Minggu, 01 Juli 2012

......Ex-agents say CIA compiled death lists for Indonesians....????>>>>...After 25 years, Americans speak of their role in exterminating Communist Party The U.S. government played a significant role in one of the worst massacres of the century by supplying the names of thousands of Communist Party leaders to the Indonesian army, which hunted down the leftists and killed them, former U.S. diplomats say. For the first time, U.S. officials acknowledge that in 1965 they systematically compiled comprehensive lists of Communist operatives, from top echelons down to village cadres. As many as 5,000 names were furnished to the Indonesian army, and the Americans later checked off the names of those who had been killed or captured, according to the U.S. officials. The killings were part of a massive bloodletting that took an estimated 250,000 lives. The purge of the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) was part of a U.S. drive to ensure that Communists did not come to power in the largest country in Southeast Asia, where the United States was already fighting an undeclared war in Vietnam. Indonesia is the fifth most-populous country in the world. Silent for a quarter-century, former senior U.S. diplomats and CIA officers described in lengthy interviews how they aided Indonesian President Suharto, then army leader, in his attack on the PKI. “It really was a big help to the army,” said Robert J. Martens, a former member of the U.S. Embassy’s political section who is now a consultant to the State Department. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.” White House and State Department spokesmen declined comment on the disclosures. ...>>>...Approval for the release of the names came from the top U.S. Embassy officials, including former Ambassador Marshall Green, deputy chief of mission Jack Lydman and political section chief Edward Masters, the three acknowledged in interviews. Declassified embassy cables and State Department reports from early October 1965, before the names were turned over, show that U.S. officials knew Suharto had begun roundups of PKI cadres, and that the embassy had unconfirmed reports that firing squads were being formed to kill PKI prisoners. Former CIA Director William Colby, in an interview, compared the embassy’s campaign to identify the PKI leadership to the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam. In 1965, Colby was the director of the CIA’s Far East division and was responsible for directing U.S. covert strategy in Asia. “That’s what I set up in the Phoenix Program in Vietnam — that I’ve been kicked around for a lot,” he said. “That’s exactly what it was. It was an attempt to identify the structure” of the Communist Party. ..???>>>


Ex-agents say CIA compiled death lists for Indonesians

May 15, 2009
http://bigconspiracies.wordpress.com/category/pki/
 

“…in four months, five times as many people died in Indonesia as in Vietnam in twelve years.”– 
Bertrand Russell, 1966
 
After 25 years, Americans speak of their role in exterminating Communist Party
The U.S. government played a significant role in one of the worst massacres of the century by supplying the names of thousands of Communist Party leaders to the Indonesian army, which hunted down the leftists and killed them, former U.S. diplomats say. 
For the first time, U.S. officials acknowledge that in 1965 they systematically compiled comprehensive lists of Communist operatives, from top echelons down to village cadres. As many as 5,000 names were furnished to the Indonesian army, and the Americans later checked off the names of those who had been killed or captured, according to the U.S. officials. 
The killings were part of a massive bloodletting that took an estimated 250,000 lives.
The purge of the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) was part of a U.S. drive to ensure that Communists did not come to power in the largest country in Southeast Asia, where the United States was already fighting an undeclared war in Vietnam. Indonesia is the fifth most-populous country in the world.
Silent for a quarter-century, former senior U.S. diplomats and CIA officers described in lengthy interviews how they aided Indonesian President Suharto, then army leader, in his attack on the PKI.
“It really was a big help to the army,” said Robert J. Martens, a former member of the U.S. Embassy’s political section who is now a consultant to the State Department. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.”
White House and State Department spokesmen declined comment on the disclosures.
Although former deputy CIA station chief Joseph Lazarsky and former diplomat Edward Masters, who was Martens’ boss, said CIA agents contributed in drawing up the death lists, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said, “There is no substance to the allegation that the CIA was involved in the preparation and/or distribution of a list that was used to track down and kill PKI members. It is simply not true.”
Indonesian Embassy spokesman Makarim Wibisono said he had no personal knowledge of events described by former U.S. officials. “In terms of fighting the Communists, as far as I’m concerned, the Indonesian people fought by themselves to eradicate the Communists,” he said.
Martens, an experienced analyst of communist affairs, headed an embassy group of State Department and CIA officers that spent two years compiling the lists. He later delivered them to an army intermediary.
People named on the lists were captured in overwhelming numbers, Martens said, adding, “It’s a big part of the reason the PKI has never come back.”
The PKI was the third-largest Communist Party in the world, with an estimated 3 million members. Through affiliated organizations such as labor and youth groups it claimed the loyalties of another 17 million.
In 1966 the Washington Post published an estimate that 500,000 were killed in the purge and the brief civil war it triggered. In a 1968 report, the CIA estimated there had been 250,000 deaths, and called the carnage “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”
 
U.S. Embassy approval
Approval for the release of the names came from the top U.S. Embassy officials, including former Ambassador Marshall Green, deputy chief of mission Jack Lydman and political section chief Edward Masters, the three acknowledged in interviews. 
Declassified embassy cables and State Department reports from early October 1965, before the names were turned over, show that U.S. officials knew Suharto had begun roundups of PKI cadres, and that the embassy had unconfirmed reports that firing squads were being formed to kill PKI prisoners.
Former CIA Director William Colby, in an interview, compared the embassy’s campaign to identify the PKI leadership to the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Vietnam. In 1965, Colby was the director of the CIA’s Far East division and was responsible for directing U.S. covert strategy in Asia.
“That’s what I set up in the Phoenix Program in Vietnam — that I’ve been kicked around for a lot,” he said. “That’s exactly what it was. It was an attempt to identify the structure” of the Communist Party.
Phoenix was a joint U.S.-South Vietnamese program set up by the CIA in December 1967 that aimed at neutralizing members of the National Liberation Front, the Vietcong political cadres. It was widely criticized for alleged human rights abuses.
 
“You shoot them”
“The idea of identifying the local apparatus was designed to — well, you go out and get them to surrender, or you capture or you shoot them,” Colby said of the Phoenix Program. “I mean, it was a war, and they were fighting. So it was really aimed at providing intelligence for operations rather than a big picture of the thing.” 
In 1962, when he took over as chief of the CIA’s Far East division, Colby said he discovered the United States did not have comprehensive lists of PKI activists. Not having the lists “could have been criticized as a gap in the intelligence system,” he said, adding they were useful for “operation planning” and provided a picture of how the party was organized. Without such lists, he said, “you’re fighting blind.”
Asked if the CIA had been responsible for sending Martens, a foreign service officer, to Jakarta in 1963 to compile the lists, Colby said, “Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe we did it. I’ve forgotten.”
The lists were a detailed who’s-who of the leadership of the party of 3 million members, Martens said. They included names of provincial, city and other local PKI committee members, and leaders of the “mass organizations,” such as the PKI national labor federation, women’s and youth groups.
 
Better information
“I know we had a lot more information” about the PKI “than the Indonesians themselves,” Green said. Martens “told me on a number of occasions that … the government did not have very good information on the Communist setup, and he gave me the impression that this information was superior to anything they had.”
Masters, the embassy’s political section chief, said he believed the army had lists of its own, but they were not as comprehensive as the American lists. He said he could not remember whether the decision to release the names had been cleared with Washington.
The lists were turned over piecemeal, Martens said, beginning at the top of the communist organization. Martens supplied thousands of names to an Indonesian emissary over a number of months, he said. The emissary was an aide to Adam Malik, an Indonesian minister who was an ally of Suharto in the attack on the Communists.
Interviewed in Jakarta, the aide, Tirta Kentjana (“Kim”) Adhyatman, confirmed he had met with Martens and received lists of thousands of names, which he in turn gave to Malik. Malik passed them on to Suharto’s headquarters, he said.
 
“Shooting list”
Embassy officials carefully recorded the subsequent destruction of the PKI organization. Using Martens’ lists as a guide, they checked off names of captured and assassinated PKI leaders, tracking the steady dismantling of the party apparatus, former U.S. officials said.
Information about who had been captured and killed came from Suharto’s headquarters, according to Joseph Lazarsky, deputy CIA station chief in Jakarta in 1965. Suharto’s Jakarta headquarters was the central collection point for military reports from around the country detailing the capture and killing of PKI leaders, Lazarsky said.
“We were getting a good account in Jakarta of who was being picked up,” Lazarsky said. “The army had a ‘shooting list’ of about 4,000 or 5,000 people.”
Detention centers were set up to hold those who were not killed immediately.
“They didn’t have enough goon squads to zap them all, and some individuals were valuable for interrogation,” Lazarsky said. “The infrastructure was zapped almost immediately. We knew what they were doing. We knew they would keep a few and save them for the kangaroo courts, but Suharto and his advisers said, if you keep them alive, you have to feed them.”
Masters, the chief of the political section, said, “We had these lists” constructed by Martens, “and we were using them to check off what was happening to the party, what the effect” of the killings “was on it.”
Lazarsky said the checkoff work was also carried out at the CIA’s intelligence directorate in Washington.
Leadership destroyed
By the end of January 1966, Lazarsky said, the checked-off names were so numerous the CIA analysts in Washington concluded the PKI leadership had been destroyed.
“No one cared, as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered,” said Howard Federspiel, who in 1965 was the Indonesia expert at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. “No one was getting very worked up about it.”
Asked about the checkoffs, Colby said, “We came to the conclusion that with the sort of Draconian way it was carried out, it really set them” — the communists — “back for years.”
Asked if he meant the checkoffs were proof that the PKI leadership had been caught or killed, he said, “Yeah, yeah, that’s right, … the leading elements, yeah.” More from Kathy Kadane…

A Letter to the Editor, New York Review of Books, April 10, 1997
To the Editors:
I very much admired Ms. Laber’s piece on Indonesian politics and the origins of the Soeharto regime. In connection with her assertion that little is known about a CIA (or US) role in the 1965 coup and the army massacre that followed, I would like to make your readers aware of a compelling body of evidence about this that is publicly available, but the public access to it is little known.

