The Inevitable War
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The Aceh War was one of the longest and most violent colonial wars that the Netherlands ever waged. It was also the first colonial war in Dutch history that caused so much debate about its legitimacy and its necessity. Therefore, this thesis focuses on how the Dutch officials tried to securitize the first expedition of the Aceh War towards the Dutch Parliament in 1873 by making use of Securitization Theory. The Dutch Parliament formed the formal audience that could exercise substantial influence on the extraordinary measures taken by the state and security decisions in general. In order to solve the puzzle, this thesis uses a substantial amount of secret correspondence from colonial officials and parliamentary proceedings from 1873. The Dutch officials framed an incident whereby the Acehnese sought foreign allies into the ‘Acehnese betrayal’. In turn, this was utilized as the casus belli for the war and it fostered a feeling of urgency to prevent another Western power from claiming Aceh before the Dutch could. The thesis argues that the Minister of Colonies, Fransen van de Putte, adjusted the frames and arguments within his pleas to his target audience. He framed the Acehnese Sultanate into a threat for the safety of the Dutch colonial empire and the only measure left against it was war. While justifying the war, the Minister used multiple tactics: he used a broad pallet of political, international and economical threats, he appealed to emotions in his pleas and he made use of historical threats and the history of the hostile bilateral relations to help his audience make the connection between Aceh and danger. Throughout the Ministers pleas and correspondence, he tried to frame the war as inevitable and just but imperialistic speech was also present which indicates an imperialistic character of the war.