756D.00/3–2350: Telegram

The Ambassador in Indonesia (Cochran) to the Secretary of State


412. Received afternoon March 20, Deptel 268.1 Regret insufficient time submit for meeting with Netherlands extensive survey requested. Had already planned series meetings this week with RUSI leaders and intend follow closely Conference Union Ministers commencing 25th. Should be possible give comprehensive picture thereafter. In meantime will contribute spot reports of individual interviews. Venture remind Department, however, that Stikker, van Kleffens and Boon2 are following now as nearly as I can tell from remarks attributed to them in messages emanating from Washington and Hague same tactics adopted during trying times GOC and UNCI negotiations, that is seeking make case against ability Indonesians to create and operate independent state. Any confirmation we contribute to that thesis will, I fear, be used against UN and US rather than constructively toward increasing opportunities for RUSI to succeed and viable union to survive. I have unhesitatingly let Department know difficulties and disappointments experienced first few weeks of RUSI and shall continue report frankly problems that will inevitably continue [Page 988]arise. Nothing has to date caused me worry greatly or lose confidence.

Visited Sukarno one hour today. He expressed indignation at treatment accorded Jessup by Congressional investigators. He said Jessup understands Asian situation well and learning how to work with new countries of this area against Communism. In answer my inquiry, Sukarno said Communism not increasing in Indonesia.

Said old line Communists such as Alimin giving minimum of trouble. Referred press report today Alimin in Djakarta suffering from fever and opposing strikes as means achieving higher wages since would mean higher cost of living. Sukarno thinks chances 95 percent Tan Malaka3 dead. Said received report from first TNI division months ago to this effect and thinks evidence may be revealed Jogja shortly in confirmation thereof. Said Tan Malaka first assistant known to have been killed. Said convinced Communist infiltrations into TNI had not been serious and can be eliminated. Said most trouble currently coming from “wild groups” operating in west Java under fanatical or renegade leaders other than Communist. Said nationalist troops recently apprehended most dangerous leader in Bantam and continuing “mop up”. Admitted some Communist infiltrations into Sumatra with emphasis on Medan and said extreme caution must be exercised to block any significant moves.

I reminded Sukarno of demonstration by Republican Youth Group when GOC visited Jogja September 1948, at which time I told President this group could be led either left or right. I had always been convinced Sukarno could determine which direction this should be. I wondered if time had not come now, following military experiences these young men and arrival now of problems which they may not understand, for President again to assert his leadership. He promised give speech Saturday night or soon thereafter as appointments with Union Conference will permit wherein he will appeal to youths idealistically and endeavor keep them on straight narrow path.

I said I knew Republican movement for obliterating Negaras had possibly gone with greater velocity than desired or even anticipated and that it may not have been easy for President to intercede. I asked however whether time had not come for “good will” tour by President on which he could smooth ruffled feelings, restore political unity and achieve elimination old grievances and lines of difference. I said I thought Hatta had followed right policy in his speech of Sunday night (Embtel 4044) wherein he had pled for realization that all Indonesians are working toward same end and for submerging differences over terminology of “Federalism” or “Unitarianism.” Sukarno agreed time had come and said would in April make tour of [Page 989]Java. Said in early May he would visit eastern Indonesia but would be here latter half that month when he expects Nehru return his visit.

Sukarno thought trend toward unitary state inevitable. Insists, however, present RUSI Government will remain on top and Djakarta remain capital. In answer my question whether title of RUSI would remain, he said thought move would be toward all of Indonesia with exception eastern Indonesia coming within Republic. Would it be logical, therefore, to have federation between Republic and eastern Indonesia, one part having over 60 million inhabitants and second part less than one-quarter thereof? Thought sentiment eastern Indonesia between 60 and 75 percent pro-Republican and pro-Unitarian state. Said most Indonesians interpreted the “S” in RIS as meaning temporary rather than federation. He thinks eventually title will be RI. He admitted Constitution would have to be changed and anticipates this at Constituent Assembly. He said he, Hatta, and other colleagues in RUSI Government were being criticized heavily by populace for being too pro-Constitutional.

Told Sukarno I was not particularly concerned personally over trend toward strong streamlined government provided spirit of that government was right and it proves efficient. I should be disappointed however, if anything should come to pass which would shake world’s confidence in political philosophy of Indonesia or evince disregard for RTC agreement. President replied confident there will be neither leftist nor communist success in Indonesia and only a movement strongly nationalist resulting in forceful central government that will in turn yield high degree local autonomy. He insisted union with Netherlands can be kept and will function smoothly and to mutual benefit if two problems can be solved, namely, New Guinea and Westerling.

Sukarno said Irian question increasingly “hot” for several reasons. He mentioned bad Netherlands handling of Indonesian civil servants in NNG which I have previously reported. Furthermore, said Indonesians understand “phantom” planes which dropped weapons repeatedly to Darul Islam groups in west Java came from Netherlands bases in New Guinea. Criticized Netherlands censorship on mail from Indonesians to relatives in NNG. Said irritation within Indonesia so strong on Irian, question that this consitutes most likely danger of uprising or military action that exists. President asked if US could help settle question. Said he had mentioned question to Goetzen and van den Brink5 when they called yesterday and had indicated to them as he had to Hirschfeld that he would be glad have RUSI in some manner reciprocate to Netherlands if latter would cede NNG to RUSI [Page 990]and permit consolidated strong Indonesian state. He apparently received no commitment from Netherland ministers.

