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February 1962 – Summer 1963: In to Action

"The above are strong words to use on a close ally."
Bob Komer1


During 1962, the Kennedy administration molded a new, explicit and long-term policy towards Indonesia, which would form the basis of US policy towards Indonesia until 1965. By January 1962, US relations with Indonesia were dominated by two issues: The conflict between Netherlands and Indonesia over West Irian and the scheduled, but still unimplemented US military and economic aid efforts. However, the future of the US aid efforts were uncertain, since the West Irian conflict remained unsettled. By January 1962 the conflict had recently escalated into its first armed clashes. State Department’s efforts to solve the case in the UN had failed, and the relations between Indonesia and the US were in a standstill, awaiting development on the West Irian issue. Kennedy then finally decided to coerce the Dutch into surrendering West Irian, and use Robert Kennedy to persuade Sukarno to accept negotiations. After the US had pressed the two parties into accepting a peaceful transfer of the territory to Indonesia, Kennedy initiated a unified, new strategy for Indonesia, dubbed the "Action Plan for Indonesia". The plan was based on the existing, but indistinct US policies that had emerged in 1961: To use economic aid to influence Indonesian alignment, to build personal networks, and to maintain and expand contact with the Indonesian armed forces and Mobrig through military aid. The new plan specifically outlined a two-thronged approach: An aggressive economic aid and stabilization program, and a defensive military "toehold" program. The basic premises for US policy and dual strategy outlined in the Action Plan became the new foundation for US policy towards Indonesia, and the administration henceforth acted under the overall objectives of either promoting economic reforms or securing a defensive foothold in Indonesia. The first major obstacle facing the implementation of the new Action Plan, somewhat surprisingly, became the negotiations over petroleum licenses.

The RFK Mission

John F. Kennedy decided to utilize his brother to break up the stalemated West Irian situation. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had been invited to Djakarta on a private visit by his Indonesian counterpart, and was scheduled to leave the coming February. What was originally intended to be a semi-private goodwill visit was instead turned into a high-stake mission with one imperative: To soften Sukarno and then convince him to enter negotiations in Washington. If possible, Robert Kennedy should also have informal and personal talks with Sukarno on other current matters of importance to US-Indonesian relations, like the imprisoned pilot Allen L. Pope.

Robert Kennedy was aware of the development in US-Indonesian relations, although he had not taken any formal part until now. The West Irian issue had lingered right under the top of the administrations national security concerns for over a year, alongside issues like Congo and Berlin. So much of the administration resources had been spent in "just working [their] way out of the mess [Eisenhower’s Indonesia policy] left" that for the insider, West Irian was an issue one could not have missed.2 Still, Robert Kennedy was neither briefed on all the details in the internal arguments nor on the current position of State department and the White House on the issue. It was better, the White House and State thought, that RFK not be briefed. In that manner he could speak more freely and be personal. 3

In State Department, the tide was turning. Averell Harriman, the new Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern affairs, was responsive to the arguments of Ambassador Jones and the White House aides Johnson and Komer. The experienced and respected Harriman demonstrated from the start that he sympathized with "the Jones way" of doing things rather than State Department’s previous line, which still had considerable heritage left from the Eisenhower days.

In the end of January, the Dutch called their Washington Ambassador home for consultations. By doing that, they also halted the attempts for preliminary negotiations which the US had worked for since Christmas. Both the Dutch and Indonesians contained their aggressiveness for a short while. The differences between the parties were stalemated at the same, seemingly minor, formal issues as before: Whether any preconditions were acceptable before the real negotiations could start. For the Dutch, this was now the only issue hindering negotiations. An attempt on reassuming secret preliminary talks in London failed to change the positions.4

The diplomatic lull was not one of lowered tension: The Dutch kept reinforcing their troops in West Irian, and there were indications of increasing Indonesian military aggressiveness. On February 1, the Netherlands requested that the US allowed Dutch troops to stop over at American air bases en route to West Irian. The request put the US in a difficult position: To allow the Dutch troop to use mainland American bases would be an act of hostility against Indonesia, even if it only was as intermediate landing for troop transportation by air. To deny the Dutch the possibility to land would likewise be a clear signal to the Dutch that the US priority lay elsewhere than with the Dutch: It would be a stern message to send a close NATO ally. The decision made here, would hence signal a specific US preference in the dispute. There was no longer room for the previous indecision which had led to accommodation of both parties in private and claimed neutralism in public.

In the White House, Komer had just recently concluded that "Our problem is not with [the Far East Office] and Harriman, but with [the European Office] and Rusk."5 If State did not move to pressure the Dutch now, Komer wrote, the White House would need "another JFK-Rusk confrontation" to put Rusk in place. 6 When the Dutch landing request arrived, the question had been clarified. Even Rusk’s personal aversion against Sukarno could not hinder the US in denying the Dutch request. The first Dutch plane was allowed through, since it already was on the way, but the rest were denied access. The US had finally signaled that they would rather see the territory go peacefully to Indonesia than allowing the Dutch to press the situation further. 7

The President decided "to twist the Dutch arm." Still, the Attorney General was deliberately kept outside of this decision. It was better that he and Ambassador Jones believed the balance still was undecided and that his visit was the last ditch effort from the US to make a balance, they thought, lest Robert Kennedy or Howard Jones gave away too much when talking with Sukarno. Secretary Dean Rusk, Assistant Secretary George Ball, and the President himself monitored and directed the Attorney General’s visit to Djakarta, with help from Harriman and the White House aides. Although the visit was closely coordinated with Washington, the "home team" planned to rely mostly on Robert Kennedy’s personal intuition and judgement for convincing Sukarno to give up his preconditions to enter negotiations.8

Robert Kennedy arrived in Djakarta from Japan with his wife and staff on February 12. Sukarno, both nervous for Kennedy’s security and eager to display friendship with the President’s brother, installed the Kennedys in his palace at Bogor, and upgraded the visit from private to official status after a few days. The two men "hit it off beautifully" from the beginning, and Sukarno "went out of his way" to display friendliness.9 The less important public activities of the visit were carried out without problems—although the lack of anti-American-protestors in the streets seemed curious and the "Kennedy Go Home" signs in the streets had been painted over with a layer just thin enough to still notice what they read. This was done intentionally by Sukarno, Kennedy’s aide John Seigenthaler assumed. 10

The first talk on West Irian was an immediate success. RFK forwarded the US arguments in line with his instructions, and he avoided to commit the US to any solution while still half promising Sukarno eventual Indonesian takeover. He appealed both to Sukarno’s personality and to fear of political consequences, and implied that the US would have to withdraw their aid if Sukarno did not show statesmanship. Since RFK did not know that the US had decided to pressure the Dutch, he refrained from making any promises of such pressure. When Sukarno tried to trade US pressure on the Dutch for the release of the captured pilot Pope, Robert Kennedy refused to make any connection whatsoever. By the end of the meeting Robert Kennedy had persuaded Sukarno to drop his preconditions and enter negotiations under American auspices.

In Washington, the result was received with pleasure. Although much remained and Robert Kennedy continually maintained contact and conducted informal talks with the Indonesians as well as the Dutch on his world trip, a breakthrough had been made. It was "a major diplomatic achievement," the skeptical Rusk congratulated RFK11 "It is abundantly clear," Jones wrote to RFK later in May, "that you were able to start the ball rolling toward a negotiated settlement". 12

The subsequent talk between Robert Kennedy and Sukarno concentrated on the issue of the imprisoned American CIA bomber pilot Alexander L. Pope. Allen Pope had been shot down over Ambon in the Moluccan Islands/Maluk on May 18, 1959, while flying a bombing raid. He parachuted, was caught, and put to trial. Pope got the death sentence on April 29, 1960, and appealed to higher tribunals without success the next few months; both the appeals court and the military supreme court upheld the death sentence, playing the final chance of pardon into president Sukarno’s hands.13

The administration had publicly denied all knowledge of Pope’s mission, and referred to him consequently as a "soldier of fortune," accidentally happening to be a US citizen. The official US position on the rebellion which the raid had been part of, had been one of friendly non-involvement. In reality the position had been one of strong support, both in supplies and personnel and under the direct direction of John Foster Dulles.

There is little doubt that Pope was acting on assignment from the CIA.14 Most telling was that he was carrying orders and employment papers from the CIA subsidiary CAT (Civilian Air Transport), and papers proving that he was on a 120 days temporary duty while assigned to the headquarters of US army Command at Camp Bruckner in the Ryukyu Islands. Pope himself denied any US affiliation throughout the trial, and told the court that he had joined the rebellion to fight communism, as he had fought communism in Korea and later at Dien Bien Phu. 15

There was a clear American interest in getting Pope released. He was a US citizen and former soldier, whose execution could cause great stir among the American public. This scenario was made more probable by his wife’s charisma: She was a former golf champion in Florida as well as an attractive Pan American hostess, and thus had better chances than anyone to rally massive media coverage of an execution. She had made tearful, emotional appeals both to Sukarno and Robert Kennedy, impressing them both. In addition,. Pope’s exemplary behavior after the capture spoke to his advantage: He had patriotically denied his US connections, and the involved parties in Washington expressed that there was an aspect of obligation and honor in saving him.16

If the Pope case created public stir, it could be very damaging to the administration’s efforts to build a new Indonesia policy. The public as well as Congress would probably demand a tougher line toward Sukarno, and the military and economic aid efforts would then be very hard to defend. This could ruin the administration’s evolving new, non-confrontational policy towards Indonesia, along with the "Jonesian"-strategy of building personal friendship with key figures.

An execution could furthermore embarrass and discredit the US among the Indonesian public, and give the PKI a PR-opportunity much beyond normal. The damage caused by a massive public anti-American rally in Indonesia could easily become long term, given the already existing skeptical mood to the leader of the imperialist nations and the active anti-American publicity in the left-wing press.

A public execution did not seem to be in Sukarno’s or the Indonesian army command’s interest either. The 19 month delay between Pope’s capture and subsequent trial was interpreted as a sign of their hesitance to persecute the American pilot. The announcement of his capture had been delayed for several days, rather than triumphantly broadcast at first occasion. Pope’s mild treatment was noteworthy, considering the circumstances. He spent most of the time in house arrest at a pleasant mountain resort rather than in prison. During the trial, a good portion of the evidence tying Pope to CIA was suppressed. Most noteworthy was the suppression of the Camp Bruckner order, which included orders for 7 other American pilots.

In private, ambassador Jones got the admission that the trial indeed was delayed in order to avoid that the bombing raid was fresh in the minds of the public. A fresh public memory would have been dealing aces into PKI hands.17 The US had let out signs of a possible rapprochement in the rebellion just before the capture of Pope, and US troops were told to leave so they shouldn’t be captured. The message given out from the Indonesian army when trying to hush up the capture could hardly be clearer: Keeping the PKI in bay was more important than revenge on any US subversion. On the other side, a captured US officer could also provide Sukarno with an extra card in any upcoming negotiations: The threat of a highly publicized execution could bee used by Sukarno as leverage toward the United States, the US feared.

