The Secretary of Defense (Marshall) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: With respect to a letter of August 1950, from the Under Secretary of State, regarding access to Indonesian petroleum supplies in the event of U.S.–USSR hostilities, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have presented the following views:

  • “1. In connection with the first paragraph of the letter from the Under Secretary of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff desire to point out [Page 1093] that, regardless of whether or not Middle East oil is denied to the United States, present plans envisage the use of Indonesian petroleum supplies in the event of war. The matter of whether or not the USSR could deny the Middle East oil fields to the United States in the event of a U.S.–USSR war is dependent upon many factors kept under continuing study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • 2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff concur with the Under Secretary of State’s assumption that a hostile Indonesia would present a most serious problem, not only because of its loss as a source of petroleum but also for the reasons indicated in the following paragraph.
  • 3. If Indonesia is hostile, in the event of a war between U.S. and USSR, important quantities of rubber and tin from Indonesia will be lost. Further, the security of Sarawak, North Borneo and Malaya which are sources of supply of critical raw materials such as rubber and tin may be threatened; the security of our lines of communication in the South Pacific–Indian Ocean area will become exceedingly tenuous; and our antisubmarine problem in that area will be increased because of the availability to the enemy of safe anchorages and refueling and resupply points throughout an extremely large area.
  • 4. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have found no indication that Indonesia will become hostile and feel that the commitment of forces to areas considered more essential to victory, or which are known to be or probably will be hostile, precludes the possibility of diverting forces to Indonesia. They therefore propose to make no change with respect to Indonesia either in plans presently approved or in preparation.
  • 5. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that political, economic, and psychological actions which encourage the benevolent neutrality of Indonesia, in the event of a U.S.–USSR war, be continued by the appropriate governmental agencies.”

The Department of Defense trusts that the above views will be helpful in developing U.S. policy with respect to Indonesia.

Faithfully yours,

G. C. Marshall