339. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Indonesia


  • United States
    • The President
    • William R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary European Affairs
    • Thomas M. Judd, EUR/BNA
  • UK
    • Lord Home, Foreign Secretary
    • Sir David Ormsby Gore, Ambassador to the U.S.
    • Oliver Wright, Foreign Office

The President inquired about the Indonesian situation. Lord Home said the last thing the British wanted was a conflict with the Indonesians. It was difficult to tell what Sukarno would do. He lived on excitement. The U.S. would have to put the squeeze on him.

The President said we were doing all we could. He considered the firm Australian declaration of support for Malaysia helpful. We had some imprecise connection with Malaysia through ANZUS. The President asked if the British considered that hostilities would develop. Lord Home thought there would probably be guerrilla warfare but not an open conflict. The Indonesians were vulnerable. For instance Sumatra could be pinched off quite easily.

The President asked Lord Home what the British would like us to do. Lord Home said what we were doing was just about right. Of course Duncan Sandys1 would like the Americans to put on more economic pressure. The President then went over our current policy on aid to Indonesia. He thought we should be very careful about cutting off all aid. This was a card that could only be played once. Sukarno quite obviously did not want to burn all of his bridges with the U.S. We should wait and see how the situation developed. The President noted that he had sent several personal messages to Sukarno. He thought what we were doing in the current difficult situation was correct. Lord Home expressed gratitude for what the U.S. had done but thought that we underestimated what we could do with economic pressure.

Lord Home said it might be advisable for the Americans, British, Australians and New Zealanders to have a quiet look at the situation.

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The President agreed. He considered that we should start up again the consultation we had had earlier. A contingency plan might be worked out. Someone from Defense Department should be present at these talks. The President asked Mr. Tyler to follow up on this matter in the State Department.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL INDON-US. Secret. Drafted by Judd and cleared by the White House on October 15. The ending time of the meeting, which was held at the White House, is taken from the President’s Appointment Book. (Kennedy Library) This is one of six memoranda of conversation prepared for this meeting.
  2. Duncan E. Sandys, British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.