The question had been how important a release was to the administration, and what means they should utilize to achieve a release. The Eisenhower administration kept a low profile on the question. There should be no pleas, neither official or during informal talks. The main argument was that the legal possibilities of a release was still not exhausted at the time, all possible appeals had not been made.18 This argument vanished early in Kennedy’s period, and the administration had begun to forward personal and informal pleas for Pope’s release. During Sukarno’s visit to Washington the previous April, Kennedy had made a case for Pope—as matter of friendship between the two nations and its leaders—and retrieved Sukarno’s word for that Pope would be released.

However, Sukarno did not release Pope, and showed no signs of doing so. Sukarno’s broken promise provoked President Kennedy. Right until the military clashes in mid-January, Kennedy personally wanted to use the RFK visit as a leverage: If Pope were not released, Robert Kennedy could not visit Indonesia, since Sukarno had not kept his personal promise to John F. Kennedy. With the escalation in January, to solve the West Irian issue became an overall imperative and hence Robert Kennedy went without preconditions.

Once in Djakarta RFK decided to push Sukarno hard. In the next talk between Sukarno and Robert Kennedy, after discussing aid and other issues, Kennedy raised the subject of Allen Pope. He accused Sukarno of breaking his promises to the American President. Sukarno evaded, repeating that Robert Kennedy had to let Sukarno handle it his own way. RFK repeated the allegations more testily: "Could you tell me whether you’re going to stand by your promise to the President of the United States?"19 The exchange continued with increasing heat, Robert Kennedy, seemingly more and more angry, was "[...] just about to unload on Sukarno as nobody ever unloaded on Sukarno [...] in the history of Sukarno’s reign as president of Indonesia." 20 Ambassador Jones "was about to fall from his chair" and Foreign Minister Subandrio was "absolutely frightened to death" for Sukarno’s reactions when Kennedy threatened with the dire consequences this would have in the US, for the relationship between the two nations,

"Am I to go back to the President and say you will not tell us that you’ll stand by your word?" At this point he stood up. "I cant understand that." He said, "Everybody tells me you’re a man who stands by his word; that any time you say something that people can believe you, and the President of the United States believes that, and now you won’t say that. I’m his brother. He sent me here as his representative. I’m speaking for him when I’m asking you what you’re going to do about this [...]"21

Then Robert Kennedy broke the circle they were sitting in and walked out on the veranda. The stunned Ambassador Jones tried to explain to Sukarno, "Mr. President, let me just say this. Mr. Kennedy is very close to his brother and devoted to his brother. You may not know this, but he is perhaps the closest figure in the United State government to his brother [...]"22 Robert Kennedy then re-arrived in the room, not to sit down but to take a walk in the hallways with his aide, John Seigenthaler. Kennedy asked Seigenthaler,

Do you think what I said to him is going to have any impression on him?" I [Seigenthaler] said, "Oh sure, I think it’s very definitely going to have an impression on him". He said, "Well, the thing I’d like to do is make sure when I leave here he knows how strongly we feel about this. That kid belongs out. He doesn’t belong in Sukarno’s prison. He ought to be free and hell..." So Jones comes out. Jones says, "Look, you feel strongly about this. He also feel strongly about it." He says, "I remember riding out with him on boat one time and he showed me out under the water where a ship had been sunk, and he said, ‘That's the work of your CIA agent, Pope.’ You can’t leave him in there like this. You’ve got to go back in." Bob said, "Oh, I’m going back in. Don’t misunderstand, Mr. Ambassador. I’m not upset at all, but I want him to know that this is a matter that holds some potential danger.23

Then the three went back in, and Robert Kennedy apologized for his emotional behavior to Sukarno. Sukarno, after a long wait, answered somewhat distantly and formalistic, "Mr. Attorney General, you are forceful and young and I am forceful and old. I appreciate your position, and I will give it my fullest attention and consideration. [...]"24 After saying he could do no more now, Sukarno got up and the two primary participants went out to a press conference, shaking hands and smiling.

Robert Kennedy’s act was successful. Kennedy’s false anger and deliberate insult made a deep impression on Sukarno. Sukarno soon communicated that the he "would ‘get over’ his injured personal feelings," and arrangements for Pope’s release were initiated not long after.25 Pope were pardoned by Sukarno in June with the words "[...] go home, hide yourself, get lost, and we’ll forget the whole thing [...]," and so returned to the US in secrecy. 26

The Robert Kennedy visit has been interpreted as the turning point for US policy towards Sukarno, particularly in the West Irian issue. The long talks RFK held with both Jones and Sukarno and the subsequent reports to the president "pretty much set the tune for the subsequent policy toward Indonesia," Charles Baldwin notes.27 RFK’s Djakarta trip "almost laid the foundation for the subsequent Indonesian policy". Foreign Minister Luns of the Netherlands also held Robert Kennedy responsible for the change of policy. When Robert Kennedy came home from Indonesia, it was "obvious to [Luns] and [his] colleagues in the Cabinet that the President’s brother had come around to the views of Sukarno [...]" 28 Robert Kennedy had then, in Luns’ perception, persuaded President Kennedy to change his position.

Although it is certain that Robert Kennedy’s impressions had an important influence on the upcoming strategy of US Indonesia policy, the impressions of Baldwin and Luns have flaws. Already before Robert Kennedy went, the President had made the decision to "twist the Dutch arm" and force the Dutch to surrender their position. During the visit, RFK acted in close cooperation with his support team back home, Rusk, Ball and JFK. All the views RFK forwarded in Djakarta were cleared with Washington.

The decision to go tough with the Dutch most likely stemmed in good part from the recommendations of Assisting Secretary Harriman, Jones’ "tower of strength in Washington".29 According to Baldwin, Harriman did consider himself the architect of the new policy together with the President. 30 However, the decision was also a result of long term pressure from the White House aides and Ambassador Jones. Of the aides, Robert Komer and Robert Johnson were the primary advocates, with support of their superior, Assistant National Security Advisor Walt Rostow. The three had direct access to the President, as well as his trust. Kennedy followed the events in Indonesia closely, not hesitating to contact desk officers directly. Jones also had direct contact to the White House, in addition to the usual State Department channels. 31 This was partly through the White House aides, but also through old friendship and because of the urgency of the Indonesian situation. 32 The President had personally leaned to the "Jonesian" viewpoints all along. He had however not made a decisive stand in their favor before the State Department’s UN failure in November, but had rather corrected Rusk occasionally and hinted on course alterations. The new policy put the foot down for Rusk and the Europeanists’ strategy for good. Rather than a change of policy, it was a cut-back in number of simultaneously pursued policies, in favor of the "Jones way" of doing things. 33

Robert Kennedy’s influence was probably more than anything to verify that the situation had been perceived correctly. Although he was kept unknowing of the pre-made decision to alter policy, he adhered to the same policy in aftermath. Ambassador Jones were sounded out thoroughly by RFK, but no serious flaws in Jones’ arguments, observations or trustworthiness were reported home. Also, Robert Kennedy was a man whom the President trusted to state his honest opinion without being entangled in any internal quarrels of the administration. Robert Kennedy’s reports furthermore influenced the views of Rusk, who after RFK’s return hesitated to implement the new hard line with the Dutch 34before hearing out the position with the Attorney General. 35 A simplified summary could be that the new tactics originated with Jones, they were argued for by the White House aides, and were decided upon and finally etched by the president. Then Robert Kennedy was used as a check for soundness and to convince the doubters like Rusk, while Harriman implemented the policy and detailed it in State Department. In the future, Robert Kennedy would still continue to have a special care for and say in Indonesian matters.

The US handling of the Pope issue also that the role of the media already by 1962 was a major concern for the policy makers in the US, particularly due to the negative effects which could arise from public emotions caused by media coverage. Furthermore, the case demonstrates to some degree how the Indonesian army sought US friendship. Finally, it worth noticing how the US chose to solve this issue with a combination of a personal and seemingly emotional approach by Robert Kennedy, and a private threat relating to the economic relationship between the US and Indonesia.

West Irian endgame: Twisting the Dutch Arm

From February till May, arguments went back and forth between Indonesia, the Netherlands and the United States. Sukarno reverted on his agreement to negotiate, only to back down again when Rusk through Jones confronted him with the agreement made with RFK. Robert Kennedy continued his world trip in Europe, where he spoke to the Dutch in order to accept the agenda for negotiation he had agreed upon with Sukarno. A special political task force for West Irian was considered in the administration, without being actually implemented.

    Luns arrived in Washington for talks on March 1 and 2. Right before the visit, the Dutch had made another request to use US airfields for troop transport to West Irian, even though the US had hindered the previous troop flights one month earlier.36 The Dutch argued that the US had a commitment to allow them logistic support through a deal made with Dean Acheson in 1958. However, none of the involved Bureaus in State considered this anything but a policy issue. 37 Rusk promptly delivered another rejection with the argument that although the US had responsibilities as a NATO ally, they also had a responsibility to hinder war between the Netherlands and Indonesia.

The talks became the moment of stand-down with the Netherlands. The first meeting between Luns and JFK was the most painful. Luns informed the President that the Netherlands would send two big fleet destroyers and two submarines through the Panama canal to enforce West Irian. The US had by then also secured British support in order to deny the Dutch of using the British base in Singapore actively.38 In Luns’ recollection Kennedy merely replied: "’Oh, Mr. Minister,’ he said, ‘I will have to see Mr. [Robert S.] McNamara about that!’," implying that the use of the Panama canal for West Irian troops was unacceptable to the US. 39 Furthermore:

I [Luns] could not hide my feelings. I said to the President that I suggested that there was no need for him to consult Mr. McNamara because no power on earth could prevent the Dutch fleet using the Panama canal, unless – what I termed as being a rather remote possibility – the Netherlands would declare war on the United States of America [...]40

Luns made it clear that they would exercise their treaty rights, and not allow the US to stop them from using the Panama canal. Walt Rostow describes Luns entering the meeting and in little while "literally pounding on the President’s desk – demanding that we bail [the Dutch] out, accusing the President of letting them down etc." It was "the most improper behavior I ever saw in the President’s office," recalls Rostow, but Kennedy reacted with "a twinkle in the eye," leaning back and rather liking it, and then slowly and quietly he explained to Luns that "he had a couple of wars in Southeast Asia; and West New Guinea was one he would like not to have to fight."41 When pressed by Kennedy, it became "apparent that what Luns wanted was for the U.S. to deal with Sukarno; but that he, Luns, would not take it on." The bottom line was, that few in the US administration believed that the Netherlands were prepared to fight a larger war over West Irian, and if the Netherlands were not – the United States most certainly would not fight in its place. 42

The Netherlands a few weeks later sent the destroyers and submarines through the Panama canal, without problems. The ships however, after hard internal debate in the Netherlands as well as heavy US pressure, did not continue to West Irian, but stayed near US bases in the Pacific. A short time after, Dutch reinforcements of about ten thousand men were also sent to the Pacific by sea. The US allowed the troop transports to stop over in American Ports and bases in the Pacific, including Honolulu. However, the US forbade the Dutch troops to leave their ships and the Dutch personnel could not at any time enter US grounds while the conflict remained unsolved. Most importantly, the US demanded complete silence about the troop transports.43

In the end of March, secret negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands started on a private estate in Warrenton, Virginia, and with the US diplomat Ellsworth Bunker as third party.44 The United States expressed their relief over the Dutch choice to let ambassador Van Roijen lead the Dutch negotiation team rather than a government representative, since Van Roijen was perceived as more flexible. The Indonesians sent the minister Adam Malik, one of the persons closest to Sukarno in the government. 45

The negotiations started amiably, but soon the conflict escalated witThe negotiations started amiably, but soon the conflict escalated with both sides engaging in brinkmanship. Malik, it turned out, had not received the authority to perform real negotiations. Outside West Irian, a series of naval clashes started, and Indonesia sent scattered paratroopers into the mainland.46 The Dutch refused to even consider the US proposal for solution: basically an Indonesian take-over with a short transitional phase under the UN to save face for the Dutch. The important missing element to the Dutch was now a guarantee of some form for Papuan self-determination, at least in form of a referendum to approve any new status. The talks then halted, and Malik left for Djakarta.

