237. Memorandum From Vice President Humphrey to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Indonesia

As I noted in the report on my trip to Korea,2 one of the subjects I discussed with Prime Minister Sato of Japan was aid to Indonesia. On my return, I noted Ambassador Marshall Green’s report (attached) on his three-hour discussion with acting President Suharto.3 Because this was Ambassador Green’s first substantive discussion with Suharto in five months, his report merits more than the usual attention.

Most of Suharto’s discussion is focused on Indonesian internal problems and on his hopes for considerable foreign assistance from the United States. Suharto explicitly stated his belief in the goodwill of the United States towards Indonesia, but expressed doubt as to whether we attached sufficiently high priority to Indonesia. He sees a discrepancy between the views expressed by high ranking American visitors and our response to his specific requests for foreign aid. He expressed disappointment over the amount of program assistance planned for 1968, and pointed out that most of the projected assistance is in the form of PL 480 food supplies. Although he regards the United States as “potentially our greatest friend”, he went on to state that “if I cannot be sure of your assistance, then I will have to make another plan”.

While I would not pretend to know what level of assistance we should be providing to Indonesia, I am convinced that Indonesia should enjoy a very high priority in our overall foreign assistance considerations. These commitments should be made within a multilateral framework that encourages substantial commitments from Japan and European nations. But when one considers the size and potential wealth of the country and the concentrated attempt of Suharto to restore stability and order in the face of continued Sukarnoist opposition, it would be [Page 512]shortsighted if we were to give an inadequate response to the requests of the present government.

Ambassador Green also indicated that Suharto expressed considerable interest in the Vietnam problem,4 expressed his continued support for our policy there, and hinted that we should not exclude the possibility of causing “floods” by bombing the dikes in North Vietnam. Suharto comments that the Indonesians will continue to be helpful in communicating any information they receive on North Vietnam, but he pointed out that although they have contacts with North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese “don’t exactly trust us”.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. VIII, 6/67–8/68. Secret; Exdis. Initialed by Humphrey. Johnson wrote the following note on the memorandum: “M.[Marvin Watson?] Send to Walt [Rostow] & to Gaud for memo of comments back to me. L.”
  2. The July 6 report contained Humphrey’s impressions based on his discussions with those East Asian leaders attending the inauguration of Park Chung Hee as President of the Republic of Korea, June 29–July 3, 1967. The report, July 6, is ibid., Name File, Vice President, Vol. II.
  3. See Document 236.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 236.