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

324. CINCPAC for POLAD. Embtel 301.1 After consideration content and general tenor President’s remarks made in course my July 21 meeting with him at Bogor, I have following additional comments:

1. Believe Sukarno, as strong advocate Afro-Asian bloc concept, genuinely disturbed at what he and others in government, confusing struggle to realize popular aspirations with unprincipled, externally supported power grabs, have felt is western suppression legitimate nationalist manifestations in Middle East. Have impression my presentation of limited US objectives and motives fairly convincing to him; in any case his desires study US position, and evidence on which based, is heartening.

2. President for first time personally confirmed many reports that he cognizant PKI danger and that new posture of PNI has his endorsement and encouragement. I also consider significant his admission that army main instrument to curb PKI (thus implicitly acknowledging army strength and often-reported anti-communist firmness of army leadership), pending political control through Pantjasila front device. If, I hope, more frequent meetings with President materialize, opportunity can be sought discuss with him desirability that anti-communist political front, if it expected cope successfully with regional and economic problems, include non-Javanese Party representation.

3. President deeply concerned by continuation B–26 raids and while it my impression he wishes accept at face value US position, he still perplexed by and possibly skeptical my assertion that US powerless to stop them. He may have had raids in mind when he cautioned against US action that could be exploited by PKI. Lack of publicity concerning raids (most recently reported incidents not yet publicly released) and restrained handling Pope case and other “evidence” foreign support rebel cause is of course regarded by GOI as favorable to US and anti-Communist position in that PKI deprived of highly exploitable and anti-US material.

4. Atmosphere this meeting with President most gratifying since my arrival. He gave impression of man conscious his burden and endeavoring find best solution by candid consultation with minimum [Page 250] pretense or playing for effect. I left with impression that President desires friendly relations with US; is at long last becoming disturbed by Communist threat to Indonesia; is now prepared to encourage moves against PKI although I see no early prospect of his taking public stand against Communists. Also implicit although never explicit in conversation was assumption future of Indonesia security and area security dependent US. I propose take early opportunity test his declaration that more frequent meetings in relative privacy Bogor Palace would be welcome.

5. Sukarno’s recognition of army role in curbing Communists and admission of necessity for inter-related military and political action against PKI ties in with information we have received from Nasution and other government leaders. It presents US with opportunity to provide tools for accomplishment of objective I believe is becoming mutual. There was definite indication in Sukarno conversation President beginning to be aware that US and GOI interests coincide in this respect. Although President was not as specific as might be desired in outlining anti-Communist program, what he said makes clear to me that he is supporting Djuanda and Nasution in their efforts.

It is always possible, of course, that Sukarno was saying what he thought we wanted to hear, but this was not my impression. Sukarno has always cut off head of any individual or any group that threatened his supremacy. It seemed clear he has reached point where he considers PKI to be in this category and I believe we can count on his following same course with PKI as he has in case of all other challengers.

On this basis, it seems to me new posture of Sukarno and repeatedly demonstrated anti-Communist attitude of army provides us with sufficient justification for taking next step in inducing further anti-Communist action in Indonesia. As I see it, we must take whatever calculated risk may be involved in betting on army if we are to be successful in advancing our objectives in Indonesia. Army has consistently given not only oral assurances but also specific examples of determination prevent Communist take-over (Embtel 4440 May 28)2 and discourage Communist exploitation, most recent and impressive instance of which was sharp warning to PKI not to turn July 21 mass meeting into anti-western demonstration (Embtel 299).3

There is no question in anybody’s mind here but that army is determined to obtain arms it requires. Pro-US army leaders want equipment to come from US but if we will not supply it others will. Thus US decision [Page 251] will not determine whether Indonesian army gets equipment or not but simply whether source of supply is US or Soviet bloc.

After consideration President’s words to me, taking into account earlier expressions Djuanda and Subandrio, army assurances and performance over extended period of time, and recent information concerning Nasution plan to control PKI activity (ARMA CX–237)4 (Embtel 130),5 I believe next move is ours. Army leaders who have been defending US are under heavy pressure provide tangible evidence US support. I am convinced it is time for positive US action in support of army. I therefore recommend Department give urgent consideration to supplying Indonesian Army soonest with at least token shipment arms (Deptel 3300)6 and engineering equipment (Embtel 2037 and ARMA CX–2328). This action on our part may not produce all results we hope for, but failure to act would, I believe, be needless forfeiting best opportunity yet seen to induce anti-Communist action in order preserve independence this strategic country.

6. I have discussed above in substance with Australian Ambassador McIntyre who departs on home leave tomorrow.

While he cannot speak for his government, he personally strongly endorses recommendation, believing now is time to act.9

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/7–2458. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Also sent to CINCPAC. Transmitted in two sections.
  2. Document 136.
  3. Telegram 4440 listed some of the recent anti-Communist steps taken by the Indonesian Government and Army. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.56D/5–2858)
  4. Dated July 21. (Ibid., 756D.00/7–2158)
  5. Not found.
  6. Document 133.
  7. Document 92.
  8. Telegram 203, July 14, called the Department’s attention to telegram CX 232 concerning General Djatikusumo’s request for U.S. assistance to the Indonesian Corps of Engineers in order to enable them to work on public construction projects in remote areas. “This kind of project,” the cable read in part, “combined with army appointment selected officers in territories to supervise anti-Communist activities is grass roots kind of opposition to PKI that may be well worth US support.” (Department of State, Central Files, 756D.5/7–1458)
  9. Not found.
  10. Telegram 200 to Djakarta, July 26, for the Ambassador from Robertson, reads:

    “As you know your recommendations Embtel 324 require major decision on our policy towards Indonesia. In view Secretary’s pre-occupation with Middle East situation and his departure yesterday for Europe, we will not be able meet with him until July 31. Hope after that meeting be able advise you what our position will be and what steps we might be prepared take. In meantime would welcome any additional comments or recommendations you may care make.” (Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/7–2458)