In the weeks that followed, the Dutch cabinet retarded, the US tired to pressure the Dutch into resuming talks. The administration worked the Dutch opposition actively, and used the influence of Dutch pro-solution corporations like Shell. The White House even considered launching a campaign to overthrow the conservative Dutch government in favor of the liberal and more anti-colonial opposition, although refrained from doing so in the end. The Dutch responded with "psywar tricks" in return, among other things building up an "ersatz Papuan independence movement" and feeding the US with intelligence items on communist strategies in Indonesian, neither of which were given much credit by the US administration.47

However, the Dutch soon caved in on the most important question, a phased transfer of West Irian. Still they refused to enter negotiations on basis of two conditionals: guarantees for referendum and future social development of the area. In the US eyes, the Dutch were just stalling the issue, probably hoping for "their bete noir, Sukarno" to step down due to his kidney illness or the current economic turmoil.48

In the end of April and beginning of May, another round of heavy US pressure was initiated. This time the US threatened to withdraw Bunker from the negotiations, and they considered to threaten with publishing "the details of [Luns’] efforts, which Luns had carefully kept from the Dutch public and parliament." Such a move would cause "ruckus" and might lead to Luns’ fall. Also, Prime Minister MacMillan of Britain was asked to back up the US pressure.49

Luns now seemingly caved in and accepted Indonesian administration under the UN flag until a referendum was held. Yet, Luns turnaround was not taken seriously: The Indonesians refused to re-enter negotiations based on Luns’ "grudging" new statement, complaining that they felt the Dutch were not serious about the negotiations. The US partly agreed with the Indonesians, with Bunker complaining in a staff meeting that "Luns is playing us for suckers." 50

Kennedy, for once backed by consensus in his administration, decided to publicize the Bunker proposal for phased transfer, thus trying to discredit Luns and force him to balk fully. A few days later, Luns indeed caved in. Both the Indonesians and Dutch in short time accepted Bunker’s formula, and a new round of negotiations to reach a final settlement was scheduled to start in mid-July.51

The talks started well off, as the previous round had done. Foreign Minister Subandrio had replaced Malik from the Indonesian side, the Dutch still were led by van Roijen. From the US side, Robert Kennedy and Rusk held private talks with the participants in addition to the negotiations led by Bunker. The Indonesians now became the obstacle. The last weeks, they had kept builiding up forces and sending in paratroopers to West Irian – to Dutch dismay using old US-supplied C-130 planes and with US equipment. All in all, about 2–3000 paratroopers had by now been landed in West Irian. Subandrio argued that the troopers had to be provided for, and that the areas they controlled should not have the same transfer period as West Irian general, but rather become Indonesian at once. Thus, Indonesia could boast both a diplomatic and military triumph if an agreement was reached. On the paratrooper issue, besides the timing of a referendum and length of the UN transfer period, the talks reached an impasse on July 26.52

The US and President Kennedy then intervened with a show of power. The Indonesian aggressiveness had gone far enough, JFK and Rusk concluded, and arranged a conversation with Subandrio just before Subandrio was about to leave for Djakarta. Kennedy "made it clear" to Subandrio that Indonesia’s "real military neighbor" was not Communist China, but the 7th fleet. To underline his point to Sukarno in Djakarta, Kennedy "threw the Seventh fleet across the strait." Subandrio observed to Ambassador Jones the following week "that in all his career he had only been ‘threatened’ twice—one by Mao, Chou En-lai in Peiping; second by President Kennedy in Washington!"53

Subandrio bent down, and an agreement was made, first without Sukarno’s knowledge—Subandrio for once being more concerned with the consequences of conforming to Sukarno’s orders than of ignoring them.54 From Moscow, first vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers Anastas I. Mikoyan flew down to Djakarta on a special mission to stop Sukarno from verifying the agreement. 55 Mikoyan failed, and on August 3, Sukarno approved the terms. 56

In the agreement, a one year Dutch phase-out period was to be followed by a UN interregnum. The interregnum would have the discretion to determine when to hand over the territory to Indonesia, but already after one year, the territory would fly the Indonesian as well as the UN flag. At latest in 1969, a referendum, termed "self-determination," should be arranged, determining the final status of the territory.57

In January 1962, the escalation of the West Irian conflict made Kennedy intervene personally. Kennedy overrode the Europeanists and Rusk, and took a personal policy decision in favor of the Asianists or Jonesians from the NSC staff, making Harriman vital in the implementation of this policy inside the State Department. The president then decided to utilize the personal bonds forged between Sukarno and Kennedy in April 1961 by sending Robert Kennedy as a personal emissary to Sukarno. Robert Kennedy’s task was to remove the two main obstructions for improving US-Indonesian relations: the captured CIA-pilot Allan Pope and the West Irian conflict. Robert Kennedy’s pleas on behalf of Allan Pope was probably vital for ensuring Pope’s subsequent release, a release which symbolically put a final end to the Eisenhower-era in US-Indonesian relations. The talks between Robert Kennedy and Sukarno also resulted in renewed negotiations between the Netherlands and Indonesia under US auspices. However, the final signing of the negotiated agreement only happened after the Dutch had been coerced diplomatically and the Indonesians had been threatened with the 7th fleet, as well as with economic sanctions. Hence, the administration had rid itself with the remnants of Eisenhower-administrations policy. The issues of West Irian and Allan Pope were out of the way, clearing the way for a new and offensive US effort in Indonesia. Moreover, the traditional Europeanist line in the State Department, which also had been the Eisenhower administration’s line, had been subdued in favor of policy with higher priority to the Asian countries. When doing this, the Kennedy also had allowed the policy making initiatives from the Embassy and the NSC staff take priority over the State Department’s initiatives.

The Action Plan

"To seize this opportunity, will all agencies
concerned please review their programs..."
John F. Kennedy58


President Kennedy did not hesitate to take advantage of the new situation. "With a peaceful settlement of the West Irian dispute now in process, I would like to see us capitalize on the US role [...] to move toward a new and better relationship with Indonesia," Kennedy wrote on August 16. in a National Security Action Memorandum.59 The hope was that Indonesia would be far more susceptible to aid and influence, now that the US had decisively supported them in the West Irian issue. Critics in the White House staff feared it was too late for the US to exploit any good will in Indonesia. The American popularity of the early 50s were long gone, they argued, and the PKI's propaganda had exploited US hesitation and previous failures beyond short-term repair. Still, all the critics agreed the chance should be taken. Every concerned agency was asked to send plans and recommendations for how they would participate in "the Action Plan for Indonesia." Particularly, Kennedy thought of civic action, military aid, economic stabilization and development programs, besides diplomatic initiatives. The recommendations should form the basis of a new, grand effort for keeping Indonesia out of communist hands.

When October came, the "Plan of Action for Indonesia" was ready.60 The plan summarized the situation in Indonesia, stated US objectives and strategies, and followed through with the according action recommendations Both new and previous assessments were included as background. Existing, and at times vaguely grounded, policies were redefined and adjusted to fit into a general, reasoned approach. The groundwork for American Indonesia policy was with this plan laid for the remainder of Sukarno's rule.

The overall, first priority objective was to keep Indonesia independent and out of the Sino-Soviet camp. Indonesia's strategic importance—in mere size, in resources, economic potential and geographical placement were reasons enough to justify a real effort. Still, what gave the task indisputable priority was now mainland Southeast Asia, tersely summarized in the Action Plan with the words: "our commitments on the Indo-China peninsula could be lost if the bottom of Southeast Asia fell out to Communism."61

To keep Indonesia independent, the most important sub-objective was to help Indonesia in becoming a "viable nation," both politically and economically. By the fall of 1962, this seemed to be an extensive task: The economic crisis had continued to worsen since the Humphrey team made its report. Indonesian economy was on the verge of collapse and the people on the break of starvation62. Accordingly, long term policies had to make place for emergency measures. The economic strategy was no longer a long-term build-up plan, but had turned into a rescue action. The immediate priority objective was now to stabilize the economic and political situation. This would be done with the help of the IMF. Only eventually would the administration launch the national development plan which was outlined in the Humphrey report.

The political strategies made to reach the objectives were also to a large degree formed by the recent settlement of the West Irian dispute.63 In the first and offensive part of the double strategy, the US were to use the settlement constructively by turning the attention of the Indonesians away form militant nationalism and toward economic development. 64 An effort should be made to coax Sukarno and his government slowly in Western direction through economic aid and IMF-plans.

The second part of the strategy was defensive: To maintain a "toehold" in Indonesia. Specifically, the "toehold plan" aimed at strengthening the Indonesian army in the countryside in order to build a bulwark against PKI. This part of the plan relied on military aid and diplomatic presence. Together, the two major elements formed the long-run strategy which aimed to keep Indonesia non-communist and then to give the country "some forward momentum."

The offensive, economic program would try to turn Sukarno’s attention and make him more Western-minded. In brief, the US wanted Sukarno to concentrate on internal economic affairs instead of harassing neighbors.65 The most important reason for trying to turn Sukarno’s attention to economic affairs could be found in PKI exploitation of nationalism. PKI and other radical groups had gained considerable momentum by exploiting the West Irian issue, alongside general nationalism and anti-imperialist sentiments. 66 In addition to the popular support they gained for themselves, PKI’s grip on Sukarno stemmed partly from their ability to provide him with popular support. PKI arranged the mass rallies which he relied on for his mystical unions with the Indonesians people. The unions were important to Sukarno’s image as a personal incarnation of the people in the Guided Democracy model. The self-strengthening circle between public rallies, PKI, and Sukarno somehow had to be broken.

If anti-imperialistic issues should continue to dominate the political agenda in Indonesia, there seemed little chance of halting the rise of the PKI within this circle. The worst case scenario was an actual military confrontation involving a Western power. Such a situation would be made even worse by the weakening of the anti-Communist army which would follow. The result could easily be a communist take-over. A repetition of the West Irian issue, for example in East Timor or North Borneo, hence had to be avoided. The safest way of doing so, was to keep Sukarno from seeing political gain and hindering his ability to spend time and resources on expansionist actions.

