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


  • Your phone call to Rusk regarding Indonesia

The purpose of a phone call to Rusk regarding Indonesia would be to urge that we play this one coolly and pragmatically, delaying any firm decision on termination of military aid until we get a better sense of (1) the outlook of our friends in the Indo military establishment, and (2) the evolving shape of the currently fluid Indo political structure.

[Page 143]

As matters now stand, State (FE) still proposes that we send Jones back to tell Sukarno of our decision to terminate all military assistance. The program effects would actually be minimal inasmuch as our MAP is already pretty dormant: we have suspended the flow of virtually all military hardware to Indonesia, and the Indos, on their part are postponing further plans for military training in the U.S. What State is proposing, then, is to remove the lingering ambiguity of our MAP relationship by formally terminating the works.

Defense (including McNamara) now argues that MAP in Indonesia should be kept on the books pending a full and candid discussion between our military people (Colonels Benson and Harvey) and General Nasution and Jani. There is no point, Defense says, in ending our most important Indo relationship because of pique over Sukarno’s speech—at least not until we have a clearer view of where the present process of political upheaval in Indonesia will take our friends. (CIA agrees with Defense for reasons that involve significant intelligence activities.) Komer and I strongly concur in the Defense position. It seems to me that as long as the domestic political heat here is not intense, there is a lot to be said for “creative ambiguity” in our relations with as freakish and unpredictable an animal as Indonesia.

An inter-agency meeting to review this question with Howard Jones is scheduled tomorrow morning under Bill Bundy’s chairmanship.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. II, Cables and Memos, 5/64–8/64, [2 of 2]. Secret. Komer’s initials appear on the memorandum with the comment, “Amen.”
  2. No other record of this meeting has been found, but in a memorandum to Komer, August 28, Thomson noted that “the guts of the matter—our approach to the military training program (pages 3 to 4, No. 2. [of the second attachment to Document 67]) is very deftly handled. This represents our victory at yesterday’s meeting. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. II, Cables and Memos, 5/64–8/64, [2 of 2])