253. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia1

396. Your 4872 and previous telegrams regarding possibility of an Indonesian national conference in near future have been thoroughly considered here. We have strong reservations from standpoint of possibility stemming Communist threat Indonesia about holding of such a conference at this time. It seems to us dangerous to have gathering of leading dissident personalities in atmosphere of Djakarta where they could be subjected to various forms of intimidation or even entrapment by army or Communist activists. Furthermore exposure to personality of Sukarno might lead to some form of compromising face-saving arrangement which would give only a color of [Page 421] settlement of basic problems involved. It would not in reality provide a means through which anti-Communism of dissident leaders could exert a definitive influence over Sukarno and his associates which would compel them to assume an anti-Communist posture. Failing such a result we foresee only a continuation of present growth of Communist influence. Presence of Hatta at such a conference under present conditions would in our opinion be harmful rather than helpful, since it would give to participants and to public opinion in and outside of Indonesia impression that Hatta, no matter how reluctantly, was in fact supporting Sukarno and thereby giving his approval to policies which Sukarno and his Communist supporters have been pursuing for the past several months. Since basic objective of US policy in Indonesia is to strengthen in every feasible way anti-Communist elements and to unify and bolster them in opposition to further development of Communist strength, we do not believe that a “successful” national conference along compromising lines apparently envisaged by Djuanda would be helpful. It would seem to be preferable at this time for anti-Communist leaders in outlying areas as well as in Java to develop further strength before attempting direct negotiations with Sukarno.

We do not wish to give appearance of opposing conference but neither do we wish to give it any encouragement direct or indirect.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/8–2357. Top Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution. Drafted by Cumming and Howard P. Jones, approved by Jones, and cleared in SPA and the Executive Secretariat (S/S). Repeated priority to Manila for Under Secretary Herter, who was visiting several Far Eastern countries.
  2. Telegram 487 from Djakarta, August 23, reported that a roundtable national conference, along the lines outlined to Allison by Djuanda on August 20, with Sukarno and Hatta as supreme advisers, was to be held from September 10 to 15. (Ibid., 756D.00/8–2357)