208. Editorial Note

At the 557th Meeting of the National Security Council on May 10, 1966, Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge stated: “the recent overthrow of the Communists in Indonesia is a direct result of our having taken a firm stand in Vietnam.” For the complete account of the report of the meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume IV, Document 135.

According to a memorandum from Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms to Walt Rostow, May 13, President Johnson asked for a study analyzing the relationship between the Indonesian crisis and U.S. determination in Vietnam. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. VI, 11/65–5/66) Helms submitted to Rostow for the President an Intelligence Memorandum, OCI No. 0815/66, May 13, which stated: “we have searched in vain for evidence that the U.S. display of determination in Vietnam directly influenced the outcome of the Indonesian crisis in any significant way.” The Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Current Intelligence concluded that the Indonesian coup “appears to have evolved purely from a complex and long-standing domestic political situation.” The memorandum did acknowledge, that “in a strategic sense, it is possible—though there is no evidence for this—that US determination in Vietnam did indirectly have some influence in shaping events in Indonesia.” The memorandum suggested that without US intervention, most of South Vietnam would have been in Communist hands and China would have dominated Southeast Asia. Such a situation would have encouraged Sukarno to accelerate his program to the point where the Army leaders would have had to accede to his power. Still, the memorandum ended with the statement that “no Indonesian leader among those now in ascendancy has ever given any indication that he viewed the situation in this way.” (Ibid.)