The Paradox of Leaving: Four Historical Case Studies on the Dynamics of Exit Strategies

  • Herman Amersfoort
  • Floribert Baudet
  • Henk de Jong
  • Michiel de Jong
  • Wim Klinkert
Part of the NL ARMS book series (NLARMS)


When studying exit strategies and their (military) implications, historical parallels come to mind. Because they are full of analogies with present-day expeditionary missions, for the purpose of this book probably the most thought-provoking and informative exits are those related to the process of decolonisation. Then, as now, the fundamental question was how to manage the political and military disengagement, while safeguarding Western political and economic influence. The four cases discussed here (Indonesia 1945-1949; Malaya 1945-1960; New Guinea 1945-1962 and Vietnam 1969-1973) suggest that exits in order to retain influence are intricately paradoxical by nature. They can only be understood properly by acknowledging that such exits are shaped by the complex and often contradictory dynamics of the interaction of civilian and military actors of the sides involved and the domestic and international environments, rather than by a preconceived end-state. Adaptation and constant reconsideration are a prerequisite for success or avoiding failure.


exit Indonesia Malaya New Guinea Vietnam military 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andrade D, Willbanks JH (2006) CORDS/Phoenix. Counterinsurgency Lessons from Vietnam for the Future. Military Review March/April 2006:9-23Google Scholar
  2. Baudet, FH (2013) Het vierde wapen. Voorlichting, propaganda en volksweerbaarheid, 1944-1953. Boom, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  3. Berman L (2001) No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Bouman B (2006) Ieder voor Zich en de Republiek voor Ons Allen. De Logistiek achter de Indonesische Revolutie 1945-1950, Boom, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  5. Cao Van Vien (1985) The Final Collapse, US Army Center of Military History, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  6. Cribb R (2001) Military Strategy in the Indonesian Revolution: Nasution’s Concept of ‘Total People’s War’ in Theory and Practice. War and Society 19, 2:143-154Google Scholar
  7. Cribb R, Brown C (1997) Modern Indonesia. A history since 1945. Longman, London and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Darwin J (2006) The End of the British Empire: The Historical Debate. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden and OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Darwin J (2012) Exit and colonial administrations. In: Caplan R (ed.) Exit strategies and statebuilding. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 21-57Google Scholar
  10. De Jong JJP (1988) Diplomatie of Strijd: een analyse van het Nederlands beleid tegenover de Indonesische Revolutie 1945-1947, Boom, MeppelGoogle Scholar
  11. De Jong JJP (2011) Avondschot. Hoe Nederland zich terugtrok uit zijn Aziatisch Imperium, Boom, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  12. De Jong JJP (2015) De Terugtocht. Nederland en de Dekolonisatie van Indonesië, Boom, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  13. De Moor JA (2011) Generaal Spoor. Triomf en Tragiek van een Legercommandant. Boom, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  14. Dixon P (2012) The British Approach to Counterinsurgency: from Malaya and Northern Ireland to Iraq and Afghanistan. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Drooglever PJ, Schouten MJB (n.d.) Offi ciële Bescheiden betreff ende de Nederlands-Indonesische Betrekkingen 1945-1950. Kleine Serie, SDU, Den HaagGoogle Scholar
  16. Elands M, Groen P, van Hoof J, de Jong, M (2006) Het regiment infanterie Oranje Gelderland. Boom, Amsterdam and Commonwealth History 21, 3:89-106Google Scholar
  17. Gardner LC, Young MB (2007) Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam. The New Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Grob-Fitzgibbon B (2011) Imperial Endgame. Britain’s Dirty Wars and the End of Empire. Palgrave Macmillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Groen PMH (1991) Marsroutes en Dwaalsporen. Het Nederlands militair-strategisch beleid in Indonesië. SDU, Den HaagGoogle Scholar
  20. Hack K (2009a) Contending with Nationalism and Communism: British Policy Towards Southeast Asia, 1945–65. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 37(3): 505-507Google Scholar
  21. Hack K (2009b) The Malayan Emergency as counter-insurgency paradigm. Journal of Strategic Studies 32(3): 383–414Google Scholar
  22. Hack K (2011a) Negotiating with the Malayan Communist Party, 1948–89. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39(4): 607-632Google Scholar
  23. Hack K (2011b) Between Terror and Talking, the Place of ‘Negotiation’ in Colonial Conflict. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39(4): 539-549Google Scholar
  24. Hack K (2012) Everyone lived in fear: Malaya and the British way of counterinsurgency. Small Wars & Insurgencies 23(4-5): 671-699Google Scholar
  25. Hack K (2015) Tropical transitions in colonial counter-insurgency: From Malayan emergency to postcolonial partnership. In: Johnson R and Clack T (eds.) At the end of military intervention. Historical, theoretical and applied approaches to transition, handover and withdrawal. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 61-86Google Scholar
  26. Hale C (2013) Massacre in Malaya: exposing Britain’s My Lai. The History Press, GloucestershireGoogle Scholar
