Fire and the Full Moon
Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World
The history of Canada's postwar foreign policy is dominated by Cold War narratives – the Gouzenko Affair, UN peacekeeping missions, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. By contrast, the story of Canada’s response to decolonization in the Global South is less well known.
Fire and the Full Moon focuses on Canadian-Indonesian relations to explore a larger question: Was Canada’s postwar foreign policy guided by an overarching set of altruistic principles, or did its policy objectives in the South follow a different path? It frames Canada’s response to the Indonesian struggle for independence in the context of other regional decolonization movements and US and Commonwealth relations with Asia and shows that Canada operated as a loyal member of the Western alliance, hoping that Indonesia would follow Canada’s own, non-revolutionary, model of decolonization and development. Canadian economic development policies caused Canada to overlook Indonesian human rights violations in East Timor.
Fire and the Full Moon is a work of trans-Pacific international history that reassesses Canada’s foreign-policy objectives in Indonesia, and its own national image, which will appeal to students of diplomatic history interested in Asia and the developing world.
Webster’s detailed analysis of the perspectives of Canada’s foreign policy-makers and politicians on Indonesia, and Asia more generally, forms the fascinating core of this book. Fire and the Full Moon is about the disjuncture (intended or not) between the rhetoric and self-image of Canada’s foreign policy-makers and the reality of their actions. This is first-rate scholarship.
Fire and the Full Moon is a most welcome addition to the literature of Canadian foreign policy. Strikingly well written and deeply researched, the book explores an area that Canadian diplomats often ignored or took for granted – relations with Indonesia, one of the largest countries in Asia, and, in the 1960s especially, the epicentre of the Cold War in Asia. Webster expands our understanding of Canadian foreign relations in the twentieth century and reminds us of the importance of the Third World in the definition of Canadian policy abroad.
David Webster is an assistant professor of international studies at the University of Regina.
1 Canada, the United Nations, and the Decolonization of Indonesia, 1945–49
2 The Golden Bridge: Canada and Indonesian Economic Development, 1950–63
3 Non-state Networks and Modernizing Elites in the Sukarno Years
4 Canada, Alliance Politics, and the West New Guinea Dispute, 1957–63
5 Canada, Confrontation, and the End of Empire in Southeast Asia, 1963–66
6 A Pebble in Many Shoes: Development in Indonesia, Decolonization in East Timor, 1968–99
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