It consists of a series of on-the-record, taped interviews with the men who headed the US embassy in Jakarta or were at high levels in Washington agencies in 1965. I published a news story based on the interviews in The Washington Post (“U.S. Officials’ Lists Aided Indonesian Bloodbath in ’60s,” May 21, 1990), and have since transferred the tapes, my notes, and a small collection of documents, including a few declassified cables on which the story was based, to the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C. The Archive is a nongovernmental research institute and library, located at the George Washington University. 
The former officials interviewed included Ambassador Marshall Green, Deputy Chief of Mission Jack Lydman, Political Counsellor (later Ambassador) Edward E. Masters, Robert Martens (an analyst of the Indonesian left working under Masters’ supervision), and (then) director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Far East division, William Colby.
The tapes, along with notes of conversations, show that the United States furnished critical intelligence — the names of thousands of leftist activists, both Communist and non-Communist — to the Indonesian Army that were then used in the bloody manhunt.
There were other details that illustrate the depth of US involvement and culpability in the killings which I learned from former top-level embassy officials, but have not previously published. For example, the US provided key logistical equipment, hastily shipped in at the last minute as Soeharto weighed the risky decision to attack. Jeeps were supplied by the Pentagon to speed troops over Indonesia’s notoriously bad roads, along with “dozens and dozens” of field radios that the Army lacked. As Ms. Laber noted, the US (namely, the Pentagon) also supplied “arms.” Cables show these were small arms, used for killing at close range.
The supply of radios is perhaps the most telling detail. They served not only as field communications but also became an element of a broad, US intelligence-gathering operation constructed as the manhunt went forward. According to a former embassy official, the Central Intelligence Agency hastily provided the radios — state-of-the-art Collins KWM-2s, high-frequency single-sideband transceivers, the highest-powered mobile unit available at that time to the civilian and commercial market. The radios, stored at Clark Field in the Philippines, were secretly flown by the US Air Force into Indonesia. They were then distributed directly to Soeharto’s headquarters — called by its acronym KOSTRAD — by Pentagon representatives. The radios plugged a major hole in Army communications: at that critical moment, there were no means for troops on Java and the out-islands to talk directly with Jakarta.

While the embassy told reporters the US had no information about the operation, the opposite was true. There were at least two direct sources of information. During the weeks in which the American lists were being turned over to the Army, embassy officials met secretly with men from Soeharto’s intelligence unit at regular intervals concerning who had been arrested or killed. In addition, the US more generally had information from its systematic monitoring of Army radios. According to a former US official, the US listened in to the broadcasts on the US-supplied radios for weeks as the manhunt went forward, overhearing, among other things, commands from Soeharto’s intelligence unit to kill particular persons at given locations. 
The method by which the intercepts were accomplished was also described. The mobile radios transmitted to a large, portable antenna in front of KOSTRAD (also hastily supplied by the US — I was told it was flown in in a C-130 aircraft). The CIA made sure the frequencies the Army would use were known in advance to the National Security Agency. NSA intercepted the broadcasts at a site in Southeast Asia, where its analysts subsequently translated them. The intercepts were then sent on to Washington, where analysts merged them with reports from the embassy. The combined reporting, intercepts plus “human” intelligence, was the primary basis for Washington’s assessment of the effectiveness of the manhunt as it destroyed the organizations of the left, including, inter alia, the Indonesian Communist Party, the PKI.
A word about the relative importance of the American lists. It appears the CIA had some access prior to 1965 to intelligence files on the PKI housed at the G-2 section of the Indonesian Army, then headed by Major-General S. Parman. CIA officials had been dealing with Parman about intelligence concerning the PKI, among other matters, in the years prior to the coup, according to a former US official who was involved (Parman was killed in the coup). The former official, whose account was corroborated by others whom I interviewed, said that the Indonesian lists, or files, were considered inadequate by US analysts because they identified PKI officials at the “national” level, but failed to identify thousands who ran the party at the regional and municipal levels, or who were secret operatives, or had some other standing, such as financier.

When asked about the possible reason for this apparent inadequacy, former US Ambassador Marshall Green, in a December 1989 interview, characterized his understanding this way: 

I know that we had a lot more information than the Indonesians themselves…. For one thing, it would have been rather dangerous [for the Indonesian military to construct such a list] because the Communist Party was so pervasive and [the intelligence gatherers] would be fingered…because of the people up the line [the higher-ups, some of whom sympathized with the PKI]. In the [Indonesian] Air Force, it would have been lethal to do that. And probably that would be true for the police, the Marines, the Navy — in the Army, it depended. My guess is that once this thing broke, the Army was desperate for information as to who was who [in the PKI].

By the end of January 1966, US intelligence assessments comparing the American lists with the reports of those arrested or killed showed the Army had destroyed the PKI. The general attitude was one of great relief: “Nobody cared” about the butchery and mass arrests because the victims were Communists, one Washington official told me. 
– Kathy Kadane

