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151. Brief Prepared in the Defense Intelligence Agency0

SNIE 55–61: OUTLOOK IN INDONESIA WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO WEST NEW GUINEA1

This Special National Intelligence Estimate was approved by the United States Intelligence Board on 7 March 1961. Significant judgments in the estimate are:

The present balance of political forces in Indonesia is not likely to change dramatically during the next year or so. President Sukarno will continue to be successful in balancing the Army and the Communist Party off against each other while retaining for himself the controlling power position. However, Sukarno’s current slide to the left is continuing. The Indonesian Communist Party is now strongly represented in every important body of the central government except the cabinet, and non-Communist political parties have been all but eliminated as major political factors. Anti-Communist efforts of Nasution and the army have not halted or reversed the steadily growing strength and influence of the Communist Party.

Although he will probably continue to seek a balance in Indonesian relations with the major Communist and non-Communist nations, Sukarno’s recent tendency to move closer to the Bloc is likely to continue. The Soviet effort to capture Sukarno and Indonesia through personal diplomacy and military and economic assistance has reached substantial proportions and appears to be making significant progress.

Indonesia is looking to the Communist Bloc for important contributions to its economic and military development, and the Bloc appears willing to meet most Indonesian requests. Total Bloc loans offered to Indonesia now amount to about $1,103 million—$593 million for military aid and $510 million for economic assistance. Despite this and Sukarno’s ambitious development plans, the Indonesian economy will probably continue its trend of slow decline. Indonesia’s trade with the Communist Bloc will almost certainly increase over its present level of 12 percent.

The Army has for the first time apparently accepted a sizable amount of Soviet aid, thereby giving the Soviet Union a potentially important advantage. Military spokesmen have made clear their preference [Page 319]for US equipment and training, but have been disappointed with the amount received and critical of the delays and red tape involved. The anti-Communist stand of the army may be somewhat eroded as Soviet military aid and training programs are implemented.

The Indonesians will probably continue to wage a vigorous campaign to assert sovereignty over West New Guinea but will probably seek to do so primarily by political means. They will probably also at times resort to military threats, patrol activities, and small unit infiltrations designed to dramatize Indonesian claims. At the same time, Indonesian frustration over not reaching their objective, combined with the acquisition of new Soviet military equipment, will increase progressively the danger of larger scale military action by Indonesia.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, Assistant to SecDef (Lansdale) Files: FRC 63 A 1803, Indonesia, No. 1, 1960 thru. Secret. The source text has Gilpatric’s name stamped on it.
  2. Not printed. (Department of State, INR/EAP Files: Lot 90 D 165, SNIE 55–61)