Britain and the West New Guinea Dispute, 1949-1962

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Considers British policy during the dispute over “West Papua” between Indonesia and the Netherlands following the collapse of the Suharto regime. Although there are books and theses on American, Australian and Dutch policies, those of the British have remained unexplored. The work looks at the factors that conditioned Britain’s response to the unrest from accommodating its allies to navigating Cold War pressures and the emphasis on decolonization, particularly from the United Nations.


“Tarling’s detailed analysis of the evolution of Britain’s policies does not try to simplify the issue. Not being a main player Britain could not take the initiative, but as the blow by blow account of Britain’s ‘busy diplomacy’ shows, it ‘commented upon and explored the options available to themselves and others.’” – Emeritus Professor W. David McIntyre, Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury

“In portraying Britain’s part in the West New Guinea dispute, the present work fills the lacuna in the literature. Meticulous research and attention to detail coupled with simple, straightforward narrative, Tarling’s signature attributes, have indeed fulfilled ‘the way policies are formed and implemented in a world of nation states on such a crucial issue in the making of frontiers.’”- Ooi Keat Gin, Associate Professor and Co-ordinator of the Asia-Pacific Research Unit, School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia

“Nicholas Tarling’s study of the tortuous diplomatic proceedings that accompanied the transfer from Dutch to Indonesian hands during the 1950s and early 1960s sheds light not only on this neglected aspect of regional history but through its emphasis on the British involvement opens a new dimension to the whole affair. Our understanding of the Cold War in Southeast Asia is so fixated by events in Indochina and to a lesser extent the conflict in Malaya that its repercussions and permutations elsewhere in the region are often forgotten.” - Greg Bankoff, Professor of Modern History, University of Hull

". . . skillfully addresses the delicate and complicated issues fed by indigenous hope and colonizers' fears." - Book News Inc.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Emeritus Professor W. David McIntyre
Preface and Acknowledgements
1. The UN
2. Elections and Crisis
3. Gannets and Guarantees
4. Melanesia and Meditation
5. The New Guinea Council
6. The Dutch Démarche
7. Trikora
8. The Opening of Negotiations
9. A New Frontier

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