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

819. For Assistant Secretary Parsons from Ambassador. Embtel 801.1 With prospect of move reported reference telegram fat now in fire and Department faces decision that may well determine course events Indonesia a long time to come. I have endeavored weigh all factors this [Page 536] decision and reached conclusion that unless Sukarno received in Washington there is danger serious weakening US power keep Indonesia out of Soviet orbit.

I am fully aware justifiable reluctance Department support placation leader whose irresponsibility has justly earned him label as first class international irritant. You are also aware my concern implications his open support of PKI. My recommendation, however, is based on following:

There is no early prospect of Sukarno being removed from the scene. The Army, sole force capable of achieving this, has no such intention. Lesson of September 12 meeting as reported Embtel 7782 is that Nasution still considers Sukarno essential and for this or other reasons will make no move to oust him. Instead Nasution effort will be directed at harnessing President. In absence any indication that Army intends actual move against Sukarno foreseeable future, I believe essential we attempt remove already deep-seated suspicion of Sukarno that US has supported Army campaign against him and is gunning for him. If Sukarno not accorded official recognition US Government, his conviction US hostile intentions will be confirmed. Moreover, not unlikely some in Army would also regard cold shoulder as deliberate affront national prestige and thus would move closer to Sukarno. I need not elaborate popular furor Sukarno could create over alleged US antipathy.

In sum, I consider it almost certain that failure to receive Sukarno Washington, following on heels of what he already considers snub in President Eisenhower’s failure to come to Indonesia on occasion his Philippine visit, could result in serious dimunition if not neutralization our influence Indonesia. Needless to say, decrease US influence almost certain result in perhaps disproportionate increase influence Soviet bloc.

I recommend that I be authorized to extend invitation to Sukarno to make informal visit was [U.S.] for purpose making call on President Eisenhower.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 798.11/9–1660. Secret; Priority.
  2. Telegram 801, September 16, reads:

    “[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Subandrio has received instructions from Sukarno to make direct approach to US Government to request official invitation for President to visit Washington while he is in US.

    “Meanwhile, ARMA was approached last night by officer representing General Jani urging that Sukarno be issued such invitation. Army apparently feels Nasution would be on spot if he is received in Washington when head of state is ignored.

    “Embassy comments follow.” (Ibid.)

    Sukarno was scheduled to be in New York for an address before the U.N. General Assembly on September 29. General Nasution, who was planning to travel with Sukarno, was scheduled to leave New York on the evening of September 29 and spend 2 days in Washington meeting with U.S. officials.

  3. Telegram 778, September 14, reported on an Army conference on September 12 that was addressed by Sukarno. “Sukarno’s obvious failure to win over army leaders in spite of all-out effort,” the Embassy observed, “has certainly diminished his stature.” The Embassy also pointed out that the distance between Sukarno and the Army had probably further widened, with the regional commanders more than ever on the opposite side from Sukarno with regard to the PKI issue. (Ibid., 798.00/9–1460) See Supplement.