Ford Country: Building an Elite for Indonesia

May 15, 2009
Author’s note: Much of the material appearing in this article was gathered in numerous personal interviews conducted between May 1968 and June 1970. The interviews were with a broad range of past and present members of the State Department and the Ford Foundation, faculty members at Harvard, Berkeley, Cornell, Syracuse, and the University of Kentucky, and Indonesians both supporting and opposing the Suharto government. Where possible, their names appear in the text. Other information in the article is derived from a wide reading of the available literature on the history and politics of Indonesia. Consequently, only those items are footnoted which directly quote or paraphrase a printed source In the early sixties, Indonesia was a dirty word in the world of capitalist development. Expropriations, confiscations and rampant nationalism led economists and businessmen alike to fear that the fabled riches in the Indies — oil, rubber and tin — were all but lost to the fiery Sukarno and the twenty million followers of the Peking-oriented Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
Then, in October 1965, Indonesia’s generals stepped in, turned their counterattack against an unsuccessful colonels’ coup into an anti-communist pogrom, and opened the country’s vast natural resources to exploitation by American corporations. By 1967, Richard Nixon was describing Indonesia as “the greatest prize in the Southeast Asian area.”1 If Vietnam has been the major postwar defeat for an expanding American empire, this turnabout in nearby Indonesia is its greatest single victory.
Needless to say, the Indonesian generals deserve a large share of credit for the American success. But standing at their side and overseeing the great give-away was an extraordinary team of Indonesian economists, all of them educated in the United States as part of a twenty year strategy by the world’s most powerful private aid agency, the billion-dollar Ford Foundation.
But the strategy for Indonesia began long before the Ford Foundation turned its attention to the international scene.
Following Japan’s defeat in World War II, revolutionary movements swept Asia, from India to Korea, from China to the Philippines. Many posed a threat to America’s well-planned Pax Pacifica. But Indonesian nationalists, despite tough resistance to the postwar invasion by Holland in its attempt to resume rule over the Indies, never carried their fight into a full-blown people’s war. Instead, leaders close to the West won their independence in Washington offices and New York living rooms. By 1949 the Americans had persuaded the Dutch to take action before the Indonesian revolution went too far, and then to learn to live with nationalism and like it. American diplomats helped draft an agreement that gave Indonesians their political independence, preserved the Dutch economic presence, and swung wide the Open Door to the new cultural and economic influence of the United States.
Among those who handled the diplomatic maneuvers in the U.S. were two young Indonesian aristocrats — Soedjatmoko (many Indonesians have only one name) and Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, an economist with a Ph.D. from Holland. Both were members of the upper-class, nominally socialist PSI, one of the smaller and more Western-oriented of Indonesia’s myriad political parties.
Distressed by the specter of Sukarno and the strong left wing of the Indonesian independence forces, the American Establishment found the bland nationalism offered by Soedjatmoko and Sumitro a most comfortable alternative. The Marshall Plan strategy for Europe depended on “the availability of the resources of Asia,” Soedjatmoko told a New York audience, and he offered them an Indonesia open to “fruitful cooperation with the West.”2 At the Ford Foundation-funded School of Advanced International Studies in Washington in early 1949, Sumitro explained that his kind of socialism included “free access” to Indonesian resources and “sufficient incentives” for foreign corporate investment.3
When independence came later that year, Sumitro returned to Djakarta to become minister of trade and industry (and later minister of finance and dean of the faculty of economics at the University of Djakarta). He defended an economic “stability” that favored Dutch investments and, carefully eschewing radicalism, went so far as to make an advisor of Hjalmar Schacht, economic architect of the Third Reich.
Sumitro found his support in the PSI and their numerically stronger “modernist” ally, the Masjumi Party, a vehicle of Indonesia’s commercial and landowning santri Moslems. But he was clearly swimming against the tide. The Communist PKI, Sukarno’s Nationalist PNI, the Army, the orthodox Moslem NU — everybody, in fact, but the PSI and Masjumi — were riding the wave of postwar nationalism. In the 1955 national elections — Indonesia’s first and last — the PSI polled a minuscule fifth place. It did worse in the local balloting of 1957, in which the Communist PKI emerged the strongest party.
Nevertheless, when Sukarno began nationalizing Dutch holdings in 1957, Sumitro joined Masjumi leaders and dissident Army commanders in the Outer Islands Rebellion, supported briefly by the CIA. It was spectacularly unsuccessful. From this failure in Sumatra and the Celebes, Sumitro fled to exile and a career as government and business consultant in Singapore. The PSI and the Masjumi were banned.
America’s Indonesian allies had colluded with an imperialist power to overthrow a popularly elected nationalist government, headed by a man regarded as the George Washington of his country — and they had lost. So ruinously were they discredited that nothing short of a miracle could ever restore them to power.
That miracle took a decade to perform, and it came outside the maneuvers of diplomacy, the play of party politics, even the invasion of American troops. Those methods, in Indonesia and elsewhere, had failed. The miracle came instead through the hallowed halls of academe, guided by the noble hand of philanthropy.
Education had long been an arm of statecraft, and it was Dean Rusk who spelled out its function in the Pacific in 1952, just months before resigning as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs to head up the Rockefeller Foundation. “Communist aggression” in Asia required not only that Americans be trained to combat it there, but “we must open our training facilities for increasing numbers of our friends from across the Pacific.”4
The Ford Foundation, under the presidency of Paul Hoffman (and working closely with the Rockefeller Foundation), moved quickly to apply Rusk’s words to Indonesia. As head of the Marshall Plan in Europe, Hoffman had helped to arrange Indonesian independence by cutting off aid funds to Dutch counterinsurgency and by threatening a total cutoff in aid to the Dutch. As the United States supplanted the Dutch, Hoffman and Ford would work through the best American universities — MIT, Cornell, Berkeley, and finally Harvard — to remold the old Indonesian hierarchs into modern administrators, trained to work under the new indirect rule of the Americans. In Ford’s own jargon, they would create a “modernizing elite.”
“You can’t have a modernizing country without a modernizing elite,” explains the deputy vice-president of Ford’s international division, Frank Sutton. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve given a lot of attention to university education.” Sutton adds that there’s no better place to find such an elite than among “those who stand somewhere in social structures where prestige, leadership, and vested interests matter, as they always do.”
Ford launched its effort to make Indonesia a “modernizing country” in 1954 with field projects from MIT and Cornell. The scholars produced by these two projects — one in economics, the other in political development — have effectively dominated the field of Indonesian studies in the United States ever since. Compared to what they eventually produced in Indonesia, however, this was a fairly modest achievement. Working through the Center for International Studies (the CIA-sponsored brainchild of Max Millikan and Walt W. Rostow), Ford sent out a team from MIT to discover “the causes of economic stagnation in Indonesia.” An interesting example of the effort was Guy Pauker’s study of “political obstacles” to economic development, obstacles such as armed insurgency.
In the course of his field work, Pauker got to know the high-ranking officers of the Indonesian Army rather well. He found them “much more impressive” than the politicians. “I was the first who got interested in the role of the military in economic development,” Pauker says. He also got to know most of the key civilians: “With the exception of a very small group,” they were “almost totally oblivious” of what Pauker called modern development. Not surprisingly, the “very small group” was composed of PSI aristocrat-intellectuals, particularly Sumitro and his students.
Sumitro, in fact, had participated in the MIT team’s briefings before they left Cambridge. Some of his students were also known by the MIT team, having attended a CIA-funded summer seminar run at Harvard each year by Henry Kissinger. One of the students was Mohammed Sadli, son of a well-to-do santri trader, with whom Pauker became good friends. In Djakarta, Pauker struck up friendships with the PSI clan and formed a political study group among whose members were the head of Indonesia’s National Planning Bureau, Ali Budiardjo, and his wife Miriam, Soedjatmoko’s sister.
Rumanian by birth, Pauker had helped found a group called “Friends of the United States” in Bucharest just after the Second World War. He then came to Harvard, where he got his degree. While many Indonesians have charged the professor with having CIA connections, Pauker denies that he was intimate with the CIA until 1958, after he joined the RAND Corporation. Since then, it is no secret that he briefs and is briefed by the CIA, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Highly placed Washington sources say he is “directly involved in decision-making.”
In 1954 — after the MIT team was in the field — Ford grubstaked a Modern Indonesia Project at Cornell. With an initial $224,000 and periodic replenishments, program chairman George Kahin built the social science wing of the Indonesian studies establishment in the United States. Even Indonesian universities must use Cornell’s elite-oriented studies to teach post-Independence politics and history.
Among the several Indonesians brought to Cornell on Ford and Rockefeller grants, perhaps the most influential is sociologist-politician Selosoemardjan. Right-hand man to the Sultan of Jogjakarta, Selosoemardjan is one of the strong-men of the present Indonesian regime.
Kahin’s political science group worked closely with Sumitro’s Faculty of Economics in Djakarta. “Most of the people at the university came from essentially bourgeois or bureaucratic families,” recalls Kahin. “They knew precious little of their society.” In a “victory” which speaks poignantly of the illusions of well-meaning liberals, Kahin succeeded in prodding them to “get their feet dirty” for three months in a village. Many would spend four years in the United States.
Together with Widjojo Nitisastro, Sumitro’s leading protégé, Kahin set up an institute to publish the village studies. It has never amounted to much, except that its American advisors helped Ford maintain its contact in the most difficult of the Sukarno days.
Kahin still thinks Cornell’s affair with Ford in Indonesia “was a fairly happy marriage” — less for the funding than for the political cover it afforded. “AID funds are relatively easy to get,” he explains. “But certainly in Indonesia, anybody working on political problems with [U.S.] government money during this period would have found their problem much more difficult.”
One of the leading academic Vietnam doves, Kahin has irritated the State Department on occasion, and many of his students are far more radical than he. Yet for most Indonesians, Kahin’s work was really not much different from Pauker’s. One man went on to teach-ins, the other to RAND and the CIA. But the consequences of their nation-building efforts in Indonesia were much the same.
MIT and Cornell made contacts, collected data, built up expertise. It was left to Berkeley to actually train most of the key Indonesians who would seize government power and put their pro-American lessons into practice. Dean Sumitro’s Faculty of Economics provided a perfect academic boot camp for these economic shock troops.
To oversee the project, Ford President Paul Hoffman tapped Michael Harris, a one-time CIO organizer who had headed Marshall Plan programs under Hoffman in France, Sweden, and Germany. Harris had been on a Marshall Plan survey in Indonesia in 1951, knew Sumitro, and before going out was extensively briefed by Sumitro’s New York promoter, Robert Delson, a Park Avenue attorney who had been Indonesia’s legal counsel in the United States since 1949. Harris reached Djakarta in 1955 and set out to build Dean Sumitro a broad new Ford-funded graduate program in economics.
This time the professional touch and academic respectability were to be provided by Berkeley. The Berkeley team’s first task was to replace the Dutch professors, whose colonial influence and capitalist economics Sukarno was trying to phase out. The Berkeley team would also relieve Sumitro’s Indonesian junior faculty so that Ford could send them back to Berkeley for advanced credentials. Sadli was already there, sharing a duplex with Pauker, who had come to head the new Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies. Sumitro’s protégé Widjojo led the first crew out to Berkeley.
While the Indonesian junior faculty studied American economics in Berkeley classrooms, the Berkeley professors turned the Faculty in Djakarta into an American-style school of economics, statistics, and business administration.