Specifically, the economic program inside the twofold plan was meant to make aid and the stabilization scheme the focal point of Indonesian foreign policy. Aid, given in a stick and carrot-manner, was the key to turning the Sukarno’s mind and the public attention towards economy. US economic assistance was therefore carefully phased in small bites that were rewarded for every step Sukarno took in the right direction. Oppositely, phases were to be withheld or delayed as Sukarno failed to perform. The aid program was intentionally small by US standards—but given the economic situation of Indonesia, the right size to make the receiver both need the aid and keeping him wanting more.

There are no indications that Department of State had any illusions of making Sukarno a permanent ally or even a reliable neutral by this targeted assistance. Contrary, it is repeatedly stated by several of the State Department staff and White House advisors that Sukarno is, and would probably always be, hopelessly untrustworthy. The carrot and stick-policy implied a continuing effort to make Sukarno take small steps: The US were not to make any celebration whenever a step was taken, but had to continue to press forward with either the carrot or the stick toward the next small step. More than the direct economic impact of the aid, the purpose of the aid program was to make economic questions linger in Sukarno’s mind as long as possible—especially whenever Sukarno made a wrong turn. The little leverage that came with aid,was perhaps the only formal and peaceful means within US control which could turn Sukarno’s attention at all.

There were also supplementing reasons behind the economic plan. One of them was the belief that any economic well-considered policy had to make Indonesia more Western minded. A sensible economic policy had to allow Western investments, relax state control over the economy and avoid military overspending. The assumption of a necessary connection between sensible economic policy and Western alignment is implied more than actually stated, but permeates the internal debates and reasoning without really being questioned. As such, it was an important reason, although not the decisive reason for the economic program. On one side, the first priority for the Administrations upper echelons was not economic development per se, economic development was a benefit insofar it coincided with the overall political objective. On the other side, it never occurred to the policy makers that economic development and political objectives could contradict each other.

Aid to Indonesia was unpopular outside the State Department and White House— and funding for aid had to be passed by Congress. Hence, reasons by the end of 1962 were presented in three main variants: On one hand in the secret plans for a deliberate and targeted effort to influence Indonesian alignment, as seen in the Action Plan and internal documents. On the other hand, reasons were given as outspoken, official substantiation as to meet any "uncomfortable questions" from the Congress and public. The third set of reason were mainly given to Indonesians, the foreign public audience and aid workers.

The reasons given to Congress focussed on the necessity of giving aid to keep the communists from power, since the communists thrived on the economic crisis and aid was giving the anticommunist forces a competitive edge. The primary motivation for continuing to extend economic aid was that cutting off aid would only hasten Indonesian economic deterioration. The economic crisis served the communist cause, and State Department regarded it as one of the PKI's most potent weapons.67 The counter-argument from aid-opponents in Congress was that aid to Indonesia was in reality aid to communists. State Department refuted the counter-argument by maintaining that the communists were still far from being able to seize power. It was rather aid that kept the communists from power. Many of the programs were directly targeted against communist bases of strength, they argued. This argument, however, applied mostly to military aid under the Toehold program, not economic ones. Most notably, the civic action program supported the army so it could make a better job than the communists in working with the grass roots people.

Congress was also told that aid was given with necessary conditions. The evolving carrot and stick-policy nature of economic aid should make it clear for the Indonesians that they could not receive US aid without making the conditions for economic injections acceptable to the US. Among the conditions set, was that Indonesia should undergo a stabilization program, lined out by IMF. Furthermore, aid should not be used to pay off debts to the Soviet. Finally, Indonesia had to refrain from any territorial expansionist moves. Although not formal conditions, these were the prerequisites that "made it possible for [the US] to help".

It is worth noting that these conditions were a trouble child. To the Congress, they were necessary. To Sukarno, they could not be told explicitly, as he did not react well to "strings" or ultimatums. Therefore, the internally defined carrot-and-stick policy implied that no conditions were explicitly given, but Sukarno should in a pavlovian manner learn what was best.

The set of reasons naturally had to be adjusted when disseminated to the Indonesians. The main motives given to the Indonesians were that the US wanted to help Indonesia gain strength to maintain its independence, help it become a viable nation, and assist Indonesia in developing an expanding and self-supporting economy. Although, these reasons were real, they represented only a small subset of the Administration’s internal argumentation.

In addition to the stated political overall objectives of self-interest, there was also a notable idealistic flavor to the economic aid program. Aid was not only in the enlightened self-interest of the United States, in its implementation the aid program was also a mission to improve the conditions of the Indonesian people. Whereas the self-interest angle was focussed in internal political debates and toward the Congress and critical public; the idealistic aims could be seen in the actual aid priorities and in the professional discussions of how to extend aid.

The Humphrey report was the prime example: High-profile aid programs were given less priority than low-keyed, but efficient efforts, even if the highly profiled ones would have proven better as political tools toward Sukarno than the more invisible ones. For instance, a program for a rayon producing complex, which would provide industrial prestige, was flatly discouraged.68 At the same time, the report gave the highest priority to less visible maintenance programs and programs for improving logistics. This does not mean there were no PR-focussed programs. There were several programs that were more visible than useful. As a general rule, though, the professional recommendations were directed more to fill the needs of the receiver than the needs of the giver, and the professional recommendations were to a large degree adopted as political decisions.

Liberal, idealistic aid workers, may have had problems working on a clearly defined political mission without any real ambitions of providing real aid. For professional economists and aid workers involved in US aid, the question of both professional and ethical satisfaction required different presentations than those given to conservative senators. As for the Humphrey report, it was presented not only to a broad specter of US officials, also Indonesian officials and Sukarno were in the core target group. The Humphrey report needed to be both professionally satisfactory for those working with it as guidance, and it had to be politically acceptable to both the US and Indonesia.

Yet, the double set of objectives and justifications does not make a double standard. The two ends could go well together, as long as it was a primary US objective that Indonesian economy developed. The idealistic objectives were limited by the political objectives, not contradicted. US aid could not be expanded or work at a satisfactory level for rapid, large-scale development program while Sukarno was to be controlled, but it could still work at some level. More important, without politically aims of overshadowing importance, it is not likely that it would have been politically possible with any aid at all to a regime as unpopular as Sukarno’s.

A natural question is whether the aid had any character of a trade-off, given to make sure US economic interests Indonesia were kept. At first glance, it seems fair to make the assumption that an Indonesian quid-pro-quo at least implicitly was expected. US investments were notable and the companies involved had close contacts with US government. The companies were in constant trouble with both the Indonesian government, the PKI and others. Several of them were in acute danger of losing all their investments.69 Some help to get political insurance would have been welcome. On the other hand: Could the economic winnings be high enough to justify the political cost of giving aid so unpopular as to Sukarno? The investments were limited in a global context and little known outside the circles directly involved. The future potentials, truly, was deemed high enough to justify aid expenses—but the long-term future were covered by the other part of the double strategy, the Toehold plan. The policy planners did not expect the economic aid program to have much effect in this matter. In addition, any large potentials could only be exploited in the post-Sukarno era, pushing the issue of return further into the realm of the military Toehold plan. Sukarno had moreover proven to be a man who could not be much influenced by token aid. There is no indication that those who planned aid thought it could be used to secure American investments in a quid pro quo-fashion.

Nevertheless, hope for a better general climate for Americans was widespread. Implementation of the stabilization plan would also by definition imply better conditions for all Western companies, including American economic interests. On direct question, a deal was emphatically denied.70 The carrot-and-stick outline was cited to those who needed to be told that economic aid to Indonesia was a matter of national importance.

The specific recommendations for action relied heavily on the political openings and recommendations provided by the Humphrey report. The new recommendations for action were divided into immediate actions and contingency planning71. The immediate actions concentrated on existing programs and emergency assistance. First of all, the already approved PL 480 items should be shipped immediately. The Food for Peace supplies were extensive: $32 million of rice, $3.7 million of wheat flour and $23.1 million of cotton. The rice shipment were four times larger than the actual annual commitment. In addition, $13 million of vegetable oil was considered sent to famine-threatened Indonesia.

In addition several smaller programs started up. Mostly as a symbolic measure, the Peace Corps should be sent in.72 Sukarno had met with Sargent Shriver in September 1962, and finally agreed that sending the Peace Corps to Indonesia was acceptable—although only at certain conditions. The Development Grant Program under A.I.D. was to be continued, focussing on technical and administrative education to alleviate acute managerial weaknesses. 73 However, the proposed loans should only be forwarded very selectively, awaiting stabilization measures from Sukarno. Only the Export-Import Bank’s loans for a cement kiln and thermal power plant were accepted immediately. On a request basis, emergency assistance of about $15–20 million was granted to spare part and raw materials for the industry.

The US would extend nothing further in economic aid until Indonesia had put forward and decided on a far-reaching stabilization program.74 The stabilization program was worked out in co-operation with the IMF, also based on the Humphrey report's recommendations. 75 In addition, an IMF mission had visited Indonesia in November 1962 to advise the Indonesians.

The IMF program was essentially a combination of budgetary austerity, relaxation of price controls and a "crash program" of imports backed by foreign credits and loans. Economically, the stabilization measures was neither remarkable nor completely foreign to Indonesian budgetary tradition. Yet, they could hold political implications. The economic measures were supposed to lead to a quick and significant re-entry of Western economic interests. Furthermore, they would hinder PKI influence on Indonesian policy by making the economic ground rules of economic policy more market-centered.

If the program was implemented in Indonesia, it would also impede the inclusion of PKI members in cabinet, since such a Nasakom76 Nationalist and Communist cabinet almost certainly would halt the necessary American funding in Congress. A Nasakom-cabinet was reportedly the prime Soviet condition for relieving the heavy debt repayments, although it is uncertain whether this actually was the case. In either way, a final choice between US and Soviet aid would be made more imminent, with the US option as the economically most attractive due to its focus on economic reform and foreign investment. 77

Finally, the budgetary austerity would make any costly foreign policy maneuvers like West Irian impossible, which again was a prime US interest. This held a bonus effect to the US because of the West Irian maneuver's success as a political tool for the PKI. Moreover, a positive economic development would, in American eyes, help remove the source of the discontent that led people into the arms of PKI, thus weakening the PKI’s popular support.

The IMF program with all its political implications hence became a symbolic decision. The Indonesian decision here would signify which direction Indonesia would take for the next years. To make the point clear to the Indonesians, the US decided that only when the stabilization program was in working order, US long-term development assistance would be forwarded.78 When that happened, the IMF stabilization scheme and the US development scheme were supposed to work hand-in-hand—the first secured the ground for the other.

Military Strategy: The Toehold Program

The second part of the long-term US strategy was what the NSC aides informally nicknamed the toehold program.79 The purpose of the program was to keep a toehold in Indonesia despite difficulties and provocation that inevitably would come. The toehold consisted mainly of contact with important political and military figures, primarily those who were anticommunist. Additionally, keeping up public appearances and a public image of friendliness held value in its own right. Given the fluctuating, and currently strongly anti-imperialistic public climate, though, tacit connections seemed the most reliable long-term strategy.

