121. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Defense of Southeast Asia


  • U.S.
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Allen Dulles
    • Mr. Reinhardt
    • Mr. Elbrick
    • Mr. Green
    • Mr. Dale
  • U.K.
    • The Prime Minister1
    • Sir Harold Caccia
    • Sir Norman Brook
    • Sir Patrick Dean
    • Lord Hood
    • Mr. Carter
    • Mr. Morris
    • Mr. Bishop

The Prime Minister repeated his recommendation that we should give guidance to the military planners to the effect that they should deal primarily with general matters in defense planning for Southeast Asia, such as command arrangements, force contributions, and timing, so that all concerned could have a general idea of what they could rely on in case of emergency. He did not suggest that we engage in detailed planning but rather a general stocktaking of our military and other resources and seeing how we could move rapidly if and as required. He suggested that Ambassador Caccia and Admiral Denny2 start conversations with our people soon. Sir Norman Brook3 said that there are two questions which must be decided: first, what exactly are the limits within which military staff planning might take place and second, which staffs “should do the job”.

The Secretary reported that we shall need to make some very important decisions relating to Indonesia in the near future. He explained that we had [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] concentrated on trying to bring about a reorientation of the Indonesian Cabinet away from Communist influence. We had hoped to persuade Sukarno to face up to the Communist issue.

[Page 220]

The Secretary said that he personally had never thought that this would work and now Sukarno appears to be reneging. He relies heavily on Communist support and the regime is in danger of passing under Communist control. [2 lines of source text not declassified] We shall have to determine, probably within the next ten days, whether or not our political effort with the present government can succeed4 and, if not, whether to support the rebels.

Mr. Allen Dulles pointed out that guerrilla activity in Sumatra and Sulawesi is continuing and that fighting is still underway on the outer Islands in the Celebes area.

The Secretary reported that the Filipinos, South Koreans, and Nationalist Chinese want very much to help the Indonesian rebels. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] he wanted the Prime Minister to know what the decisions are that face us and that we realize we cannot say where these decisions may lead.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 1020. Top Secret; Limited Distribution. Drafted by William N. Dale, Officer in Charge of United Kingdom and Ireland Affairs.
  2. Prime Minister Macmillan was in the United States for a 5-day unofficial visit, June 7–11.
  3. Admiral Sir Michael M. Denny, U.K. representative on the NATO Standing Group.
  4. Secretary of the Cabinet.
  5. In another conversation on June 11 between Macmillan and Secretary of State Dulles the subject of Indonesia came up briefly. According to a memorandum of that conversation, drafted by William N. Dale and John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles made the following points:

    “Mr. Allen Dulles raised the question of how to deal with situations in which a country has been penetrated by Communists and there exists the danger of a Communist takeover. He distinguished between two types, one, in which there is para-military activity (in which case covert military preparations can be made), and a second type in which there is the creeping spread of Communism through the electoral process. [3 lines of source text not declassified]” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 1020)

  6. Later that day Eisenhower met with Macmillan with Dulles present. A memorandum of this conversation by Dulles included the following comments: “We spoke of the situation in Indonesia, of which I had spoken to the Prime Minister during our morning session, and the fact that it might be necessary to consider our present political effort a failure and to choose between more overt measure against the government or acquiescence in Communist domination.” (Ibid.)