46. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

[Here follows discussion unrelated to Indonesia.]

President Johnson [reading a newspaper account]: “Sukarno says he’ll issue orders for action Sunday to a million Indonesians who volunteered to aid his efforts to crush Malaysia.”

McGeorge Bundy: You’ll be glad to know he’s not coming to the U.S. right now.

LBJ [paraphrasing the newspaper account]: “In a May Day speech to 12,000, the President said the volunteers had been instructed to mass outside his place to hear his orders. Said foreign countries which intervene in Asian affairs are blamed for the continual trouble in the Far East. Said foreign countries, especially the United States, oppose him, and cited as proof the fact that American magazine, Whisper, printed a picture of him with a nude woman to show how bad I [Sukarno] am.”

Bundy: Laughter.

LBJ: Never heard of Whisper.

Bundy: Never heard of Whisper. Laughter. Well, I think it’s better for us to have him sounding off at a safe distance and the only question is how gradually we disengage, I think. We’ve still got that problem of that determination, hanging over us on that business, and we’re trying to get it so that it will go to bed.

[Page 97]

LBJ: Did we ever get a legal opinion on that?

Bundy: We have a legal opinion under which we’re protected, but it’s stretching a little thin. We’ve got another way of doing it, which is to get the NSC to advise you that we ought to go on where we are, and this, we think, would give you perfectly good political cover without engaging you in something you, yourself, would sign. I think we can do that, if you think that would be worth doing. You see, you’re stuck between these two things now.

LBJ: Okay, all right, bye, do that!

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Telephone Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a conversation between the President and McGeorge Bundy, Tape F64.26, Side A, PNO 1. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared by the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.