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

515. Embtels 9411 and 972.2 General Nasution accompanied by Colonels Yusuf and Kusmardjo called on Parsons afternoon 29th. Major Benson his escort officer only other American present.

At invitation of General Nasution Parsons said he glad give him indication American reactions to recent events. He said that US was aware of and heartened by recent Army actions curb communist activities in outlying parts of Indonesia. We were aware also that this was internal matter. We were heartened because of our belief that communist activities not compatible with true independence or nationalism although they sought to use nationalism in their drive for world domination under control of Moscow. In contrast American policy has always sought to support independence of free world countries including Indonesia because we believed that a world of free nations organized each according to their own national genius was in best long-term interests of United States. Moreover we support not only political but economic independence for newly developing countries.

Parsons continued that if strong opposition to a strong communist party, a situation which he thought existed in Indonesia, should at some time give rise to a crisis and a confrontation it might be that anti-communists would wish to know where US stood. He wished to say after consulting various superiors in US Government that if such situation occurred in Indonesia General Nasution could be sure that US would wish to support those who oppose communists. If US was asked to help in such situation US would do its best to help quickly and effectively and would try to meet any reasonable request. It should be remembered that US was not like communist countries which could pledge their aid without even thinking of their own people because US had to persuade its people that their money should be used to assist foreign countries. Nevertheless if confrontation occurred and new situation resulted General Nasution could be assured that we would feel strongly that we should help him if requested. Parsons added that he did not ask General [Page 548] Nasution to comment on foregoing statement as he merely wished him to know that this was our attitude. He added that if the US was giving aid to a government which was striving for political and economic stability and was taking steps to curb PKI to settle rebellion and to introduce appropriate financial economic development measures it would be that much easier for this government to work vigorously to meet Indonesian needs.

Parsons also said that he understood that there had been statements made although not at top level in Indonesian Government which suggested that US did not wish true independence for Indonesia because it feared that Indonesia would then adversely influence SEATO countries and might stifle US economic interests in Indonesia. He said nothing could be further from truth and that far from fearing strong Indonesia we desired this. Americans like most non-communist peoples desired to concentrate on their own affairs and live at peace and sooner other countries obtained full independence sooner burden American aid programs could be reduced. If Indonesia became stronger under guidance of those who concerned to prevent communist domination of Indonesia he was certain Indonesian influence with other countries including SEATO allies would not be harmful. It should be noted this connection that US fully respected Indonesian neutrality policy as it also respected neutrality policy of Burma and Cambodia. As for American enterprise Parsons felt that continuance American enterprise must be justified on grounds benefits to Indonesian economy too and he felt that if they were allowed to operate under reasonable arrangements in Indonesia benefits to Indonesian economy would be obvious and would be recognized. If American enterprises on the other hand were bad for Indonesia, which he did not believe, and Indonesians decided they did not want them then in that case they would simply have to withdraw. Point was however that contrary to what he understood had been said in Indonesia recently US was not interested in a weaker Indonesia for any narrow purpose of its own but rather desired strong and truly independent Indonesia.

In reply General Nasution gave lengthy exposition of manner in which Army was working quietly in all regions and in all functional groups as well as in political front to obtain practical control so as to thwart communists. Only place they had real roots was central eastern Java where decade ago Defense Minister who was communist had trained cadres down to village level. He said to understand Indonesian situation correctly it must be realized that frontal clash not likely and not wanted. On contrary process he described would continue. He also showed his pleasure at obvious indications of confidence in and support for him and Army. Parsons said that he had not meant to imply that he thought frontal clash about to occur or that he advocated such a course; [Page 549] he merely wished to have General Nasution know what our attitude would be if unexpected situation developed. General Nasution said he appreciated this.

Parsons at no time mentioned Sukarno in above context. Nasution referred to him as “father” rather than “commander” and explained how Sukarno had no organization and instead of being man of action was man whom all parties and groups sought to persuade and influence in order obtain his support. It was clear Nasution was thinking in terms Sukarno’s continued usefulness as “father image” and there was no hint of any thought of eliminating him from scene.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.9811/9–3060. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted and approved by Parsons. Repeated to USUN and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. Document 280.
  3. In telegram 972, September 28, Ambassador Jones discussed the upcoming visit of Sukarno to the United States. “I believe we have unusual opportunity with both Sukarno and Subandrio in US,” he noted in part, “to straighten out erroneous perspective Sukarno now holds toward US.” (Department of State, Central Files, 611.98/9–2860)
  4. During their conversation, Parsons also discussed the West New Guinea dispute with Nasution. He stated that a resort to violence would weaken both parties and expressed the hope that none would be used. Parsons also informed Nasution that the U.S. Government had approved in principle the grant of 300 million rupiahs, derived from P.L. 480 sales, to Indonesia for barracks construction. (Telegrams 522 and 523 to Djakarta, September 30; ibid., 033.9811/9–3060 and 798.56/9–2660) See Supplement for both.