Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador at Large (Jessup)1


Ambassador Jessup accompanied by Ambassador Cochran and Mr. Gibson called upon President Soekarno at the Palace on Friday, February 3.2 After preliminary greetings in an atmosphere of extreme cordiality, the President informed Ambassador Jessup that he had cut his trip to India short in order to be back in Djakarta in time to receive him. He spoke with enthusiasm of his trip to India, Pakistan and Burma and of having been present at the celebrations of Indian Independence Day in New Delhi. He stated, incidentally, that he was [Page 976]the only foreign representative, other than the diplomatic corps, present at the celebrations. Ambassador Jessup spoke of the success of Prime Minister Nehru’s trip to the United States and the excellent impression he had made there. The President said he had had the same impression from the Prime Minister and had talked to him at length about his trip.3

He spoke with some feeling of the irreconcilable differences between India and Pakistan and said that he had encountered considerable bitterness, even hatred, for the Indians in Pakistan but had not encountered the same feelings in India regarding Pakistan. He said Nehru was devoid of hatred. He said that the Pakistani would be willing to withdraw their troops from Kashmir providing the Indians did the same, but that the Indians were unwilling to do so unless they were assured of some means of maintaining order after their departure. In Soekarno’s opinion the only solution to the Kashmir problem is partition.4

He also spoke of having discussed the question of communism with Nehru and that India, Pakistan and Burma were all as anti-communist as he was. This led to comments on American aid to Asia and after explaining to the Ambassadors that he was going to speak “very frankly” he said that although American aid would be gratefully received and appreciated he felt that it must be tended without strings and that the United States must not attempt to “administer” the aid. Ambassador Jessup explained “administration” of ECA aid in Europe and necessities of our democratic system in which Congress controls the purse and requires accounting even from the executive departments of the United States Government. The President explained that the situation was not comparable here to that in Europe for there we were dealing with “old” countries who understood our ways and vice versa, while in Asia we were dealing with “new” countries who are sensitive and resented any implication that we were directing or supervising the use of any aid we might furnish them. He referred to America as the mother and the new young Asiatic countries as grown sons who looked to their mother with affection and understanding but who did not wish her to interfere with the running of their own lives. The President re-emphasized this point several times in the course of his conversation [Page 977]and referred to the absolute necessity of our understanding the psychological nature of this problem in the new countries of Asia.

He spoke again with feeling of the fact that communism was bred by discontent and unemployment and referred specifically to conditions in Calcutta where there was mass poverty, unemployment and great suffering. He said that Nehru had a very serious problem on his hands and that Indonesia had a less serious problem than her sister nations in this respect. Regarding Burma, he felt that there had been considerable improvement of late and that the government was making real progress in its struggles with the Karens and other dissident groups. He reported that the government was using the slogan, “Establish peace within the year.” This result would of course depend on developments from communist China, Soekarno observed.5

Ambassador Jessup asked him what his opinion was of the Southeast Asian Union, and he replied that this matter had not even been broached by Nehru or any one else in the course of his trip. He did, however, say that it was inevitable that India together with her Asiatic neighbors (mentioning specifically India, Burma, Siam, Indochina and the Philippines) had a bond which might lead to an association of one sort or another but probably not for two or three years at least during which time, they wanted to concentrate on their domestic problems.

He spoke with concern of the infiltration of left wing elements from Malaya but did not make any specific comments concerning the general problem of communist influence in Indonesia. In fact, he made virtually no observations on immediate problems facing the Indonesian Government, local affairs, Indonesian relations with The Netherlands, or topics of current concern. He but touched on the Westerling affair.

The President displayed the warmest friendliness throughout and appeared particularly anxious to impress the Ambassador with his good relations with Ambassador Cochran and the United States on the whole. One had an impression that he had been very impressed by his contact with Prime Minister Nehru and that much that he said, particularly the point about America not supervising too closely the use of any aid furnished, had been closely discussed with or even been planted in his mind by Nehru.

Note: In this connection, Soekarno cited as an example of the ills that came from too close “administration” by the United States of aid granted to foreign countries the fact that although a few years ago the United States was loved throughout China such was definitely not the case today. Ambassador Jessup endeavored to explain why this [Page 978]was the case and that it had nothing to do with the supervision of the use of aid, but the President, although agreeing politely, appeared to remain quite unconvinced.6

Philip C. Jessup
  1. The memorandum was prepared by William M. Gibson, Consul at Saigon, who accompanied Ambassador Jessup on various parts of his trip to the Far East. For further documentation on Jessup’s trip, see pp. 1 ff.
  2. Memoranda of Jessup’s conversations with Indonesian, United States, and Dutch officials during his stay at Djakarta from January 30 to February 3 are in file 611.56D/1–3050.
  3. Ambassador Cochran transmitted another account of Sukarno’s trip to India in telegram 233, February 9, from Djakarta, not printed. This account included a statement by Abdul Gafar Pringgodigdo, Chief Secretary to Sukarno, that the Indonesians had returned home “even prouder of their own country” and that “Sukarno and Hatta would do their own thinking and keep as independent as possible.” (756D.00/2–950)
  4. Documentation on the Kashmir question is scheduled for publication in volume v.
  5. For further documentation on the situation in Burma, see pp. 229 ff.
  6. In telegram 198, February 3, from Djakarta, Jessup summed up his impressions of Indonesia to Dean Husk, Deputy Under Secretary of State, as follows:

    “Impressions received here confirm previous opinion Indonesia has real chance achieve stability and withstand Communism. Importance of this prospect in light whole SEA situation cannot be overlooked. I am convinced Cochran correct in maintaining one essential achieve this result is US financial aid at this stage. While economic prospects here seem good on long-range view, financial aid now should be viewed as political problem rather than purely as banking investment. Realize difficulties this approach but hope you will press for elimination all possible technicalities in order achieve results during Djuanda’s visit.” (756D.00/2–350)