248. Editorial Note

On November 8, 1967, President Johnson convened the 578th meeting of the National Security Council, a special meeting to which he invited his Cabinet and legislative leaders including Senators Mike Mansfield, Richard Russell, Margaret Chase Smith, William Fulbright, and Carl Hayden and Representatives John McCormack, William Bates, [Page 536]and George Mahon. The meeting was to hear and discuss a report of Vice President Humphrey’s recent trip to South Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Most of the discussion concerned Vietnam, but according to BromleySmith’s summary notes, Humphrey gave the following report on Malaysia and Indonesia:

“Turning to the other two countries visited, he said the acting head of Indonesia, General Suharto, and the Malaysian Prime Minister both told him that if the United States fails in Vietnam, all hope for a free Southeast Asia would be lost.

“In Malaysia the Prime Minister said that the enemy in Southeast Asia is militant Asian Communism with headquarters in Peking.

“Throughout his trip, he encountered no act of hostility or protest in either Malaysia or Indonesia.

“Indonesia: Its capital city, Djakarta, shows the many failures of the Sukarno regime, e.g., unfinished buildings. His welcome in the capital was warm, but even warmer in central Java where more than a million and a half people turned out to greet him on very short notice. The Indonesians really want our friendship. They are enthusiastically trying to restore their economy. As a specific example, 30,000 men are working on earth works and clearing out irrigation ditches which will soon be providing water for additional tillable acres.

“No promises were made as to what we would do to help Indonesia. Suharto is an honest, hard-working man who benefited from his training at Fort Leavenworth. Many other Indonesian military leaders are now showing the great benefit of their military training in the United States. Our stakes are very high in Indonesia; as high as those in Japan and India.”

President Johnson asked Secretary of State Rusk to comment on Humphrey’s report. Referring to Indonesia, Rusk noted that “help was being given to Indonesia by many nations through multilateral, organizations such as the World Bank and the Indonesia Consortium. At the end of the meeting, Representative Mahon asked if “our stand in Vietnam affected the situation in Indonesia?” Humphrey answered:

“Our stand in Vietnam has had a collateral effect on developments in Indonesia. He had said in Djakarta that the change in Indonesia had been brought about by Indonesians and that it came about as a result not of our actions but theirs. However, it is thought that our presence in Southeast Asia gave confidence to the Indonesians to destroy the Communist Party in Indonesia.” (Summary Notes of the 578th NSC meeting, November 8; Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 4, Tab 60)

Tom Johnson also prepared notes of this meeting, which concentrated on Vietnam and did not differ appreciably from Bromley Smith’s with the following exception. Tom Johnson noted that Representative [Page 537]Mahon asked Humphrey, “if the one billion dollars in foreign aid which had been poured into Indonesia was responsible for their success.” Humphrey answered that “he did not believe it served the best interests of the Indonesians for us to claim that our foreign aid caused it. It was a parallel part of the total anti-Communist effort.” (Ibid., Tom Johnson Meeting Notes, November 8, 1967)