3. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Philippines 1

928. Following is letter from President Johnson to be delivered today to President Macapagal:2

“Dear President Macapagal:

I am delighted to learn that you plan to meet with President Sukarno in the next few days.3 Your increasing role in working for the security of Southeast Asia can be of decisive importance in the dangerous situation between Indonesia and Malaysia.

As you know, the United States has from the start wanted Indonesia to become a free and prosperous nation, able to handle its own destinies without outside interference, and on good terms with its neighbors and the free world. We participated actively in helping Indonesia to gain its independence. We helped Indonesia reach an honorable settlement of the West Irian dispute. For many years we have provided a variety of forms of assistance to Indonesia, all designed to help the Indonesians reach their objectives as a free people controlling their [Page 4]own destiny. I believe that President Sukarno and the Indonesian people understand our good will toward them.

Yet I have been greatly concerned about the already serious tension between Indonesia and Malaysia, which now seems to be entering a new and more dangerous phase. In recent months the Indonesian Government has seemed to be embarked on a course which can only lead to a major, perhaps catastrophic, disruption of Southeast Asia. Indonesia has made no secret of the fact that it is training guerrillas to be introduced into Malaysian territory. Indonesia’s most recent acceleration of military confrontation, as exemplified by the major guerrilla raid on Kalabakan and a new resurgence of verbal violence against both Malaysian Borneo and the Government of Malaysia, has reached a point at which open violence, with irretrievable consequences, seems possible. This mounting danger has resulted in extremely powerful resistance to continued United States support for Indonesia on the part of the American Congress and public. I very much doubt that, if Indonesia continues on its present course, we will have legislative freedom to do anything significant in helping the Indonesians develop the full potential of their great country.

It seems to me that your forthcoming meeting will take place at a moment of crisis in Southeast Asia. From our talk in Washington,4 I know that you are fully conscious of the importance of what happens in the next weeks. I remember well that your initiative turned the course of events away from disaster in similar circumstances last summer. The Manila meetings developed an Asian solution through the Maphilindo concept. I believe that what is needed now is another imaginative plan designed to halt all military confrontation immediately, and to lead the Maphilindo powers toward a new attempt at reconciliation through negotiation. In this task, which I know you plan to undertake, I wish to assure you of my fullest support and gratitude.


Lyndon B. Johnson.”

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret; Flash; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Hilsman; cleared by Harriman and the President; and approved by Rusk. Repeated to Djakarta.
  2. In telegram 962 from Manila, January 7, Stevenson reported that he delivered the letter and had a “relaxed and useful” discussion with Macapagal about it. Macapagal replied to Johnson’s letter on January 7. The text is in telegram 972 from Manila, January 8. (Ibid.)
  3. A preliminary assessment of the meetings between Sukarno and Macapagal is in telegram 1000 from Manila, January 11. (Ibid. POL INDON–PHIL)
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXIII, Document 392.