Personal friendships and regular contact was an important part of the toehold program. This applied most of all to important military leaders like General Yani and particularly General Nasution. Potential post-Sukarno leaders like former Vice President and Prime Minister Hatta and the Sultan of Yogjakarta were also courted, alongside various people deemed to be of influence.

Contact alone, however, was not enough. To display friendliness and goodwill, it was important to extend aid. The different military aid programs and particularly the civic action program were thus construed as part of the toehold program. Military aid was kept on a steady balance between what was politically acceptable at home and necessary to keep contact and display goodwill in Indonesia.

The military officers exchange programs provided an equally important opportunity to make the officers more Western minded. Indonesian officers had been trained in the US since the Indonesian independence, with the current training program running since 1958. The army upper echelons even earned the nickname Eisenhower’s boys in left-wing press, due to the dominance of US-trained officers. The simple fact that top army officers still regarded the US as fairly friendly after the 1958-rebellion, proved to many that the exchange program indeed had worked.

The reasoning behind the toehold program was clear: There would, inevitably, be a future confrontation between communist and anticommunist forces. When this "showdown" came, it was important to let every anticommunist know that the US were behind him all the way. Furthermore, when Sukarno eventually should fall, it was important that the successor knew that the US would be friendly to just about anyone who would keep the communists at bay and leave their neighbors alone.

More acute was the communist struggle to break down and take over the military apparatus. The ultimate source of power in Indonesia had been the military, and still the military was likely to win ifMore acute was the communist struggle to break down and take over the military apparatus. The ultimate source of power in Indonesia had been the military, and still the military was likely to win if there should be a show-down. It was the military that had intervened when the PKI seemed to be popular enough to take the power by democratic means, and only Sukarno’s restraint had kept the army from cracking harder down on PKI during the period of Martial Law.

The army, however, seemed to be losing political terrain, despite its increased military strength. Furthermore, the Soviet military aid made the military dependent on Soviet staff and material, thus weakening the Western profile of the military as a whole. The Air Force was already considered unreliable, and the Navy moved leftwards. The still Western-oriented army was being consciously infiltrated by PKI. It was vital to show US support to those who still were neutral or US friendly. If the West-friendly wing got the impression that the US gave up on them, they might lose "the necessary resolve." Then, the army would in a matter of years no longer be neither willing nor able to stop the PKI from taking power. The US, by losing the friendship of the military, would then lose the whole of Indonesia.

The US action recommendations first and foremost concentrated on demonstrating good will towards the Indonesian military and form institutions where contact and personal ties between American and Indonesian officers could be established and maintained. The central program in this regard was a civic action program, consisting officially of military aid given to assist Indonesian military personnel to re-enter civil life.80 General Nasution had for some time made demobilization and re-structuring of army units one of his main priorities. Already, there was a US military survey team in Indonesia, preparing the ground. Central in the work were General Maxwell Taylor and Colonel George Benson. The civic action program was specifically aimed at vocational training and rural construction and development. Retiring army personnel should have civilian jobs waiting for them, while army personnel still in uniform should be able to do important civilian work in rural development. civic action was set be one of the most important US programs in Indonesia for the next few years.

Besides the official primary objective of demonstrating good will and facilitate contact, the Indonesian civic action program also intended to improve the Indonesian army’s countryside popularity through its public projects. PR is not outspokenly stated as a primary reason in the internal documents of the administration, but the administration used the argument when defending civic action programs in Congress. As a sympathy-raising project, it is beyond doubt that civic action was in direct competition with the PKI's similar efforts in rural Indonesia. The commonly cited objective to "strengthen the army in the countryside" contextually implies the popularity competition with the PKI as well as military and organizational strength. The civic action program for Indonesia has accordingly been interpreted as a measure to counter the PKI progress in the rural areas. This interpretation also fits well with the general equation at the time between the different civic action programs elsewhere and counterinsurgency programs.81

The program also was valuable to the Indonesian army. It helped achieve a peaceful demobilization of forces. Countryside development was a welcomed benefit.. By being a central part of reforming the Indonesian army into a post-colonial, unitary force, the program strengthened the army's organization. By offering soldiers an attractive retreat option, it improved loyalty and recruitment to the army. On the other hand, as a PR project it turned out to have limited success, mostly due to corruption and abuse of positions.

Besides being important for the overall objective of good will and contact, the civic action program was model for aid with particularly bright-looking side-effects. Most important was of course that the anticommunist Indonesian army actually got stronger in the countryside. A training part of the program furthermore provided a chance to train the army in counterinsurgency and "expose" them to Western values, partly under the guise of technical training. The counterinsurgency aspect also made the program line up with the current fashion in military aid in Washington, making it easier to fund. In addition, the civic action program was uncontroversial military aid since it did not involve any significant strengthening of aggressive military capacity. For funding reasons, it finally had the advantage of being flexible: It was justifiable as both economic and military aid.

The Military Assistance Program (MAP) was, like the civic action program, concentrated on aid to the army branch of the Indonesian military.82 Assistance was focussed on communications, arms standardization and equipment for construction and work battalions. Only carefully screened token aid was to be given to the other services, since they were unreliable from the US point of view. Screened items included a patrol gunboat for the Navy and T-37 jet trainers for the Air Force.

An important receiver of MAP support was the Mobile Brigade (Mobrig) . While the civic action program sought to build up the army, the Mobrig-support actually risked undermining the army's political influence.83 Like the civic action plan, the Mobrig support was funded both under AID and MAP and was largely a counterinsurgency effort. The Mobile Brigade was a federal police force with about 23 000 men. Their relations to the Indonesian army were ambivalent. The Mobrig had been founded in 1946 by Prime Minister Sjahrir as a political instrument to counter political pressure from the army and as a safeguard against coups involving military units. 84 Later, civilian political leaders continued to use the Mobrig for similar purposes. Sukarno had used Mobrig to counter army pressure numerous times, and even recruited his bodyguards from their ranks. 85 The army, however, sought to control the Mobrig, and a struggle over gaining formal authority over all police forces went back and forth during the Martial Law period 1957–63. 86 In 1962 the Mobile Brigade formally came under military command, only to lose control again the following year. Sukarno later took personal control over the Mobrig by making the police chief and minister of national police directly responsible to him.

Now a part of the Toehold plan, the Action Program further reinforced the Mobrig as longest standing single US commitment in Indonesia . Communications equipment was an important part of the support . Light weaponry was also supplied. The Mobrig furthermore received US training in counter-insurgency and "intensive anti-Communist training," both domestically, in the US and in bases on the Philippines87.

The US intentions behind the training were to make sure the Mobrig remained an anti-Communist bulwark, siding with the army in eventual conflict with the PKI. As a result, virtually all higher Mobrig officers had gone through US counterinsurgency training by 1965.88 The trainees included the Minister of Police and the Chief of Police. In comparison, only one third of the army officers had US training. Moreover, the Mobrig had, unlike several Military units, no foreign training besides the American, and their equipment were predominantly of US origin.

Later recounts have often confused the concepts of civic action, Mobrig, counterinsurgency and CIA operations. Then again, at least the civic action and Mobrig support had close connections from the US side, and could easily be seen as to variants of the same effort. In Indonesia, however, there were at times noteworthy differences between the receivers: Mobrig and the army. The two different counterinsurgency training operations probably also had some sort of connection with the CIA. It was the same 5412 Special Group which coordinated civic action as oversaw CIA covert actions.89 However, counterinsurgency after 1961 was in general not a CIA responsibility and both the Indonesian army and Mobrig probably would have strong sentiments against any programs involving CIA after the 1958 rebellion. And for the Administration, the wishes of the army and General Nasution were among the most important local considerations when shaping the military part of the double strategy.

Immediately after the West Irian crisis had been solved, Kennedy decided to use the opportunity to launch a grand, new unified strategy for US policy towards Indonesia, specifically argued and outlined in a plan of action. The US strategy were now two-thronged, and consisted of one offensive and one defensive scheme. The offensive scheme relied on economic measures, and utilized the Humphrey report and a new IMF-plan for economic stabilization to influence Indonesian alignment and foreign policy. The economic program were on one side a program aimed at changing the very structure of Indonesian economic life, through its reliance on the Humphrey report and the IMF stabilization plan, which worked according to one specific model for economic growth and presupposed a Westernized economic system. On the other it was a program directed personally at Sukarno, to influence him and adapted to his personality. The stated prime objective behind the overall economic program and the underlying aid programs was to turn Sukarno’s attention away from aggressive foreign policy and into constructive economic policy, using a tacit stick-and-carrot strategy. Both the systemic and the personal results would help keep the PKI in bay, although the administration thought it unlikely that Indonesia would become a reliable partner in international affairs. Supplemental reasons for the aid programs was given to the Congress, to the Indonesian and to the aid workers. While the overall objectives behind the economic program were political, the scheduled implementation of the program was characterized by both economic soundness and idealism.

The defensive part of the action plan was at the conception nicknamed the toehold plan, and its primary objective was to keep an American foothold in Indonesia, to keep the door open. An important reason given for this open door policy was to maintain contact with the anticommunist Indonesian elements and future leaders, particularly in the Indonesian military. The US expected a major confrontation between the PKI and the anti-Communists in the near future, and hence it was vital the anti-Communists knew that they had the support of the US. Central to keep contact with the right-wing elements were a military aid program, and particularly a civic action program, which had the important additional benefit of strengthening the army against the PKI. Also, the US provided supplies and extensive counterinsurgency training to the federal police force Mobrig, which in US eyes were the first line against communist subversion in Indonesia.

Hence, the US The upcoming months became critical in implementing the new American strategy. On one hand, Sukarno and the Indonesians had to be convinced to approve the IMF plan. On the other, the Congress had to be persuaded to accept the AID program, the military aid programs and to fund the IMF-plan. These questions dominated US-Indonesian affairs from late 1962 through the summer of 1963. In the heated core, somewhat unexpectedly, ended the oil negotiations.


Action Implementation and Petroleum Problems

"we wanted not so much to make history
but to keep history from being made"
Abram Chayes


Since 1951, Indonesian Government had held a freeze on new petroleum concession, while developing a new oil policy.90 Using his emergency powers, Sukarno finally signed a new petroleum law in 1960, and Parliament ratified the new "Oil and Mining Law No. 44" in 1961. In accordance with the 1945 Constitutions call for nationalization of natural resources, the new law established the principle that "oil and natural gas mining is only conducted by the State and the State Company is authorized to engage in oil mining on behalf on the State." 91 The principle was not new. Since independence, the US oil companies had been doing business based on "let alone"-agreements, agreements which postponed the impending threat of nationalization while requiring the oil companies to adjust by including more local employees and training local expertise, as well as a fifty-fifty tax arrangements. The freeze in concessions had hindered further development of petroleum resources, although not stopped existing exploitation. Stanvac and Shell-refineries also suffered from low input of crude. When the new oil law was adopted, both companies already imported foreign oil to their refineries in order to keep up production.