Sukarno objected. At an annual lecture to the Faculty, team member Bruce Glassburner recalls, Sukarno complained that “all those men can say to me is ‘Schumpeter and Keynes.’ When I was young I read Marx.” Sukarno might grumble and complain, but if he wanted any education at all he would have to take what he got. “When Sukarno threatened to put an end to Western economics,” says John Howard, long-time director of Ford’s International Training and Research Program, “Ford threatened to cut off all programs, and that changed Sukarno’s direction.”
The Berkeley staff also joined in the effort to keep Sukarno’s socialism and Indonesian national policy at bay. “We got a lot of pressure through 1958-1959 for ‘retooling’ the curriculum,” Glassburner recalls. “We did some dummying-up, you know — we put ‘socialism’ into as many course titles as we could — but really tried to preserve the academic integrity of the place.”
The project, which cost Ford $2.5 million, had a clear, and some times stated, purpose. “Ford felt it was training the guys who would be leading the country when Sukarno got out,” explains John Howard.
There was little chance, of course, that Sumitro’s minuscule PSI would outdistance Sukarno at the polls. But “Sumitro felt the PSI group could have influence far out of proportion to their voting strength by putting men in key positions in government,” recalls the first project chairman, a feisty Irish business professor named Len Doyle.
When Sumitro went into exile, his Faculty carried on. His students visited him surreptitiously on their way to and from the United States. Powerful Americans like Harry Goldberg, a lieutenant of labor boss Jay Lovestone (head of the CIO’s international program), kept in close contact and saw that Sumitro’s messages got through to his Indonesian friends. No dean was appointed to replace him; he was the “chairman in absentia.”
All of the unacademic intrigue caused hardly a ripple of disquiet among the scrupulous professors. A notable exception was Doyle. “I feel that much of the trouble that I had probably stemmed from the fact that I was not as convinced of Sumitro’s position as the Ford Foundation representative was, and, in retrospect, probably the CIA,” recalls Doyle.
Harris tried to get Doyle to hire “two or three Americans who were close to Sumitro.” One was an old friend of Sumitro’s from the MIT team, William Hollinger. Doyle refused. “It was clear that Sumitro was going to continue to run the Faculty from Singapore,” he says. But it was a game he wouldn’t play. “I felt that the University should not be involved in what essentially was becoming a rebellion against the government,” Doyle explains, “whatever sympathy you might have with the rebel cause and the rebel objectives.”
Back home, Doyle’s lonely defense of academic integrity against the political pressures exerted through Ford was not appreciated. Though he had been sent there for two years, Berkeley recalled him after one. “He tried to run things,” University officials say politely. “We had no choice but to ship him home.” In fact, Harris had him bounced. “In my judgment,” Harris recalls, “there was a real problem between Doyle and the Faculty.”
One of the younger men who stayed on after Doyle was Ralph Anspach, a Berkeley team member now teaching college in San Francisco. Anspach got so fed up with what he saw in Djakarta that he will no longer work in applied economics. “I had the feeling that in the last analysis I was supposed to be a part of this American policy of empire,” he says, “bringing in American science, and attitudes, and culture … winning over countries — doing this with an awful lot of cocktails and high pay. I just got out of the whole thing.”
Doyle and Anspach were the exceptions. Most of the academic professionals found the project — as Ford meant it to be — the beginning of a career.”This was a tremendous break for me,” explains Bruce Glassburner, project chairman from 1958 to 1961. “Those three years over there gave me an opportunity to become a certain kind of economist. I had a category — I became a development economist — and I got to know Indonesia. This made a tremendous difference in my career.”
Berkeley phased its people out of Djakarta in 1961-62. The constant battle between the Ford representative and the Berkeley chairman as to who would run the project had some part in hastening its end. But more important, the professors were no longer necessary, and were probably an increasing political liability. Sumitro’s first string had returned with their degrees and resumed control of the school.
The Berkeley team had done its job. “Kept the thing alive,” Glassburner recalls proudly. “We plugged a hole … and with the Ford Foundation’s money we trained them forty or so economists.” What did the University get out of it? “Well, some overhead money, you know.” And the satisfaction of a job well done.
In 1959 Pauker set out the lessons of the PSI’s electoral isolation and Sumitro’s abortive Outer Islands Rebellion in a widely read paper entitled “Southeast Asia as a Trouble Area in the Next Decade.” Parties like the PSI were “unfit for vigorous competition” with communism, he wrote. “Communism is bound to win in Southeast Asia … unless effective countervailing power is found.” The “best equipped” countervailing forces, he wrote, were “members of the national officer corps as individuals and the national armies as organizational structures.5
From his exile in Singapore, Sumitro concurred, arguing that his PSI and the Masjumi party, which the Army had attacked, were really the Army’s “natural allies.” Without them, the Army would find itself politically isolated, he said. But to consummate their alliance “the Sukarno regime must be toppled first.” Until then, Sumitro warned, the generals should keep “a close and continuous watch” on the growing and powerful Communist peasant organizations. Meanwhile, Sumitro’s Ford-scholar protégés in Djakarta began the necessary steps toward a rapprochement.
Fortunately for Ford and its academic image there was yet another school at hand: SESKOAD, the Army Staff and Command School. Situated seventy miles southeast of Djakarta in cosmopolitan Bandung, SESKOAD was the Army’s nerve center. There, generals decided organizational and political matters; there, senior officers on regular rotation were “upgraded” with manuals and methods picked up during training in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
When the Berkeley team phased itself out in 1962, Sadli, Widjojo and others from the Faculty began regular trips to Bandung to teach at SESKOAD. They taught “economic aspects of defense,” says Ford’s Frank Miller, who replaced Harris in Djakarta. Pauker tells a different story. Since the mid-’50s, he had come to know the Army General staff rather well, he explains, first on the MIT team, then on trips for RAND. One good friend was Colonel Suwarto (not to be confused with General Suharto), the deputy commander of SESKOAD and a 1959 Fort Leavenworth graduate. In 1962, Pauker brought Suwarto to RAND.
Besides learning “all sorts of things about international affairs” while at RAND, Pauker says, Suwarto also saw how RAND “organizes the academic resources of the country as consultants.” According to Pauker, Suwarto had “a new idea” when he returned to Bandung. “The four or five top economists became ‘cleared’ social scientists lecturing and studying the future political problems of Indonesia in SESKOAD.”
In effect, this group became the Army’s high-level civilian advisors. They were joined at SESKOAD by other PSI and Masjumi alumni of the university programs — Miriam Budiardjo from Pauker’s MIT study group, and Selosoemardjan from Kahin’s program at Cornell, as well as senior faculty from the nearby Bundung Institute of Technology, where the University of Kentucky had been “institution-building” for AID since 1957.
The economists were quickly caught up in the anti-communist conspiracy directed at toppling the Sukarno regime and encouraged by Sumitro from his Singapore exile. Lieutenant General Achmad Yani, Army commander-in-chief, had drawn around him a “brain trust” of generals. It was an “open secret,” says Pauker, that Yani and his brain trust were discussing “contingency plans” which were to “prevent chaos should Sukarno die suddenly.” The contribution of Suwarto’s mini-RAND, according to Colonel Willis G. Ethel, U.S. defense attaché in Djakarta and a close confidant of Commander-in-Chief Yani and others of the Army high command, was that the professors “would run a course in this contingency planning.”
Of course, the Army planners were worried about “preventing chaos.” They were worried about the PKI. “They weren’t about to let the Communists take over the country,” Ethel says. They also knew that there was immense popular support for Sukarno and the PKI and that a great deal of blood would flow when the showdown came.
Other institutions joined the Ford economists in preparing the military. High-ranking Indonesian officers had begun U.S. training programs in the mid-’50s. By 1965 some four thousand officers had learned big-scale army command at Fort Leavenworth and counterinsurgency at Fort Bragg. Beginning in 1962, hundreds of visiting officers at Harvard and Syracuse gained the skills for maintaining a huge economic, as well as military, establishment, with training in everything from business administration and personnel management to air photography and shipping.6 AID’s “Public Safety Program” in the Philippines and Malaya trained and equipped the Mobile Brigades of the Indonesian military’s fourth arm, the police.
While the Army developed expertise and perspective — courtesy of the generous American aid program — it also increased its political and economic influence. Under the martial law declared by Sukarno at the time of the Outer Islands Rebellion, the Army had become the predominant power in Indonesia. Regional commanders took over provincial governments — depriving the Communist PKI of its plurality victories in the 1957 local elections. Fearful of a PKI sweep in the planned 1959 national elections, the generals prevailed on Sukarno to cancel elections for six years. Then they moved quickly into the upper reaches of Sukarno’s new “guided democracy,” increasing the number of ministries under their control right up to the time of the coup. Puzzled by the Army’s reluctance to take complete power, journalists called it a “creeping coup d’état.”7
The Army also moved into the economy, first taking “supervisory control,” then key directorships of the Dutch properties that the PKI unionists had seized “for the people” during the confrontation over West Irian in late 1957. As a result, the generals controlled plantations, small industry, state-owned oil and tin, and the state-run export-import companies, which by 1965 monopolized government purchasing and had branched out into sugar milling, shipping, and distribution.
Those high-ranking officers not born into the Indonesian aristocracy quickly married in, and in the countryside they cemented alliances — often through family ties — with the santri Moslem landowners who were the backbone of the Masjumi Party. “The Army and the civil police,” wrote Robert Shaplen of the New York Times, “virtually controlled the whole state apparatus.” American University’s Willard Hanna called it “a new form of government — military-private enterprise.”8 Consequently, “economic aspects of defense” became a wide-ranging subject at SESKOAD. But Ford’s Indonesian economists made it broader yet by undertaking to prepare economic policy for the post-Sukarno period there, too.
During this period, the Communists were betwixt and between. Deprived of their victory at the polls and unwilling to break with Sukarno, they tried to make the best of his “guided democracy,” participating with the Army in coalition cabinets. Pauker has described the PKI strategy as “attempting to keep the parliamentary road open,” while seeking to come to power by “acclamation.” That meant building up PKI prestige as “the only solid, purposeful, disciplined, well-organized, capable political force in the country,” to which Indonesians would turn “when all other possible solutions have failed.”9
At least in numbers, the PKI policy was a success. The major labor federation was Communist, as was the largest farmers’ organization and the leading women’s and youth groups. By 1963, three million Indonesians, most of them in heavily populated Java, were members of the PKI, and an estimated seventeen million were members of its associated organizations — making it the world’s largest Communist Party outside Russia and China. At Independence the party had numbered only eight thousand.
In December 1963, PKI Chairman D.N. Aidit gave official sanction to “unilateral action” which had been undertaken by the peasants to put into effect a land-reform and crop-sharing law already on the books. Though landlords’ holdings were not large, less than half the Indonesian farmers owned the land they worked, and of these most had less than an acre. As the peasants’ “unilateral action” gathered momentum, Sukarno, seeing his coalition endangered, tried to check its force by establishing “land-reform courts” which included peasant representatives. But in the countryside, police continued to clash with peasants and made mass arrests. In some areas, santri youth groups began murderous attacks on peasants. Since the Army held state power in most areas, the peasants’ “unilateral action” was directed against its authority. Pauker calls it “class struggle in the countryside” and suggests that the PKI had put itself “on a collision course with the Army.”10
But unlike Mao’s Communists in pre-revolutionary China, the PKI had no Red Army. Having chosen the parliamentary road, the PKI was stuck with it. In early 1965, PKI leaders demanded that the Sukarno government (in which they were cabinet ministers) create a people’s militia — five million armed workers, ten million armed peasants. But Sukarno’s power was hollow. The Army had become a state within a state. It was they — and not Sukarno or the PKI — who held the guns.11
