Ironies of history captured in photo

Bijeenkomst presidentieel paleis

The above picture shows the delegation of the Dutch prime minister, who is currently on a trade mission in Indonesia, meeting with their Indonesia hosts inside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. The irony here is that Merdeka Palace—named after the slogan of the Indonesia struggle for independence, ‘freedom’—was built as Paleis Koningsplein, the residence of the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies.

Where now hang portraits of former presidents, once were the solemn gazes of Dutch kings caught in paint. The very red and blue flag standing proudly in this room stands for everything that was prosecuted from here.

The Delftware in the back and the Dutch colonial architecture show there is a historical link that cannot be forgotten. But it is clear that the tables are turned. Where the power of The Hague was once on display, the Dutch prime minister is now a humble guest, hoping to be noticed amongst other possible trade partners. This is the irony of history.

 

Dickinson on forcing democracy

‘But what proud nation will accept democracy as a gift from insolent conquerors? One thing that the war has done, and one of the worst, is to make of the Kaiser, to every German, a symbol of their national unity and national force. Just because we abuse their militarism, they affirm and acclaim it; just because we abuse their militarism, they affirm and acclaim it; just because we attack their governing class, they rally round it. Nothing could be better calculated than this war to strengthen the hold of militarism in Germany, unless it be the attempt of her enemies to destroy her militarism by force. For consider—! In the view we are examining it is proposed, first to kill the greater part of her combatants, next to invade her territory, destroy her towns and villages, and exact (for there are those who demand it) penalties in kind, actual tit for that, for what Germans have doen in Belgium. It is proposed to enter the capital in triumph. It is proposed to shear away huge pieces of German territory. And then, when all this has been done, the conquerors are to turn to the German nation and say: “Now, all this we have done for your good! Depose your wicked rulers! Become a democracy! Shake hands and be a good fellow!” Does it not sound grotesque? But, really, that is what is proposed.’

— Dickinson (1916: pp. 77-78) has still a few words everyone considering military intervention should beware.