255. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State1

505. Deptel 396.2 I have great difficulty in understanding Department’s position as given in reftel. To me it appears to be based upon misunderstanding of Indonesian situation and to reflect a completely defeatist attitude.

Problem of dissident regional leaders and central government is not simply one of Communism. It is far more complicated and goes much deeper. While the regional leaders are certainly anti-Communist, their original reason for breaking with central government was dissatisfaction with attention given by central government economic needs of regions. This was also complicated by the psychological distrust caused by the superiority complex of the Javanese toward the peoples of the outer areas. To some extent the anti-Communism of the regions is based upon the feeling that Javanism and Communism can be equated. Purpose of national conference as I understand it is to discuss these basic issues and to lay foundation for better understanding between regions and central government on basis of which beginning can be made to reach solution. It is most unlikely that conference will result in package solution or even attempt to do so. More probable result would be enunciation of certain principles to govern working out of solutions to the basic problems.

I do not understand how dissident leaders are to exercise definitive influence over Sukarno without contact with him. I also think it is grossest self-deception to believe that any Indonesian Government, even one headed by Hatta with Sukarno completely eliminated, is going to adopt an “anti-Communist posture”. We can look forward, if our policies are wise, to a non-Communist government which is truly independent and natural [neutral] but to expect anything more in the foreseeable future is unrealistic. For us to attempt to bring about an “anti-Communist posture” could very easily bring about the very thing we wish to avoid—a definite switch into the Communist camp.

Djuanda and Hatta are non-Communist. To think that they will be influenced in other direction and that they cannot themselves, in company with dissident regional leaders, exercise influence is in my opinion defeatist.

The conference is going to be held whether we like it or not. I should think the better part of wisdom would be to encourage [Page 426] Djuanda and Hatta to use it as a means of setting the government back on right track—not to wash our hands and have nothing to do with it.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/8–2657. Top Secret; Limited Distribution. Repeated to Manila for Under Secretary Herter.
  2. Document 253.