The proof came in September 1965. On the night of the 30th, troops under the command of dissident lower-level Army officers, in alliance with officers of the small Indonesian Air Force, assassinated General Yani and five members of his SESKOAD “brain trust.” Led by Lieutenant Colonel Untung, the rebels seized the Djakarta radio station and next morning broadcast a statement that their September 30th Movement was directed against the “Council of Generals,” which they announced was CIA-sponsored and had itself planned a coup d’état for Armed Forces Day, four days later.
Untung’s preventive coup quickly collapsed. Sukarno, hoping to restore the pre-coup balance of forces, gave it no support. The PKI prepared no street demonstrations, no strikes, no coordinated uprisings in the countryside. The dissidents themselves missed assassinating General Nasution and apparently left General Suharto off their list. Suharto rallied the elite paracommandos and units of West Java’s Siliwangi division against Untung’s colonels. Untung’s troops, unsure of themselves, their mission, and their loyalties, made no stand. It was all over in a day.
The Army high command quickly blamed the Communists for the coup, a line the Western press has followed ever since. Yet the utter lack of activity in the streets and the countryside makes PKI involvement unlikely, and many Indonesia specialists believe, with Dutch scholar W.F. Wertheim, that “the Untung coup was what its leader … claimed it to be — an internal army affair reflecting serious tensions between officers of the Central Java Diponegoro Division, and the Supreme Command of the Army in Djakarta….”12
Leftists, on the other hand, later assumed that the CIA had had a heavy hand in the affair. Embassy officials had long wined and dined the student apparatchiks who rose to lead the demonstrations that brought Sukarno down. The CIA was close with the Army, especially with Intelligence Chief Achmed Sukendro, who retained his agents after 1958 with U.S. help and then studied at the University of Pittsburgh in the early sixties. But Sukendro and most other members of the Indonesian high command were equally close to the embassy’s military attachés, who seem to have made Washington’s chief contacts with the Army both before and after the attempted coup. All in all, considering the make-up and history of the generals and their “modernist” allies and advisors, it is clear that at this point neither the CIA nor the Pentagon needed to play any more than a subordinate role.
The Indonesian professors may have helped lay out the Army’s “contingency” plans, but no one was going to ask them to take to the streets and make the “revolution.” That they could leave to their students. Lacking a mass organization, the Army depended on the students to give authenticity and “popular” leadership in the events that followed. It was the students who demanded — and finally got — Sukarno’s head; and it was the students — as propagandists — who carried the cry of jihad (religious war) to the villages.
In late October, Brigadier General Sjarif Thajeb — the Harvard-trained minister of higher education (and now ambassador to the United States) — brought student leaders together in his living room to create the Indonesian Student Action Command (KAMI).13 Many of the KAMI leaders were the older student apparatchiks who had been courted by the U.S. embassy. Some had traveled to the United States as American Field Service exchange students, or on year-long jaunts in a “Foreign Student Leadership Project” sponsored by the U.S National Student Association in its CIA-fed salad years.
Only months before the coup, U.S. Ambassador Marshall Green had arrived in Djakarta, bringing with him the reputation of having masterminded the student overthrow of Syngman Rhee in Korea and sparking rumors that his purpose in Djakarta was to do the same there. Old manuals on student organizing in both Korean and English were supplied by the embassy to KAMI’s top leadership soon after the coup.
But KAMI’s most militant leadership came from Bandung, where the University of Kentucky had mounted a ten-year “institution-building” program at the Bandung Institute of Technology, sending nearly five hundred of their students to the United States for training. Students in all of Indonesia’s elite universities had been given paramilitary training by the Army in a program for a time advised by an ROTC colonel on leave from Berkeley. Their training was “in anticipation of a Communist attempt to seize the government,” writes Harsja Bachtiar, an Indonesian sociologist and an alumnus of Cornell and Harvard.14
In Bandung, headquarters of the aristocratic Siliwangi division, student paramilitary training was beefed up in the months preceding the coup, and santri student leaders were boasting to their American friends that they were developing organizational contacts with extremist Moslem youth groups in the villages. It was these groups that spearheaded the massacres of PKI followers and peasants.
At the funeral of General Nasution’s daughter, mistakenly slain in the Untung coup, Navy chief Eddy Martadinata told santri student leaders to “sweep.” The message was “that they could go out and clean up the Communists without any hindrance from the military, wrote Christian Science Monitor Asian correspondent John Hughes. With relish they called out their followers, stuck their knives and pistols in their waistbands, swung their clubs over their shoulders, and embarked on the assignment for which they had long been hoping.”15 Their first move was to burn PKI headquarters. Then, thousands of PKI and Sukarno supporters were arrested and imprisoned in Djakarta; cabinet members and parliamentarians were permanently “suspended”; and a purge of the ministries was begun.
The following month, on October 17, 1965, Colonel Sarwo Edhy took his elite paratroops (the “Red Berets”) into the PKI’s Central Java stronghold in the Bojolali-Klaten-Solo triangle. His assignment, according to Hughes, was “the extermination, by whatever means might be necessary, of the core of the Communist Party there.” He found he had too few troops. “We decided to encourage the anti-communist civilians to help with the job,” the Colonel told Hughes. “In Solo we gathered together the youth, the nationalist groups, the religious Moslem organizations. We gave them two or three days’ training, then sent them out to kill Communists.”16
The Bandung engineering students, who had learned from the Kentucky AID team how to build and operate radio transmitters, were tapped by Colonel Edhy’s elite corps to set up a multitude of small broadcasting units throughout strongly PKI East and Central Java, some of which exhorted local fanatics to rise up against the Communists in jihad. The U.S. embassy provided necessary spare parts for these radios.
Time magazine describes what followed:
Communists, Red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of Communists after interrogation in remote jails…. Armed with wide-blade knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves…. The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra, where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies; river transportation has at places been seriously impeded.17
Graduate students from Bandung and Djakarta, dragooned by the Army, researched the number dead. Their report, never made public, but leaked to correspondent Frank Palmos, estimated one million victims. In the PKI “triangle stronghold” of Bojolali, Klaten, and Solo, Palmos said they reported, “nearly one-third of the population is dead or missing.”18 Most observers think their estimate high, putting the death toll at three to five hundred thousand.
The KAMI students also played a part — bringing life in Djakarta to a standstill with anti-communist, anti-Sukarno demonstrations whenever necessary. By January, Colonel Edhy was back in Djakarta addressing KAMI rallies, his elite corps providing KAMI with trucks, loudspeakers, and protection. KAMI demonstrators could tie up the city at will.
“The ideas that Communism was public enemy number one, that Communist China was no longer a close friend but a menace to the security of the state, and that there was corruption and inefficiency in the upper levels of the national government were introduced on the streets of Djakarta,” writes Bachtiar.19
The old PSI and Masjumi leaders nurtured by Ford and its professors were home at last. They gave the students advice and money, while the PSI-oriented professors maintained “close advisory relationships” with the students, later forming their own Indonesian Scholars Action Command (KASI). One of the economists, Emil Salim, who had recently returned with a Ph.D. from Berkeley, was counted among the KAMI leadership. Salim’s father had purged the Communist wing of the major prewar nationalist organization, and then served in the pre-Independence Masjumi cabinets.
In January the economists made headlines in Djakarta with a week-long economic and financial seminar at the Faculty. It was “principally … a demonstration of solidarity among the members of KAMI, the anti-Communist intellectuals, and the leadership of the Army,” Bachtiar says. The seminar heard papers from General Nasution, Adam Malik, and others who “presented themselves as a counter-elite challenging the competence and legitimacy of the elite led by President Sukarno.”20
It was Djakarta’s post-coup introduction to Ford’s economic policies.
In March Suharto stripped Sukarno of formal power and had himself named acting president, tapping old political warhorse Adam Malik and the Sultan of Jogjakarta to join him in a ruling triumvirate. The generals whom the economists had known best at SESKOAD — Yani and his brain trust — had all been killed. But with the help of Kahin’s protégé, Selosoemardjan, they first caught the Sultan’s and then Suharto’s ear, persuading them that the Americans would demand a strong attack on inflation and a swift return to a “market economy.” On April 12, the Sultan issued a major policy statement outlining the economic program of the new regime — in effect announcing Indonesia’s return to the imperialist fold. It was written by Widjojo and Sadli.
In working out the subsequent details of the Sultan’s program, the economists got aid from the expected source — the United States. When Widjojo got stuck in drawing up a stabilization plan, AID brought in Harvard economist Dave Cole, fresh from writing South Korea’s banking regulations, to provide him with a draft. Sadli, too, required some post-doctoral tutoring. According to an American official, Sadli “really didn’t know how to write an investment law. He had to have a lot of help from the embassy.” It was a team effort. “We were all working together at the time — the ‘economists,’ the American economists, AID,” recalls Calvin Cowles, the first AID man on the scene.
By early September the economists had their plans drafted and the generals convinced of their usefulness. After a series of crash seminars at SESKOAD, Suharto named the Faculty’s five top men his Team of Experts for Economic and Financial Affairs, an idea for which Ford man Frank Miller claims credit.
In August the Stanford Research Institute — a spinoff of the university-military-industrial complex — brought 170 “senior executives” to Djakarta for a three-day parley and look-see. “The Indonesians have cut out the cancer that was destroying their economy,” an SRI executive later reported approvingly. Then, urging that big business invest heavily in Suharto’s future, he warned that “military solutions are infinitely more costly.”21
In November, Malik, Sadli, Salim, Selosoemardjan, and the Sultan met in Geneva with a select list of American and European businessmen flown in by Time-Life. Surrounded by his economic advisors, the Sultan ticked off the selling points of the New Indonesia — “political stability … abundance of cheap labor … vast potential market … treasurehouse of resources.” The universities, he added, have produced a “large number of trained individuals who will be happy to serve in new economic enterprises.”
David Rockefeller, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, thanked Time-Life for the chance to get acquainted with “Indonesia’s top economic team.” He was impressed, he said, by their “high quality of education.”
“To some extent, we are witnessing the return of the pragmatic outlook which was characteristic of the PSI-Masjumi coalition of the early fifties when Sumitro … dominated the scene,”22
observed a well-placed insider in 1966. Sumitro slipped quietly into Djakarta, opened a business consultancy, and prepared himself for high office. In June 1968 Suharto organized an impromptu reunion for the class of Ford — a “development cabinet.” As minister of trade and commerce he appointed Dean Sumitro (Ph.D., Rotterdam); as chairman of the National Planning Board he appointed Widjojo (Ph.D., Berkeley, 1961); as vice-chairman, Emil Salim (Ph.D., Berkeley, 1964); as secretary general of Marketing and Trade Research, Subroto (Harvard, 1964); as minister of finance, Ali Wardhana (Ph.D., Berkeley, 1962); as chairman of the Technical Team of Foreign Investment, Mohamed Sadli (M.S., MIT, 1956); as secretary general of Industry, Barli Halim (M.B.A., Berkeley, 1959). Soedjatmoko, who had been functioning as Malik’s advisor, became ambassador in Washington.
“We consider that we were training ourselves for this,” Sadli told a reporter from Fortune — “a historic opportunity to fix the course of events.”23
Since 1954, Harvard’s Development Advisory Service (DAS), the Ford-funded elite corps of international modernizers, has brought Ford influence to the national planning agencies of Pakistan, Greece, Argentina, Liberia, Colombia, Malaysia, and Ghana. In 1963, when the Indonesian economists were apprehensive that Sukarno might try to remove them from their Faculty, Ford asked Harvard to step into the breach. Ford funds would breathe new life into an old research institute, in which Harvard’s presence would provide a protective academic aura for Sumitro’s scholars.
