221. Memorandum of Discussion at the 316th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, March 14, 19571

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and item 1.]

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

[Here follows discussion of subjects unrelated to Indonesia.]

Turning to the situation in Indonesia, Mr. [Allen] Dulles indicated that the Ali Cabinet had resigned yesterday, a move which was not unexpected. Meanwhile the process of disintegration has continued in Indonesia to a point where only the island of Java remains under the control of the Central Government. The armed forces of all the outlying islands have declared their independence of the Central Government in Djakarta, but they will in all probability confer very soon with the government authorities in Djakarta. So whatever it was, this could not be described as an irrevocable revolt. In the meantime, Sukarno was negotiating very adroitly. He has a new proposition to make which may well be offered in his radio speech today. The main points in the new proposition would be (1) an Indonesian cabinet without Communist participation, (2) an Advisory Council with one Communist in it, and (3) a whole new body—a National Economic Planning Board, which would be chaired by former Vice President Hatta.

The main policy problem presented to the United States by recent events in Indonesia was, according to Mr. Dulles, what we should do in the event that Sukarno proves unable to pull the situation together and all the outlying islands break away from Java and become independent entities. There was also a lesser possible problem which would develop if Sukarno permitted a government in the island of Java in which the Communists exerted a heavy influence. …

. . . . . . .

Mr. Cutler pointed out that the policy … had been adopted by the Council at a time when it feared that as a result of the war in Indochina, Communist influence might spread south and engulf Indonesia. In point of fact, the developments in Indonesia at the present time were quite different. Mr. Cutler then called on General Twining to indicate to the Council anything that he might know with respect to the activities of our armed forces in the general area [Page 371] of Indonesia. General Twining replied that there were at present no U.S. forces in the immediate area of Indonesia. However, CINCPAC had plans for military operations if such operations were required …

Secretary Wilson stated that Admiral Stump had wired for guidance2 … The President pointed out that the first thing to do was to make clear to Admiral Stump our view of what is actually happening in Indonesia, and particularly that the trouble there was essentially anti-Communist in inspiration rather than Communist. The President went on to indicate that we would be up against a very tough problem if we ever had to face the contingency of recognizing several governments in the Indonesian area. Mr. Dulles predicted that rather than face such a likelihood, Sukarno would compromise. The President repeated that Admiral Stump at the very least deserved to understand the situation in Indonesia as we here in Washington see it. …

The National Security Council:3

Noted and discussed an oral briefing by the Director of Central Intelligence on the subject, with specific reference to the attempted assassination of President Batista of Cuba; developments in Hungary and Poland; and the situations in the Middle East and Indonesia.
Noted the President’s statement that the Joint Chiefs of Staff should arrange consultation with CINCPAC to ensure that there is a mutual understanding of the current situation in Indonesia, which does not at this time appear to require military action (other than continued planning) to implement paragraph 12 of NSC 5518.

Note: The action in b above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense for appropriate action by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

[Here follows discussion of the remaining items.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman Files, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted on March 15 by Gleason.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. The following paragraphs constitute NSC Action No. 1681. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council, 1957)