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

301. CINCPAC also for POLAD. Deptels 3901,1 39112 and 163 (paragraph 2).3 President was in most serious mood when I saw him at Bogor this morning. He greeted me cordially but even before serving coffee, he said, shaking his head, “Trouble, trouble, trouble.” Then before I had chance to comment, he said urgently, “Tell me about Middle East. What will happen there?”

[Here follows brief discussion of the Lebanon crisis.]

President then said the psychological situation between Indonesia and US was not good and was beginning again to deteriorate. He said improvement that had occurred few weeks ago had been pretty well wiped out by continuation of bombings by B–26s. I commented along [Page 246] lines of Deptel 163 and then made point that, unlike Soviet Russia with satellites, we could not give orders to independent countries in Far East and consequently had no control over situation. Repeated representations had been made to these countries. If bombings were continued it was undoubtedly reflection of grave concern of neighboring governments at growing strength and influence of Communist Party in Indonesia. I pointed out such concern was only natural. I was certain Sukarno would feel the same way if he believed Malaya was about to go Communist and then I developed points in Deptel 3901, emphasizing character of PKI as foreign controlled party within Indonesia, referring to Nehru’s statements and breaking off presentation prior to presenting statement of what US was prepared to do. At this point I said we recognized that new situation had developed as result of military victory over rebels and Cabinet reshuffle and my government would be most interested to know what President had in mind by way of next steps to solve problems from which country was suffering and establish political and economic stability. This, I emphasized, was what my government as well as governments of neighboring countries wished to see in Indonesia.

At this point President interjected, “I can assure you that I will never permit a Communist coup d’état in this country.” I said I recognized that this was true—that he had so demonstrated at Madiun. What Indonesia’s neighbors feared was not this so much as growing political strength of PKI which would enable it to seize power as result of exploiting ordinary processes of democracy. “How, in other words, are you planning to curb growing influence of PKI within your country”, I asked.

“This is a complex question,” President replied slowly. “It involves economic, political and military considerations. I can assure you that Indonesia will never follow the route of Czechoslovakia”.

I pressed him to be specific. I said that US Government would be prepared to extend additional substantial economic aid and such military aid as would seem appropriate to enable Indonesia to maintain elimination of Communist threat.

In commenting President led off with discussion of cabinet reshuffle. “I abolished Petra, Hanafi’s ministry, because I had been informed that this was Communist dominated. I will tell you why I was unwilling to throw him out of Cabinet. When I was in exile in Benkoelen in South Sumatra, Hanafi was a young boy. He comes from Benkoelen. I became acquainted with him there and taught him revolutionary way which Indonesia must follow. He became an ardent follower of mine and later when he organized our revolutionary army I appointed him Lt. Col. He has been close to me through years. He is even indirectly related to me. His brother, a newspaperman in Medan, named Hadi, is married to my [Page 247] foster daughter. Hanafi is no PKI member. He is Leftist revolutionary. He is loyal to me but he understands feeling of the masses. He is popular with labor union members throughout Indonesia.

Sukarno then turned to PNI Party. “I will tell you exactly what I have been telling PNI leaders,” he said. “This is a struggle to win masses, I say to them, why do you not do as PKI does? Why do you not organize masses? You must become more Left and fight PKI on its own ground. PNI is my own child,” he said, but PNI has not been as effective as PKI.

I pointed out that PKI had advantage of being well-financed, well-trained under professional organizers, uninhibited in what they could promise, etc.

“That is what my PNI people tell me,” President rejoined, “but that is no excuse. I had no money to start revolution. It takes work and determination and small contributions from many people”.

“Then your answer to Communist threat is basically political one, I suggested. “Pantjasila front led by PNI”.

“That is correct,” President replied.

“But” I objected, “this will take time. Time is running out. What plans have you to deal with interim contingencies?”

President pointed to himself and said, “I and the military. I can control 99% of military. We will do what needs to be done”.

I reminded him that there were already indications of Communist arrogance in certain parts of Java. He nodded, pointed to military control of demonstration, etc., and reiterated firmly that this kind of thing would be prevented.

In economic field, overlapping military and educational field, President said he was establishing national planning board to prepare blueprint for Indonesian development. This was board for which special planning committee headed by Djuanda was now working out structure and function. Board would be composed of technicians and experts, he emphasized, not politicians. It would be broadly representative of functional groups and of regions throughout Indonesia. This board would go to work intensively after establishment and prepare blueprint by next year.

Meanwhile he hoped America would give evidence of its support for Indonesia, “I want America and Indonesia to come closer and closer together. Above all” he said, “I hope America will not be negative but will be positive, that you will not do things and take positions which play into hands of PKI here and strengthen their hold on the people”. He reverted to B–26s and then referred to West Irian. “This is an obsession with me,” he admitted. “But if America would support Indonesia on West Irian I could (and he snapped his fingers) change Indonesia’s [Page 248] attitude towards America overnight. I have said this many times but it is still true. It is hard for our people to understand why Russia can support without equivocation our claim to Irian and why US—claiming to be our friend—remains silent. If America could only say that they consider our claim a just claim, this would make all the difference” he went on in this vein for several minutes playing old record.

When he had finished I did not argue case but simply said, “Mr. President, I think that whole subject of West Irian needs cooling off period”. I then pointed out that fear on part of her neighbors of Indonesia’s going Communist was, entirely aside from Dutch position, element in Irian problem. If neighbors no longer had fear of Communist Indonesia and believed Indonesia to be politically and economically stable, some neighbors might feel differently about Indonesia possessing Irian. I emphasized this was personal observation.

I then made additional points in Deptel 3901 and economic points in Deptel 3911.

When President indicated he must leave for luncheon in Djakarta, I suggested desirability of continuing conversation in near future and of keeping in close touch now that some progress had been made in improvement of US-Indo relations. President readily agreed but with reservations such meetings should not be too visible. He suggested my stopping at Bogor en route to Puntjak occasionally on weekends when visit would have appearance of informal social call and would be unobserved by any but his own staff.

Comment: Throughout conversation Sukarno was intensely serious. There were none of the histrionics for which he is famous, no turning on either of his magnetic charm or his flushing indignation. He spoke gravely and quietly but impressively.

I had impression that he was convinced of sincerity of US policy with regard to preservation Indonesian independence and non-interference with Indonesian foreign policy. My frank remarks about Indonesian misunderstanding of SEATO were well received.

Further comments follow.

President’s parting words were, “Let us have no war, no war. This would be bad for everybody.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/7–2158. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Also sent to CINCPAC. Transmitted in three sections.
  2. Document 128.
  3. Document 129.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 134. Paragraph 2 informed the Embassy that the Department intended to approach “neighboring countries” with regard to the continued bombing missions in Indonesia.