329. Message From the Ambassador in Indonesia (Allison) to the Under Secretary of State (Herter)1

During past week Gordon Mein has seen large number of Indonesians and he and I have carefully discussed whole situation as it now appears. Most forthright and encouraging talk was that with Sjafruddin, Governor Bank Indonesia, yesterday which has been reported … in detail.2 This talk and one Gordon Mein had this morning with Lukman Hakim of Bank Indonesia, Indo Natl Party stalwart, confirm reports sent … concerning definite efforts by Masjumi Party and right wing Indo Natl Party develop plans for establishment of primarily non-Communist govt. Steps in this direction are increasing daily and we therefore believe that problem of to whom we should talk is not serious one. We do believe, however, that it will be necessary for us to give these friends of ours active ecouragement and advice in order to assure that their present efforts bear fruit.

In your message giving guidelines for our discussions here,3 it is pointed out that if a satisfactory new regime is formed, United States “would promptly negotiate these points”. In our opinion, it is [Page 557] essential that we determine in advance of the formation of a new govt what we are prepared to do for such a govt and that we make this known to the persons actively engaged in bringing about such a govt. We believe that there is not sufficient time to consider negotiating these points after formation of a govt. We also believe that if our friends know in advance what we are prepared to do for them this will give them added leverage to use in bringing about a change. As to our ideas on this matter, Gordon Mein who is leaving early morning 21 Dec for Wash, will bring our coordinated views.4

. . . . . . .

In sum, Gordon Mein and I believe we should be prepared immediately upon formation of satisfactory new govt to offer economic and military assistance and most important be able to give new govt some assurance that we would use our influence to get talks with Netherlands opened. Para 7 The Hague’s 69 to Djak, 1114 to State Dept5 is significant this connection. We do not believe it would be necessary for United States at this time withdraw from its position of neutrality on the New Guinea issue but we do believe it is vitally necessary that we arrange for opening of direct Dutch-Indonesian talks which probably in first instance could be confined to economic matters altho there would be no definite agenda for such talks. We believe that a new more conservative govt might be able to hold ground locally if talks were opened even if it was not specifically stated they were dealing with New Guinea.

Details regarding Gordon Mein’s conversations here and elucidation of above points will be made personally by Gordon Mein on his return. He and I seriously considered whether or not he should remain longer as well as whether we should request Wash to allow him remain Djak for an indefinite period but have concluded that it is of great importance for Wash get the feel of the situation here as it only can thru personal report by one who has just been on the spot. I therefore agree that Gordon Mein should leave soon as possible. However, I strongly recommend that after he has had an opportunity to explain matters to Department … he return as Acting Deputy. In our opinion, whatever is to be done in way of bringing about a new govt will have to be done over next two or three months at the most and because of Gordon Mein’s previous experience here and his good contacts with wide variety of Indos he would be most valuable during this period. Any other officer who has not served here no matter how good a man, would be at total disadvantage for several months. Indos do not readily give their confidence to strangers. Gordon Mein is willing return for this purpose and I earnestly hope Department … will approve this action.

. . . . . . .

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/12–2057. Secret. Summarized in Ambassador From the Prairie, pp. 336–337.
  2. A message from Allison to Robertson, December 20, reported that Sjafruddin told Mein that anti-Communist elements were negotiating for the formation of a strong government which would replace the existing cabinet and would stand up to Sukarno. Sjafruddin asked Mein if the United States would be prepared to assist such a government if it came to power and Mein indicated that this might be possible. (Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/12–2057)
  3. Document 314.
  4. Not found in Department of State files. In Ambassador From the Prairie, Allison states that he gave Mein a personal message to deliver to Robertson with the request to pass it on to the Secretary; he described the message as follows:

    “I expressed the belief that there were two ways to handle the present Indonesian situation. The one which I preferred was to work through Sukarno, to whom I was accredited, but this would require the Department to give me some bait with which Sukarno could be tempted into the American camp. This Washington seemed reluctant to do. If Washington was convinced that Sukarno was beyond redemption, then the other course was to work for the establishment of a government in which Sukarno would not appear, or if he did, would have no decisive influence. I said I believed either course would work providing Washington followed it through one hundred percent, including, if the second alternative was adopted, putting pressure on the Dutch to open talks. If Washington did this, I was prepared to go along, otherwise I did not believe I should remain in Indonesia.” (p. 337)

  5. Dated December 18, this telegram summarized the views of several Dutch business and government leaders with whom Ambassador Young had discussed the Dutch-Indonesian dispute. It stated that the Dutch had not written off Sukarno but hoped Hatta might assume an influential position of responsibility; paragraph 7 stated that with Hatta in a position of influence and Sukarno away for a health cure, there would be a real possibility of opening Dutch-Indonesian talks, perhaps as early as February, beginning with economic and financial relationships. (Department of State, Central Files, 656.56D/12–1857)