113. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State 1

1735. Ref: Embtel 1730.2 Country Team and I have carefully considered possible retaliatory action against GOI and have reached following conclusions:

While there some chance serious discussions with influential Indos (particularly military) of what US can and will do unless GOI stops its harassments US installations would be effective, we doubt on balance that such a move would evoke desired response. On contrary it would probably only tend confirm and accelerate direction Sukarno and Subandrio have chosen for Indo policy, i.e. de facto and hopefully temporary alliance with Peiping and Hanoi. We not at all hopeful Indo military, faced with virtual ultimatum from USG, would take action to force change in GOI policies or personnel. More likely, they would be swept under in wave intense nationalism against foreign intervention propelled by personal emotionalism Sukarno, Subandrio and others.
On balance, we believe USG would lose more than it would gain by responding to GOI harassments in kind. While it might be self-satisfying for the moment to close Indo information programs in US, this would clearly preclude us from carrying on any info or cultural programs at our Embassy here. Similarly, economic retaliatory measures suggested reftel would not seriously affect Indo economy but would only drive Indos closer to Communist Bloc and accelerate takeover remaining US-owned enterprises (oil companies) here. Real punitive measures also highly inadvisable while we have so many hostages in Indo.
Only effective retaliation we have is in military field. Show of military force against Indonesia would undoubtedly impress Indos but would, of course, create whole new situation presumably calling for cashing by Indo of commitments ChiComs have allegedly made to them. Situation does not yet warrant taking that risk. Over longer run we believe military and other actions which show clear evidence US determination hold fast in nearby free world areas such as S. Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines will have salutary effect on Indo behavior.
While we not in favor of punitive retaliation against GOI, do believe it essential we make rapid but orderly adjustments in our establishment and programs to reflect present inhospitable situation.

These matters are currently under thorough inter-agency discussion here and specific recommendations as to AID, USIS, Peace Corps, MILTAG, etc, will be forwarded separately.

Wish emphasize these adjustments should be on orderly basis without appearance this punitive action. Otherwise our problems will be increased and we will probably find it impossible get our equipment and material out. If Department concurs this course of action believe it important also that Congress be briefed fully and urged refrain from provocative statements which will only compound our problems here.

Important thing is to avoid dramatizing this reduction in way which may bring violent Indo reaction resulting in danger to US personnel and possibility of undignified route similar to British exit year and half ago.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL INDON–US. Secret; Priority.
  2. In telegram 1730 from Djakarta, March 3, the Embassy prepared a list of 20 possible retaliatory actions for countering increasing Indonesian harassment of U.S. official operations in Indonesia as well as an estimate of probable Indonesian counter reactions. The list was in increasing order of severity. (Ibid.)