285. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Dillon to President Eisenhower 0


  • President Sukarno’s Call on You at 10:30 A.M., Thursday, October 61

At your invitation, President Sukarno of Indonesia will pay a call on you at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, October 6. I and Mr. John M. Steeves, Acting Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, will be present with President Sukarno. The following material has been prepared for your use during this meeting.

1. Sukarno’s Suspicions of the United States

Discussion. During the past several months we have received a number of disquieting reports which suggest that the Indonesian Government believes that the United States does not wish true independence for Indonesia since the United States fears that Indonesia would then adversely influence our SEATO allies and since a strong Indonesia might stifle United States economic interest in that country. There are clear indications also that Sukarno suspects that the United States is attempting to undermine his personal position and to replace him with Indonesian leaders more sympathetic with United States policies. The reasons behind Sukarno’s reported attitudes are complex. He is, as you know, a vain and sensitive individual who responds markedly to personal attention. He probably believes that the Communist Bloc has been more sympathetic to Indonesia’s problems than has been the United States and to justify this attitude he would cite the visits of Khrushchev to Indonesia, the massive offers of economic and military assistance extended by the Bloc to Indonesia over the past three years and the Bloc’s unwavering support of the Indonesian position in that country’s dispute with the Netherlands over West New Guinea. On the other hand, Sukarno has been severely disappointed over your inability to visit Indonesia. [Page 554] Disappointment has also been voiced by the Indonesian Government over the lack of support from the United States for Indonesia in the West New Guinea issue. In addition, the Indonesians have also sometimes expressed less than complete satisfaction with American aid which they have characterized as slow and grudgingly given as compared with Communist Bloc assistance.

Sukarno is the key to the course of political events in Indonesia and will likely remain so for some time. The current political situation in Indonesia can be described as an intense three-way power struggle with the Indonesian Army pitted against the Communist Party and President Sukarno playing a balancing role between these two antagonistic forces. In his efforts to forge a new government structure to cope with Indonesia’s desire for economic progress, Sukarno has accepted the Communist Party as an element whose participation he believes is important for the achievement of this objective. Thus Sukarno’s attitude toward the Communists has inhibited efforts by the Indonesian Army to curb the Party’s activities.

Part of Sukarno’s suspicions of the United States probably derive from our military assistance to the anti-Communist Indonesian Army which we have extended since 1958. This program may have generated a fear in Sukarno’s mind that we are building up and encouraging the Indonesian Army to oust him. General Nasution, the Army Chief of Staff and leader of Indonesia’s anti-Communist forces, has, incidentally, just completed a successful visit to Washington during which he was cordially received by several high level United States officials including the Secretaries of State and Defense.

In view of the foregoing, we deem it imperative that we do everything possible to allay these suspicions on Sukarno’s part.


That, in the course of your conversation with Sukarno, you emphasize that the United States fully respects Indonesia’s policy of non-alignment and that the United States wishes nothing more than a strong and truly independent Indonesia. We sympathize greatly with Indonesia’s efforts to achieve economic and social progress; our assistance programs are designed, within the means available to us, to encourage Indonesia in achieving these goals.
That you express your sincere regret that you have been unable to respond to Sukarno’s numerous and gracious invitations to visit Indonesia during your term of office.

2. The West New Guinea Issue

President Sukarno is likely to raise the West New Guinea issue in some context during his conversation. Attached at Tab A is a briefing [Page 555] paper on this subject which was recently prepared by the Department for your background information.2


That you express the hope that there will be a peaceful and mutually satisfactory solution to this problem between two countries with both of which we maintain friendly relations.

Douglas Dillon
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 798.11/10–560. Secret. Drafted by Wenzel; cleared in draft with Blue of WE. A signed copy of this memorandum is in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries; Eisenhower’s initials are on that copy, indicating that he read it.
  2. President Eisenhower approved this meeting with Sukarno during a meeting with Dillon on October 5. According to a memorandum of that conversation, by John Eisenhower, October 5, “Mr. Dillon then expressed concern over the feelings of President Sukarno of Indonesia who is reportedly leaving tomorrow. Sukarno brought Nasution along with him and Nasution has been to Washington and seen everyone. We do, of course, like to deal with Nasution, but fear that if Sukarno feels slighted, it will go hard with Nasution in Indonesia.” (Ibid.)
  3. Document 276.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.