62. Current Intelligence Memorandum1

OCI No. 2217/64


  • Sukarno’s Independence Day Speech
Sukarno’s independence day speech on 17 August explicitly confirms his accelerated swing to the left during the past 18 months.2 It charts a course—both international and domestic—which is close to the immediate objectives of the Indonesian Communist Party. The speech precludes any real relaxation of the intensified anti-Americanism in Indonesia of the last few months. Although the anti-American campaign may ebb and flow to suit the purposes of Sukarno or the Communist Party, the long-range intent will remain unchanged: get the US out of Southeast Asia.
Sukarno declared that non-Asians must leave all of Asia, that South Korea and South Vietnam are “not yet free,” and that Laos will be “truly neutral, united, and democratic” only if the imperialists withdraw their troops from the area. He announced that “we condemn as strongly as possible the American attack on North Vietnam.” He castigated Malaysia intermittently throughout the speech, referring to it variously as a “barking dog,” a “watchdog,” and a “puppet” of imperialism.
Regarding relations with the United States, Sukarno said that despite repeated evidence of US Government hostility toward Indonesia over the years, he had tried to remain friendly toward America. US support of Malaysia, however, he said was “too much.” The US was pretending to be friendly with both Indonesia and Malaysia; friendship with both, according to Sukarno, is impossible, and Indonesia will not accept such a pretense.
On the subject of cultural relations with the West and particularly with the US, Sukarno said he was no longer able to consider America the “center of an idea.” He strongly criticized those Indonesians [Page 135] who copy Western ways and ridiculed Western efforts to influence Indonesia through libraries, films, and other forms of propaganda.
On foreign investment, Sukarno made it clear that American interests eventually would be taken over. “I wish to confirm that basically and eventually there will be no imperialist capital operating on Indonesian soil.” He said British businesses will be completely taken over by the government and that compensation will depend upon the UK’s stand toward the liquidation of Malaysia.
Regarding domestic policy, Sukarno emphasized that the “retooling” of reactionaries would be carried on at all levels without letup. He reiterated his long-standing concept of NASAKOM—the fusion of nationalist, religious, and Communist elements in Indonesian society and government—and said that whoever opposes NASAKOM opposes the Indonesian revolution. Sukarno endorsed the Communist concept of two stages of revolution, noting that the present bourgeois democratic stage would be succeeded in due course by a socialist stage.
He implied support of recent Communist land seizures, saying that the “unilateral action” of farmers was understandable in view of the slow implementation of land reform. He announced that land reform courts—a Communist demand—will be established. He lavished praise on North Korean agricultural successes and spoke of “freeing the productive power” of Indonesian villages—possibly pointing toward a plan for agricultural collectivism.
Sukarno did not indicate any specific moves against US interests in the immediate future. Considering the content of his speech, however, the seizure of the USIS library at Jogjakarta on 15 August was probably coordinated with Djakarta. Other threatened seizures have not materialized, nor have there been further demonstrations against US estates in North Sumatra. Rumored action against a US tire factory in Bogor, West Java, also has not developed. In both areas, the army and police have taken steps to protect American persons and property.
The Communist Party (PKI) moved immediately to identify itself with Sukarno’s speech and to prepare to exploit it in furthering its own program wherever possible. A special statement by party chairman Aidit on 18 August welcomed the speech as “fully in line” with the struggle of the Indonesian and Southeast Asian peoples “at present.” Aidit has instructed PKI provincial officials and party members to study the speech so that it may be used to “guide the Indonesian people in their activities.”
The speech raises the question whether the position assumed by Sukarno is fully his own or whether it has been imposed upon him, at least in part, by the large and highly effective Communist Party. Over the years, the Sukarno-Communist relationship has appeared to be one of mutual exploitation. It seems highly unlikely that Sukarno [Page 136] has long been a Communist and is simply gradually surfacing his convictions now, but his predilection for Marxist patterns of thought, his spirit of opportunism, and his faith in his superb ability to manipulate individuals and groups may have carried him too far. It would appear at this time that Sukarno has deliberately chosen, on his own, to stand internationally with the anti-Western Asian world. Domestically, however, it seems likely that because he lacks administrative blueprints of his own and needs an effective organized political instrument, he has allowed too much influence to slip into Communist hands, and that he is well on his way to becoming a captive of the Communists.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. II, Cables and Memos, 5/64–8/64 [2 of 2]. Confidential. Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence of the CIA.
  2. In telegram 317 from Djakarta, August 18, the Embassy stated that Sukarno’s speech “cannot be shrugged off as more of the same.” As he had in previously prepared major speeches, Sukarno declared “Indonesia in the camp of Asian Communists and opposed to US—opposed not only on issues of the day like Vietnam and Malaysia, but fundamentally opposed to our thought, our influence and our leadership.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 INDON)