The new law rocked the established status-quo of "let alone"-agreements and opened it for changes. The Indonesian government started negotiations with the three major Western oil companies, Stanvac, Caltex and Shell. Shortly after, two new State oil companies were founded, namely Pertamin and Permigan. The two new companies supplemented the existing and army dominated State company founded in 1957, Permina. Permina had been granted the run down oil fields vacant after the Japanese occupation, and exported its first crude to the United States from these fields in 1958.

Permina also worked to release itself from dependency on American companies: In 1962, Permina had established an independent oil academy, and they furthermore sought alternative Japanese investments.92. The Japanese on their part initiated a conscious effort to get back into the Indonesian oil production scene. 93 Behind the Japanese effort were mainly concerns about their current reliance on Middle-Eastern petroleum. 94 Japan was already now the largest receiver of crude exports from Indonesia. 95 For the Western companies, the combination of Japanese involvement, the new laws and the general political situation made the future seem uncertain. Hesitant and slow-moving, the negotiations between the government of Indonesia and the oil companies kept going for over two years without significant results.

In the beginning of March 1963, the Indonesian Government took action. An extensive list of demands were presented to the three major foreign oil companies, and the Government demanded an answer within only a few days.96 Unless the companies accepted the offer, the Government would "no longer consider itself bound" by previous understandings, indicating that terms then would be decided by decree. 97 At the same time, the Indonesians with Minister of Basic Industries Chaerul Saleh 98 in front, dropped hints on a Chinese offer to take over all the foreign licenses. 99 Not only did the Chinese want to take over, but smaller and upcoming US oil companies had allegedly stated their interest in the licenses as well.

The oil companies made this out to be an ultimatum, and reacted with full catastrophe alerts. To them, the demands were outrageous.100 The prospects were worst for Caltex: 101 In essence, Indonesia asked Caltex to provide the state’s refineries with all the crude needed by the state enterprises for domestic marketing. In relative numbers that would imply 53% of domestic crude consumption. The crude should be paid for by charging it as a "general over-all cost" of the Caltex-operation. All the surplus products made from the crude should be marketed abroad by Caltex, and the proceeds should be delivered to the state enterprises, less expenses. In addition, Caltex were to turn over all domestic distribution and marketing facilities during a ten years period. The turn-over should be financed from Caltex' export sales of crude. Furthermore, Caltex should provide all foreign currency required for expenses and capital investment by the state enterprises. Caltex should supply the state enterprises with all the petroleum products they needed as well, mainly kerosene, gasoline and fuel oil. Caltex were then to market the remaining crude elements. The should deliver proceeds to the state enterprise in foreign currency after a 60/40 formula, of which the 40% company share should be calculated in rupiah, not foreign currency.

The oil companies responded immediately by calling in the State Department and making the affair top-level politics.102 Governor Harriman, recently appointed Under-Secretary of State, immediately ordered ambassador Jones to talk with Indonesian authorities on the matter. 103 Only hours later Secretary Rusk followed up with a telegram to Jones, underlining the importance of the situation and stating the Caltex demands to be "without precedent and absolutely unreasonable." 104 Ambassador Jones should make it clear for the Indonesians that, speaking for the US Government alone, the demands threatened the whole stabilization effort and affected general US-Indonesian relations. The demands would force the oil companies out of business. Jones would make the points that hard currency from the oil receipts then would drastically be cut or eliminated altogether. The private investments in Indonesia, which stabilization relied on, would be severely reduced. Furthermore, the US would not "be able to muster the help from European countries which we hope to interest in rehabilitation of Indonesian economy." However, the US government would not enter the negotiations or recommend any special formulas. Reaching an agreement were the responsibility of the Indonesian Government and the respective oil companies.

Jones delivered these arguments to Minister of Basic Industries Chaerul Saleh the following day.105 The US position were, however, not as tough as the arguments indicated: The arguments were a bluff meant to counter what the embassy regarded as an Indonesian bluff. The Indonesian "ultimatum," in the ambassador's eyes, was nothing more than a starting point for negations. Its intention was to force forward a counter demand. In Indonesian style, the demands were far beyond what the Government expected to achieve, and as Chaerul Saleh, immediately said when confronted with the surprisingly strong US reaction: "not all that serious." 106 The US response was, however also a calculated overreaction: However important the oil contracts were, the overall strategy of the Action Plan was more important. The real danger lay in a scenario where the disagreements on oil issues disrupted the whole American plan for Indonesia. 107

The US oil companies were not as perceptive. Failing to provide the expected quick response, the negotiations soured for Stanvac and Caltex.108 The embassy got reinforcement in oil expertise from Washington, and continued to monitor the situation and have conversations with Sukarno, Saleh and others, gradually increasing the emphasis on how serious the situation was for US-Indonesian relations. However, they still kept out of the very negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Clay report, a publicly known report made to the State Department, had insulted the Indonesians.109 Harriman slowed the emotional spin by assuring the House of Representatives publicly that Sukarno certainly was no communist and the Assistant Secretary defended forwarding aid—much to Sukarno's pleasure and the relief of both oil negotiators and those working for the implementation of the IMF plan in Indonesia. 110

From the Soviet and Chinese side, diplomatic activity were in a flurry as well. The Soviets sent Defense Minister Malinovsky on a good-will trip. The trip was originally a courtesy return after Nasution’s June 1962 visit to Moscow, but became more important due to the fragility of the situation. Among other things, military supply promises were made and Malinovsky "off the cuff" encouraged further Indonesian territorial expansion.111 Shortly after, China followed up with a more highly profiled visit by Liu Shaoqi.

To the US, the two trips demonstrated the that the pro-Chinese faction of PKI were winning out over Aidit and the Soviet-minded.112 The same shift seemed to apply for the Indonesian Government, State Department concluded, the whole Djakarta political milieu seemed to turn increasingly towards China. 113 The Americans speculated that China on its side probably sought Indonesian oil and resources to lessen their dependence on the Soviet Union. 114 The US however doubted the credibility of the threatened immediate Chinese take-over of oil production, based on the simple fact that the Chinese lacked resources to do so. The Chinese did neither possess the proper expertise nor the necessary cargo ability and it would take years to build up refineries capable of handling waxy, Sumatran oil. Both the Indonesians and Americans were well aware of this. 115 Still, given a few years, the Chinese would have the means, and thus the possibility remained there and the State Department was in doubts over their conclusion. Also, in the wings, the Soviet seemed to have both the resources and ability to take over should the Chinese fail and Western companies still be ousted.

The Ambassador increased the pressure on Sukarno during April and into May. Rusk urged Jones to make sure that Sukarno was familiar with the Hickenloop amendment from Congress116. If the oil companies were ousted from Indonesia, the US had, after the amendment and precedence in Ceylon, no choice but to withdraw aid. The President held no discretionary power in such a situation. Still, the US were careful not to present any ultimatum on the matter. It was important that Sukarno felt the choice as his own, without undue external pressure. An ultimatum would surely lead to catastrophe, given Sukarno's history in similar situations. 117

On May 13., Sukarno finally signed the details of the economic stabilization plan for Indonesia, after agreeing to do so in late March.118 The plan was implemented already within the next two weeks, and adhered to the vital IMF guidelines The announcement was a major breakthrough for Washington. Among left-wing Indonesians, it was met with outrage and public outcry, and PKI mobilized in a massive effort to stop the plan. 119

There remained however the question of the oil licenses, on which the whole stabilization plan could fall. The very day after signing the stabilization plan, the Indonesian Government, "impatient of what it considered oil company intransigence," decided to forward an actual ultimatum. It took form of a regulation, known as "Regulation 18."120 The companies were told that if an agreement was not reached by June,15, the companies would be faced with the choice of liquidating their operation within five months or continue operation under whatever regulations the government unilaterally imposed. 121 Implicit in the ultimatum was that these regulations would be worse than the offers already made to the companies. The oil companies interpreted this as they would be out of business in Indonesia. On May 17, Caltex and Stanvac notified the American Government that they would "be forced to stop exporting oil from Indonesia as of June 15 unless a satisfactory agreement was reached [...] within that date." 122 They further informed that they had stopped negotiation and began planning evacuation of their employees and redirection of supplies. The evacuation would began in the first days of June. 123 Thus they de facto surrendered, forcing the government into action if it wanted to rescue US presence in the Indonesian petroleum industry.

The State Department did not hesitate to respond. Indeed, the situation seemed serious. The implementation of the stabilization scheme was already stirring the Indonesian public. The turmoil added to the general unrest caused by the economic situation.124 Riots and looting had started to spread. At the time the violence was mostly directed at ethnic Chinese and caused by, as of then, unknown instigators. At the same time, the Martial Law was winding up by May 1, and the army's grip on the populace loosened. If the oil companies were to cease their production, the situation would be dramatically worsened. In a matter of days, kerosene supplies would stop. The better part of the population would then be unable to heat rice, among other things, causing starvation. The social unrest and anti-Chinese violence would most likely turn into strong anti-American riots. 125 State Department and the Embassy considered the prospect dangerous for all American citizens in Indonesia, possibly forcing evacuation of all US installations. For Indonesia, there was no telling of what the following turmoil might lead to. The PKI might even use the situation to go for the power, but so could the army.

It was however even more worrying to the Far East Office that the Congress never would back the Administration's plans for Indonesia if the oil companies were "forced out" by Regulation 18.126 The whole stabilization effort rested on the promise of US aid. Even the Toehold plan were in danger, should a partial or full evacuation of US installations be necessary.

The issue rose immediately to Presidential level.127 National Security Council aide Michael Forrestal informed the President, and with Kennedy’s approval, Forrestal and Assistant Secretary Harriman implored and instructed Ambassador Jones to use the "full artillery" of possible implications to US-Indonesian relations. Knowing the ambassador's hesitation to use force on Sukarno, the instructions from State were detailed and unavoidable. 128 Jones argued that the oil companies yet another time had misunderstood the Indonesian's negotiation strategy. 129 The ultimatum were not much more serious than previous regulations. He reminded the Far East Office that previous regulations rarely had been enforced strictly. However, as long as the companies refused to accept the argumentation, Jones and the Administration had little choice but to turn to Sukarno personally.

Meanwhile, Kennedy ordered a personal emissary, Wilson Wyatt to go to Indonesia to handle the matter.130 Sukarno was about to leave the country for an extensive tour when Jones met him. The meeting was an immediate success. 131 Sukarno seemed unaware of Saleh's strategy and ultimatum, and waved off Jones' threats as unnecessary. The meeting ended up in a discussion on how to solve the situation. Sukarno, after some hesitation, agreed to meet with Kennedy’s emissary and a negotiation team consisting of Wyatt, Jones and other State Department officials. From the Indonesian side, Sukarno, Subandrio and Saleh would all take part at various times. Wyatt should intercept Sukarno during his travel in Tokyo.