  27. Hanhimäki JM (2004) The Flawed Architect: Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Heinlein F (2013) British Government Policy and Decolonisation, 1945-63: Scrutinising the Official Mind. Routledge, London and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Hellema D (2005) De Karel Doorman naar Nieuw-Guinea, Nederlands machtsvertoon in de Oost. Boom, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  30. Herring G (1986) America’s Longest War. The United States and Vietnam. Alfred A. Knopff , New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Hoff enaar J, Schoenmaker B (1994) Met de blik naar het oosten. SDU, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  32. Hughes M (2013) British Ways of Counter-insurgency: A Historical Perspective. Routledge, London and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Hume D (1988) Selected essays. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  34. Husain A (2014) Mapping the End of Empire: American and British Strategic Visions in the Postwar World, Harvard University Press, HarvardGoogle Scholar
  35. Hyam R (2007) Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918-1968, Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  36. Kalb M (2011) Haunting Legacy Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama, Brookings Institute, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  37. Kersten AE (2010) Luns. Een politieke biografie, Boom, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  38. Kimball JP (2003) The Vietnam War Files: Uncovering the Secret History of Nixon-Era Strategy, University Press of Kansas, LawrenceGoogle Scholar
  39. Kimball JP (2013) Vietnam War Nixonography, Passport 43, 3:25-33Google Scholar
  40. Kissinger H (2003) Ending the Vietnam War, A History of America’s Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War, Simon & Shuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Lagerberg CSIJ (1962) Jaren van reconstructie. Nieuw-Guinea van 1949 tot 1961, PhD thesis, Utrecht University, UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  42. Laird M (2005) Iraq, learning the Lessons of Vietnam, Foreign Aff airs http://www.foreignaff Accessed 3 February 2015
  43. Le Gro WE (1985) Vietnam: From Cease Fire to Capitulation, US Army Center of Military History, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  44. Lonsdale DJ (2008) Strategy. In: Jordan D et al (eds.) Understanding Modern Warfare. Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, pp 14-63Google Scholar
  45. Louis WR (2006) Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez, and Decolonization, I.B. Tauris, London and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Luttwak EN (2001) Strategy. The Logic of War and Peace. Belknap Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  47. MacMillan R (2005) The British Occupation of Indonesia 1945-1946: Britain, The Netherlands and the Indonesian Revolution. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  48. Meijer, H (1994) Den Haag-Djakarta. De Nederlands-Indonesische betrekkingen 1950-1962. Het Spectrum, UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  49. Miroiu A (n.d.) British Counterinsurgency in Malaya: Population Control, Intelligence and Military Operations. Accessed 15 February 2015
  50. Nasution AH (1970) Fundamentals of Guerrilla. Seruling Masa, JakartaGoogle Scholar
  51. Nguyen Cao Ky (2002) How we lost the Vietnam War. Cooper Square Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  52. Ooms M (2012) Het Nieuw-Guinea-conflict in nieuw perspectief. MA thesis, University of Amsterdam, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  53. Osborne R (1985) Indonesia’s secret war. The guerrilla struggle in Irian Jaya. Allen & Unwin, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  54. Penders CLM (2002) The West New Guinea Debacle: Dutch Decolonisation and Indonesia, 1945 – 1962. KITLV Press, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  55. Petraeus DH (1987) The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam. PhD thesis, Princeton University, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  56. Rollings LB (2010) The West Papua dilemma. MA thesis, University of WollongongGoogle Scholar
  57. Saltford J (2005) The United Nations, West Papua and the Act of Free Choice: de-colonisation in action? at Papoea/papers_pdf/saltford. Accessed 3 February 2015
  58. Shipway M (2008), Decolonization and its impact: A Comparitive Approach to the End of the Colonial Empires. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden and OxfordGoogle Scholar
  59. Simatupang TB (1985) Het Laatste Jaar van de Indonesische Vrijheidsstrijd 1948-1949. Een authentiek verslag door de voormalig chef-staf van de Indonesische Strijdkrachten. JH Kok, KampenGoogle Scholar
  60. Smith S (2001) General Templer and counter-insurgency in Malaya: ‘hearts and minds’, intelligence, and propaganda. Intelligence and National Security 16(3):60-78Google Scholar
  61. Sorley L (1999) A Better War. The unexamined victories and fi nal tragedy of America’s last years in Vietnam. Harvest Book, OrlandoGoogle Scholar
  62. Steen P van der (2010) De Slag bij Vlakke Hoek. Historisch Nieuwsblad 2: 68-75Google Scholar
  63. Strachan H (2013) The Direction of War. Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  64. Stubbs R (1990; 2004) ‘Hearts and minds’ in Guerrilla Warfare: The Malayan Emergency 1948–1960. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  65. Thomas M (2014) Fight or Flight: Britain, France, and their Roads from Empire. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  66. Utrechts Nieuwsblad (1962) 27 August 1962Google Scholar
  67. Van den Doel W (2011) Zo ver de wereld strekt. Bert Bakker, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  68. White NJ (1999) Decolonisation: The British Experience Since 1945. Routledge, London and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  69. White NJ (2012) British Business in Post-Colonial Malaysia, 1957-70: Neo-colonialism or Disengagement? Routledge, New York and LondonGoogle Scholar
  70. Willbanks JH (2004) Abandoning Vietnam: How America left and South Vietnam Lost its war. University Press of Kansas, LawrenceGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herman Amersfoort
    • 1
  • Floribert Baudet
    • 1
  • Henk de Jong
    • 1
  • Michiel de Jong
    • 1
  • Wim Klinkert
    • 1
  1. 1.Netherlands Defence AcademyBredaThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations