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

1511. 1. We believe that US and allies should be extremely cautious about offering help to General[s?] at this time. In any case, our help should be contingent upon whether we believe army really intends to [Page 374]remain firm against Sukarno/Subandrio. There are conflicting indications as to whether army will remain firm or whether it will bow gradually to President’s will. In view of Indo tendency to procrastinate and avoid hard decisions, we should take care lest premature, unconditional offers of assistance strengthen army tendency to avoid facing issues. Above all we should not provide assistance that will redound to benefit of Sukarno who remains head of state and govt. At present time, army would seem to be in general agreement with above approach (see Embtel 1479 reporting my latest conversation with Saito).2

2. At present there is conflicting evidence as to whether, when and how army will move against Sukarno. As long as Sukarno retains power army and anti-Communist will probably be inclined to maintain “anti-imperialist” and “anti-colonial” policy which has corollaries of continued confrontation of Malaysia and anti-Western posture generally (although viciousness of anti-US propaganda may be reduced as long as army can continue to exercise balance to Sukarno). We also forsee continued and probably increasing chaos as result of impasse between Sukarno and army that makes any kind of economic development program absurd unless and until one or other is eliminated entirely as political force.

3. Although US prospects may be better in long run (post Sukarno), we do not forsee any great improvement in US position in short run even if army can hold on as half of sort of triumvirate power structure. Furthermore, Sukarno counterattacks to regain his former power (or, ultimately, even more) will undoubtedly make use of anti-US themes. We have already seen evidence of this in President’s 150 million rupiah charge.3

4. Accordingly, we recommend following line to be advanced at prospective meeting (and as basic US position):

We take no steps that would enhance Sukarno-Subandrio image whether desired by Indo Army or not.
We should not provide any significant economic assistance to Indo Army unless and until we know where they are going politically and economically. (Carefully placed assistance which will help army cope with PKI actions different.)
We should consider assistance to genuinely non-Communist government if there is altered atmosphere in which such assistance could be effective.
In discussing requests for assistance with Indo groups or third countries, we would do well to mention Sukarno’s condemnation of [Page 375]US aid and unfounded charges of US subversion, as well as lack of evidence that Indonesia prepared to make most effective use of outside assistance.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 6 INDON. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to London.
  2. Dated November 17. (Ibid., AID (JAPAN) INDON)
  3. In a speech to the Cabinet on November 6, Sukarno charged that former Ambassador to Indonesia Howard Jones gave a “certain Indonesian” 150 million rupiahs for the purpose of “spreading the Free World ideology in Indonesia.” (Airgram 331 from Djakarta, November 16; ibid., POL 2–1 INDON)