10. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Senator Richard Russell 1
[Here follows discussion unrelated to Indonesia.]
Johnson [hereafter LBJ]: McNamara doesn’t act to me like he goes much with these State Department policies. He is the only one that stayed with me on Indonesia. Now we got it down from 35 million to 15 million, and I refused to go under 15 million, and they say, well, I’m going to pull out and break away, and cause us not to have any relations at all, and we can’t move away from the table if we expect to bid on the pot, and so now I have turned it all down though, and concluded that Bobby Kennedy would have to give us a legal opinion on whether this stuff is in the pipeline.
Russell [hereafter RR]: Let that thing cool for a while. The Russians can’t get in there to help them.
LBJ: Whether this money in the pipeline constituted a violation of the act of Congress, I don’t think it does. You see this damn Republican put a prohibition in there unless I made a finding it was in the national interest. So they want me to make a finding, and I put it off on the theory that I haven’t made any new allocations. And that all that is going to them [the Indonesians] was in the pipeline. And I couldn’t stop that without going out there and sinking the ships. And now I am going to send Bobby Kennedy to Indonesia and just let them put it right in his lap.
RR: Tell him to be tough, too.
LBJ: I think he will.
RR: Like he was in Los Angeles.
LBJ: Well, he wasn’t so tough last time he saw Sukarno. He took it [West New Guinea] away from the Dutch and gave it to Sukarno, didn’t he?
RR: Yeah, yeah. He sure did.
LBJ: But I think I’ll just put it in his lap, don’t you think so?
RR: Well, it’s subject to your final decision, of course, you can’t afford.[Page 25]
LBJ: Oh no, I mean just let him go out there. First let him determine that it is legal for me to do this, and number two, let him go out there and have whatever row there is with Sukarno.
RR: I think that’s fine.
LBJ: I don’t think you can get any good out of Sukarno.
RR: No, I don’t believe he is any good.
LBJ: I don’t trust him. I don’t think he is any good.
RR: No, he isn’t. Not at all.
LBJ: But if we are going to have a break, let him [Sukarno] break it.
RR: That’s exactly right.
LBJ: All right, good-bye.
RR: I’m proud of you.
- Source: Johnson Library, Telephone Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a conversation between Johnson and Russell, F64.4, PNO, side B. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared by the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.↩