23. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Herter) to Secretary of State Dulles 0

I telephoned Admiral Burke with regard to the reported bombings in Sumatra1 and said that you and I had discussed it and that on the [Page 46] whole we would be more comfortable if there were something nearby.2 Admiral Burke asked what we would think about having a cruiser or a couple of destroyers around Singapore. He said they would not stay in Singapore but would go in and out of port. Admiral Burke said his people had been divided on this and that those who were opposed felt that the presence of our ships could be misinterpreted publicly by both sides, each claiming we were there in support of its position. However, Admiral Burke and I agreed that if necessary we could say our ships were there because of the American citizens in the area and the need to be in a position to evacuate them if it became necessary. Admiral Burke said he would order a cruiser down there right away since the next few days will be the worst and then will probably settle down to a slow simmer for several months.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Miscellaneous Memoranda. Secret.
  2. Earlier that day, Allen Dulles called the Secretary of State to say that the CIA had just received a bulletin that the Indonesian Air Force had dropped some bombs near Padang in Sumatra. (Memorandum from Phyllis D. Bernau to the Secretary of State, February 21; ibid., Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations)
  3. Dulles and Herter spoke about this matter over the telephone at 5:06 p.m., February 21. Dulles indicated that he thought it would be a good idea “to ask Burke to start something down in that direction.” They agreed that Herter would call Burke to discuss this question further. (Memorandum of telephone conversation, drafted by Bernau; ibid.)