280. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State 0

941. CINCPAC also for POLAD. For Assistant Secretary Parsons from Ambassador. Now that army has apparently reached point where it has to play for keeps on the PKI issue or lose its hold on situation here, Nasution may expect assurances additional US Government support during Washington visit1 although he may for obvious reasons find it [Page 543] most difficult to raise this question himself. I consider it essential, therefore, that opportunity be created by our side for such expression. At this point, Nasution needs to know unequivocally where we stand and we in turn could profit by frank exchange of views bound to ensue under circumstances in which initiative is ours.

Nasution will certainly want answers to two questions: (1) To what extent can he count on increasing support from US as he continues to carry out present program to curb power and influence of PKI; (2) In event of irreconcilable conflict with Sukarno developing, what backing can Nasution anticipate from US?

From my talks with him, I am convinced that Nasution’s objective is to steer Sukarno into anti-PKI position but that he has no present intention of getting rid of Sukarno, believing latter’s political leadership still important to nation. In other words, Nasution believes he can convert or if he can not convert he can control Sukarno. Thus answer to first question will be vital to him.

Nasution is realist, however, and knows that point may be reached when break between himself and Sukarno will develop. He is marshalling his forces, hoping his obvious strength will lead Sukarno to avoid open conflict. But he must prepare for possibility of break and consequently must have an answer to question number two.

Nasution is not only fighting our battle within Indo; he is fighting internal foe who has tremendous external resources. Soviets have let it be known that $250 million aid is by no means upper limit of what they are prepared to do in economic development, and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Martadinata’s return from Moscow with $200 million for navy and $100 million for AURI in his pocket, illustrates that in military area, Soviets are willing to bid high price to neutralize influence US and alter direction in which Nasution has been steering nation. Nasution has got to know something about resources he may be able to count on.

Problem of course is to provide Nasution kind of assurances he needs without either (A) putting him on spot of apparently being disloyal his President or (B) forcing Sukarno into Soviet camp should he hear, as he probably would hear, of assurances given Nasution.

To avoid above pitfalls, we could, I believe, inform Nasution in general terms that US is prepared to provide substantial increase in military and economic support to an Indonesian government which would adopt a sound program for establishment of political and economic stability in country. Sound program might be defined to include: (A) continuing curb on power PKI; (B) adoption financial economic stabilization program; (C) settlement of rebellion; (D) adoption program economic development designed improve standard of living.

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We could further inform Nasution without soliciting reply that should army as a result of all-out conflict with PKI find itself in control of Indonesia, he could count on immediate large scale military and economic support by US Government. No reference should be made to Sukarno.

I appreciate that important question any commitment new US aid would be estimate foreign policy orientation new regime, although I do not think this should be determining. While not impossible, I believe we cannot expect army-dominated regime adopt pro-west alignment, at least in short run, because of strong nationalist feelings, sensitivity toward colonialism and imperialism which will continue be nurtured by West New Guinea problem. Army controlled regime would probably be to right of Sukarno on foreign policy but adhere to “independent” line. Crucial difference, however, would be removal PKI influence, which may be expected to result in increased wariness, if not actual coolness, toward Soviet bloc. However, Soviet bloc may still find room for maneuver this situation which my opinion underscores necessity US making clear its intention support Nasution on basis of mutual objectives.

If we make démarche along above lines, I consider it of utmost importance for Sukarno to be received at White House. For Nasution to be given red carpet treatment at Cabinet level while Sukarno is overlooked would light fires of resentment in breast Indonesian President which would unquestionably start him on road undermining Nasution. Further, if word as to assurances given Nasution reached Sukarno’s ears, his suspicions that this was directed against himself would appear far less well-founded if he already had received royal welcome.

In the skirmish of September 12, army program was slowed down, yet it seems clear that real power is more and more coming into Nasution’s hands. At this stage, I think it vital that he be given strong assurances of support without Sukarno removal from scene being made condition precedent. In nutshell any US tactic at this point should be to support Nasution without antagonizing Sukarno.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 798.00/9–2660. Top Secret; Priority. Transmitted in two sections and also sent to CINCPAC.
  2. Jones discussed Nasution’s upcoming visit to the United States with the General on September 19. (Telegram 841 from Djakarta; September 19; ibid, 033.9811/9–1960) See Supplement.