INR-SE files

No. 253
Special Estimate1


The Significance Of The New Indonesian Government2

the problem

To estimate the significance of the newly established government in Indonesia with particular reference to indications of probable future trends.


The Indonesian cabinet which took office on 1 August 1953 is more leftist than any preceding Indonesian government. Although [Page 387] there is no evidence to indicate that any of the ministers are subject to direct Communist discipline and control, eight important ministries of a total of 20 are held by individuals who will probably respond on many issues to Communist influence.
The new cabinet’s program follows closely for the most part programs previously supported by more conservative elements in Parliament. We believe that the cabinet will proceed cautiously with its moderate program and will avoid the adoption of radical policies.
We believe that the present cabinet will remain in office for at least six months. However, as time passes, the tenure of the cabinet will become considerably more uncertain because:
The pro-Communist inclination of certain members of the cabinet and the tendency they will have to place their supporters in key positions in the bureaucracy, the armed forces, and the police will probably aid the anti-Communist opposition in its present efforts to solidify and may cause conservative members of groups now represented in the government to recognize more clearly the Communist danger.
The present cabinet must sooner or later cope with controversial issues such as economic problems, internal security, foreign policy, and army reorganization. In view of its slim majority in Parliament, the government will run the risk of incurring an adverse vote which would cause its fall any time it seeks to deal with these issues.
Either through inexperience or leftist pressure, the present government might not deal effectively with developing economic problems. Failure to halt adverse economic trends could cause the fall of the government.

On the basis of present indications, we believe that the Communists will increase their influence in Indonesia as a result of the tenure of the present cabinet; we do not believe that during the next twelve months they will achieve a dominating position either through armed force or political action.3

[Here follows the “Discussion” section of the paper, comprising paragraphs 5–18.]

  1. Special Estimates (SEs) were high-level interdepartmental reports presenting authoritative appraisals of vital foreign policy problems on an immediate or crisis basis. SEs were drafted by officers from those agencies represented on the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC), discussed and revised by interdepartmental working groups coordinated by the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), approved by the IAC, and circulated under the aegis of the CIA to the President, appropriate officers of Cabinet level, and the National Security Council. The Department of State provided all political and some economic sections of SEs.

    According to a note on the cover sheet, “The Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in this estimate on 15 September 1953. The FBI abstained, the subject being outside of its jurisdiction. The following member organizations of the Intelligence Advisory Committee participated with the Central Intelligence Agency in the preparation of this estimate: The intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Joint Staff.”

  2. This estimate addresses itself solely to the significance of the Indonesian cabinet which took office on 1 August 1953. For an estimate of the general course of Indonesian developments, see NIE–77, “Probable Developments in Indonesia,” which was published on 11 June 1953. [Footnote in the source text; for text of NIE–77, see Document 246.]
  3. The Special Assistant for Intelligence, Department of State, considers both the scope of this estimate and the evidence presented insufficient to permit the assessment here made of Communist capabilities in Indonesia over a twelve-months’ period. The Special Assistant considers the following assessment of Communist capabilities in Indonesia to be more in accord with the subject and scope of the present estimate:

    As long as the present cabinet remains in power, the Communists will be in a position gradually to increase their influence. On the basis of present indications, the Communists are not likely to achieve a dominating position in Indonesia during the expected life of this cabinet, either through armed force or political action. [Footnote in the source text.]