300. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Green) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

Dear Henry:

In response to your suggestion this morning, I list below a phased program through which Indonesia might help Cambodia without unduly interfering with its diplomatic efforts to bring peace to Cambodia or seriously complicating its internal or external position. We cannot at this time fix a time phase for this program but would have to remain flexible, keying later steps to the progress of Indonesia’s diplomatic efforts. As I see it, there are four major areas in which we might expect the Indonesians to be helpful:

First, as top priority, the Indonesians should be encouraged to continue their present diplomatic efforts. The Three Nation committee appointed during the recent Djakarta Conference will be contacting the Co-Chairmen and members of the ICC as well as key U.N. officials during the next few weeks to consider ways in which Cambodia’s independence can be preserved. The Indonesians are realistic enough not to expect dramatic results. Concurrently, they will push Cambodia’s case within the non-aligned forum. A preparatory meeting for the September Non-aligned Conference will be held in New Delhi on June 8. The Indonesians expect the Sihanouk government in exile to make a major bid to be seated during this meeting. Indonesia will support the Lon Nol government, and Adam Malik believes it important that Indonesia take no action before that time which might compromise its credentials with the Afro-Asian group.
Indonesia has apparently already decided to provide some military training to the Cambodian armed forces. While details have not yet been worked out, they are considering the possibility of bringing Cambodians to Indonesia for training in Indonesia’s service schools, particularly those concerned with counter-guerrilla activities. This will not be publicized. They are reluctant thus far to send advisers to Cambodia since this would be even more difficult to conceal but have mentioned the possibility of assigning several military experts to their Embassy [Page 647]
We should now begin exploring quietly with the Indonesians the possibility of Indonesia converting its ammunition plant near Bandung to produce ammunition for the AK–47. We do not know how big a job this would be, but we believe it would be manageable and acceptable to Indonesia provided that, through some indirect offsetting arrangement, we helped them meet the costs involved. Indonesia has on-going need for some AK–47 ammunition and would be in a position to sell much of the plant’s output to Cambodia, which has urgent requirements for such ammunition.
A final step, which I believe should be delayed until the above steps are further advanced, is the provision of military equipment by Indonesia to Cambodia. Indirect offsetting arrangements with the U.S. (within agreed limits) are necessarily involved.

Malik and others are concerned that providing weapons to Cambodia at this time would complicate Indonesia’s current diplomatic efforts and also trigger opposition among domestic left wing as well as traditional groups which fear a basic shift in Indonesia’s foreign policy of non-alignment.

As I mentioned this morning, the Indonesians seem to be placing top priority during this visit in getting a commitment from us to replace their Soviet military equipment. This equipment had an original price tag of nearly $1 billion. Some Indonesians hope, by giving arms to Cambodia, to put us in their debt and improve chances for such a commitment.

There is also the danger of exaggerated expectations on the part of the Indonesian military. I have been through this once. In 1966 some of the Indonesian Generals received the impression following a visit to Washington that we were going to give them arms to the tune of $500 million. This, of course, was impossible, but it took nearly a year to convince them of this fact. Meanwhile, our relations with the Indonesians were strained and I was cut off from effective contact with Suharto.

We should also bear in mind the fact that the Indonesians are already having difficulty absorbing what they are receiving. Skilled personnel are in short supply, and maintenance procedures are poor. At present, they could not effectively use more than they are getting through our expanded $15 million annual program.

The problem, as I see it, is essentially one of timing. I believe we can successfully avoid the problems of exaggerated expectations as well as internal or external damage to Indonesia’s position if we follow the phased program outlined above and keep flexible. Steps one and two [Page 648]are already underway in any event and should prove helpful to Cambodia while we assess further steps.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 531, Country Files, Far East, Indonesia, Vol. II. Secret. An attached covering note from Colonel Kennedy to Kissinger, May 28, stated that Green’s paper “seems to add nothing to our store of knowledge or action program.” Kennedy added that he would give a copy to Holdridge, who would do “a more complete brief.”