The DAS was skeptical at first, says director Gus Papanek. But the prospect of future rewards was great. Harvard would get acquainted with the economists, and in the event of Sukarno’s fall, the DAS would have established “an excellent base” from which to plan Indonesia’s future.
“We could not have drawn up a more ideal scenario than what happened,” Papanek says. “All of those people simply moved into the government and took over the management of economic affairs, and then they asked us to continue working with them.”
Officially the Harvard DAS-Indonesia project resumed on July 1, 1968, but Papanek had people in the field well before that joining with AID’s Cal Cowles in bringing back the old Indonesia hands of the fifties and sixties. After helping draft the stabilization program for AID, Dave Cole returned to work with Widjojo on the Ford/Harvard payroll. Leon Mears, an agricultural economist who had learned Indonesian rice-marketing in the Berkeley project, came for AID and stayed on for Harvard. Sumitro’s old friend from MIT, Bill Hollinger, transferred from the DAS-Liberia project and now shares Sumitro’s office in the Ministry of Trade.
The Harvard people are “advisors,” explains DAS Deputy Director Lester Gordon — “foreign advisors who don’t have to deal with all the paperwork and have time to come up with new ideas.” They work “as employees of the government would,” he says, “but in such a way that it doesn’t get out that the foreigners are doing it.” Indiscretions had got them bounced from Pakistan. In Indonesia; “we stay in the background.”
Harvard stayed in the background while developing the five-year plan. In the winter of 1967-68, a good harvest and a critical infusion of U.S. Food for Peace rice had kept prices down, cooling the political situation for a time. Hollinger, the DAS’s first full-time man on the scene, arrived in March and helped the economists lay out the plan’s strategy. As the other DAS technocrats arrived, they went to work on its planks. “Did we cause it, did the Ford Foundation cause it, did the Indonesians cause it?” asks AID’s Cal Cowles rhetorically. “I don’t know.”
The plan went into force without fanfare in January 1969, its key elements foreign investment and agricultural self-sufficiency. It is a late-twentieth-century American “development” plan that sounds suspiciously like the mid-nineteenth-century Dutch colonial strategy. Then, Indonesian labor — often corvée — substituted for Dutch capital in building the roads and digging the irrigation ditches necessary to create a plantation economy for Dutch capitalists, while a “modern” agricultural technology increased the output of Javanese paddies to keep pace with the expanding population. The plan brought an industrial renaissance to the Netherlands, but only an expanding misery to Indonesia.
As in the Dutch strategy, the Ford scholars’ five-year plan introduces a “modern” agricultural technology — the so-called “green revolution” of high-yield hybrid rice — to keep pace with Indonesian rural population growth and to avoid “explosive” changes in Indonesian class relationships.
Probably it will do neither — though AID is currently supporting a project at Berkeley’s Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies to give it the old college try. Negotiated with Harsja Bachtiar, the Harvard-trained sociologist now heading the Faculty’s Ford-funded research institute, the project is to train Indonesian sociologists to “modernize” relations between the peasantry and the Army’s state power.
The agricultural plan is being implemented by the central government’s agricultural extension service, whose top men were trained by an AID-funded University of Kentucky program at the Bogor Agricultural Institute. In effect, the agricultural agents have been given a monopoly in the sale of seed and the buying of rice, which puts them in a natural alliance with the local military commanders — who often control the rice transport business — and with the local santri landlords, whose higher returns are being used to quickly expand their holdings. The peasants find themselves on the short end of the stick. If they raise a ruckus they are “sabotaging a national program,” must be PKI agents, and the soldiers are called in.
The Indonesian ruling class, observes Wertheim, is now “openly waging [its] own brand of class struggle.”24 It is a struggle the Harvard technocrats must “modernize.” Economically the issue is Indonesia’s widespread unemployment; politically it is Suharto’s need to legitimize his power through elections. “The government … will have to do better than just avoiding chaos if Suharto is going to be popularly elected,” DAS Director Papanek reported in October 1968. “A really widespread public works program, financed by increased imports of PL 480 commodities sold at lower prices, could provide quick economic and political benefits in the countryside.”25
Harvard’s Indonesian New Deal is a “rural development” program that will further strengthen the hand of the local Army commanders. Supplying funds meant for labor-intensive public works, the program is supposed to increase local autonomy by working through local authorities. The money will merely line military pockets or provide bribes by which they will secure their civilian retainees. DAS Director Papanek admits that the program is “civilian only in a very broad sense, because many of the local administrators are military people.” And the military has two very large, and rather cheap, labor forces which are already at work in “rural development.”
One is the three-hundred-thousand-man Army itself. The other is composed of the one hundred twenty thousand political prisoners still being held after the Army’s 1965-66 anti-communist sweeps. Some observers estimate there are twice as many prisoners, most of whom the Army admits were not PKI members, though they fear they may have become Communists in the concentration camps.
Despite the abundance of Food for Peace rice for other purposes, there is none for the prisoners, whom the government’s daily food expenditure is slightly more than a penny. At least two journalists have reported Sumatran prisoners quartered in the middle of the Goodyear rubber plantation where they had worked before the massacres as members of a PKI union. Now, the correspondents say, they are let out daily to work its trees for substandard wages, which are paid to their guards.26
In Java the Army uses the prisoners in public works. Australian professor Herbert Feith was shown around one Javanese town in 1968 where prisoners had built the prosecutor’s house, the high school, the mosque, and (in process) the Catholic church. “It is not really hard to get work out of them if you push them,” he was told.27
Just as they are afraid and unwilling to free the prisoners, so the generals are afraid to demobilize the troops. “You can’t add to the unemployment,” explained an Indonesia desk man at the State Department, “especially with people who know how to shoot a gun.” Consequently the troops are being worked more and more into the infrastructure labor force — to which the Pentagon is providing roadbuilding equipment and advisors.
But it is the foreign-investment plan that is the payoff of Ford’s twenty-year strategy in Indonesia and the pot of gold that the Ford modernizers — both American and Indonesian — are paid to protect. The nineteenth-century Colonial Dutch strategy built an agricultural export economy. The Americans are interested primarily in resources, mainly mineral.
Freeport Sulphur will mine copper on West Irian. International Nickel has got the Celebes’ nickel. Alcoa is negotiating for most of Indonesia’s bauxite. Weyerhaeuser, International Paper, Boise Cascade, and Japanese, Korean, and Filipino lumber companies will cut down the huge tropical forests of Sumatra, West Irian, and Kalimantan (Borneo). A U.S.-European consortium of mining giants, headed by U.S. Steel, will mine West Irian’s nickel. Two others, U.S.-British and U.S.-Australian, will mine tin. A fourth, U.S.-New Zealander, is contemplating Indonesian coaling. The Japanese will take home the archipelago’s shrimp and tuna and dive for her pearls.
Another unmined resource is Indonesia’s one hundred twenty million inhabitants — half the people in Southeast Asia. “Indonesia today,” boasts a California electronics manufacturer now operating his assembly lines in Djakarta, “has the world’s largest untapped pool of capable assembly labor at a modest cost.” The cost is ten cents an hour.
But the real prize is oil. During one week in 1969, twenty three companies, nineteen of them American, bid for the right to explore and bring to market the oil beneath the Java Sea and Indonesia’s other coastal waters. In one 21,000-square-mile concession off Java’s northeast coast, Natomas and Atlantic-Richfield are already bringing in oil. Other companies with contracts signed have watched their stocks soar in speculative orgies rivaling those following the Alaskan North Slope discoveries. As a result, Ford is sponsoring a new Berkeley project at the University of California law school in “developing human resources for the handling of negotiations with foreign investors in Indonesia.”
Looking back, the thirty-year-old vision for the Pacific seems secure in Indonesia — thanks to the flexibility and perseverance of Ford. A ten-nation “Inter-Governmental Group for Indonesia,” including Japan, manages Indonesia’s debts and coordinates Indonesia’s aid. A corps of “qualified” native technocrats formally make economic decisions, kept in hand by the best American advisors the Ford Foundation’s millions can buy. And, as we have seen, American corporations dominate the expanding exploitation of Indonesia’s oil, ore, and timber.
But history has a way of knocking down even the best-built plans. Even in Indonesia, the “chaos” which Ford and its modernizers are forever preventing seems just below the surface. Late in 1969, troops from West Java’s crack Siliwangi division rounded up five thousand surprised and sullen villagers in an odd military exercise that speaks more of Suharto’s fears than of Indonesia’s political “stability.” Billed as a test in “area management,” officers told reporters that it was an exercise in preventing a “potential fifth column” in the once heavily-PKI area from linking up with an imaginary invader. But the army got no cheers as it passed through the villages, an Australian reporter wrote. “To an innocent eye from another planet it would have seemed that the Siliwangi division was an army of occupation.”28
There is no more talk about land reform or arming the people in Indonesia now. But the silence is eloquent. In the Javanese villages where the PKI was strong before the pogrom, landlords and officers fear going out after dark. Those who do so are sometimes found with their throats cut, and the generals mutter about “night PKI.”
David Ransom
1. Richard M. Nixon, “Asia After Vietnam,” Foreign Affairs, October 1967, p. 111.
2. Soedjatmoko, “Indonesia on the Threshold of Freedom,” address to Cooper Union, New York, 13 March 1949, p. 9.
3. Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, untitled address to School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, D.C., 1949, p. 7.
4. Dean Rusk, “Foreign Policy Problems in the Pacific,” Department of State Bulletin, 19 November 1951, p. 824 ff.
5. Guy J. Pauker, “The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Indonesia,” Rand Corporation Memorandum RM-5753-PR, February 1969, p. 46.
6. Michael Max Ehrmann, The Indonesian Military in the Politics of Guided Democracy, 1957-1965, unpublished Masters thesis (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, September 1967), p. 296, citing Col. George Benson (U.S. Army), U.S. military attaché in Indonesia 1956-1960.
7. Daniel S. Lev, The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959 Ithaca NY: Modern Indonesia Project, Cornell University, 1966), p. 70.
8. Robert Shaplen, “Indonesia II: The Rise and Fall of Guided Democracy,” New Yorker, 24 May 1969, p. 48; Willard Hanna, Bung Karno’s Indonesia (New York: American Universities Field Staff, 25 September 1959), quoted in J.A.C. Mackie, “Indonesia’s Government Estates and Their Masters,” Pacific Affairs, Fall 1961, p. 352.
9. Guy J. Pauker, “The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Indonesia,” pp. 6, 10.
10. Ibid., p. 43.
11. W.F. Wertheim, “Indonesia Before and After the Untung Coup,” Pacific Affairs, Spring/Summer 1966, p. 117.
12. Ibid., p. 115.
13. Harsja W. Bachtiar, “Indonesia,” in Donald K. Emmerson, ed., Students and Politics in Developing Nations (New York: Praeger, 1968), p. 192.
14. Ibid., p. 55.
15. John Hughes, Indonesian Upheaval (New York: McKay, 1967), p. 132.
16. Ibid., p. 151.
17. “Silent Settlement,” Time, 17 December 1965, p. 29 ff.
18. Frank Palmos, untitled news report dated “early August 1966″ (unpublished). Marginal note states that portions of the report were published in the Melbourne Herald at an unspecified date.
19. Harsja W. Bachtiar, op. cit., p. 193.
20. Ibid., p. 195.
21. H.E. Robison, “An International Report,” speech delivered at Stanford Research Institute, 14 December 1967.
22. J. Panglaykim and K.D. Thomas, “The New Order and the Economy,” Indonesia, April 1967, p. 73.
23. “Indonesia’s Potholed Road Back,” Fortune, 1 June 1968, p. 130.
24. W.F. Wertheim, “From Aliran Towards Class Struggle in the Countryside of Java,” paper prepared for the International Conference on Asian History, Kuala Lumpur, August 1968, p. 18. Published under the same title in Pacific Research 10, no. 2.
25. Gustav F. Papanek, “Indonesia,” Harvard Development Advisory Service memorandum (unpublished), 22 October 1968.
26. Jean Contenay, “Political Prisoners,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 2 November 1967, p. 225; NBC documentary, 19 February 1967.
27. Herbert Feith, “Blot on the New Order,” New Republic, 13 April 1968, p. 19.
28. “Indonesia — Army of Occupation,” The Bulletin, 22 November
1969.

