144. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Acting Secretary of State Ball and Senator William Fulbright1

Ball called Fulbright re the Indonesian situation and said it is very murky still. There has been a coup and counter-coup and we cannot tell how successful the counter-coup has been. Ball said quite definitely the first coup would appear to have been from the leftist side. It was by group of young officers but most of the council they set up are pretty far on the left and there is very big question as to how much PKI were instrumental in this or at least aware of it. There was a lot of activity in PKI Hq which remained open. We have had in past three hours report that Nasution had gotten hold of other army elements and taken back Djakarta radio station and rescued Sukarno and to what extent he has been able to get control of the situation is not known. Ball said if it would be useful to Fulbright he could send someone up to give him drill. Fulbright said Lausche and some others wanted to have a meeting but he had gotten a report that there was not enough information to warrant it. Fulbright said in view of circumstances he did not think it would do much good. Ball said it is very hard to know just what the situation is—they simply say Sukarno is fine and that they had rescued him. The other side said Sukarno was in good health. Ball said he has feeling if Nasution takes over he may keep going and clean up PKI—this is the most optimistic expectation [Page 303]but it is unclear at the moment. Fulbright again said in view of tentative nature of it it would be waste of time for Ball to send someone over until Monday.2 Fulbright asked if Nasution was best bet and Ball said he is about the best bet but that the army’s antipathy to PKI is not based on ideology—but the army may not be in a cushy spot—it is [an] ignoble motive. Ball and Fulbright agreed they could not depend on any Indonesians.

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Indonesia.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64–11/10/65]. No classification marking.
  2. October 4.