156. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


I disagree with so many of the half judgments in Bissell’s Indonesia paper1 [1 line of source text not declassified] that I don’t know where to begin. The thesis is that Sukarno, the devil incarnate, will take Indonesia so far down the road as to make it a pushover for PKI in predictable future. However, the paper itself admits there are no countervailing forces left. Hence all it comes up with is sterile oppositionism, i.e. we tell Sukarno sternly he can go to hell without our help.

Have never understood [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] proposition that Sukarno’s “global orientation” makes him necessarily pro-Communist and is incompatible with our own goals. Over long run precise opposite seems true. Indonesian nationalism will sooner or later run afoul of ChiComs (of whom they already scared), if only we play it right.

Sukarno’s responsibility for the mess Indonesia now in is no reason for not dealing with him in absence of any alternative. So what?

What we need is a holding operation which will preserve our ties with army and other elements until such time as Sukarno comes a cropper [Page 334]with other side or disappears from scene. As Jones says, a shift to pro-Indonesian policy on West Irian plus more “political” aid essential ingredients in this bid for time. DD/P paper opposes both but has no better answer. I’ll stick with Ambassador Jones.

Bob K
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Staff Memos, Komer, 3/15/61–3/29/61. Secret. Also sent to Rostow, on whose copy Komer wrote the following note: “Walt—despite Pye, Pauker, and Hecksher I’ll stick with Amory and Jones. None of these others have any answer at all.” (Ibid., Countries Series, Indonesia, Vol. I, 1/61–3/61)
  2. Document 155.