The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967

May 15, 2009
In this short paper on a huge and vexed subject, I discuss the U.S. involvement in the bloody overthrow of Indonesia’s President Sukarno, 1965-67. The whole story of that ill-understood period would transcend even the fullest possible written analysis. Much of what happened can never be documented; and of the documentation that survives, much is both controversial and unverifiable. The slaughter of Sukarno’s left-wing allies was a product of widespread paranoia as well as of conspiratorial policy, and represents a tragedy beyond the intentions of any single group or coalition. Nor is it suggested that in 1965 the only provocations and violence came from the right-wing Indonesian military, their contacts in the United States, or (also important, but barely touched on here) their mutual contacts in British, German and Japanese intelligence.

And yet, after all this has been said, the complex and ambiguous story of the Indonesian bloodbath is also in essence simpler and easier to believe than the public version inspired by President Suharto and U.S. government sources. Their problematic claim is that in the so-called Gestapu (Gerakan September Tigahpuluh) coup attempt of September 30, 1965 (when six senior army generals were murdered), the left attacked the right, leading to a restoration of power, and punitive purge of the left, by the center.1 This article argues instead that, by inducing, or at a minimum helping to induce, the Gestapu “coup,” the right in the Indonesian Army eliminated its rivals at the army’s center, thus paving the way to a long-planned elimination of the civilian left, and eventually to the establishment of a military dictatorship.2 Gestapu, in other words, was only the first phase of a three-phase right-wing coup — one which had been both publicly encouraged and secretly assisted by U.S. spokesmen and officials.3

Before turning to U.S. involvement in what the CIA itself has called “one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century,”4 let us recall what actually led up to it. According to the Australian scholar Harold Crouch, by 1965 the Indonesian Army General Staff was split into two camps. At the center were the general staff officers appointed with, and loyal to, the army commander General Yani, who in turn was reluctant to challenge President Sukarno’s policy of national unity in alliance with the Indonesian Communist party, or PKI. The second group, including the right-wing generals Nasution and Suharto, comprised those opposed to Yani and his Sukarnoist policies.5 All of these generals were anti-PKI, but by 1965 the divisive issue was Sukarno.

The simple (yet untold) story of Sukarno’s overthrow is that in the fall of 1965 Yani and his inner circle of generals were murdered, paving the way for a seizure of power by right-wing anti-Yani forces allied to Suharto. The key to this was the so-called Gestapu coup attempt which, in the name of supporting Sukarno, in fact targeted very precisely the leading members of the army’s most loyal faction, the Yani group.6 An army unity meeting in January 1965, between “Yani’s inner circle” and those (including Suharto) who “had grievances of one sort or another against Yani,” lined up the victims of September 30 against those who came to power after their murder.7

Not one anti-Sukarno general was targeted by Gestapu, with the obvious exception of General Nasution.8 But by 1961 the CIA operatives had become disillusioned with Nasution as a reliable asset, because of his “consistent record of yielding to Sukarno on several major counts.”9 Relations between Suharto and Nasution were also cool, since Nasution, after investigating Suharto on corruption charges in 1959, had transferred him from his command.10

The duplicitous distortions of reality, first by Lt. Colonel Untung’s statements for Gestapu, and then by Suharto in “putting down” Gestapu, are mutually supporting lies.11 Untung, on October 1, announced ambiguously that Sukarno was under Gestapu’s “protection” (he was not); also, that a CIA-backed Council of Generals had planned a coup for before October 5, and had for this purpose brought “troops from East, Central, and West Java” to Jakarta.12 Troops from these areas had indeed been brought to Jakarta for an Armed Forces Day parade on October 5th. Untung did not mention, however, that “he himself had been involved in the planning for the Armed Forces Day parade and in selecting the units to participate in it;”13 nor that these units (which included his own former battalion, the 454th) supplied most of the allies for his new battalion’s Gestapu activities in Jakarta.

Suharto’s first two broadcasts reaffirmed the army’s constant loyalty to “Bung Karno the Great Leader,” and also blamed the deaths of six generals on PKI youth and women, plus “elements of the Air Force” — on no other evidence than the site of the well where the corpses were found.14 At this time he knew very well that the killings had in fact been carried out by the very army elements Untung referred to, elements under Suharto’s own command.15

Thus, whatever the motivation of individuals such as Untung in the Gestapu putsch, Gestapu as such was duplicitous. Both its rhetoric and above all its actions were not simply inept; they were carefully designed to prepare for Suharto’s equally duplicitous response. For example, Gestapu’s decision to guard all sides of the downtown Merdeka Square in Jakarta, except that on which Suharto’s KOSTRAD [Army Strategic Reserve Command] headquarters were situated, is consistent with Gestapu’s decision to target the only army generals who might have challenged Suharto’s assumption of power. Again, Gestapu’s announced transfer of power to a totally fictitious “Revolutionary Council,” from which Sukarno had been excluded, allowed Suharto in turn to masquerade as Sukarno’s defender while in fact preventing him from resuming control. More importantly, Gestapu’s gratuitous murder of the generals near the air force base where PKI youth had been trained allowed Suharto, in a Goebbels-like manoeuvre, to transfer the blame for the killings from the troops under his own command (whom he knew had carried out the kidnappings) to air force and PKI personnel who where ignorant of them.16

From the pro-Suharto sources — notably the CIA study of Gestapu published in 1968 — we learn how few troops were involved in the alleged Gestapu rebellion, and, more importantly, that in Jakarta as in Central Java the same battalions that supplied the “rebellious” companies were also used to “put the rebellion down.” Two thirds of one paratroop brigade (which Suharto had inspected the previous day) plus one company and one platoon constituted the whole of Gestapu forces in Jakarta; all but one of these units were commanded by present or former Diponegoro Division officers close to Suharto; and the last was under an officer who obeyed Suharto’s close political ally, Basuki Rachmat.17

Two of these companies, from the 454th and 530th battalions, were elite raiders, and from 1962 these units had been among the main Indonesian recipients of U.S. assistance.18 This fact, which in itself proves nothing, increases our curiosity about the many Gestapu leaders who had been U.S.-trained. The Gestapu leader in Central Java, Saherman, had returned from training at Fort Leavenworth and Okinawa, shortly before meeting with Untung and Major Sukirno of the 454th Battalion in mid-August 1965.19 As Ruth McVey has observed, Saherman’s acceptance for training at Fort Leavenworth “would mean that he had passed review by CIA observers.”20
Thus there is continuity between the achievements of both Gestapu and the response to it by Suharto, who in the name of defending Sukarno and attacking Gestapu continued its task of eliminating the pro-Yani members of the Army General Staff, along with such other residual elements of support for first Yani and then Sukarno as remained.21

The biggest part of this task was of course the elimination of the PKI and its supporters, in a bloodbath which, as some Suharto allies now concede, may have taken more than a half-million lives. These three events — Gestapu, Suharto’s response, and the bloodbath — have nearly always been presented in this country as separately motivated: Gestapu being described as a plot by leftists, and the bloodbath as for the most part an irrational act of popular frenzy.

U.S. officials, journalists and scholars, some with rather prominent CIA connections, are perhaps principally responsible for the myth that the bloodbath was a spontaneous, popular revulsion to what U.S. Ambassador Jones later called PKI “carnage.”22 Although the PKI certainly contributed its share to the political hysteria of 1965, Crouch has shown that subsequent claims of a PKI terror campaign were grossly exaggerated.23 In fact systematic killing occurred under army instigation in staggered stages, the worst occurring as Colonel Sarwo Edhie’s RPKAD [Army Paracommando Regiment] moved from Jakarta to Central and East Java, and finally to Bali.24 Civilians involved in the massacre were either recruited and trained by the army on the spot, or were drawn from groups (such as the army- and CIA-sponsored SOKSI trade unions [Central Organization of Indonesian Socialist Employees], and allied student organizations) which had collaborated for years with the army on political matters. It is clear from Sundhaussen’s account that in most of the first areas of organized massacre (North Sumatra, Aceh, Cirebon, the whole of Central and East Java), there were local army commanders with especially strong and proven anti-PKI sentiments. Many of these had for years cooperated with civilians, through so-called “civic action” programs sponsored by the United States, in operations directed against the PKI and sometimes Sukarno. Thus one can legitimately suspect conspiracy in the fact that anti-PKI “civilian responses” began on October 1, when the army began handing out arms to Muslim students and unionists, before there was any publicly available evidence linking Gestapu to the PKI.25

Even Sundhaussen, who downplays the army’s role in arming and inciting the civilian murder bands, concludes that, whatever the strength of popular anti-PKI hatred and fear, “without the Army’s anti-PKI propaganda the massacre might not have happened.”26 The present article goes further and argues that Gestapu, Suharto’s response, and the bloodbath were part of a single coherent scenario for a military takeover, a scenario which was again followed closely in

Chile in the years 1970-73 (and to some extent in Cambodia in 1970).

