30. Editorial Note

At the Secretary’s staff meeting on March 6, developments in Indonesia were discussed as follows:

“Mr. Becker recalled that he had been asked to study whether the US had rights under international law to intervene in the present Indonesian situation in behalf of US citizens and property interests. He said he has circulated a memorandum stating that the facts do not justify intervention by the US at this time. He explained that, if an attack on US citizens were planned, the US could justify intervention despite the provisions of the UN Charter; but that the action now being taken by the Central Government against insurgents with only incidental danger to US citizens and property gave no such right to the US under international law.

“Mr. Parsons said there are increasingly believable signs of progress in the SukarnoHatta talks and noted that another meeting between the two is scheduled for today. A face-saving compromise, which would establish Hatta as Vice Premier or Head of Cabinet, restore the Sumatran dissidents to their former status and eliminate PKI influence from the government without repudiating Sukarno’s ‘guided democracy’ appears possible.

“Mr. Robertson added that a CALTEX official told him that both the Indonesian Government and the insurgents are very friendly to his company’s representatives. He said the dissidents are aware that his company is continuing to pay royalties to the Central Government but have shown great understanding for the company’s position.” (Notes of the Secretary’s staff meeting; Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75) Becker’s six-page memorandum is ibid., Central Files, 656D.00221/3–158.

Later that day, at the 357th meeting of the National Security Council Allen Dulles reviewed the Indonesian situation during the course of his intelligence briefing as follows:

“With respect to the situation in Indonesia, Mr. Dulles pointed out that Sukarno had postponed setting forth his policy statement with respect to the rebellion, from March 3 to March 8. The intelligence community believed that he had done this in order to have his armed forces in place for a possible invasion of rebel territory immediately after he made his pronouncement. Meanwhile, Sukarno has been having conversations with Hatta which do not seem to have come to anything, but it was possible that Sukarno would propose some kind of compromise with the dissident forces.

“Meanwhile, likewise, the military build-up on both sides has continued, and this build-up was described in some detail by Mr. Dulles, as was the possible shape of an attack by the forces of the Central Government against central Sumatra.

“Secretary Dulles interrupted to inquire as to the loyalty of the troops of the Djakarta government. Mr. Allen Dulles replied that the [Page 55] Djakarta regime had chosen carefully the troops it would use for the invasion, and that among them would be some very good fighters. On the other hand, he was not sure that either side had much appetite for fighting the other.

“The President observed that if the clash really occurred and the Sumatrans had a few good aircraft, they should be able to throw back the Djakarta invaders.

“Mr. Allen Dulles continued by pointing out that the Djakarta government had informed our attaché of its proposal to bomb the oil installations of the US-UK oil companies in Sumatra. It now appears that they have probably been talked out of this proposal, though Mr. Dulles rather wished they had gone through with it without telling our attaché in advance.

“General Cutler inquired whether, if the Djakarta forces did bomb U.S. oil installations and kill U.S. personnel there, we could move in with U.S. armed forces. Secretary Dulles thought this a possibility, and inquired of Admiral Burke what U.S. forces were available for operations in this area. Admiral Burke described these forces briefly.” (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason, March 7; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)