240. Memorandum of Discussion at the 333d Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, August 1, 19571

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and items 1 and 2.]

3. US Policy on Indonesia (NSC 5518; NSC Action No. 1681–b2)

Mr. Cutler read …

. . . . . . .

NSC Action No. 1681–b, as follows:

“b. 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.”

Mr. Cutler asked whether, in light of the briefing by the Director of Central Intelligence on Indonesia, the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be asked to study the military consequences of Java falling under Communist control. The President said he would like to have the views of the Department of State also.

Secretary Herter said he was disturbed by the developments in Indonesia. It appeared to him that a democratic government in that country was out the window, … He felt it would be useful to have a JCS estimate of the importance of maintaining Java in the Free World. He would also like to know the probable consequences of a division between Java and Sumatra. Such an estimate would be very helpful in enabling us to decide how much effort to devote to Indonesia in the future.

Admiral Radford said … If the Joint Chiefs were asked for their opinion now, they would probably say that the establishment of a Communist government would be militarily harmful, since Indonesia [Page 401] is astride the routes of communication in Southeast Asia and has a great many potential Communist submarine bases. He added that Sumatra was most important militarily, on account of its oil.

Mr. Cutler pointed out that Indonesia might fall to pieces, with Java becoming Communist and the rest of the islands remaining non-Communist. Admiral Radford thought the psychological effects of such a development would perhaps be worse than the military effects.

The President said that when the implications of the situation in Indonesia were under study, we should also consider what we can do about it. The best course would be to hold all Indonesia in the Free World. The next best course would be to hold Sumatra if Java goes Communist. We should also consider what to do if all Indonesia votes Communist.

Admiral Radford said he didn’t believe the Indonesians were really Communists at heart. …

Mr. Dulles, in reply to a question by the President, said Sukarno’s recent desertion of the Nationalist Party was due to political ambition and political immaturity.

Admiral Radford said the Communists have worked through the Chinese community in Indonesia. They had exacted tribute from the Chinese and used it to build schools, and so forth. …

The Vice President thought that Sukarno was probably right in believing that a democratic government was not the best kind for Indonesia. He said the Communists could probably not be beaten in election campaigns because they were so well organized, and were able to play upon the ignorance of the people. In his view, the United States should work through the Indonesian military organization to mobilize opposition to Communism. Admiral Radford agreed that there was a good chance of working successfully with the Indonesian military.

. . . . . . .

The President asked what military strength Sukarno controlled. Mr. Dulles said he controlled the Indonesian military strength in Java. Mr. Dulles added that the Indonesian officers were competent, mostly Moslem, and Dutch-trained. Admiral Radford said some Indonesian officers had been trained in the United States. He then suggested that the Departments of State and Defense make a prompt survey of the situation in Indonesia, in order to be prepared for fast action if necessary. Secretary Herter asked that a representative of ICA be included in this group.

[Page 402]

The National Security Council:3

Agreed that a group composed of representatives of the Departments of State (Chairman) and Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Central Intelligence Agency (and the International Cooperation Administration for economic aid matters), should prepare, not later than September 1, 1957, a report for Council consideration on:

The implications for U.S. security of recent developments in Indonesia, especially Communist political gains in Java.
Possible actions which the United States might take with respect to the situation in Indonesia pursuant to NSC 5518, including possible actions in the event of imminent or actual Communist control of Java.

Note: The above actions, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman, JCS, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Director, ICA, for appropriate implementation.

. . . . . . .

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Marion W. Boggs on August 2.
  2. NSC 5518 is Document 95. For NSC Action No. 1681, see footnote 3, Document 221.
  3. The following paragraphs constitute NSC Action No. 1758. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council, 1957)