Hatta and Indonesia's Independent and Active Foreign Policy: Retrospect and Prospect. Edited by Evan A. Laksmana and Lina Alexandra.

AuthorSimandjuntak, Deasy

Hatta and Indonesia's Independent and Active Foreign Policy: Retrospect and Prospect. Edited by Evan A. Laksmana and Lina Alexandra. Jakarta, Indonesia: Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 2022. Softcover: 181pp.

Ever since Vice President Mohammad Hatta gave his "rowing between two reefs" (mendayung di antara dua karang) speech in 1948, Indonesia's foreign policy has striven to navigate great power politics. This edited volume promises to "offer something new" (p. 13) to the study of the doctrine of the country's "independent and active" foreign policy, focusing not on the politics of foreign policy making but on the policies themselves.

Of the six questions this book aims to answer, one stands out: to what extent did foreign policymakers seriously consider the doctrine in their decision-making process? Echoing the promise of "something new", it suggests that this volume will not repeat the tired and over-embellished analysis of normative foreign policy "initiatives" that have had a minimum impact, regionally and globally, but will instead offer a much-needed glimpse into whether Hatta's visionary principle really has guided the country's foreign policy making beyond an instinctive pragmatism that is not uncommon in the region.

Structurally, however, this volume still follows the traditional foreign policy classification based on presidential periods. Consequently, although it claims not to "begin and end with... domestic politics alone" (p. 18), most of the contributions suggest otherwise by illustrating how national interests and domestic politics--which are at the core of Hatta's principle--explain the country's foreign policies.

That national interest and domestic politics are at the core of Hatta's doctrine is clearly demonstrated in Chapter One, in which Ahmad Rizky M. Umar dissects Hatta's 1948 speech to highlight three elements: that foreign policy is linked with domestic politics; that a realistic and rational foreign policy approach is important when navigating great power politics; and that foreign policy should be based on a comprehensive understanding of national interest, not ideological alignment. Domestic politics and national interests are again the focus of Chapter Two, which explores Indonesia's foreign policy during the eras of Constitutional (1950-57) and Guided Democracy (1959-66). Yohanes Sulaiman writes that "what Hatta advocated was a principle of pragmatism... even aligning itself to any power if...

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