154. Memorandum From Robert H. Johnson of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Rostow)0


  • Guy Pauker’s Three Rand Papers on Indonesia1

There is attached an original and one copy of a condensation2 of the three papers by Guy Pauker prepared as requested for possible reading by the President. I have attempted to present the essence of Guy’s argument in each paper.

[Page 326]

I believe that Guy’s ideas are worth passing on to the President3 and should be helpful to him in preparing for his visit with Sukarno as well as for dealing with the larger questions of our policy toward Indonesia. I think it is worthwhile to bear in mind in this connection, however, that the papers all contain some highly speculative material which is sometimes supported, if at all, by quite impressionistic evidence. I do not mean to condemn the arguments on this basis. On the contrary.

However, one major argument in the February 3 paper seems to me to suffer rather seriously from weak logical as well as factual support. This is the theory that Sukarno can see a future for himself as a world leader only as a spokesman for the Soviet Bloc. The chain of reasoning runs something like this (references are to Guy’s paper of February 3, 1961, summarized in pp. 6–7 of the attached):

Sukarno is anti-Western and his political interests and philosophy are in conflict with the West. (No evidence is presented for the statement with respect to his anti-Westernism other, perhaps, than Guy’s later statement of his conviction that, when Sukarno and his colleagues say that imperialism is the main enemy, they mean primarily the United States, only secondarily the Dutch (see pp. 6–7). It is not clear why Guy considers Sukarno more anti-Western than Nasser or Nkrumah, whom he sees as genuine neutralists (p. 3). Has Sukarno’s previous ambivalence toward the West really changed to a completely anti-Western view? If by Sukarno’s “political interests” Guy means West Irian, there is, at present at least, a conflict though a shift in the U. S. position could reduce the conflict. If “political interests” include internal political interests, it is by no means clear that they are wholly in conflict with ours.)
Sukarno would have strong competition from the Nehrus, Nassers and Nkrumahs as a major spokesman of the genuinely uncommitted Asian-African nations, but would, through the Soviet propaganda machine, gain much acclaim if he were to become the Asian-African champion of the Bloc (p. 3). (But the Soviet propaganda machine now gives the fullest play to any actions of Nehru, Nasser and Nkrumah which can be interpreted as pro-Soviet. The Soviets are likely to continue to look upon these three as more important leaders from their point of view than Sukarno. If the Russians are not likely to give Sukarno a bigger propaganda play than Nehru et al., Sukarno does not escape the latter’s competition in this way. Now Sukarno might, quite irrationally, believe that it will be otherwise, but Guy’s argument is presented as a speculative analysis of Sukarno’s rational calculations.)
Sukarno believes that Communism is the wave of the future. (This is argued on highly inferential grounds (see p. 4). Thus, Sukarno’s visit to the United States in 1956 “may have left a bitter memory” because it did not get him support on West Irian. His subsequent visit to the USSR and Communist China “must have . . . planted the roots of his growing belief that Communism is the wave of the future. . . . Nasser’s success in the Suez crisis, then a year later the ‘sputnik’ must have strengthened this attitude. If the Soviets, as is fair to assume, followed this development [Page 327]carefully, by February 1960 Sukarno may have been ripe to be picked by Khrushchev personally.”)

I hope this does not seem a bit of logic chopping. The point at issue obviously has important policy implications. I am not arguing that Guy may not be right, only that he has not proved his case. Moreover, despite the above argument, Guy is by no means clear on the extent to which he attributes some of Sukarno’s actions to past U. S. policies and the extent to which Sukarno could be influenced by changes in our policy (see pp. 5–7 of his paper; p. 7 of the attached summary). One of Guy’s problems in this regard is that he does not seem to me to have decided whether a change in the U.S. position on West Irian would be a net advantage or a net disadvantage to the U.S., though he inclines toward the latter view.

A second point that gives me some trouble is Guy’s emphasis upon the significance of Nasution’s statements in Moscow as an indication that the General’s anti-Communism has been undermined. The U.S. government, I understand, has information (which Guy did not have when he wrote his paper) that Nasution attempted subsequently to reassure us. Nasution’s statements themselves, moreover, seem to me generally to be of the kind one would expect in such a situation. Guy is clearly going through a considerable (largely justified) disillusionment with the Indonesian military (see pp. 54–58 of his paper on the military) which may have influenced his judgment here. Other aspects of his analysis of the effects of the arms deal seem to me valid or at least arguable.

Let me make clear that, with the exceptions noted, I find the analysis generally convincing and very interesting. My criticisms apply primarily to Guy’s most recent paper; it gives some evidence of having been put together with less care than the others.

Bob Johnson
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Indonesia, Rand Studies, Part A. Confidential.
  2. These studies, done by Pauker for the Rand Corporation, were RM–2619–RC, “Recent Communist Tactics in Indonesia,” August 15, 1960; RM–2637–RC, “The Role of the Military in Indonesia,” September 1, 1960; and D–8448, “Indonesia’s Drift Toward the Soviet Bloc,” February 3, 1961. The papers are 21, 65, and 42 pages long, respectively. (Ibid.)
  3. Not attached. The condensation of the three papers, which is 10 pages long, is ibid.
  4. There is no indication that the President read the condensation.