86. Political Action Paper1

Background: The fulcrum of political power in Indonesia is sustained by Sukarno through the adroit balancing of power organizations and personal loyalties. The principal identifiable power entities in point are the Indonesian Army and the Partai Kommunis Indonesia (PKI). The status of the PKI has been examined most recently by the Office of Current Intelligence (OCI) in its Special Report of 23 October 1964, entitled “Sukarno and the Communists,”2 the high points of which are pertinent to consideration of the future course and emphasis of covert action in Indonesia:
Party Growth: During the years 1951–1964 the PKI has increased from 12,000 to a claimed membership of three million. This growth has been encouraged and assisted by Sukarno, who has benefited from its highly organized support of his regime and its objectives. OCI observes:

“… Sukarno has largely suppressed political opposition to himself. Because this opposition was invariably anti-Communist as well as anti-Sukarno, its suppression and the failure of non-Communist groups to come forward has had the effect of leaving the field to the Communists.”

Party Strength: The PKI has devised, organized, and guided a variety of specialized front organizations, in such traditional sectors as peasants, labor, youth, and women. Membership probably involves between 10 and 12 million people.
Party Accomplishments: The cabinet reorganization of August 1964 resulted in the appointment of three PKI members and three PKI sympathizers to ministerial rank (out of 79). The PKI-dominated National Front, functioning as an integrated element of the national government, has gained ascendancy over the administration of the provinces.


“The PKI still needs Sukarno to protect it while it consolidates its gains, and it probably hopes he will survive a few more years but no longer. Within that time, if present trends continue, PKI infiltration of national and local government and Communist organizations of the peasantry will have become so effective that at Sukarno’s death the party can make a bid for power with good chances of success.”

The Indonesian Army currently is the only organized entity capable of resisting the trend described above. While Sukarno lives, it will not move effectively to counter the PKI, nor is its leadership by itself sufficiently astute politically to guide such an effort. This in an atmosphere in which the PKI actively influences and participates in government and administration, the Army responds defensively and individually. It is no more of a counter-force than Sukarno wants it to be. The Army is, furthermore, the object of a sustained PKI penetration program. OCI also observes:

Sukarno, seeking to maintain his own preeminent position, to preserve national unity, and to advance Indonesia internationally at the expense of the West, finds it totally inexpedient to challenge the PKI. His tactics, combined with Communist single-mindedness, seem likely ultimately to bring Indonesia under Communist control.

In essence, therefore, unless extraneous factors intrude, a Communist-oriented Indonesia can be expected within the not too distant future. What is clearly required is a program designed to separate legitimate national aspiration, Sukarno chauvinism and PKI ambitions so that forces inimical to the United States can be distinctly identified and countered.

That the current trend of events and configuration of forces in Indonesia will result in increasing PKI prestige, influence, and size unless positive as well as negative action measures are taken.
That this PKI increase in strength will result in a series of tests of strength.
That the prime object of PKI strength-testing will be the United States, its representative institutions and policies. This will be all too conveniently appended to the Indonesian Government’s avowed program of eliminating Western influence and power in Southeast Asia, a program of which it is now clear the anti-Malaysian campaign is only one aspect.
That on the death or removal from power of Sukarno, a power struggle will ensue, with the PKI and Indonesian Army as principal protagonists.
That in terms of succession potential within or without the Government of Indonesia, no individual or group of individuals now [Page 183] possesses the influence or capability of acquiring without reference to the PKI or the Army.
That recent events have shown that elements with strong nationalistic and religious convictions do exist in Indonesia. That these elements, working in tandem with the Army, and supplying an ideological and conceptual base for the Army and allied elements, could constitute a sufficient aggregate strength to forestall PKI victory in the eventual struggle of power elements for succession.
That under present and likely future circumstances, insurgency, military dissidence, and other disruptive action against the regime are not desirable, and that a unified, unfragmented Indonesia is a major desideratum.

Objectives: To counter these trends, a covert action program including the following objectives is stipulated:

Through indirect means, take action to create an image of the PKI as an increasingly ambitious, dangerous opponent of Sukarno and legitimate nationalism. The role of the PKI and its associated organizations as instruments of neo-imperialism, especially Chinese neo-imperialism, would be consistently emphasized.
Encouragement and coordination of the efforts of, and to the extent securely possible, covert assistance to, individuals and organizations prepared to take obstructive action against the PKI.
Development of a broad-gauge ideological common denominator, preferably within the framework of Sukarno’s enunciated concepts, to which practically all political groupings in Indonesia except the PKI (and possibly outright dissidents) can adhere, so that the cleavage between the PKI and the residue of Indonesian society can be widened. At the same time, this common denominator can operate to reduce the normal and traditional difference between individual parties, between Right and Left, between non-Communist Marxists and religious nationalists, etc. Recent PKI disclosures suggest that for the Communists, Pantja Sila is only a temporarily satisfactory expedient as an ideology. Possibly adherence to the concepts of Pantja Sila will serve as the required broad-based common denominator.
Identification and cultivation and where possible, coordination of potential leaders within the present and future Government of Indonesia, to insure orderly and non-Communist succession upon Sukarno’s death or removal from office.
Identification and assessment of anti-regime elements, in order to monitor their activities and strength, and be in a position, in the event of a non-Communist successor regime, to influence them to support such a regime.

[Here follows section 4 entitled “Means.”]

Concluding Remarks: The political situation in Indonesia is unusually fluid. The pertinence and feasibility of the means described can be expected to fluctuate regularly. The implementation of these means will be emphasized and de-emphasized to correspond to the political necessities of the moment. Close and continuing contact will be maintained with the Ambassador concerning all aspects of implementing this program.
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files: Job 78–00597R, FE/State Dpt Meetings, 1964. Secret. A draft of this paper, prepared by [text not declassified] and approved by DCM Galbraith, was discussed at a meeting between Department of State and Central Intelligence Agency officials on October 22. Cuthell expressed his view that covert action should be confined at this time to disruptive operations against the PKI. To use non-Communist elements was risky because their positions were not well known, they were under close surveillance by the Indonesian security service, and they might involve longer-range commitments than the United States was prepared to make. Cuthell offered revisions. The revised draft paper, that printed here, was resubmitted at a November 6 meeting of State and CIA officials. At the November 19 meeting of these officials, William Bundy approved the paper in principle and asked that it be sent to Djakarta for Jones and [text not declassified] comments. (Memoranda for the record by Colby, October 22, November 5, and November 20; ibid.)
  2. Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. III, Memos, 9/64–2/65, [2 of 2].