Director of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) Gert Oostindie is not a man for euphemisms.Gert Oostindie’s particular dislikes are words that soften war, like “police action”. They sound so comforting — cops catching naughty people, putting them before the courts and keeping citizens safe.
There was nothing so civilized when the Dutch returned to Indonesia in 1945 determined to regain their former colony after three years of Japanese occupation.
There were two “police actions” during the four-year conflict: Operation Product between July 21 and Aug. 5, 1947, and Operation Kraai (Crow) from December 1948 until January 1949 when president Sukarno was arrested in Yogyakarta. Indonesians had another term: Agresi Militer Belanda (Dutch Military Aggression).
Oostindie is the director of the Royal Netherlands Inst...