153. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia1

452. Ref: Djakarta’s 962.2

We think time is approaching when it may be desirable to give some indication to the military of our attitudes toward recent and current developments. While we might do this by taking advantage of request for our assessment put to us by Nasution’s aide (reftel paras 1 and 2), we are reserved for three reasons:
We are not at all clear as to who is calling the shots within the military. As examples: although it appears to be Nasution, Suharto seems to be taking a stronger line vis-a-vis Sukarno. We do not know who else is playing what role, or what degree of unity exists among the military leaders, or what their strength is.
We have no real knowledge of the military plans and intentions or what debates are going on in the inner circle, without which it is impossible to make an assessment.
We are not even certain that Nasution’s aide is really speaking for him, or has taken initiative on his own.
Under these circumstances we think it would be best to move cautiously.
Dilemma is that (a) we do not wish to give army impression that we are trying to inject ourselves into Indo internal situation, or that we wish to channel army’s actions for our—as opposed to Indo’s—benefit, or that we encouraging action against Sukarno or, in fact, anyone except PKI. On other hand, (b) if army’s willingness to follow through against PKI is in any way contingent on or subject to influence by US, we do not wish miss opportunity consider US action. As noted 1 c above, we not sure whether Indos making typically over-subtle approach via Nasution’s aide.
With respect to aide’s question re our assessment of situation, suggest you respond on following lines: We are, as always, sympathetic to army’s desire eliminate communist influence, but difficult for us to assess current situation since we do not have clear picture of military aims and plans. Realize situation fast moving, but would be helpful if we could be given indication to army’s assessment and intentions.
Purpose of throwing ball back to Nasution is to see how forthcoming he is prepared to be with us.
Request your comments.3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 INDON. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Cuthell and Berger, cleared by William Bundy, and approved by Rusk.
  2. Dated October 12. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Djakarta)
  3. In telegram 1002 from Djakarta, October 14, Green commented that it was “reasonably clear Nasution calling the shots” and was working through Suharto. The Embassy agreed that it did not have detailed knowledge of the military’s plans and intentions, but wondered if they existed beyond a desire to keep the pressure on the PKI and to force Sukarno to face the fact of its treachery. The Embassy was “quite sure Nasution’s aide speaks for him.” The Embassy agreed that the United States needed to move cautiously and give the impression that it was not interjecting itself into Indonesia internal affairs. The Embassy did not want to discourage the Army from discreetly approaching the United States and preferred a slightly more “understanding posture.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 INDON)