79. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts 1

715. Hong Kong for Ambassadors Jones, Bell and Blair. In context of assessment Indonesian position contained Depcirtel 7142 Malaysian problem becomes one aspect of broader problem of Indonesian hostility towards Western presence and influence in Southeast Asia. Until this basic Indonesian policy changes, Malaysia problem is essentially without “solution,” i.e. re-establishment friendly relations, status quo ante, or even peaceful co-existence.

Past negotiations have failed because of absence agreement between GOI and GOM on nature of their difference. For Indonesia, manner of Malaysia’s formation, its internal political and social structure, and its relations with UK are completely unacceptable. Malaysia is therefore given Hobson’s choice of negotiating its own dissolution or suffering it at hands Indonesian “volunteers.” Malaysia, for its part, is prepared to negotiate when Indonesia in fact recognizes its political independence and territorial integrity. This however, as Indonesia has repeatedly and explicitly proclaimed, is basic point at issue.

Under these circumstances, negotiations, “peace feelers”, become primarily if not solely maneuver to gain tactical advantage and place opponent in bad light in eyes of world, particularly Asian-African world. Third parties are drawn in to bring pressure on enemy to yield bargaining points in interest “peaceful solution to problem.”

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Recognizing that “solution” is for present impossible, it is still clearly in our interest to divert confrontation away from dangerous military course and channel it into “negotiations” or, more realistically, contacts, to maximum extent possible. This can be done, however, only against background credible British military deterrent confronting Indonesia with unacceptable consequences of again intensifying military confrontation.

For present following considerations bear on role and tactics of U.S. in this problem:

Malaysian situation now surrounded with unusually difficult range of uncertainties: a new British government; interrelation of GOI and new Soviet leadership; an internal political situation in Indonesia where struggle for power between Subandrio and Saleh, and probably others, may be entering new phase and manifesting itself in divergent and uncoordinated approaches to Malaysian problem.
We must not sponsor initiatives which Indos can manipulate to their advantage, or urge on Malaysia and UK damaging concessions which GOI can treat as irrevocable commitments and a base from which further concessions are exacted.
On other hand, we should encourage HMG and GOM to keep door open to Indo approaches and to be as apparently responsive as is necessary to keep some form of dialogue going in order avoid having Indos feel they frozen into position where only exit from situation is military.
We should continue to stress to HMG importance of strong military posture in area, and necessity that GOI be left in no doubt on UK-GOM ability and willingness meet higher levels military activity.

In view foregoing we believe following best course for U.S. at this point:

For Djakarta: You should continue line with Subandrio reported Embtel 7343 that we pleased Indos have ended military attacks against Malaysia, that we are aware of number of Indonesian approaches to UK and GOM, that we understand that responses have not been unfavorable, and that we hope GOI will follow up with specific proposals. Despite mistreatment U.S. is receiving in Indonesia, we continue regard Indonesia as long-term friend and would like to help GOI move itself out of precarious situation in which it now is. For present, however, we see no useful role USG might play.

For Tokyo: In reply to Oda (Embtel 1371)4 suggest you summarize approach we intend take in Djakarta, indicating it would be most effective if GOI heard same general line from GOJ, speaking as major Asian power.

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For Kuala Lumpur: You should suggest to GOM vital importance of coming to grips with this Indonesian diplomatic offensive, and meeting it with considerable propaganda assets at its disposal. You should also reiterate our view of damaging effect of public supercilious and deprecatory dismissal of Indonesian peace feelers. Recommend you also discuss with your Australian and British colleagues Lee Kuan Yew’s proposal for early Borneo plebiscite. We will discuss with GOA and HMG Embassies here.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret. Drafted by Underhill, cleared by Cuthell and Harriman, and approved by Bundy. Sent to Djakarta, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Canberra, Wellington, London, and CINCPAC for POLAD.
  2. Document 78.
  3. Dated October 20. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 32–1 INDON–MALAYSIA)
  4. Not found.