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“Trade with the Devil”: Rubber, Cold War Embargo, and US-Indonesian Relations, 1951-1956

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This article examines the issue of rubber in US-Indonesian relations in the 1950s. Indonesia, attempting to promote its economic development, sought to sell natural rubber to the Communist People's Republic of China. In so doing, it risked alienating the United States, which for its part led anti-PRC trade embargo efforts while at that same time attempting to woo Third World neutrals such as Indonesia. The article explores the course and complexities of this issue on both sides, and concludes that, in the end, Washington decided that enforcing an increasingly questionable rubber embargo was not worth a rupture in relations with Jakarta. It also finds that President Eisenhower, although keenly aware of the issues at stake, did not provide the decisive leadership that would allow Washington to take the initiative, rather than react to circumstances, regarding the sale of rubber to the People's Republic of China.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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