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

1597. Department pass CINCPAC for POLAD and AF, AFCIN-1A1, 13th AF. Manila for MLG. I told Foreign Minister Subandrio [Page 549] last night that many of the local American community were becoming alarmed at the deteriorating economic situation and there was a growing opinion that dependents, particularly small children, should be evacuated. I said I had hesitated to advise such action publicly as I feared it might cause general alarm and misunderstanding and add to the already difficult situation. However, I did feel a responsibility in the matter and therefore was telling him frankly of my problem. I also inquired what attitude of Indonesian Government would be if it should be decided to evacuate American dependents and if we should request facilities for an emergency evacuation plane or ship. I stressed that we did not fear violence but only the disruption of normal communication and supplies which would make it advisable for women and children to be in a more normal location.

Subandrio was most sympathetic. He said that while he did not anticipate any real large-scale trouble or difficulty, he could not, in all honesty, give any guarantee to that effect. He did anticipate there would be food shortages although he hoped not too serious ones. In this connection he said the Indonesian Government had already chartered 70,000 tons of shipping to replace KPM ships, from Japan, Yugoslavia and Poland. However, it would be at least three weeks before the first of this shipping would arrive.

Subandrio said he would agree to bringing in emergency planes if necessary although he would not agree to any operation which would give the appearance of an “air lift”. He said such an operation could well be misunderstood by the emotionally excited Indonesians and might well be the cause of regrettable incidents. But any evacuation carried out calmly and not as a one or two time operation would receive his assistance. I thanked him and said I would inform him at once of any decision we made on this question.

The Foreign Minister then went on to talk about the general over-all Indo-Dutch problem. In response to his question I said I could give him no hope whatsoever that the United States would change its policy of neutrality on the West Irian issue nor could I give him any hope that the United States would offer to mediate or in any other way intervene between the two parties. I did reinforce what I had told him earlier in the day that Secretary Dulles had made it clear that the United States would not at NATO take any action affecting Indonesia as long as Indonesia was not present to be heard. Subandrio expressed appreciation for this stand and said he fully understood and had told the President and the Cabinet the reasons why the United States could take no stronger action prior to the coming high level NATO meeting. He did, however, express the strong hope that the United States would be willing a little later to offer help to Indonesia in meeting the economic dislocations which [Page 550] would result from the present situation. I offered no comment on this point.

Subandrio then said there was one point about which he was most seriously concerned and he asked me to inform Washington of his concern. This was the prospect that Dutch warships now just outside Indonesian waters would blockade Indonesian ports or take other actively hostile action. He said he was not worried about these warships escorting KPM or other Dutch vessels out of Indonesian control but at more direct action. The Indonesian Government was already taking steps to prepare for such an emergency but he expressed strong hope the United States could persuade its Dutch friends not to take any such measures. If Dutch warships did attempt to blockade Indonesian ports Subandrio said would be most difficult, if not impossible, to prevent violent reaction and the safety of Dutch remaining in Indonesia would be gravely jeopardized. I said I believed it most unlikely Dutch would take any such action but that I would inform Washington of his fears. He said that failing such actively hostile action he was certain it would be possible to protect the Dutch and all other foreigners from violence and the government was determined to do so.

As I departed he again expressed his understanding of my concern about American dependents and only asked that in any action I decided upon I make every attempt to keep it from giving a sensational appearance.

I should like to know for planning purposes what planes or ships might be available for evacuation over a period of time [of] the some 500 official and unofficial dependents in Java who might wish to leave.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 256D.1122/12–1457. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to The Hague, Canberra, and Manila.