124. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State0

4868. CINCPAC for POLAD. Foreign Minister informed me this morning that President would announce “strengthening of Cabinet” program some time today. He summarized actions to be taken as follows:

Sultan of Djogjakarta would replace Sunardjo as Minister of Trade.
Ministries of Hanafi and Tobing would be abolished but both would remain in Cabinet as Ministers without Portfolio.
NU would obtain two additional Cabinet positions.

I pointed out that these changes in Cabinet were hardly sufficient to convince objective outsider that Indonesian Government was in fact taking steps to solve problem of Communism within Indonesia and said frankly that I was disappointed in result. Elimination of Hanafi had become a kind of symbol of genuineness of Indonesian determination to move against Commies. As long as he was in Cabinet American public would hardly consider Cabinet to be effectively anti-Communist.

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Foreign Minister explained that pressures had been very great but that army was still determined to get rid of Hanafi and he thought this would come as a second step in two or three months. However, strength of PKI was so great that with troops still in Sumatra and Sulawesi Sukarno had decided open challenge to Communists at this time was too dangerous. He pointed out that Hanafi would have no power in this Cabinet which actually had been and would continue to be run by an inner steering group and since he had no govt Department to supervise his claws had been rather effectively clipped. He also emphasized that new Cabinet actually represented move in right direction even though not as satisfactory from our standpoint as he had originally hoped and indeed been led to believe by Sukarno’s assurances of several weeks ago.

I recalled statements I had made to him and Prime Minister in connection with US readiness provide military and economic support in accordance paragraph 4 Deptel 33001 and emphasized that this did not give us much to go on. We had hoped that Cabinet reshuffle would be more meaningful and that, as he knew, we were prepared to send token shipment of arms just as soon as rebellion over if effective action is taken against the Communists. I cautioned reaction of Washington to new Cabinet might well be so negative as to render such token shipment difficult if not impossible at this time.

Foreign Minister said he understood this but that number of unfortunate events had occurred which tended influence Sukarno not to move too far at this time. There was first most unfortunate Hensley story which had aroused President and made him suspicious. There were other recent events with which we both familiar (presumably he was referring to Pope case and repercussions therefrom). Much though he regretted pace could not be faster, what was done was in accordance with realities of Indonesian politics and he urged that I not be discouraged since, while result might take longer to achieve, outcome would ultimately be the same.

Comment: I felt it wise to be negative in my reaction to Subandrio’s news in order maintain our pressure and stress necessity for continued anti-Communist action. Actually I do not feel as pessimistic as indicated in above summary. The fact that any action at all has been taken at this time should be encouraging to us, especially in light of adverse factors, [Page 226] e.g. Pope case, Hensley article,2 continuing discovery by Army mopping-up units in Sumatra of new US-made equipment stored in rebel caches. While meaning and importance of Hanafi retention remains to be seen, elimination of his ministry could be distinctly helpful development since its principal function was as leftist propaganda machine. Nasution remains determined as ever in anti-Communist stand and in resolution eliminate Hanafi from Cabinet. While this might be taken as evidence Nasution cannot stand up against Sukarno, it must be appreciated at present time Nasution’s hands tried as result of forces being otherwise occupied. On whole although shuffle not as good as hoped it may be great deal better than we had reason expect in present situation. If Sultan actually joins Cabinet, his presence may prove to be of real significance as time goes on in providing solid cornerstone for future improvements.

Since dictating above, I have been informed that Cabinet announcement will be postponed until tomorrow.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/6–2458. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Transmitted in two sections. Also sent to CINCPAC.
  2. Document 92.
  3. Reference is to an article by Stewart Hensley, a Washington-based reporter for United Press International, which was carried by the Indonesian News Agency Antara on June 11, stating that diplomatic authorities recently said that relations between the United States and Indonesia continued to improve and predicted that the next few weeks would bring even greater harmony. The text of Antara’s summary of Hensley’s story was transmitted to the Department in telegram 4691 from Djakarta, June 12. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.56D/6–1258)
  4. The Indonesian Cabinet reshuffle was announced on June 25 and Jones commented on the changes in telegram 4928 of June 27. “From US viewpoint,” the telegram read in part, “reshuffle is somewhat disappointing but in light of factors Embassy has reported over period of time probably best that could be expected at this moment.” (Ibid., 756D.00/6–2758) See Supplement.