84. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Indonesia1

487. Embtel 919.2 We concur with your estimate that internal Indonesian political situation injects new element of urgency into continuing [Page 179] common effort divert Malaysian dispute from military arena into diplomatic contacts and discussions. While continuing hold view expressed Depcirtel 7153 that GOI not interested in “solution” short of accomplishment announced objective crush Malaysia, we believe that as matter of tactics all avenues should be explored which could involve GOI in contacts tending to inhibit continuation at least military aspects of confrontation.

In charting new U.S. initiatives would appreciate further Embassy analysis of their possible effect on internal political situation. Broadening pattern of failure of military confrontation program as presently conducted (landing fiascoes, UN vote, Cairo reaction) appears to be one element encouraging Malik-Saleh group to stand up against Subandrio-PKI. Subandrio-PKI, and to date Sukarno, clearly wedded to concept that military pressure on Malaysia necessary to frighten Tunku to conference table in mood to accept Indo position. Would Sukarno-Subandrio interpret U.S. initiatives to reopen talks at this point as proving validity their thesis, and thus harm rather than assist anti-communist movement? If intensification confrontation is important weapon against Malik-Saleh group, why would Subandrio be disposed deprive himself of this weapon by entering into talks?

Our first problem is establishment specific proposals we would make to Australians and British. Would appreciate therefore expansion points two and three final paragraph of reftel to this effect with following points in mind:

We cannot expect much progress unless we can get HMG and GOA on board, and they will be unwilling pick up existing peacefeelers and unreceptive new approach until Indonesia has agreed, at least secretly, to terminate attacks on mainland and has in fact done so over a period of time. Considering Sukarno’s determination continue military pressure voiced in conversations with you and Shann, what are chances you could persuade him modify this position?
What specifically would we suggest to principals as subjects for “meaningful talks”?
Would Indonesians be prepared take up GOM gambit on disposition captured infiltrators as opening for broader bilateral talks?
What interpretation in context bilateral U.S.-Indonesian relations is GOI likely to place on our initiative bring problem back to conference table? How great is danger that Sukarno/Subandrio would see this as evidence softening U.S. attitude and one more demonstration U.S. preparedness reward intransigence and rescue Indonesia from consequences of its own conduct. [Page 180] Assuming we can work out acceptable and sufficiently detailed proposal, Dept hopes we can be in position start discussion this subject with HMG and GOA in near future.

Kuala Lumpur comments on this and reftel would be appreciated.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL INDON–MALAYSIA. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Kuala Lumpur, London, Bangkok, Manila, Tokyo, and CINCPAC for POLAD. Drafted by Underhill; cleared in draft by Bundy and George W. Jaeger, EUR Staff Assistant; and approved by Cuthell.
  2. In telegram 919 from Djakarta, November 18, the Embassy suggested that there were domestic reasons why the Malaysia dispute should be removed from the military arena to the conference table. Moderate non-Communist groups were challenging the PKI and Subandrio and the PKI hoped to use the Malaysian dispute “to smother” these forces. In addition, Sukarno naively believed that President Johnson’s reelection would result in improved U.S.-Indonesian relations and was therefore more receptive and open minded. Jones recommended initiating efforts to get U.K.-Indonesian talks going, indicating U.S. support for them, moving the dispute to an AACC solution or some other mechanism, and enlisting help from Japan, Thailand, and possibly the Philippines. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 79.