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

2641. Embtel 2640.2

Indo trends outlined in reftel raise some serious questions for USG, both as to our basic assessment of GOI and in our posture and actions in response to such assessment. One of important aspects of these trends and possible consequences is that they are almost equally inimical and end result is same whether one takes position all is logical consequence of Sukarno commitment to carry Indonesia into “socialist stage” or whether more fuzzy combination of psychological, ideological and other factors motivate Sukarno’s actions.

Present GOI has become deeply hostile to most of what USG striving for internationally in today’s world. If Indo virus is allowed to spread unchecked in AA world it could be particularly insidious front runner for international communism. “International Nasakom” coalition concept could be of real use to ChiComs and would undoubtedly have more appeal in Islam-impacted Middle East than uncompromising brand of purely Communist-directed violent revolution.

Despite this assessment, I believe it would be unwise for US to declare that Indonesia is Communist or to begin overtly to treat Indonesia as a Communist state. Should we do so the effect would most probably be to rally in defense their country’s honor and prestige those many who presently give Sukarno’s policies only lip service and half-hearted support. There is still some chance for change or possibly even reversal of policies not yet ineluctably solidified into Communist mold, and US posture should be one that will enhance and strengthen if possible chances for future change toward improved US-Indonesian relationship.

We believe guidelines set by Bunker report3 are still correct but that US should begin energetically though quietly to tool up for effective [Page 268]counter-propaganda effort and other counter-actions against Sukarno’s policies and Indonesia’s current objective of Nasakomizing Afro-Asian World.

For present we should not take lead in overtly declaring GOI pariah in our informational media since this action would on one hand precipitate Indo reaction which would make our maintenance of desired presence here virtually impossible and, on other hand, would probably be premature in terms of credence to be given by most AA nations we would hope to influence. Suggest therefore that our public posture continue to be correct while avoiding being identifiably hostile. We should probably express any cordiality required to continue to play game with Sukarno in non-public channels. We should, however, cease characterizing Indonesia as part of “free world,” since in its international alignments it clearly is not, and term is ridiculed by GOI itself.

Specific actions recommended at this time are:

Make immediate and major effort to improve VOA signal strength and time devoted to broadcasting to Indonesia. Indonesian people are currently almost completely cut off from any interpretation, other than that dictated by Communist-dominated GOI propaganda machine, of facts about national and international events. Most Western news magazines are banned. VOA signal poor.
Establish team composed of members located in this Embassy and in Washington of political-editorial experts who can prepare material on current basis for use by VOA and other media for counter-propaganda effort with AA world.
It is hoped that promised info officer will be shortly assigned and will be crack writer who can quickly put in usable form and transmit to Washington material gathered here in conjunction with Embassy political officer for channeling back to Indonesia.
Team in Washington should, besides screening and deciding on use of this material, be concerned with broad appeal to Afro-Asian world and techniques and actions required to counter ChiCom-Indonesian efforts subvert other AA countries to their ideologies.
Major effect should be made to enlist active support for counter-effort described above from friendly AA nations and they, rather than US, should begin publicly to expose Djakarta’s aggressive and pro-Community policies.
Continue our efforts to inform AA moderates of true nature of Indo approach to Algiers conference and importance of avoiding victory by Indonesian-ChiCom coalition in name of unity or avoidance controversy. We believe, for example, that greater emphasis on GOI’s own aggressive influence and policies rather than on desirability Malaysian admission is indicated. Isolation of GOI at Algiers almost certainly lesser evil than Indonesian success.
Through third country radio broadcasts and such other means as can be made available, including Embassy’s own modest informational effort, expose PKI efforts dominate political spectrum in Indonesia.
Through friendly AA countries expose throughout AA world effect of Sukarno’s policies in Indonesia and acceleration of PKI influence here.
Achieve foregoing in subdued manner which will avoid complete break and removal remaining American presence in Indonesia. Obviously risks would be involved in this respect in carrying out above recommendations but risk must be taken in view danger current Indo policies aimed at rest of AA world.

Main thrust foregoing recommendations meant to be greater USG attention to and attempt cope with problems raised by trends described reftel both in Indonesia and in wider Afro-Asian context.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL INDON–US. Secret. Repeated to Medan and Surabaya.
  2. In telegram 2640 from Djakarta, June 5, the Embassy reported that the PKI had recently made important strides in its campaign against remaining anti-Communist forces. The nationalist, Moslem and other religious-backed political forces had suffered important setbacks and the military was increasingly under Sukarno’s control. The Embassy suggested that the United States should prepare for the possibility that Indonesia “could pass under institutionalized Communist control in the not too distant future,” although the Embassy suggested it would be a “maverick nationalist brand of communism which would be Indonesia centered.” (Ibid., POL 15 INDON)
  3. Document 121.