The planned interception, concluded Jones, may have been the conclusive move that convinced Sukarno to accept immediate top-level negotiations.132 The flattering prospect of being intercepted by a personal emissary and close friend of Kennedy, merely to solve a political problem, was too appealing to refuse. Jones might very well have been right. Kennedy took further advantage of Sukarno's image of personal friendship in the letter Wyatt brought to Sukarno. 133 The letter included a reference to "a personal matter" which Wyatt should take up with Sukarno when they met. Thus, Wyatt was categorized into the personal circle where friendship mattered and some unspoken mutual worldview seemed implicit. This was, for Sukarno, a circle where only the Kennedy-family and Jones belonged among US officials. Sukarno now also had a personal reason for actually showing up to the appointed meeting: It was a matter of his friendship with Kennedy. Spicing the issue with mystery, Sukarno was not told exactly what private matters it was that they should discuss.

The Wyatt mission, or "Good Office Team,", arrived in Tokyo to the first meeting on May 29. Alongside Wilson Wyatt were Walter Levy for special expertise in oil business and Abram Chayes to backstop the operation. From the oil companies came various company executives. According to Jones reports, the first meeting with Sukarno, Saleh and Subandrio gave the negotiations a flying start:134 Wyatt managed to win Sukarno’s open admiration as well as friendship in a few inspired hours, providing a basis of cordiality. Walter Levy put forth the until-now missing element of realism, by putting the issue in a global and political context. Particularly, he emphasized the comparison with 60/40 profit sharing formulas from the Middle East and the need for competitive prices and production, alongside prospects of Indonesia as the "oil center of the Far East". 135 The mood were optimistic. During the day, it became clear that the top executives from the oil companies were flying in to Tokyo as well, after Wyatt had urged them to come. Sukarno was pleased by the company turn-out, and in both Jones’ and Wyatt’s opinion: "obviously pleased and flattered" by the direct Presidential attention and that a personal emissary were in charge.

The US team emphasized that their continued role were to provide "good offices," i.e. not as negotiators136 The team still played an active role versus both sides during the continued negotiations,. 137 The oil company executives were educated by Levy in how outrageous some of their demands was, both in the Indonesian and US Government’s eyes. Conversely, he explained the intricacies of the oil business to the Indonesians.


An agreement were reached on May 31, and publicly signed by the parties the next day. Both Sukarno and Kennedy issued brief statements to the success and to mutual good will. The State Department intervention had made remarkable success. In Michael Forrestal’s word, it was "the smoothest and quickest bit of preventive diplomacy that I have seen since coming [to Washington]" and "something which the Administration can boast about (...)"138.

The agreements were favorable to the oil companies, while giving Indonesian authorities the principal sovereignty they required. The details of the agreements were incorporated into "work contracts" ("Kontrak Karya"), with each of the three companies.139 The contracts were finally signed on September 25., 1963, enacted by the Indonesian Parliament some weeks later, and signed by Sukarno on November 28. Behind the contracts lay the principle that sovereignty of the natural resources was vested in the state until the point of sale. In practical application, each of the foreign companies relinquished their existing concessions and became contractors for the State companies: Stanvac for Permina, Caltex for Pertamin and Shell for Permigan. In addition, Panam entered as a new contractor for Pertamin.

The work contracts were of shorter duration than the concession had been, and covered small geographic areas.140 For the former concession areas, the companies obtained twenty-year exploitation contracts, while they received ten years in addition for exploration in designated new areas. The companies also committed themselves to explore and develop new areas. Furthermore, they would relinquish 25% of the areas after 5 years of exploration and another 25% after ten years. The profit split was set to 60–40 in favor of Indonesia, similar to Middle-eastern models. Signature bonuses and production bonuses were set to $5 million for each new area. The "realized price"-concept was kept for valuing the products, in favor of the oil companies. Apart from an option to take out 20% of the production, the foreign contractors got the exclusive sales rights for the state enterprises’ oil. The contractors also retained management control. However, they agreed to supply the Indonesian domestic market with both crude oil and refined products at cost plus fixed fees. Shell and Stanvac also agreed to sell their domestic distribution and marketing assets over a period of time.

In Indonesia, the reception of the agreements were mixed. Notably, Colonel Ibn Sutowo, president and director of the army-controlled oil company, Permina, opposed them and thought they brought little new to the status of concessions.141 To the US, however, it was an important diplomatic victory. The agreements not only saved US oil interests. First and foremost the Wyatt mission had saved the Indonesian stabilization effort and Western support for it. The agreements had made Congress support possible for military and economic aid to Indonesia. Thus it had kept the US inside Indonesia, and saved the Action Plan. Dramatic in its kind, it was a low-key effort that provided relief and raised hopes throughout the Administration for the coming months. The oil negotiations had once more showed how the administration could utilize the image of a close Kennedy-Sukarno relationship to secure its interests and maintain the systemic, economic part of the offensive US plan to move Indonesia westwards.


1962 started with the West Irian conflict escalating into armed clashes. John F. Kennedy, eager not to let the colonial conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands turn into a Cold War confrontation, decided to do two things: To pressure the Dutch into surrendering West Irian to Indonesian, and to use his brother, Robert Kennedy, to persuade Sukarno to enter negotiations. Robert Kennedy used formal pressure as well as personal appeals to fulfill his mission with Sukarno. In addition, Robert Kennedy helped substantially in the release of the death sentenced CIA bomber pilot Allen Pope, and he helped to perform a reality-check on the soundness of the new, seemingly Indonesia-friendly policy initiated by John Kennedy. The new policy prioritized Indonesia over the Netherlands in the West Irian issue and focussed on securing friends in Indonesia while outliving Sukarno. It originated with Ambassador Jones in Djakarta and had been promoted by the National Security Council staff for over a year. However, it had until now been counteracted by Rusk and the Europeanists in State Department. Harriman, the new Assistant Secretary for the Far East, became vital in implementing the "Jonesian" strategy.

    Ambassador Bunker of the US led the negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands. The administration used heavy diplomatic and political pressure to force the Dutch to surrender West Irian. When the Dutch caved in, the US still had to wave the 7th fleet to Sukarno and his Foreign Minister in order to assure Indonesian acceptance of the transfer. Hence, both countries were more or less forced to accept a peaceful transfer in August 1962, to the assumed dismay of the Soviets and the displayed joy of the Kennedy administration.

    Kennedy initiated immediately an Action Plan for Indonesia in order to take advantage of whatever goodwill the US intervention in the West Irian conflict had instilled. The Action Plan reappraised the American policy towards Indonesia on all levels, and unified them in one grand plan, consisting of two overall schemes. The first and aggressive scheme was economic and relied heavily on the report of the Humphrey survey team. The scheme concentrated on aid and was accompanied by an IMF economic stabilization plan for Indonesia. The prime objective behind aid was to turn Sukarno’s attention away from aggressive foreign policy and into constructive economic policy, using a stick-and-carrot strategy. This would help keep the PKI in bay, but was unlikely to make Indonesia wholly reliable. In addition, several less important supplemental reasons for the aid program were given to the Congress, to the Indonesians and the aid workers, both idealistic and cynical. Yet, the aid program itself displayed both soundness and idealism on the implementation level.

The other and defensive scheme was mostly military, and nicknamed "the toehold plan". The objective was to keep an American toehold in Indonesia in order to support local anticommunist forces. The primary mean was to befriend important military and civil leaders. Military aid was mostly token and given as symbols of friendship. A civic action program to strengthen the army in the countryside was the most important single program, modeled after general Nasution’s wishes. Also, the US provided supplies and extensive counterinsurgency training to the federal police force Mobrig. The reasoning behind the toehold plan was simple: The US expected an upcoming confrontation between the communist and anticommunist forces in Indonesia. When that confrontation came, it was vital that every anticommunist knew that the US was behind him all the way. In order to secure this toehold of sympathy, it was vital that the US kept a presence in Indonesia while waiting for the coming confrontation or death of Sukarno.

The next big step for the US was to implement the action plan. The first major challenge arrived when negotiations between the American oil companies and Indonesia collapsed in winter 1963. The Indonesian Government threatened full nationalization of petroleum, while the oil companies fatalistically prepared for evacuation. If the companies evacuated, the US would be forced to withdraw their aid, in line with a new Congressional decision. Hence, the action plan would shortly be crippled. In addition, an evacuation would cause social disturbances and probably even starvation in Indonesia, paving the way for anti-American riots and PKI exploitation. The IMF program’s fresh austerity reforms were already causing social unrest and fervent opposition.

Kennedy intervened after State Departments initial efforts went unsuccessful. He once more sent a personal emissary to Sukarno, and by appealing to the personal bond between the two, convinced Sukarno to enter negotiations with the oil companies in Tokyo. The negotiations were facilitated by Kennedy’s emissary Wilson Wyatt. In a few days, an agreement was signed in what the administration proudly claimed to be among the most impressive work of preventive diplomacy they had seen. Hence, the action plan was back in track by summer 1963 and the Kennedy administration could optimistically continue to pursue their double Indonesian strategy.


