192. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Komer) to President Johnson1

Marshall Green Appointment. This is a good time for you to talk with our man from Indonesia, because of simmering policy differences within the USG. We all agree that the Army/Sukarno split is a good thing, and want to encourage the military—no matter how neutralist they are, they’re much better than Sukarno. But he’s been regaining ground against them recently.

The issue is whether to give a bit more quiet support to the Army. As Indonesia’s economy slides downhill, we’ve had numerous approaches asking that we at least underwrite emergency rice purchases [Page 402] by the Army. The latest is at Tab A.2 State turned it down (Tab B)3 on grounds of conflicting advice from the Army not to help them yet.

Now the VP is in, saying the Thais see this as our great opportunity and urging we not miss the boat (Tab C).4 I’ve talked with Green, who would like authority to move when he sees the right opening, but is dubious that this latest play is it. He’s probably right. But if you give him (and Bill Bundy who’ll be along) a sense of your own desire not to miss the boat in Indonesia, it will encourage State not to be too unimaginative when we may at last have Sukarno on the run.

R. W. Komer5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Indonesia, Nov. 63 to Mar. 66, [1 of 3]. Secret.
  2. Tab A, telegram 1663 from Bangkok, February 14, in which Chester Cooper, who was traveling with Vice President Humphrey, reported a conversation of February 12 among himself, Humphrey, and Thai Air Chief Marshal Dawee. During this conversation and in a meeting with Cooper the next day, Dawee encouraged the United States to grant emergency assistance to the Indonesian Army, specifically a request from General Achmed Tirtasoedior for a letter of credit to allow him to purchase 200,000 tons of rice in Thailand. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, INCO RICE 17 INDON–THAI)
  3. Tab B, telegram 1439 to Bangkok, February 14, in which reasons were cited for the denial including the inability to keep covert such a letter of credit, and the Army’s apparent access to Indonesian foreign exchange earnings as evidence by advance payments of $18 million for two DC–8 aircraft and $11 million for another project. (Ibid.)
  4. Tab C, telegram 1608 from Karachi, February 15, from Humphrey to President Johnson and Rusk. (Ibid.)
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.