289. Editorial Note

On October 12 the Director of the Policy Planning Staff, Gerard C. Smith, transmitted a paper entitled ‘The Problem of West New Guinea (West Irian)” in response to a request on July 2 by Under Secretary of State, Livingston T. Merchant, for such a study. The paper included a 12-page discussion of the problem which was defined as follows: “to determine whether the US position on the Netherlands-Indonesia controversy over West New Guinea, which is now one of neutrality, should be modified and, if so, how.” In addition to the discussion section, there were 5 pages of conclusions and 1 of recommendations. The recommendations read as follows:

  • “1. We should refuse to participate in any joint trusteeship or condominium over West New Guinea, such as the Dutch evidently considered proposing.
  • “2. We should endeavor to promote a direct UN trusteeship for West New Guinea, under article 81 of the Charter, advancing for that purpose such of the considerations, set forth herein, as may be appropriate in discussions with the respective parties.
  • “3. Considering the requirements of tactics, the necessarily close and enduring concern of Australia with matters involving both West New Guinea and Indonesia, and our own relationships with the various [parties, the preferable sequence of our approaches, in promoting such a solution, would appear to be: (a) Australia; (b) the Netherlands and Indonesia, simultaneously and through carefully selected intermediaries, provided the Australians so agree. Frank and strictly bilateral US-Australian talks, resulting in an understanding, should improve chances that further discussions with the other interested parties would be fruitful.
  • “4. We should, if the suggestions outlined under recommendation No. 2 meet significant resistance, explore any alternative plans which [Page 565] any of the interested parties may have under consideration, in order to ascertain whether they seem to merit US support; if not, we should consider whether to make the fact and nature or our démarches known to the world public, and whether to attempt to mobilize opinion in favor of a trusteeship exercised directly by the UN.” (Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, Indonesia) See Supplement.

On October 27 Merchant forwarded the entire study to Secretary of State Herter. Merchant’s covering memorandum to the Secretary reads:

“Following a series of intra-Departmental meetings on West New Guinea last summer, I requested S/P to undertake a study reevaluating our present policy. This S/P study (attached at Tab A) was completed on October 12. It is excellent, and I recommend that you read it. Mr. Kohler (EUR) and Mr. Steeves (FE) concur in its conclusions and recommendations, as do I.

EUR and FE also recommend that no action should be attempted at the present session of the General Assembly beyond a secret unilateral approach to the Australians to be made as soon as possible. I, likewise, endorse this recommendation and recommend your approval of the recommendations of the report and this timing of action with respect to them.”

Herter initialed his approval of Merchant’s recommendations on October 28. (Department of State, Central Files, 656.9813/10–2760)