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


I am more convinced than ever that inertia, plus the nationalistic emotionalism of Sukarno, the Tunku, Macapagal, and the British, is [Page 761] carrying us inescapably toward a big Malaysia flap. The intelligence certainly points this way. So with a Presidential trip now out of the question,1 I am also more convinced than ever that some other exercise in personal diplomacy is called for, if we’re not to slide past the point of no return. Someone with clout just has to say privately to Sukarno that if he pushes too far, we’ll have to enter the lists against him (this sort of thing is obviously better said orally than in writing).

To me, Averell or you are the only logical candidates with both the sympathy and the steel. Roger knows the drill but lacks the stature.

I’m sure we could do a good brief. We don’t need a clear solution just yet, as much as the necessary mood music to buy time for one to emerge. A quick ten-day swing around would give time to tell (1) Macapagal the score as we see it; (2) the Tunku that we won’t back him unless he bends; (3) Sukarno that we will back the Tunku unless the Indos lay off.

As an added starter, if we don’t want a Cambodia conference we’d better send some high level messenger with private reassurances to Phnom Penh now. Acheson couldn’t do the other jobs, so why not combine them under someone else.2

R. W. Komer3
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, Hilsman Papers, Malaysia-Indonesia, 1963–1964. Secret. Copies were sent to Hilsman, Harriman, Forrestal, and Alexander. The source text is Hilsman’s copy.
  2. Because of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22.
  3. Komer added the last sentence by hand.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.