1 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 242, Memo, Komer to Kennedy, February 28, 1962
2 Walt Rostow (interviewee), recorded interview by Richard Neustadt (interviewer), April 11, 1964, [p50/89],Oral History Program, JFK Library
3 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 228, Telcon, Ball-Kennedy, February 12, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 230, Embtel 1445 (Djakarta), February 14, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 234, Telcon, Ball-M. Bundy, February 15, 1962
4 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 223, Memo, Kaysen to M. Bundy, January 28, 1961; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 227, Embtel 1424 (Djakarta), eyes only Rusk and Kennedy, February 12, 1962
5 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 225, Memo, Komer to Kaysen, February 2, 1962
6 Ibid.
7 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 226, Deptel 239 (Singapore), February 10, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 242, Memo, Komer to Kennedy, February 28, 1962, fn 2
8 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 228, Telcon, Ball-Kennedy, February 12, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 234, Telcon, Ball-M. Bundy, February 15, 1962
9 John Seigenthaler (interviewee), recorded interview by Ronald J. Grele (interviewer), February 23, 1966, Oral History Program, JFK Library, p. 523; Howard P, Jones (interviewee), recorded interview by Dennis O’Brien (interviewer), June 23, 1969(March 20, 1970, April 9, 1970, Oral History program, JFK Library, p41
10 Ibid.
11 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 235, Deptel 922 (Djakarta), February 15, 1962
12 Schlesinger1978: p615
13 A brief recount of the events in the case of Alexander Popes can be found in Jones 1971: pp. 141–143, while a more candid version is detailed in Gardner 1997: pp. 154–167
14 Gardner 1995: 145-162
15 Jones 1971: 141
16 Schlesinger 1978: p616
17 Jones 1971: 141
18 FRUS 1961–63 XVII, "Indonesia 1958–1960": #294
19 John Seigenthaler (interviewee), recorded interview by Ronald J. Grele (interviewer), February 23, 1966, Oral History Program, JFK Library, pp529–539
20 Ibid.
21 Ibid.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid.
24 Ibid.
25 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 236, Embtel 1496 (Djakarta), February 20, 1962
26 Schlesinger1978: p618
27 Charles Baldwin (interviewee), recorded interview by Dennis J. O Brien (interviewer), March, 1969, Oral History Program, JFK Library, p41
28 Dr. Joseph M. A. H. Luns, (interviewee), recorded interview by Murrey Marder (interviewer), January 18, 1965, Oral History program, JFK Library, pp7–8, 26
29 Howard P, Jones (interviewee), recorded interview by Dennis O’Brien (interviewer), June 23, 1969(March 20, 1970, April 9, 1970, Oral History program, JFK Library, p48
30 Charles Baldwin (interviewee), recorded interview by Dennis J. O Brien (interviewer), March, 1969, Oral History Program, JFK Library, p41
31 Howard P, Jones (interviewee), recorded interview by Dennis O’Brien (interviewer), June 23, 1969(March 20, 1970, April 9, 1970, Oral History program, JFK Library, p34–36
32 Ibid. Jones knew several of the staffers in State and White House, besides having discussed Indonesia with Kennedy while JFK still was a senator. It should be noticed that Jones originally had been appointed ambassador to China in 1958, but voluntarily agreed to step in on short notice as ambassador to Indonesia during the crisis, as the most knowledgeable person in the administration on Indonesia. He thus held considerable clout among the career diplomats in State as well.
33 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 257, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, April 5, 1962.
34 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 242, Memo, Komer to Kennedy, February 28, 1962, source comment
35 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 242, Memo, Komer to Kennedy, February 28, 1962, fn. 2
36 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 240, Memo, Tyler to Rusk, February 27, 1962
37 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 242, Memo, Komer to Kennedy, February 28, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 245, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, March 3 1962
38 The State Department’s memorandum of the meeting confirms the base story, with modifications on details and in more moderate phrasing. It does not mention the reference to war between the US and the Netherlands nor Luns threats referred to by .... (FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 244, Memo of conversation, US: President Kennedy, Tyler (EUR), Amb Rice, Beaudry, NL: Luns, van Roijen, March 2,1962)
39 Dr. Joseph M. A. H. Luns, (interviewee), recorded interview by Murrey Marder (interviewer), January 18, 1965, Oral History program, JFK Library, pp. 10–11
40 Other sources do not confirm that Kennedy liked the situation. To the Dutch, Rusk expressed that Kennedy was most uncomfortable with what had happened. Rusk and the aides were also disturbed by the episode.
41 Rostow, pp. 88–89
42 Dr. Joseph M. A. H. Luns, (interviewee), recorded interview by Murrey Marder (interviewer), January 18, 1965, Oral History program, JFK Library, p. 13; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 244, Memo of conversation, US: President Kennedy, Tyler (EUR), Amb Rice, Beaudry, NL: Luns, van Roijen, March 2,1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 245, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, March 3 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 249, Deptel 1025 (Djakarta), March 14, 1962
43 Ellsworth Bunker was former Ambassador to Argentina, Italy and India, and one of the few Americans which both parties could agree on. (FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 248, Deptel 767 (Den Haag), March 12, 1962)
44 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 248, Deptel 767 (Den Haag), March 12, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 251, Deptel 1073 (Djakarta), March 24, 1962; Howard P, Jones (interviewee), recorded interview by Dennis O’Brien (interviewer), June 23, 1969(March 20, 1970, April 9, 1970, Oral History program, JFK Library, p42
45 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 250, Deptel 1052 (Djakarta), March 21, 1962, FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 251, Deptel 1073 (Djakarta), March 24, 1962, FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 252, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, March 28, 1962;FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 254, Deptel 841 (Den Haag), March 29, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 256, Embtel 749 (Den Haag), April 3, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 258, Memo of conversation, US: Rusk, Harriman, Tyler, Stone (WE), NL: van Roijen, Schiff, Huydecoper, April 17, 196
46 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 257, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, April 5, 1962.; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 260, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, April 24, 1962
47 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 262, Deptel 46 (to Rusk at Athens), May 2, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 265, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, May 12, 1962
48 It is unsure to what degree MacMillan actually took part in pressuring the Dutch.
49 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 262, Deptel 46 (to Rusk at Athens), May 2, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 265, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, May 12, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 266, Memo, Komer to Kennedy, May 17, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 268, Memo, Komer to Kaysen, May 22, 1962
50 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 270, Memo, Rusk to Kennedy, May 23, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 271, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, May 28, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 274, Memo, Rusk to Kennedy, July 10, 1962
51 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 280, Memo, Rusk to Kennedy, July 26, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 281, Memo of conversation, US: Rusk, Harriman, Tyler, Wallner, Stone, NL: van Roijen, Schiff, July 26, 1962, Attachment
52 Walt Rostow (interviewee), recorded interview by Richard Neustadt (interviewer), April 11, 1964, Oral History Program, JFK Library, p. 89; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 280, Memo, Rusk to Kennedy, July 26, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 281, Memo of conversation, US: Rusk, Harriman, Tyler, Wallner, Stone, NL: van Roijen, Schiff, July 26, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 284, Deptel 132 (Djakarta), August 2, 1962; FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 285, Embtel 207 (Djakarta), August 3, 1962
53 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 282, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, July 30, 1962
54 Schlesinger 1978: p. 615
55 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 285, Embtel 207 (Djakarta), August 3, 1962
56 FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 283, Memo, Komer to M. Bundy, August 1, 1962
57 NSAM 179 (FRUS 287)
58 Ibid.
59 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library
60 "Ibid. , p4
61 Mackie 1967: p.
62 The plan and programs are outlined in Report, "House Foreign Affairs Committee Briefing on Indonesia 8/8/63", "DoS, 60–66, Congressional Relations, 63–64", August 8 1963, Thomson papers, box 5, JFK Library, pp4–8 ; and "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, pp. 6–12
63 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, p.
64 Ibid.
65 Mortimer 1974: p. ..;
66 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, Encl.6, p3
67 See also FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 182, Deptel 126 (Djakarta), August 3, 1961
68 For instance the oil companies (FRUS 1961–63 XXIII: 184, Telcon, Ball-McConaughy, August 25, 1961)
69 Report, "House Foreign Affairs Committee Briefing on Indonesia 8/8/63", "DoS, 60–66, Congressional Relations, 63–64", August 8 1963, Thomson papers, box 5, JFK Library
70 The following chapter is mainly reliant on "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, pp6–12
71 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, p7
72 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, pp. 7–8
73 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, pp. 8–12
74 Mackie 1967: pp36–41
75 Nasakom is a shortcut for nationalist-religious-communist. A possible Nasakom-cabinet would, besides the nationalists and religious parties, include communist leaders, and accordingly it was a very touchy political issue for all parties. Cf chapter 3, subchapter "Feil! Fant ikke referansekilden."
76 Embtel 1333 (Djakarta), March 2, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
77 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, pp. 8–12
78 The phrase "toehold" was from 1963 replaced by terms like "foothold", "open door" and "continued contact".
79 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, p. 6
80 The different "civic action"-schemes of 1961–62 were usually run under the auspices of the 5412 Special Group (CI) under general Maxwell Taylor. The group also supervised CIA covert actions, and with diligence after the Bay of Pigs. Education and training were placed under Fort Bragg, and included training of the "Green Berets", i.e. the Special Forces. civic action was a baby of Robert Kennedy’s, Walt Rostow’s and Roger Hilsman’s, among others. In many ways it continued the recently constricted subversive role of CIA, focussing on training of local police forces besides building civil anticommunist forces and sentiments. The most known civic action efforts outside Indonesia were in Latin-America. (Schlesinger 1978: pp. 498–503)
81 "Plan of Action for Indonesia", October 10, 1962, "SEA 61–66/Plan of A. for Indon. (NSAM 179)", Box 22, Thomson papers, JFK Library, p. 7
82 Bruce 1986: p. 473
83 Ibid.
84 Ibid.
85 Ibid., p474
86 Bruce 1983, p. 369
87 Bruce 1983, p. 368
88 See footnote
89 Carlson 1976, pp11–12
90 Carlson 1976: p12
91 Carlson 1976: p13
92 Morrow 1975: pp184–185
93 Carlson 1976: pp9–10
94 See chapter 1, "Feil! Fant ikke referansekilden."
95 Deptel 823 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
96 Deptel 825 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
97 Chaerul Saleh had a somewhat special relationship with Sukarno. He was the very man who had held the gun to Sukarno's head in 1945 when the revolutionary Pemuda youth forced him to sign the Indonesian Declaration of Independence.
98 Deptel 818 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library; Deptel 860 (Djakarta), March 18, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
99 Ibid.
100 Deptel 823 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library;Deptel 825 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
101 Deptel 823 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
102 Deptel 823 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
103 Deptel 824 (Djakarta), March 6, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
104 Embtel 1368 (Djakarta),March 9, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
105 Ibid.
106 Deptel 860 (Djakarta), March 18, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
107 Embtel 1446 (Djakarta), March 22, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
108 Embtel 1544 (Djakarta), April 7, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library,
109 Embtel 1407 (Djakarta), March 14, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library; Embtel 1544 (Djakarta), April 7, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
110 CIA telegram, Info report DB-3/654,272, Indonesia/USSR, April 19, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
111 CIA telegram, Info report DB-3/654,272, Indonesia/USSR, April 19, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
112 Deptel 958 (Djakarta), April 23, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
113 Deptel 860 (Djakarta), March 18, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library, p2
114 Embtel 1368 (Djakarta),March 9, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
115 Deptel 1020 (Djakarta), May 14, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
116 Embtel 1787 (Djakarta) May 16, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
117 Embtel 1804 (Djakarta) May 18, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
118 For further treatment of the stabilization effort, see Chapter 3, "Feil! Fant ikke referansekilden.", p. *
119 Jones 1971: quoted in Carlson 1976: p14
120 Embtel 1787 (Djakarta) May 16, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
121 Carlson 1976: p15
122 Deptel 1037 (Djakarta), handwritten note for President at ending, May 18, 1963, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
123 Deptel 1082 (Djakarta), May 27, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
124 Deptel 1055 (Djakarta), May 22, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library; Embtel 1872 (Djakarta) May 23, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library; Deptel 1082 (Djakarta), May 27, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
125 Memo, Forrestal to Kennedy, May 18, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
126 Memo, Forrestal to Kennedy, May 18, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
127 Ibid., deptel 1037–63
128 Embtel 1817 (Djakarta) May 18, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
129 Deptel (Djakarta) (date and number not enclosed), part 2 Terms of reference for W. Wyatt, May 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
130 Embtel 1865 (Djakarta), May 22, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
131 Ibid.
132 Note, Thomson to M Bundy, February 2 1962, "Southeast Asia 1961–63", "General 1961–63",box 21, Thomson papers, JFK Library
133 Embtel 2868 (Tokyo), May 29, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
134 Embtel 2869 (Tokyo), May 29, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
135 Embtel 2871 (Tokyo), May 29, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14, JFK Library
136 Memo, Forrestal to O’Donnell, June 5, 1963, Indonesia, CF, NSF, Box 14a, JFK Library
137 Ibid.
138 Carlson 1976: pp14–19
139 Ibid.
140 Carlson 1976: p17


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