193. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Netherlands 0

1537. Deptel 1531 to The Hague.1 Dept (Merchant and Robertson) informed Netherlands Ambassador Van Roijen April 10 that after careful examination all factors decision had been reached within past few days and after Luns’ departure from Washington to issue export licenses for commercial purchase by Indonesia of 10 C–130B unarmed [Page 369] cargo-transport aircraft. Delivery would commence October 1, 1960 and be completed by autumn, 1961. Merchant pointed out that US Government not involved in transaction except through granting of export licenses.

Van Roijen said important thing for Dutch was fact Indonesians were getting these aircraft and not degree US Government involvement. Aircraft could be used to drop parachutists and thus in an aggressive sense were in same category as destroyers being built for Indonesia by Sweden (Deptel 1473).2 Van Roijen said his Government would be “very disappointed and disturbed” by this action. It would cause chain reaction other allied and friendly countries which would no longer see need to use restraint in furnishing arms to Indonesians.

Merchant said we were not surprised by Dutch reaction and it was in view of their probable reaction that we desired inform them soonest of our decision. Merchant made point that in Indonesian archipelago almost any sort of military equipment, even in internal security categories, could be used for aggressive purposes. He also pointed out that Indonesian Air Force has set aside necessary money (about $31 million) needed for this cash transaction and that if US withheld approval of export licenses, Indonesian Air Force would buy comparable type from Soviet Bloc.

Robertson reviewed background of our military assistance to Indonesia and said US had been gratified by progress achieved through our phased assistance of limited nature. Decision to grant export licenses was in line with decisions taken last November and about which Dutch had been fully informed. Robertson stressed that Indonesians did not wish to be dependent on Soviet Bloc and that if we refused licenses for these planes we would impair and reverse satisfactory trend of Indonesia toward Free World. He recalled what Secretary had said to Subandrio last November about our opposition to use of force against West New Guinea and that entire world would condemn it. In reply to Van Roijen’s statement that Netherlands did not trust Indonesian word and that unstable situation in Indonesia might well get out of hand and result in attack on West New Guinea Robertson said that in final analysis US maintained control over delivery of these aircraft which could be withheld if situation deteriorated. This would not be the case if Indonesia received aircraft from Soviet Bloc.

Van Roijen said that risks involved in furnishing aircraft great and that by 1960 Indonesia would already be receiving these aircraft. It [Page 370] made important difference to Dutch public opinion that such large and aggressive planes were being furnished Indonesia by allies of Netherlands, not by its enemies. He said this transaction would “severely affect relations between us.”

Merchant expressed hope that in presenting matter to parliament and public opinion Dutch Government would stress following points:

Its confidence in what we have told Indonesia regarding our attitude on use of force;
Commitments which US has received from Indonesia that military equipment furnished would not be used for aggressive purposes; and
Fact that Indonesia is dependent on West for its future supply of spare parts.

Last point would be added deterrent to Indonesian use of force which would not be case if equipment came from Soviet Bloc. Merchant said we do not believe this decision has created additional risks in connection West New Guinea; we believed it was proper step to take in light of Indonesian Air Force determination obtain these planes.

Van Roijen concluded that while he would make these points to his Government he wished to emphasize again with all strength at his command adverse effect this transaction would have on public opinion. With reference assertion these planes licensed in line with November program he said that we had created “false impression,” since in November we had told Dutch program was small. This was not the case. We had also told them that nothing but surplus aircraft would be licensed for Indonesians. This also not true. Robertson said could not understand how Dutch gained such impression. Van Roijen ended conversation by saying he “surprised US ready risk good will it enjoys in Netherlands” through transaction of this sort.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.5622/4–1059. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Stabler, cleared by Merchant (draft) and Robertson, and approved by McBride. Repeated to Djakarta, London, Paris, and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. Telegram 1531, April 10, informed the Embassy that the Department approved the issuance of export licenses for ten C–130B aircraft for Indonesia and that it planned to explain this decision to the Netherlands Ambassador on April 10. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 1473, March 31, reported that Van Roijen had called at the Department the previous day to express concern over Sweden’s decision to build two destroyers for Indonesia. (Ibid., 756D.5621/3–3159) See Supplement.