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

1047. 1. Indonesia’s political crisis seems to be moving toward a “political settlement” which we believe will do little more than paper over the deep cracks which have appeared in the nation’s leadership. Many basic issues will remain unresolved. Prolonged maneuvering [Page 324]among the various elements is likely and, whatever the outcome, the Sukarno image and leadership will never be quite the same.

2. The following basic factors underlie Indonesia’s present political maneuvering:

There are now two power centers in Indonesia, not one. These are Sukarno and the army. Each needs the other and at the same time each is trying to undermine the other. But in true Indonesian fashion they are trying to reach an agreed settlement which will give the outward impression that all is well and that national unity has been preserved.
Sukarno’s image has been damaged but there is little likelihood of any serious move to dump him. Many Indonesians privately believe he was aware of, or even back of, the Sept 30 affair. Nonetheless, they do not want to make this fact public or to face openly its logical consequences. They will probably whitewash Sukarno, for to them, and despite his faults, he is Indonesia and national unity depends on allegiance to his father figure, but the army, for its part, finds its public support of Sukarno a useful symbol that it is the protector of national unity.
The present political jockeying takes place in an atmosphere of considerable national tension. The attacks on PKI installations which started in Djakarta have spread to other regions of Indonesia. In some areas it could strike a spark leading to the outbreak of real conflict. The army regards central Java as politically sensitive, even though the security situation has been brought into line. Communists and non-Communists have been at each other’s throats in east Java and in north Sumatra for months and some observers fear civil war in those areas. This situation cuts both ways for the army. It strengthens the hand of the military in bargaining with Sukarno who fears national disunity. But the army also fears civil war, particularly in any situation which would pit them publicly against Sukarno, who might rally forces against the army that would make their position untenable, and thus move the army toward compromise.
The basic framework of Indonesia’s domestic ideology will be retained but there will probably be changes of emphasis, for the present at least, and possibly and hopefully of longer duration. Elements such as NASAKOM will not be completely dominant theme they had become in recent months although lip service will probably continue to be paid to these concepts. In this connection, song “NASAKOM Unity” is now heard again on radio after two week absence. Suharto also expressed support for NASAKOM at his installation ceremony. (NASAKOM is, of course, the Indonesian acronym and cover for Sukarno’s drive to establish a Communist-oriented Indonesian political unity. That Moslem elements maintain a healthy resistance to this forced adjustment [Page 325]of their religious convictions to Communist ideology has become apparent in a way that is both surprising and heartening during these last few days.)
No dramatic changes in Indonesia’s foreign policy are likely. The army and large sections of the Indonesian public suspects Communist China’s hand behind recent events. Sukarno does not, or at least he will not admit this possibility. However, as one general said, “We already have enough enemies. We can’t take on Communist China as well.” The Sept 30 affair will almost certainly cause strains between Djakarta and Peiping, but close cooperation will probably continue because both parties find it useful. But there latent explosiveness against the Chinese in the minds of many, particularly strong Moslem elements, among the Indonesians.
Indonesia’s basic “anti-NEKOLIM” policy will probably also be retained although the army may well seek to twist definition of the term when this suits the army’s purposes.

3. Appears likely that partial deal between army and Sukarno may already have been reached while other matters are still under negotiation. (It is even more commonplace here than elsewhere to come up with vague phraseology to reach agreement on obstinate points leaving future in-fighting to determine final outcome.)

One side of deal may be that army will hush up any indications of Sukarno’s involvement in Sept 30 affair. We have in fact already noted that army sources are now playing this down following earlier open talk that President was involved. Army has probably also agreed to continuation of certain essential aspects of Sukarno’s foreign policy and this will produce competition and perhaps confusion in weeks ahead.
There are several different versions of army’s five point demands on Sukarno but these appear generally to involve following: (I) Appointment of Suharto head army, (II) all persons involved in Sept 30 movement to be punished in accordance with Indo law, (III) Indo air force to be retooled, (IV) all mass organizations and political parties which supported Sept 30 movement to be banned, and (V) replacement of PKI, Subandrio’s intelligence organization.
Appointment of Suharto is only point in above list which Sukarno has completely carried out. He has agreed to send Dani abroad but has not yet selected a regular replacement for him as head of air force. Army, of course, is going ahead on its own to punish many of those involved in Sept 30 movement.

4. While firm evidence lacking we believe there are two major ways in which internal political crisis might be resolved. First in formation of new “pure” and “indigenous” Communist Party to replace bad old PKI. Sukarno would probably like new party to be headed by [Page 326]Njoto but this would be subject to negotiation. This seems more likely outcome, but possibility of single national party should not be ruled out. Both Sukarno and Nasution have in past advocated one-party system of substitution of “National Front” for all parties although they would have different views on nature of single party. Army leadership wants complete ban of PKI but, if Sukarno insists, would reportedly propose single party which, in contrast to Sukarno, they would want to be “right-wing” with heavy representation of “functional groups.”

5. Activities of Indo press and other information media here are almost certain to be continued bone of contention between Sukarno and his backers and army leadership and other anti-Communists. Sukarno will want to push his anti-NEKOLIM program in which he identifies Indonesia with other Communist countries. He will want to play down anti-PKI complexion which has been introduced under recent army direction of Indo information media. Army still seems dissatisfied with activities of Indonesia’s sole news agency, Antara, and continues to interrogate and harass its staff which, of course, was heavily Communist infected.

6. The activities of the National Front, especially those relating to demonstrations (that peculiarly Indonesian method of political expression), will probably, like the press, be subject to tugging and pulling between Sukarno and his leftist advisers and the army.

7. Sukarno and army may already have reached ostensible, modus vivendi, on basic political issues. If not, odds are that they will in near future. However, working out details will be serious problem, as will probable differences of interpretation between Sukarno and army on points already accepted. While recent crisis is likely to be papered over, basic problems have been brought to surface and will not easily or successfully or for very long be sublimated. Role of Subandrio, and others in cabinet spiritually akin to if not active in September 30 movement, many of whom now appear likely to survive present crisis, will be source continued friction between Sukarno and army. But issues, such as those mentioned above, and many others including personal feelings of revenge, are likely continue plague GOI and reduce effectiveness and cohesion of government for foreseeable future.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 INDON. Secret. Repeated to Bangkok, Canberra, CINCPAC for POLAD, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, New Delhi, London, Singapore, Tokyo, and Wellington.