Sukarno asked me directly but personally what our position would be with respect defense of New Guinea in event third world war. I reminded him I had never officially or privately spoken of naval bases in Indonesia for US and would not now. I recalled, however, what we had done in NNG during last war and said I took it for granted that he, as a friend, would not mind if we did same in another war. He replied he would go further and say to me privately that he would desire this. He then asked how we felt on general question, that is whether or not RUSI should have NNG. I reminded him we had refrained from taking sides and I had been largely responsible for drafting compromise agreement at RTC on NNG. I said we hoped two parties could work out solution. I presumed without any direct knowledge and certainly without having inquired of my Government, that our technical defense people might be happier to see Netherlands defense force looking after such places as New Hollandia rather than inexperienced Indonesians. At the same time we all appreciated great need for strong and friendly RUSI. Sukarno replied US only power that can help solve NNG question and then make solution work. He said both Netherlands and RUSI incapable of developing NNG. Said US only country technically and financially qualified to develop jungle country such as NNG and hoped we would step in.

Told Sukarno I had not been entirely happy reading certain statements Republican leaders lately critical capital and Western influence. Sukarno insisted this aftermath of long struggle with Dutch and immediate result Westerling complications. Assured me foreign capital and particularly American would be welcome and well treated. Said his only condition was that intimated to Jessup and me, namely that we should not “over-administer” such help as we extend. When I told him I was working with Hatta and Djuanda on plans for Griffin Mission6 and consideration of economic assistance and advice possibly under Point Four program, he said he was entirely in favor this and sure Indonesia could be helped by our technicians provided we did not make too big a beginning and “too much noise about it.” His final remark on NNG was that Australian attitude had not helped lately arid Australia is entirely wrong if believes Indonesia desires more than NNG.

Sukarno passed to Westerling situation. Said extradition from Singapore apparently held up on technicality and danger of being refused if sharp lawyer can prove extradition being sought on political grounds. Sukarno said his government had endeavored keep calm in spite Westerling revelations and complicity Netherlands military [Page 991]and civil officials. Said, however, Westerling must be returned Indonesia for punishment and relations with both Netherlands and British will suffer if he not extradited. Asked if I could have any influence this direction on British Ambassador Djakarta.7 I expressed preference not to discuss matter with Kermode but said would let my government know how strongly he felt. Sukarno said greatly disappointed in Netherlands advisers. Had only friendliest feeling for Hirschfeld but thought some disloyalty on his staff. When I criticized failure of local press to support RUSI Government, Sukarno said no surprise that not even Indonesian language press helped government now that perfidy of Netherlands advisers in Ministry of Information revealed. Following Rittman’s arrest several weeks ago, his Netherlands chief was arrested last Saturday. Sukarno said will now give personal attention to strengthening information service. I said had previously refrained from suggesting any American advisers for RUSI, but considering recent developments thought Sukarno would personally enjoy meeting Griffin and discussing wherein we might really help.

Sukarno asked how I thought Palar8 would do to head delegation to Moscow. He said Palar had been member Netherlands Labor Party which had always opposed Communism. I said I did not know Palar intimately but felt Palar surely had had enough experience Lake Success to know how USSR really regards RUSI. Sukarno volunteered USSR had damned Hatta and himself terrifically. I said if Palar could not remember such facts he could not be loyal. I suggested Sukarno pick carefully small group to accompany Palar so no leftist influence will dominate. He promised to do this and also follow “delaying tactics.” Palar greeted me warmly as he was waiting to see President when I left. He said would call soonest.

I presented Sukarno with A Communist Party in Action explaining author Rossi had been Communist in Italy who saw light and became writer in France exposing Communist methods. He expressed much interest therein. Mentioned Darsono as greatest Indonesian theoretician on Communism, having read works of Lenin and others extensively. Had, however, rebelled against their theories and had been ejected from Comintern. Said had not seen Darsono since latter’s return Indonesia but thought he could be used profitably. I reminded him as I have other RUSI leaders that care should be taken see Darsono does not penetrate their Government behalf Communism.

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 4 to telegram 277, March 22, p. 985.
  2. Dr. Hendrik Nicolaas Boon, Secretary-General of the Netherlands Foreign Ministry.
  3. Indonesian Communist and leader of Partai Murba (Proletarian Party).
  4. Not printed.
  5. Dr. Lubertus Goetzen and Dr. R. J. M. van den Brink, respectively, Minister Without Portfolio and Minister for Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, were in Indonesia for the first Union Conference.
  6. For documentation on the Technical Assistance Mission to Southeast Asia, headed by R. Allen Griffin, see pp. 1011 ff.
  7. Derwent W. Kermode.
  8. L. N. Palar, Head of the Indonesian Observation Mission at the United Nations.