Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume XXVI, Indonesia; Malaysia-Singapore; Philippines

  • Edward C. Keefer
General Editor:
  • David S. Patterson


The Department of State, the staff of the White House, as well as the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency also played key roles in formulating and shaping U.S. policy, and their roles are also documented. Their advice and recommendations are found in telegrams from the Embassies, from the Military Advisory Groups, and in intelligence assessments. The dialogue between the Embassies and the Department of State comprises the core of this volume. Most of the finished intelligence included in this volume relates to Indonesia during the transition of power from Sukarno to Suharto and on the Philippines under President Marcos. Finally, the volume covers covert political action policy in general, especially in the Indonesia compilation.

Research and compilation of this volume was completed in 1997. The compilation on Indonesia is divided into four sections which define the focus of the coverage. The first, entitled, "Sukarno's Confrontation with Malaysia, January-November 1964," documents U.S. efforts to mediate and encourage a settlement of the dispute between Indonesia and the Federation of Malaysia over Indonesian claims to North Borneo and to convince Indonesia to desist from its policy of confrontation (confrontasi). Above all, the United States sought to prevent the sporadic low-level guerrilla war Indonesia was waging against Malaysia from escalating into more serious conflict. In addition, President Johnson and his advisers grappled with the related problem of whether to use U.S. aid to Indonesia to try to moderate Sukarno's campaign of confrontasi. The next section, "Sukarno's Confrontation With the United States, December 1964–September 1965," documents the deterioration of U.S.-Indonesia relations and the rise of the influence of the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komus Indonesia (PKI)) within the Sukarno government. The third section, "Coup and Counter Reaction, October 1965–March 1966," is the heart of the compilation and documents in more detail the problems faced by the United States during a period of great transition in Indonesia. The final section, "The United States and Suharto, April 1966–December 1968," documents the return of U.S.-Indonesia relations to a more conventional state and the Johnson administration's primary consideration of strengthening Indonesia economically.

The small compilation on Malaysia-Singapore is initially an account of the U.S. reaction to the separation of Malaysia and Singapore, which took the Johnson administration by surprise. President Johnson was careful to maintain good relations with both states, and he visited Kuala Lumpur in 1966. It was Singapore President Lee Kwan Yew, however, with whom Johnson identified most closely, and he (and Vice President Humphrey as well) developed a close personal relationship with President Lee. This special bond is reflected in the selected documentation.

The Philippines and the United States had a special relationship. The long-standing bilateral issues left over from World War II are covered only when they required a Presidential decision. The question of Philippines claims to the Malaysian territories of Sabah was a complicating factor for the United States, but it never reached a point of actual conflict. It is handled only as a secondary issue. The primary focus of the compilation is on a number of themes that are not exclusive to the Philippines, but which dominated the thinking of U.S. policymakers. The first is the fate of democracy, especially during the Presidential elections of November 1965. The related question of corruption and reform also dominated U.S. efforts in the Philippines. The Philippines contribution of an engineering battalion to the war effort in Vietnam is documented in detail because the policy of "more flags in Vietnam" became increasingly important to President Johnson. The selection of documentation also reveals an initial enthusiasm for the newly-elected President Ferdinand Marcos and the growing concern over his and the Philippines economic performance. A final theme is the realization that the Communist insurgency in the Philippines was on the rise and Marcos seemed unwilling or unable to combat it.