wasn’t.

    Once again, Churchill, and indeed many of his military, were unable to ascribe military prowess to the non-white soldier (not an unusual failing in the west to be sure..see Pearl Harbour), and history has shown just how wrong they were. They were utterly shocked to see that the Turkish army was not only quite good at it’s job but arguably more efficient (taking into account terrain advantages) than the attackers. Certainly Atatürk was the best military tactician in the theatre and probably one of the few who could read a map correctly.

    Not only was the Gallipoli flawed but it was flawed on so many levels.

  23. Arie Brand says:

    “You feel the role of the Netherlands in the history of Indonesia has been unfairly criticised, you might well be right and I have some sympathy for that point of view but you lose my sympathy when you try to deflect criticism of the Dutch by unfairly condemning the history of Indonesia”

    Do you mind to be told again that having your sympathy or not is of no great concern to me?

    You still stick to the view that people who have or had the nationality of an erstwhile former colonising power are therefore not allowed to comment on the human rights situation in the former colony. On what is that doctrine based? Do they share in some collective responsibility even though they were never personally involved in the situation?

    I remember that at the time news came through about the horrors in Cambodia there were those in Holland who argued that we were not allowed to criticise because ‘the West’ had collective responsibility for the mess there. I found that only slightly more absurd than I do now your taboo.

    And what exactly is unfair about my critique of Indonesia? Should I be sounding off about the human rights situation in Holland? Last time I looked things seemed to be pretty right there. It would make little sense to go on about what happened in the past. Lest you think that I am doing that I want to correct you. The ‘black propaganda’ in Indonesia about the pre-war situation is a thing of the present. Lies bother me. Most of my blogging activites have to do with Israeli/American lies about the Palestinian cause.

    But as you said “we are where we are now”. The present day blackness of kettle Indonesia is not wiped off by whatever was on the surface of pot colonial Holland, even if your suspicons about its hue were fully justified.

    Sorry, but I suspect that your view that your status as guest of the Republic makes open critique from your side an ‘impertinence’ is in fact caution disguised as what my Visayan wife calls ‘delikadesa’. Since I don’t know your personal situation I cannot judge whether that caution is justified. But let us please call things by their appropriate name.

  24. Berlian Biru says:

    Or is it communist in the same way Obama is a communist?

    No, I mean as in actual Communists, indeed agents of the Soviet Union, I exaggerate slightly when I say half the cabinet were Communists but the fact remains that Mr and Mrs Roosevelt did surround themselves with people who had seriously dodgy Stalinist connections. I’m at work now so I haven’t access to the sources, I’ll get back to you when I am home.

    Arie, you’re rambling a wee bit now and I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at so perhaps it’s best if we leave it at that, I very much doubt we’ll have a meeting of minds now anyway.

  25. andrey says:

    it would be fun to hear Arie Brand’s mother’s stories on the glory of the German colonialism.

  26. Arie Brand says:

    Hey BB, rambling you said? Yes why not – any old pretext will do.

  27. Arie Brand says:

    Andrey wrote:

    “it would be fun to hear Arie Brand’s mother’s stories on the glory of the German colonialism”

    We could double the fun by letting your greatgrandmother talk about the Japanese.

  28. pjbali says:

    Arie Brand

    You certainly hold some strong views on a number of topics. Have you considered starting your own site or blog so readers would not have to go traipsing all over the internet to get your point of view? Some of us are very lazy.

  29. Odinius says:

    Berlian Baru said:

    Every nation creates its own national myth and in that regard Indonesia is no different from Holland which also paints a collective history of itself that can often be picked apart quite easily, the same can be said for Britain or France or any other nation.

    Ain’t that the truth!

    Ross said:

    The Red Indians lived in Canada for thousands of years, The Aborigines in Australia for as long if not longer. What did they do with the immense potential of those huge areas.

    Not rape it?

    Seriously…not saying that the end result is worthless–I say this as something who has benefitted tremendously from the consequences of that process (i.e. by being alive). But I think the idea that what the British and their successors did to Indians and Aborigines is okay because of the good things that came out of it is questionable.

    The United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came from the Second World War and the Holocaust. As much as I believe in those things, I can’t exactly say they make the war and killings okay. It’s possible to think the end result is worthwhile and think the means of getting there is problematic…

  30. Ross says:

    I’ve missed out on this wildly tangetial debate due to watching the exciting vote count elsewhere, but – insomniac agian – it’s the electoral fever – here we go!

    Berlian Biru, you are spot on as far as Hiss, harry Dexter white, lauchlin Currie etc are concerned. They and many like them were enemy agents, working for the Soviets. eleanor Roosevelt was at least a dedicated fellow=traveller. Heaps of evidence, not least from the transcripts released by the fall of the USSR.

    But you do Ulster a dis-service. The Battle of the Somme was a glorious tragedy, where our lads went into battle shouting loyalist war-cries, and just a few years earlier they’d been the original UVF, ready to fight for self-determination against Dublin imperialism.
    Betrayal is no exaggeration of what Blair’s Bad Friday Agreement did to them. Rewarding the Sinn Fein murder gang with provincial ministries; abolishing the RUC to appease the terrs (and look how the successor police caved in at Meagh last month.) even here in Jakarta at the Embassy’s Queen’s Birthday Party, we had flags of wales, Scotland and England on display, but Ulster’s flag missing, because the disloyal minority don’t like it – and notice the proposed UK id card has to omit the Union Jack due to these republican traitors’ objections.
    Betrayal is the best word. Eire skulked behind a facade of neutrality 1939-45, though De Valera greased his way to the German embassy to weep for Hitler’s suicide.

    Odinius, the partizans were every bit into fighting the Cetniks, as they were into collaborating with the Germans. As in Albania, the British Foreign Office’s equivalents of Hiss made sure the Yugoslav Reds were given the upper hand, via disinformation. Royalist fighters who flew into Albania were caught and shot by Hoxha’s reds because of tip-offs from the Cambridge Traitors.

    …enough for now. I am probably estranging voters, but truth must out!

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