69. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson 1

No need for more than a moment with Jones, unless you want to hear from our greatest Sukarno expert.2 Chief purpose is so the Indos will know he’s seen you before he returns to Djakarta (Sukarno reportedly complained that he used to hear from Kennedy all the time, but hasn’t had any direct word from you).

The Indo-Malaysian affair is heating up. At UK urging, the Tunku is going to the SC for a condemnatory resolution. We’ve promised our [Page 151]support. The British, however, also talk about retaliatory action. Here we’re more dubious, since if this affair escalates we’ll probably have to bail them out. We have enough wars already in Southeast Asia, so you might seek to cool Sukarno down via Jones:

He should impress on Sukarno that you cannot quite understand why the Indos have suddenly taken the tack they have. We’ve tried ever since Indonesia’s independence in 1947 to be as helpful as we can. Indeed no country has done more.
Thus you were deeply disturbed by Sukarno’s speech of August 17. He and other Indo leaders have told us for years that the ultimate threat to Indonesia was from China. So it’s doubly hard for us to grasp why, at the very time when we’re carrying the whole burden of protecting Southeast Asia from the Chicoms, Sukarno should seem to embrace the Chicoms and declare war on the US. Surely you said nothing when the Tunku was here comparable to Sukarno’s outburst.
We tried in every quiet way to explain to Sukarno that he’d lose our support if he decided to beat up Malaysia. You personally sent the Attorney General to help promote a peaceful solution.
You still hope for a peaceful settlement. It is better to talk than fight. You also are just as anxious to have good relations with a key country like Indonesia and a key leader like Sukarno as was President Kennedy. But Sukarno must realize where we stand in event Malaysia is attacked.

Bob Komer
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. III, Memos, 9/64–2/65, [2 of 2]. Secret.
  2. In a memorandum to the President, September 2, McGeorge Bundy with Rusk’s support urged that the President see Jones. Bundy stated,“Sukarno is unreliable and dangerous as he can be, but he issusceptible to personal Presidential influence and Jones will be ableto do a stronger job for U.S. interests if ”Sukarno has clear evidence that he comes from you and speaks for you.“ Bundy noted this was even more important because since President Kennedy’s death, ”Sukarno has persuaded himself that he had a close personal relationship with JFK.” (Ibid., Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 6, July–Sept. 1964) Johnson met with Jones and Komer from 6:45 to 6:52 p.m. on September 3. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary) No other record of this conversation has been found.