103. Special Memorandum Prepared by the Director of the Office of National Estimates of the Central Intelligence Agency (Kent)1

No. 4–65


  • Principal Problems and Prospects in Indonesia


We are now faced not only with known and growing danger from Sukarno, but with the uncertainties of a possible Indonesia without Sukarno. If this ailing dictator should indeed die in the near future, his bequest to Indonesia would be international outlawry, economic near-chaos, and weakened resistance to Communist domination. Yet if Sukarno lives on for some time to come, the chances of the Communist Party (PKI) to assume power will probably continue to improve. We do not believe that a Communist Indonesia is imminent, or that Sukarno will initiate war. In our view, however, there is sufficient chance of such developments over the next year or two to warrant especial US intelligence and planning attention.

The beginnings of a scramble for succession to Sukarno are already evident. Should Sukarno leave the scene in the near future, we believe that the initial struggle to replace him would be won by Army and non-Communist elements, though Communists would continue to play an important role. Such a government would probably continue to be [Page 220]anti-US, xenophobic, and a threat to peace. Furthermore, unless the non-Communist leaders displayed more backbone, effectiveness, and unity than they have to date, the chances of eventual PKI dominance of Indonesia would quickly mount.

For the near future, Sukarno will almost certainly continue his Confrontation policy. He might sharply increase the level and intensity of Indonesian pressures against Malaysia, precipitating war with UK and Commonwealth forces; we believe it more likely, however, that he will continue present patterns of infiltration and occasional military probes, using large troop buildup and inflammatory threats essentially for diplomatic blackmail.

Sukarno will probably take various rash actions to lessen his remaining ties with the West and to continue his dalliance with Peiping. He apparently believes that long-run trends are working to weaken US/Western influence in Southeast Asia, that this provides Indonesia with the opportunity for considerable profit, and that division of the spoils with Communist China is a problem which can be safely managed at some later date. If persisted in, these views will prove ill conceived and costly, susceptible of upset by UK/US force, Chinese Communist guile, and domestic deterioration.

[Here follows the 12-page body of the memorandum.]

For the Board of National Estimates:
Sherman Kent

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. III, Memos, 2/64–2/65, [2 of 2]. Secret.