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


  • Replacement for Howard Jones in Indonesia

It seems to me that Sukarno’s plea in Djakarta’s 11832 requires a speedy Presidential response. I assume you may want to discuss this at the Ranch tomorrow. Here are two possible courses of action.

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If, as you suggested, the President is having second thoughts at letting Howard go, my own preference would be for us to be moderately forthcoming in the following manner:

The President should inform Sukarno, by letter, that he has checked with Jones and the East-West Center and has arranged a six-month delay in Jones’ retirement.
He should express his deep concern over the state of U.S.-Indonesia relations and his hope that we can use Howard’s final six months as a period in which to reverse the present deteriorating trend. Despite our desire for better relations, however, things simply cannot improve so long as the Indos pursue confrontation through raids against Malaysia. We cannot be helpful while aggression continues in any form; in the absence of aggression, we stand ready to be of assistance, etc.

(Rationale: There is no point in ridding ourselves of an asset like Jones at a critical time in Indonesia’s internal development when Sukarno may well disappear from the scene. Howard knows all the rival leaders; he is also one of the few non-Marxists who still has regular access to Sukarno. There is also no point in turning down Sukarno’s personal request at a time when we haven’t yet found the ideal replacement.)


If, in the President’s judgment, Howard should still move out on schedule, I would urge that a speedy decision be reached on his successor—and communicated through a conciliatory personal letter from the President in response to the present plea. I do not believe that Beam is the right man for the stormy period ahead. Ideally we need a man of warmth, vitality, and shrewd political sense, fast on his feet, with a personal tie to the President.

The following names are the unrefined product of my Christmas ruminations:

If we choose someone from inside the Service:

Henry A. Byroade (now Ambassador to Burma). Byroade’s assets are a West Point background, extensive service in the Far East, a stint as NEA assistant secretary, good political instincts, an engaging personality. He struck it off extremely well with Nasser in 1955–6 (too well for Foster Dulles, as you will recall). He has been sitting on his hands in Rangoon. He lacks the Presidential tie.

If we choose an outsider:
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.
  • Abram Chayes
  • Pierre Salinger
  • Eugene V. Rostow

(In two of these cases, Indonesia’s Islamic cast should be borne in mind; not an insuperable obstacle.)

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. III, Memos, 9/64–2/65, [2 of 2]. Secret.
  2. In telegram 1183 from Djakarta, December 24, Jones reported that at the conclusion of his conversation with Sukarno, the Indonesian President asked if Jones’ tour of duty could be extended for 2 years as Sukarno “found it difficult to think of doing business with anyone else.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL INDON–US)