64. Memorandum From James C. Thomson, Jr., of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Indonesia and the Tuesday2 Lunch

We assume that the problem of Indonesia will and should be raised anew at the Tuesday lunch this week. Here is a run-down on current thinking in the U.S. Government:

Since Sukarno’s August 17 speech and the “invasion” of Malayia in the wake of the Tower Amendment, State and Defense had been assuming a firm Presidential decision to cut off all military assistance to Indonesia. Now that the air has cleared a bit with little coverage of the Sukarno speech in this country and with the apparent death of the Tower Amendment, there is a faint but growing disposition to move less rapidly on this subject.
State plans to review with Jones a proposed approach to Sukarno on his return to Djakarta next week. These instructions would involve his telling Sukarno in the next ten days or so that inasmuch as U.S. military assistance has become an irritant to U.S.-Indonesian relations both in Washington and in Djakarta, we should jointly agree to end this program. State proposes this move in order to take the heat off the Administration at home and in order to lay the ground for a continuation of economic assistance on a mutually acceptable basis. (The Indos are already taking action to suspend or cancel substantial portions of our military training arrangements.)
At the working level in Defense, however, it is suggested that it might be wise, before we bring about a Jones-Sukarno confrontation, to have our military people in Djakarta (Colonels Harvey and Benson) go to Nasution and Jani for a candid “where-the-hell-do-we-go-from-here” session in which they might obtain a better reading on the military’s real hopes and needs. After all, it is argued, our military training program has been regarded as the most vital part of our Indonesian assistance in terms of future pay-off. If Nasution and Co. were to ask us to lie low for a while, it would be quite possible to taper off on military aid while continuing the civic action programs with considerably reduced staff under the wing of AID. (This proposal has been discussed with AID, and Poats is favorably inclined.)
As between these two courses, I would push for the Defense alternative. In terms of priorities, I would assume that our No. 1 objective is to keep our foot in the door for the long term stakes, but that a close second is to keep up our relationship with the Indo military if at all possible.3 In this regard, then, any fast motion toward a cut-off would be a foolish waste of 15 years’ investment. Far better to play it cool, as long as the issue is reasonably quiescent in this country, and to make a fast pitch to our real pals, the Indo military—and then to determine what line, if any, Jones should take with Sukarno.

I would hope that the Tuesday luncheon might produce a Presidential assurance to State and Defense that our objective remains the continuation of as much U.S. involvement as our Indo friends will permit us.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. II. Cables and Memos, 5/64–8/64, [2 of 2]. Secret.
  2. August 28.
  3. On August 24 Komer informed Bundy that, “McNaughton is urging McNamara to put a plug for not burning our bridges to Indo military unless US freight becomes too much to bear.” What was really needed at the Tuesday lunch, according to Komer, was “for LBJ simply to say ‘let’s not let things go from bad to worse with Indonesia. We don’t want another crisis right now. If we can sink Tower amendment, let’s continue those few piddling programs which keep our lines open to Indos.’ This will do the trick, let Rusk off the hook, and let us stay loose.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. II, Cables and Memos, 5/64–8/64, [2 of 2])