78. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State0
4028. Foreign Minister summoned me this morning to discuss rebel bombings and evidence American adventurers and Taiwan involvement operations. He made strong plea for US Government to do anything it could vis-à-vis Government of Republic of China, or otherwise, to stop bombings.
Some within Indonesian Government believed, he said, that these bombings were prelude to war. Both Admiral Subijakto1 and Air Marshal Suryadarma had advised Prime Minister and President that they convinced American naval and air forces are planning attack Indonesia. He said neither President, Prime Minister, Nasution nor himself believed this but cited it as example of intense emotionalism within Indonesian Government this whole subject. He further said killings of innocent people by bombings has resulted in such strong reaction [Page 134] within Indonesia against rebels that (a) rebel movement has become object violent popular reaction in Ambon and other places and (b) difficulty of GOI settling conflict at this time immeasurably increased.
He said both he and Djuanda had deprecated talk within Indonesian Government of breaking off diplomatic relations with US. In this connection he said Indonesian Government found itself on horns of most serious dilemma: In America lay its main hope of aid in opposition communism yet Indonesians were convinced that America was actively helping rebels. He said forces within government had wanted to include direct charge to this effect in Djuanda’s statement but that Djuanda was unwilling to accept this because he felt it would play into hands of Communists and alienate America at critical stage.
He reported interesting conversation between himself, Sukarno and Djuanda yesterday in which Djuanda had told the President that what Communists have been in past they will be in future and that present cooperative attitude was mere matter of tactics. Djuanda had said flatly “Indonesian Communists are run by international Communists and cannot be trusted.” Result of long conference was that President had agreed that PKI could “exist but must grow no stronger.” He said President had finally become convinced that four leg concept guided democracy2 was unsound because PKI represented alien, not indigenous element and that guided democracy meant indigenous democracy and had no element of communism within it. I urged Subandrio to attempt induce Sukarno to make this clear in public statement.
In connection with strong appeal for US help in matter of bombings, and other gestures of US support for Indonesia, Foreign Minister returned to question of arms. Army is the key to effective anti-Communist action in Indonesia, he said, “Don’t antagonize the army.” He indicated anti-American sentiment in army was growing as result of conviction strong US support for rebels and urged America to do something soon which would reverse this trend.
In connection with discussion bombings he said “Please help us not to accelerate conflict but to bring it to close” and at this point he said evidence of foreign assistance was so great that if conflict was not settled soon Indonesian Government planned bring matter before UN.
He then went into discussion of evidence foreign assistance to rebels. He first showed me an intercepted cable to Colonel Djambek in Bukittinggi from R. S. Hirsch, American Sales Company, 684 McAllister Street, San Francisco, which read: “can offer up to 50,000 each 7.35mm [Page 135] semi-automatic rifles and up to 15 million rounds ammunition for same for prompt shipment. Particulars promptly upon request”.
He also said they had uncovered documents linking Chiang Kai Min, chairman of National Security Bureau in Taiwan, with supply of planes. These documents revealed, he said, referring to intelligence report, that Chiang had turned over C–47s to rebels and that planes were piloted by American pilots and Chinese co-pilots. Chiang had taken this action on instructions of US Navy in Singapore, he alleged documents revealed. He also said they had proof that General Li Chung Sie was with rebels as military adviser. This man sometimes has been known by name of Lie Chi-chun and Indonesian intelligence circles refer to him commonly as C.C. Li. He is a long-time GRC intelligence operator with serial number of 2621–1504-6108, he said and formerly was active in Indonesia as Kuomintang intelligence agent.
He further said that financial information obtained showed that total barter deals consummated by rebels amounted to from 8 to 10 million Straits dollars. He said complaints already received by GOI from merchants in Singapore to effect 3 million Straits dollars for rice, armored cars and road equipment have not been paid and are long overdue. He said Chinese merchants Singapore had made large commissions out of actions and indicated considerable bad faith involved. This was reason for assassination of Wan Tan Nea in Menado by rebels recently. Wan Tan was formerly Indonesian Army lieutenant stationed in Bandung.
Connection with above “evidence” I pointed out telegram from American in San Francisco, of whom I had never heard, constituted no evidence whatever of American official or unofficial involvement—that on face of it this was merely businessman trying to make sale and that reference to arms available did not even mean these arms were available within US since international arms purveyors have stocks in many countries.
Foreign Minister quickly cut in and denied any implication of American Government involvement in what he or Djuanda had said but that he felt evidence was sufficient to prove that rebels were receiving outside assistance and that he felt if US Government desired to do so it could be helpful in situation. I pointed out that Secretary Dulles had opened door by saying he would welcome any suggestions from Foreign Minister on this subject. Foreign Minister repeated request Embassy telegram 3965, saying he felt approach to GRC would be productive but that what he was asking was any help which we could give by way of discouraging continued bombings.
