116. Memorandum From Chester L. Cooper of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Jones on Johnson-Sukarno Exchange

Jones suggests (see attached)2 that the President send a note to Sukarno to:

Express concern re deteriorating U.S.-Indonesian relations;
“Agree to disagree” as friends;
Reassure Sukarno that CIA has no intent to kill him, and that our aid to Malaysia does not reflect major change in U.S. policy;
Suggest a summit meeting.

I think a note to Sukarno from the President, covering points 1 and 2 above, might be a good idea; it won’t solve the problem, but it probably won’t hurt.

I think it unwise for the President to stoop to CIA-assassination fears.3 Sukarno is psychopathic on this score and he has been assured, reassured and re-re-assured to no avail. He seems to enjoy this death-wish and appears to use it to justify to himself and to others any of his anti-American acts.

A high-level meeting should not be dismissed out-of-hand, but if it takes place I think a scenario along this line should be worked out:

Jones leaves for East-West Center.
Jones invites Sukarno as old friend to his induction ceremonies in Honolulu.
The President (Vice President?) decides to attend himself because of his friendship for Jones, because of the significance of the E–W Center in our Asian policy, because he has never been to the 50th State since he became President.
The President takes this occasion to meet for an hour or so with Sukarno. [Page 250]But two points should be mentioned:
I don’t think we can expect anything much to emerge from such a meeting.
I believe the Department (at least FE) is opposed to the idea. See attached memo for some further thoughts on Indonesia, Sukarno and All That.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. IV, Memos, 3/65–9/65, [1 of 2]. Secret.
  2. Telegram 1850 from Djakarta, March 13, not attached. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL INDON–US)
  3. In telegram 1869 from Djakarta, March 16, Jones reported that he had informed Sukarno and Subandrio that he had received assurances from the “CIA Head for the Far East” that there were no anti-Sukarno and anti-Indonesia subversive operations. Subandrio admitted that he had no reliable evidence to the contrary, but Jones was still convinced that only a personal denial by President Johnson would “carry full weight.” (Ibid.)
  4. Reference is to a 4-page unattributed paper, March 10, which recommended “a carrot and stick proposition” to Sukarno since U.S.-Indonesian relations were at a crossroads and Sukarno must choose which fork to travel. The memorandum recommended as carrots a Presidential letter to Sukarno written “more in sorrow than in anger,” a visit by Harriman or Robert Kennedy to offer U.S. good services to mediate the dispute with Malaysia, and the prospect of additional U.S. economic assistance. The United States would pass the word to moderate politicians and military leaders that the U.S. offer was their last chance. Should Indonesians reject the offer, the United States would increase the pressure by giving military assistance to the British and Malaysians including U.S. advisers. Should Indonesia persist in aggression against Malaysia, the United States should use air and naval power against Indonesian supply lines and back “independence” movements in the outer islands. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. IV, Memos, 3/65–9/65, [1 of 2])