296. Memorandum of Discussion at the 472d Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1 and 2.]

3. U.S. Policy on Indonesia (NSC 5901;1 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated June 24, 1960;2 NSC Action No. 2215–c; SNIE 65–60;3 NIE 65–2–59;4 NSC 6023;5 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated December 28, 19606)

Mr. Gray presented NSC 6023 to the Council. (A copy of Mr. Gray’s Briefing Note is filed in the Minutes of the Meeting and another copy is attached to this Memorandum).7

In the course of his briefing Mr. Gray dwelt on the West New Guinea problem and asked Mr. Merchant to comment on the pros and cons of our policy on this issue, on available alternatives to present U.S. policy, and on possible solutions to the problem.

Mr. Merchant said West New Guinea represented a case where the national interests of the Netherlands and Indonesia were in direct conflict. It would be difficult to exaggerate the amount of emotion engendered in each country by this question. Powerful arguments could be adduced for the support of either the Dutch or the Indonesian position but, on balance, the Department of State believed that the West New [Page 591] Guinea case was similar to the Kashmir case in that the U.S. must adopt a neutral attitude and endeavor to persuade both parties to “de-fuse” the issue. The Netherlands was our loyal ally in NATO. Indonesia was an important country in Southeast Asia and although it tended at times to move toward the Communist Bloc, it would probably move faster in that direction if we supported the Dutch. Another factor in this situation was the impression Indonesia had created in the Afro-Asian anti-colonial bloc, an impression that the Western countries, including the U.S., were “colonial powers.” Mr. Merchant then noted that the U.S. had already begun extraordinarily secret conversations with the Australians, looking toward a solution which might eliminate Indonesia’s irritation with the Dutch and reconcile the Dutch to the situation in Indonesia.

Secretary Gates said defense officials in the Netherlands were convinced that the Indonesians sooner or later would attack West New Guinea. He wondered what the U.S. would do in such an eventuality. Mr. Merchant said the U.S. had many times warned Indonesia against taking military action. Recently we had written pledges from Indonesia that it would not use U.S. equipment for aggressive purposes against West New Guinea. Mr. Dulles felt one difficulty in West New Guinea lay in the fact that we have no U.S. official constantly in the area and are hence not in a good position to get early intelligence of a major military move.

The President wondered who would be the aggressor in the event of a clash over West New Guinea. We would want to arrive at an accurate identification of the aggressor. However, the Soviets and the Communist Chinese would have a canned answer to the question of who is the aggressor. The President added that the Dutch hope West New Guinea has some value but he was unable to entertain such a hope. Mr. Merchant said West New Guinea was mostly a national fetish, a symbol of the old Dutch Empire. He added that Ambassador Jones and Mrs. Pope had had a favorable interview with Sukarno yesterday.

Mr. Dulles said that one of the fliers for the Indonesian rebel forces had recently redefected to the Sukarno government. If he confesses to his activities in the rebellion, Pope’s case may be prejudiced. Secretary Gates wondered whether we could get Pope out of Indonesia. Mr. Dulles said the matter was under study. However, if we made an attempt in this direction and failed, Pope’s case for clemency would be destroyed.

The President felt it was necessary to devise better ways of finding trustworthy people for government service. He was thinking about the redefector mentioned by Mr. Dulles. Such a person should not have [Page 592] enough information so that his confession upon redefection would be damaging. The Martin–Mitchell case8 indicated that we did not succeed in keeping unreliable people out of sensitive jobs. The President wondered whether we were sufficiently aware of the problem and whether we were compartmentalizing the information we provided some individuals to avoid their having too wide a knowledge.

Mr. Gray then concluded the discussion of Indonesia by reading the last half of Page 3 and all of Page 4 of his Briefing Note.

The National Security Council:

Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 6023; in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thereon, transmitted by the reference memorandum of December 28, 1960.
Adopted the statement of policy in NSC 6023; and directed the NSC Planning Board to add a revised Financial Appendix thereto.

Note: NSC 6023, as adopted by the action in b above, subsequently approved by the President; and referred together with the Financial Appendix for implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, and to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency.

[Here follows the remainder of the memorandum.]

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Prepared by Boggs.
  2. Document 177.
  3. This June 24 memorandum from Lay noted that the OCB Working Group on Indonesia had recommended, in accordance with NSC Action No. 2215–c of April 9 and in view of developments that transpired since the adoption of NSC 5901, that consideration be given to making editorial revisions in the General Considerations section of NSC 5901. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5901—Memoranda) NSC Action No. 2215–c outlined procedures for updating NSC papers. (Ibid., S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)
  4. Document 252.
  5. Document 234.
  6. NSC 6023, a draft statement of policy on Indonesia (Document 293), was transmitted to the NSC on December 19, under cover of a note from James Lay. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 6023 Series) It was discussed at the December 29 meeting of the NSC and approved by the President without change on January 2.
  7. This memorandum from Lay enclosed the views of the JCS on NSC 6023. In a memorandum of December 27 from General Lemnitzer to Secretary of Defense Gates, the JCS indicated that they considered the revised draft statement of policy to be acceptable from a military point of view. (Ibid.)
  8. Not printed; see Supplement.
  9. Bernon F. Mitchell and William H. Martin were two crytography experts at the National Security Agency who defected to the Soviet Union in August 1960.