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

1495. Department pass CINCPAC for POLAD. Deptel 1260, Canberra 231, The Hague 1033.2 I have considered most carefully proposals in reference telegram … and have discussed them with my staff, and second proposal also with my British colleague.

With respect to proposal that President Eisenhower make personal plea to Sukarno I believe this would have no effect whatsoever unless a similar plea were made at same time to Dutch urging them, in interests of whole free world to agree to discuss whole gamut of disputed problems with Indonesia.

… volunteered statement last night that any form of joint representations would do more harm than good. I agree completely… . also expressed opinion with which I agree, that time is running out when any constructive action can be taken.

[Page 538]

I well understand difficulty facing Department in this issue but I believe we must take strong action soon if we wish to prevent this rich country from falling completely into chaos and ultimately into Communist hands. I find it difficult to understand how a small country has the audacity to call for “NATO solidarity” in a course of action which can only result in great harm to the security and other interest of her allies and the whole free world. When Dutch have wanted to they have never had any hesitation in going against our interests as we saw them—witness their recognition of Red China3 and their attitude in COCOM. More and more Indonesians are expressing bewilderment at fact that United States was willing to defy her two strongest European allies, Great Britain and France, over Suez and also willing to defy France over arms to Tunisia, and is seemingly afraid of little Holland… .

I do not in any way condone actions taken by Indonesians in recent weeks. They have been unjustified and if continued can well lead, in one form or another, to national suicide. However, I believe it important to remember as pointed out by a wise American observer:

“The fanaticism of nationalism in the Asian-Arab-African world cannot be equated to the reasoned logical reactions of 19th-centurn European Foreign Office. It is a basic error of those who have not escaped from the pattern of the past to fail to take into account the irrationality of their adversaries. If your adversary does not regard national suicide as an unmitigated evil, there is no effectiveness in a logical demonstration that a certain course of conduct is suicidal.”

As indicated by Tamzil and Suwito (Embtel 1458 to Department, 37 to Canberra, 60 to Hague4) there may still be time for some action to be taken which will stave off complete disaster. I do not believe there is any action short of armed force which can prevent Indonesia eventually getting control of West Irian. There is still time, however, if we act at once, to halt the present downward slide and ensure that when Indonesia gets West Irian it be in a manner which will redound to our credit and will serve the best interest of the free world. This will require some knocking of heads together but if we are to continue to exercise any leadership in this part of world we must do it.

Our record of neutrality does give us certain status with which to work. If President Eisenhower would make personal joint appeal to Netherlands and Indonesia to stop calling each other names, freeze the status quo and agree to open discussions, either with or without America as an observer, on all matters “in dispute” between the two parties, it just might work. Before making such a plea we should tell [Page 539] the Indonesians in no uncertain terms that if we made such a plea they would have to agree to put a stop to persecution of Dutch individuals and interests during such talks. We should at same time, just as vigorously, tell the Dutch that we were calling on them as a responsible member of NATO to put the long term interests of the whole free world first, and that we did not propose to see Dutch experts in Indonesia replaced by Soviet or other Communist technicians, so that if Dutch did not agree to proposal the United States will offer the required economic assistance to Indonesia to keep the area out of Communist hands. I have reason to believe there is still time to put forward some such proposal as in my 11425 and make it work. If we took some such action and made it clear to Indonesians what we were doing and lengths we were prepared to go, it would, in my opinion, cut ground from under Communists here and give us real leverage in our dealings with these emotional, almost … people. There might then be some chance to bring about reorientation of this government and real hope that a new, more anti-Communist government would result. If we do nothing, or publicly side with the Dutch we might as well begin to pack up.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 656.56D.3/12–957. Secret; Priority. Repeated to The Hague and Canberra.
  2. Document 313.
  3. In November 1954.
  4. Document 311.
  5. Document 280.