152. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and Secretary of State Rusk 1

Ball told the Secretary that he went over with Berger and Cuthell as to what we propose to say to the army in Indonesia. One telegram which we are sending to London for approval is telegram of assurance that we do not propose to interfere in their internal affairs.2 The harder question is their request for our assessment of the situation. Ball continued that he is going into detail with Cuthell and he (Cuthell) has great fears and doubts of our expressing encouragement, etc. This is a complex power fight that is going on and we do not know who is on top and we do not know, for instance, whether the army might resolve this by declaring a war on imperialists and we would be left on the limb by the army moving in and exploiting anti-American feelings. The Secretary thought this a very far-fetched likelihood. Ball said this is not an ideological fight but a power fight. Ball thinks that any indication that we are giving army help in its dealing with PKI could be misused.3

The Secretary stated that the telegram to London should go but that he wished to discuss the other4 further tomorrow.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64–11/10/65]. No classification marking.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 151.
  3. At 10:30 a.m., October 12, Ball and Fulbright discussed Indonesia on the telephone. Fulbright asked is the “Sukarno situation as good as it appears to be represented in the papers?” Ball answered that for the first time the army was “disobeying Sukarno.” The generals were asking if they might be the next victims. Although they were afraid to move directly against Sukarno and the PKI, they were encouraging the Muslims and other groups to do so. Ball guessed that Sukarno would never regain the power he had and the PKI would have to go underground, but he did not want to underestimate Sukarno. Any U.S. interference could be a serious mistake. (Johnson Library, Ball Papers, Telephone Conversations, Indonesia, [4/12/64–11/10/65])
  4. Apparent reference to Document 153.