He then returned to subject of Communism and Sukarno in obvious effort to convince us that US and GOI objectives were identical on this point although ideas and method might differ. What President has been talking about, he said, is indigenous democracy and they recognize [Page 136] that PKI is least indigenous party. PKIs strategy has been most skillful; leaders have told Sukarno that they would do anything he wanted they did not insist on being in Cabinet, they were satisfied merely to be his errand boys. Sukarno found this difficult to oppose but was appreciative of danger. Sukarno had said “I have slept with Musa in one bed but I will kill him if he tries to impose Communism on Indonesia”. Sukarno keeps referring to Madiun3 in this connection.
President yesterday also queried: “Why do Americans think I am Communist or pro-Communist? If I were, Indonesia would long ago have been Communist. Communists want power. I do not seek power. How many times have I been urged to become a dictator or to run the government as an active President? I have always refused. I do not want this. I want Indonesia to have democracy which will work”.
Foreign Ministry cited this, he said, to show that Sukarno was not [beyond?] redemption in this matter and could, he was convinced, be won over to side anti-Communists. In support his claim that Sukarno beginning lean in right direction in spite anger at foreign intervention, Foreign Ministry cited reference in Sukarno’s Bandung speech to remarks he made at my credentials ceremony.4 This deliberate effort to keep door open, he said.
Subandrio reiterated point reported Embtel 39665 that Sukarno’s silver tongue was needed if Communist growth were to be checked within democratic framework but that ultimate hope of checking communism was Army. He concluded his presentation on this note, simply adding that on Wednesday he would have to appear before Parliament to discuss this whole subject of rebel bombings and relations with US and he sincerely hoped US could take some step or make some gesture which would be helpful to him in this difficult task.
Before leaving I referred to matter of Robertson testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee6 and read him correct version. I said although incorrect version has not as yet been published here, I did not want him to be taken off guard because I felt it was important to our mutual relations that sensitive subject of this kind be handled carefully. [Page 137] He expressed appreciation for information and said he did not believe this would create problem. He said first part of Robertson’s comments on subject of anti-colonialism would be welcome in Indonesia and implied it would balance later reference to West Irian.
Comment: 1. Foreign Minister was obviously anxious to accomplish two things: (A) Provide me with an understanding of feeling of desperation bombings had created in GOI; (B) demonstrate that in spite of everything, GOI felt it must have support of US if growth communism to be halted. Although trying to impress me with seriousness Indonesian reaction to “foreign bombing” and making fairly strong remarks, his manner was most cordial and as I left, he said, appealingly, “you think we can straighten out these things, don’t you?” I replied in affirmative but not to be misunderstood as acceding to his specific request, spelled out desire of my government to help Indonesia, but emphasizing difficulty of so doing in current situation.
2. At luncheon in honor Indian Ambassador, immediately following Subandrio interview, British Ambassador drew me aside to obtain brief rundown of conversation. He then commented that in his view it was absolutely essential for two things to be done at once: (A) Bombings must somehow be brought to stop or situation will get out of hand; (B) Indonesian military must be provided with at least part of what it asks—both from US and British sources. He doesn’t see how we can lose by taking such action.
3. Subandrio interview covered two-hour period so I have not attempted to give play-by-play account and in interest of space have omitted most of my comments and rejoinders designed in each case to spur Subandrio on in his anti-Communist thinking and at same time leave impression US genuinely interested helping Indonesia.
4. Anything Department could provide by next Wednesday7 that would enable Subandrio to report to Parliament sympathetic attitude on part US would be useful at this point, for example, statement by Secretary that US proceeding to explore situation on basis of information supplied by Foreign Ministry.8
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/5–358. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Transmitted in two sections.↩
- Commander of the Indonesian Navy.↩
- On several occasions Sukarno had referred to the four major Indonesian political parties—the PNI, PKI, NU, and Masjumi—as constituting the “four-legged horse” of guided democracy.↩
- Reference is to an unsuccessful rebellion by the Indonesian Communist Party that broke out in Madiun, Java, on September 18, 1948; related documentation is in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. VI, pp. 353 ff.↩
- Reference is to the speech that Sukarno delivered at Bandung on May 2. Telegram 4055 from Djakarta, May 5, briefly summarized the speech. (Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/5–558.) For information on Sukarno’s response to Jones’ credentials speech, see footnote 3, Document 43.↩
- Document 75.↩
- Robertson testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on U.S.-Indonesian relations on May 2; circular telegram 1034, May 2, summarized his remarks. (Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/5–258) See Supplement.↩
- May 7.↩
- The Department transmitted pertinent excerpts from this telegram to the Embassy in Taipei in telegram 700, May 5. (Department of State, Central Files, 756D.00/5-358)↩