16. Instructions From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to Attorney General Kennedy 1

The central purpose of this trip is to convince Sukarno of the inevitable consequences of the policy of military confrontation which he is now following toward Malaysia.

This policy will have disastrous consequences for our relations with his country. Malaysia is not West Irian. The reaction here against Indonesia is already so strong that it has become difficult for the President to maintain any of the cooperative programs established over the years.

The recent Foreign Aid Act contains two amendments which reflect this American feeling. While the President would like to be able to continue certain assistance programs for Indonesia under this Act, he cannot make the necessary determination that such assistance is in the interest of the United States unless:

Sukarno can give you assurances that there will be a shift away from military confrontation, and at a minimum by agreement to a cease-fire pending negotiation.
There can be an understanding that the determination will not be followed by further military actions against Malaysia which would make a mockery of the President’s decision.

A still more serious evidence of American feeling is the Gruening Amendment, under which, if there were aggression or a preparation for aggression, the United States would have to cut off all assistance of every sort. The President hopes that your visit may be able to produce clear understandings that will avoid any need to apply this amendment.

In the wider sense, a policy of military confrontation with Malaysia seems bound to lead Indonesia toward hostilities with neighboring nations. This will certainly bring the case before the United Nations in circumstances in which Indonesia would2 be considered the aggressor by the Secretary General and most members of the United Nations [Page 36]including the United States. Both our countries would stand to lose everything we have invested in cooperation, and what began as a confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia could end as a confrontation between Indonesia and the United States.

In short, you should use every possible argument to persuade Sukarno to abandon his military activities in Borneo completely, or at least, agree to a cease-fire.3

The second object of this visit is to bring Sukarno, Macapagal and Tunku back to the negotiating table. If Sukarno gives reasonable assurance that he will abandon or suspend his military activities, then you should proceed to Manila and Kuala Lumpur in an effort to encourage the leaders in these two capitals to meet as quickly as possible. You should not yourself attempt to negotiate their difficulties; your job is to help clear away obstacles to getting the three of them together to work out an Asian solution.

If the talks have gone well this far, you will go on to London. Your purpose there is to tell the British the results of your talks in the Far East and to persuade them to support whatever arrangements for an early meeting of the three Asian leaders you have been able to work out.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Malaysia, December 63–Mar 66. Secret. This document was originally described as “draft instruction,” but Komer crossed out those words. The text has revisions in McGeorge Bundy’s hand (see footnotes below) and was probably sent to Tokyo over non-Department of State channels.
  2. At this point Bundy replaced the following phrases: “have very little support among members or from the Secretary General. The United States too would necessarily be aligned against Indonesia;” to read “be considered the aggressor by the Secretary General and most of the United Nations including the United States.”
  3. Bundy indicated that the following two sentences should be omitted: “If you are successful, our mission will provide a reasonable basis for a carefully limited determination that assistance to Indonesia is in the national interest. If Sukarno gives no satisfactory response, we shall have an equally clear basis for ending assistance to Indonesia.”