336. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy, at Tacoma, Washington0

CAP 63542. From Bundy: Following is text of outgoing cables to Jakarta 3791 and 384,2 and incoming from Jakarta 745.3 [The texts of the cables were to be inserted at this point.]

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These show that Presidential message to Sukarno has produced opportunity for standstill.

Next step is to get British to agree to joint pressure on the Tunku, and what we need is President’s agreement to the following draft message to the Prime Minister, which has approval here and in State Department up through George Ball.4 We would ask Secretary Rusk to make similar approach to Lord Home, and I would speak to David Ormsby Gore in the same sense. The Prime Minister has more influence with the Tunku than we do, and if we go in together we may get at least a breathing spell and perhaps a revival of Maphilindo.

Draft message to Prime Minister follows: [The text of CAP 63544 was to be inserted here; see footnote 4.]

Following is a draft brief holding message to Macapagal to prevent Sukarno from confusing him while we get organized with the Tunku.5 [The text of telegram 480 to Manila was to be inserted here; see footnote 5.]

I need President’s judgment this evening so that delivery can be arranged for opening of business on Saturday.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Indonesia, Vol. V, 9/63. Secret; Eyes Only. The telegram was sent to Captain Tazewell Shepard for the President who was on a trip to the American west.
  2. Telegram 379 to Djakarta, September 26, contains a personal message from Kennedy to Sukarno, which reads as follows:

    “It seems to me that the most important thing to be done at the moment is to prevent matters going from bad to worse. I cannot believe that you, the Tunku, or anyone else really desires to permit the momentum of events to carry us all to a point which would among other things imperil the entire relationship which you and I and our countries have been working toward for the last few years.

    “Therefore, I urge on the strength of this relationship that all concerned stand down for a few days until communications can be restored and the art of statesmanship can perform its function of healing wounds. If you are agreeable I am sure I can persuade the others to join in a standstill.” (Department of State, Central Files, POL INDON-UK)

  3. In telegram 384 to Djakarta, September 26, the Department of State provided Jones with background information to support the President’s message. Jones was to stress that Indonesia’s confrontation with Malaysia and the United Kingdom would cause economic dislocation and isolation in Indonesia as well as encourage political instability in Southeast Asia. There must be a “cooling off period,” or the issue would end in the United Nations whether or not Indonesia wanted it there. Sukarno must understand that his belligerent statements received wide circulation in the United States and United Nations. (Ibid., POL INDON-MALAYSIA)
  4. In telegram 745 from Djakarta, September 27, Jones reported that Sukarno was prepared to “stand down,” but not “back down,” as long as the Tunku also did so. Sukarno promised to join in a “temporary standstill,” and would attend another Manila summit without preconditions. (Ibid.)
  5. In the message transmitted on September 27, Kennedy informed Macmillan of his message to Sukarno and Sukarno’s response. The President stated, “so our problem is to ensure that no one else rocks the boat. Since Tunku is in a pugnacious mood, here is where we might both apply some balm.” (Telegram CAP 63544 from Kennedy to Macmillan, September 27. ibid., POL 32–1 INDON-MALAYSIA) A Presidential message to Tunku Abdul Rahman was transmitted in telegram 307 to Kuala Lumpur, September 30. (Ibid., POL INDON-MALAYSIA)
  6. Telegram 480 to Manila, September 27, contained the President’s message to Macapagal informing him of the Sukarno démarche and the favorable response. The message asked Macapagal to prepare for a summit and to recognize Malaysia. (Ibid., POL 16 MALAYSIA)