756D.00/3–2150: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Indonesia


277. Fol memo left by Neth Amb1 with Sec Mar 21.2 Amb added nothing of importance to substance:

  • “1. Altho teething troubles were expected, period after transfer of sovereignty started in an atmosphere of general optimism in the hope that RIS, with assistance of Neths and other countries, wld build up its strength.
  • 2. There have been plenty signs of teething trouble, but there are also indications that these troubles, if unchecked, may develop into an infection endangering stability and the future peaceful development of Indonesia. Experience elsewhere show that such developments take place rapidly.
  • 3. Now that the first euphoria has worn off, the sit has to be appraised soberly; over-pessimism seems as undesirable as overconfidence and over-optimism.
  • 4. Recent developments have one factor in common: power and auth of Fed Govt have decreased; there is a process of disintegration going on.

a. In political field.

Civil admin in large areas has been set aside by military; variety of local and regional parties and organizations are struggling for power against which Central RIS Govt does little. An armed organization is taking shape both on the left and on the right, testing each other’s strength. Parliamentary procedure, scarcely initiated, has already suffered a severe shock. Constitution and basic principles of Fed structure of Indonesia have been undermined. A drive for unification, disregarding internationally recognized interests of wide areas and millions of people, has been engineered. Fed-minded politicians and officials are gradually being side-tracked.

We know the RIS Govt and what it stands for, but in the largest component state: the Republic of Indonesia there is a struggle for power going on, and it is completely uncertain who will emerge as victors. In that same state, there is a powerful drive on foot to subjugate to that Republic the other component states, thereby supplanting the RIS. An absorption of the RIS Govt by the Djocja Govt wld be incompatible with the R.T.C. agreements.

Central Govt does not dominate the sit and is merely trying to maintain a precarious balance.

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b. Disintegration in military sphere.

Islam-organizations as well as leftist grps have their own military organizations and armed grps. TNI has lost influence over large areas in Java and Sumatra. Experienced TNI officers are being replaced by less competent elements who are thus rewarded for political support. No proper maintenance or supervision is being kept up of army equipment and matériel. Roving bands levy taxes on population and estates.

c. Disintegration in economic field.

Through instability of civil Admin and loss of power of TNI, production is flagging so that standard of living of population is threatened with further deterioration. Europeans working on plantations are constantly being terrorized and are in fear of their lives. Black market and smuggling are flourishing; regs emanating from Central Govt are not or are arbitrarily applied in the interior. In some areas, chaotic sits prevail, charaterized by terror, extortion, pilfering, and demolitions. Several Neths-managed estates, which used to promote order, tranquility and prosperity in large areas, have had to close down; as soon as they are closed down, equipment is forcibly removed and disposed of. Netherlander begin to lose courage after years of stubborn perseverance in very difficult circumstances; massive repatriation is about to set in. If this develops, there wld soon be an end to all Western influence, and the spread of communism, already demonstrably active, wld be accordingly facilitated.

Social unrest is increasing (strikes); it is actively being fostered by commies (SOBSI; WFTU). RIS Govt does not show sufficient determination to curb these tendencies and does not sufficiently try to control its military and civil apparatus.

5. Neths position can be summed up as fols: a. Sovereignty of RIS is axioma[tic] for Neths Govt: Neths Govt will scrupulously refrain from any action which might be construed as interference in domestic affairs of Indonesia;

b. trend of development in Indonesia indicates revolutionary elements from the right as well as from the left are getting upper-hand over representatives of policy of evolution embodied in the Round Table Conference’s agreements. Although Central Govt has shown itself fully prepared to cooperate with Netherlands Govt according to Round Table agreements, it cannot be overlooked that in three months after birth of Indonesian Govt fundamental principles of those agreements have been undermined to a dangerous extent. This is ominous sign for future relations Union-partners and also cannot leave indifferent countries who sponsored, within framework UN, results of Round Table Conference and establishment RIS Govt;

c. Neths Govt wishes to assist and contribute with all appropriate economic and technical assistance possible the reconstruction and strengthening of Indonesia. As Neths economic interests in Indonesia are closely interwoven with general economic structure of Indonesia, threats to guarantees embodied in Round Table Conference’s agreements for Neths interests, cannot but weaken also standard of living Indonesian population itself. Whole Western world has greatest interest in peaceful and orderly continuation of Western economic activities in Indonesia; by virtue of its vast investments, experience and [Page 985]special knowledge of the area, the Neths have undoubtedly important qualifications to play their part in this respect. Elimination of Dutch experience and knowledge, therefore, can only be detrimental to Indonesia as a whole and run contrary to over-all plan for technical and economic assistance of the Western world to Indonesia. In this respect position of Dutch civil servants and advisors, which is becoming more and more difficult in view of recent developments, also plays an important role.

6. Neths Govt invites the attention of the US Govt for these developments in Indonesia, and hopes that US Govt will give thought to the need of strengthening the influence of Central RIS Govt in order to protect stability in Indonesia. Any advice and encouragement the US Govt can at the present moment give the RIS Govt to assert and strengthen its authority wld be extremely useful and wld go far to prevent difficulties which if unchecked may well get out of control. This wld be all the more regrettable since, Western investments and know-how can still, if properly protected, exercise a stabilizing and pacifying influence. Specifically, such advice and encouragement wld tend to check internal struggles and the process of disintegration which has set in and threatens the consolidation of free Indonesia.”3

Sec told Neth Amb that you were concerned with same developments identified in memo but that your assessment of general sit not as pessimistic as Neth; that you had been invited to recapitulate your views general sit Indonesia (Deptel 268 Mar 184) and that those views would be discussed with him when received. Pls indicate which of your views you do not wish conveyed.

  1. E. N. van Kleffens.
  2. No further record of Secretary Acheson’s conversation with Ambassador van Kleffens has been found in the Department of State files; however, a briefing paper, prepared by Joseph W. Scott of the Bureau of European Affairs on March 21, not printed, indicates that the meeting was requested by the Ambassador to discuss the situation in Indonesia. (756D.00/3–2150)
  3. Telegram 284, March 24, to Djakarta, not printed, transmitted the text of another memorandum which van Kleffens left with Secretary Acheson. This second memorandum expressed the Netherlands’ view that the United Nations Commission for Indonesia should continue to function. Secretary Acheson stated his concurrence with that view. (357. AA/3–2450)
  4. Not printed; it transmitted excerpts from a telegram from The Hague which indicated that the Dutch were becoming alarmed over the situation in Indonesia, and asked for Cochran’s assessment of the situation. (756D.00/3–1650) On March 14 H. A. Helb, Counselor of the Netherlands Embassy in Washington, had discussed the same question with Scott. Memorandum of conversation, March 14, not printed (357.AA/3–1450).