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


  • Luns and West New Guinea

The attached outgoing message to The Hague1 summarizing a further Luns-Rusk conversation on April 11,2 which I have just obtained, throws important new light on the Luns visit. It indicates:

That Secretary Rusk softened the effect of his earlier comments by saying that he did not mean that our policy on the use of force had changed and that we would not give Sukarno any impression that it had; but that any action by us would have to be through the U.N. and in support of self-determination. Thus, the Secretary reverted basically to the equivocal position proposed in the original State talking paper.
We apparently committed ourselves to explorations with representatives of the U.K. and Australia, as well as the Dutch, of possible trusteeship formulas.
Secretary Rusk suggested that Luns sound out some of the Afro-Asian representatives at the U.N. on a trusteeship formula.

The actions in b. and c. above could, it seems to me, place us in a most awkward position with Sukarno. If we attempt to develop a specific trusteeship proposal in discussions with the Dutch, the U.K. and the Australians before we have any discussion of specifics with the Indonesians, it is likely to make the Indonesians suspicious of anything that is subsequently advanced. The suggestion that Luns sound out Afro-Asian U.N. representatives on some kind of undefined trusteeship formula [Page 364]means that the Dutch will be approaching other countries before we are clear on the U.S. position and before we have presented a trusteeship proposal to Sukarno. If the Dutch do not reveal that we made such a suggestion to them, perhaps little harm will be done, though it is difficult to see what good will be accomplished.

These new developments do raise additional questions as to the appropriate strategy for the Sukarno visit. In particular, our commitment to explorations with the U.K. and Australia as well as the Dutch may make it more difficult than ever to consider floating a specific trusteeship proposal with Sukarno.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, West New Guinea, Vol. I, 4/16/61–4/30/61. Secret.
  2. Telegram 1375 to The Hague, April 14, not printed.
  3. See Document 164.