Suharto, of course, would be a principal conspirator in this scenario: his duplicitous role of posing as a defender of the constitutional status quo, while in fact moving deliberately to overthrow it, is analogous to that of General Pinochet in Chile. But a more direct role in organizing the bloodbath was played by civilians and officers close to the cadres of the CIA’s failed rebellion of 1958, now working in so-called “civic action” programs funded and trained by the United States. Necessary ingredients of the scenario had to be, and clearly were, supplied by other nations in support of Suharto. Many such countries appear to have played such a supporting role: Japan, Britain, Germany,27 possibly Australia. But I wish to focus on the encouragement and support for military “putschism” and mass murder which came from the U.S., from the CIA, the military, RAND, the Ford Foundation, and individuals.28

The United States and the Indonesian Army’s “Mission”


It seems clear that from as early as 1953 the U.S. was interested in helping to foment the regional crisis in Indonesia, usually recognized as the “immediate cause” that induced Sukarno, on March 14, 1957, to proclaim martial law, and bring “the officer corps legitimately into politics.”29

By 1953 (if not earlier) the U.S. National Security Council had already adopted one of a series of policy documents calling for “appropriate action, in collaboration with other friendly countries, to prevent permanent communist control” of Indonesia.30 Already NSC 171/1 of that year envisaged military training as a means of increasing U.S. influence, even though the CIA’s primary efforts were directed towards right-wing political parties (“moderates … on the right,” as NSC 171 called them): notably the Masjumi Muslim and the PSI “Socialist” parties. The millions of dollars which the CIA poured into the Masjumi and the PSI in the mid-1950s were a factor influencing the events of 1965, when a former PSI member — Sjam — was the alleged mastermind of Gestapu,31 and PSI-leaning officers — notably Suwarto and Sarwo Edhie — were prominent in planning and carrying out the anti-PKI response to Gestapu.32

In 1957-58, the CIA infiltrated arms and personnel in support of the regional rebellions against Sukarno. These operations were nominally covert, even though an American plane and pilot were captured, and the CIA efforts were accompanied by an offshore task force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.33 In 1975 a Senate Select Committee studying the CIA discovered what it called “some evidence of CIA involvement in plans to assassinate President Sukarno”; but, after an initial investigation of the November 1957 assassination attempt in the Cikini district of Jakarta, the committee did not pursue the matter.34

On August 1, 1958, after the failure of the CIA-sponsored PRRI-Permesta regional rebellions against Sukarno, the U.S. began an upgraded military assistance program to Indonesia in the order of twenty million dollars a year.35 A U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff memo of 1958 makes it clear this aid was given to the Indonesian Army (“the only non-Communist force … with the capability of obstructing the … PKI”) as “encouragement” to Nasution to “carry out his ‘plan’ for the control of Communism.”36

The JCS had no need to spell out Nasution’s “plan,” to which other documents at this time made reference.37 It could only imply the tactics for which Nasution had distinguished himself (in American eyes) during the crushing of the PKI in the Madiun Affair of 1948: mass murders and mass arrests, at a minimum of the party’s cadres, possibly after an army provocation.38 Nasution confirmed this in November 1965, after the Gestapu slaughter, when he called for the total extinction of the PKI, “down to its very roots so there will be no third Madiun.”39

By 1958, however, the PKI had emerged as the largest mass movement in the country. It is in this period that a small group of U.S. academic researchers in U.S. Air Force- and CIA-subsidized “think-tanks” began pressuring their contacts in the Indonesian military publicly, often through U.S. scholarly journals and presses, to seize power and liquidate the PKI opposition.40 The most prominent example is Guy Pauker, who in 1958 both taught at the University of California at Berkeley and served as a consultant at the RAND Corporation. In the latter capacity he maintained frequent contact with what he himself called “a very small group” of PSI intellectuals and their friends in the army.41

In a RAND Corporation book published by the Princeton University Press, Pauker urged his contacts in the Indonesian military to assume “full responsibility” for their nation’s leadership, “fulfill a mission,” and hence “to strike, sweep their house clean.”42 Although Pauker may not have intended anything like the scale of bloodbath which eventually ensued, there is no escaping the fact that “mission” and “sweep clean” were buzz-words for counterinsurgency and massacre, and as such were used frequently before and during the coup. The first murder order, by military officers to Muslim students in early october, was the word sikat, meaning “sweep,” “clean out,” “wipe out,” or “massacre.”43

Pauker’s closest friend in the Indonesian army was a U.S.-trained General Suwarto, who played an important part in the conversion of the army from a revolutionary to a counterinsurgency function. In the years after 1958, Suwarto built the Indonesian Army Staff and Command School in Bandung (SESKOAD) into a training-ground for the takeover of political power. SESKOAD in this period became a focal-point of attention from the Pentagon, the CIA, RAND, and (indirectly) the Ford Foundation.44

Under the guidance of Nasution and Suwarto, SESKOAD developed a new strategic doctrine, that of Territorial Warfare (in a document translated into English by Pauker), which gave priority to counterinsurgency as the army’s role. Especially after 1962, when the Kennedy administration aided the Indonesian Army in developing Civic Mission or “civic action” programs, this meant the organization of its own political infrastructure, or “Territorial Organization,” reaching in some cases down to the village level.45 As the result of an official U.S. State Department recommendation in 1962, which Pauker helped write, a special U.S. MILTAG (Military Training Advisory Group) was set up in Jakarta, to assist in the implementation of SESKOAD’s Civic Mission programs.46

SESKOAD also trained the army officers in economics and administration, and thus to operate virtually as a para-state, independent of Sukarno’s government. So the army began to collaborate, and even sign contracts, with U.S. and other foreign corporations in areas which were now under its control. This training program was entrusted to officers and civilians close to the PSI.47 U.S. officials have confirmed that the civilians, who themselves were in a training program funded by the Ford Foundation, became involved in what the (then) U.S. military attache called “contingency planning” to prevent a PKI takeover.48

But the most significant focus of U.S. training and aid was the Territorial Organization’s increasing liaison with “the civilian administration, religious and cultural organizations, youth groups, veterans, trade unions, peasant organizations, political parties and groups at regional and local levels.”49 These political liaisons with civilian groups provided the structure for the ruthless suppression of the PKI in 1965, including the bloodbath.50

Soon these army and civilian cadres were together plotting disruptive activities, such as the Bandung anti-Chinese riots of May 1963, which embarrassed not just the PKI, but Sukarno himself. Chomsky and Herman report that “Army-inspired anti-Chinese programs that took place in West Java in 1959 were financed by U.S. contributions to the local army commander”; apparently CIA funds were used by the commander (Colonel Kosasih) to pay local thugs in what Mozingo calls “the army’s (and probably the Americans’) campaign to rupture relations with China.”51 The 1963 riot, which took place in the very shadow of SESKOAD, is linked by Sundhaussen to an army “civic action” organization; and shows conspiratorial contact between elements (an underground PSI cell, PSI- and Masjumi-affiliated student groups, and General Ishak Djuarsa of the Siliwangi Division’s “civic action” organization) that would all be prominent in the very first phase of Suharto’s so-called “response” to the Gestapu.52 The May 1963 student riots were repeated in October 1965 and (especially in Bandung) January 1966, at which time the liaison between students and the army was largely in the hands of PSI-leaning officers like Sarwo Edhie and Kemal Idris.53 The CIA Plans Directorate was sympathetic to the increasing deflection of a nominally anti-PKI operation into one embarrassing Sukarno. This turn would have come as no surprise: Suwarto, Kemal Idris and the PSI had been prominent in a near-coup (the so-called “Lubis affair”) in 1956.54

But increasingly Suwarto cultivated a new student, Colonel Suharto, who arrived at SESKOAD in October 1959. According to Sundhaussen, a relatively pro-Suharto scholar: “In the early 1960s Soeharto was involved in the formation of the Doctrine of Territorial Warfare and the Army’s policy on Civic Mission (that is, penetration of army officers into all fields of government activities and responsibilities).55 Central to the public image of Gestapu and Suharto’s response is the much-publicized fact that Suharto, unlike his sometime teacher Suwarto, and his long-time chief of staff Achmad Wiranatakusuma, had never studied in the United States. But his involvement in Civic Mission (or what Americans called “civic action”) programs located him along with PSI-leaning officers at the focal point of U.S. training activities in Indonesia, in a program which was nakedly political.56

The refinement of Territorial Warfare and Civic Mission Doctrine into a new strategic doctrine for army political intervention became by 1965 the ideological process consolidating the army for political takeover. After Gestapu, when Suwarto was an important political advisor to his former SESKOAD pupil Suharto, his strategic doctrine was the justification for Suharto’s announcement on August 15, 1966, in fulfillment of Pauker’s public and private urgings, that the army had to assume a leading role in all fields.57

Hence the army unity meeting of January 1965, arranged after Suharto had duplicitously urged Nasution to take “a more accommodating line”58 towards Sukarno, was in fact a necessary step in the process whereby Suharto effectively took over from his rivals Yani and Nasution. It led to the April 1965 seminar at SESKOAD for a compromise army strategic doctrine, the Tri Ubaya Cakti, which “reaffirmed the army’s claim to an independent political role.”59 On August 15, 1966, Suharto, speaking to the nation, justified his increasing prominence in terms of the “Revolutionary Mission” of the Tri Ubaya Cakti doctrine. Two weeks later at SESKOAD the doctrine was revised, at Suharto’s instigation but in a setting “carefully orchestrated by Brigadier Suwarto,” to embody still more clearly Pauker’s emphasis on the army’s “Civic Mission” or counterrevolutionary role.60 This “Civic Mission,” so important to Suharto, was also the principal goal and fruit of U.S. military aid to Indonesia.

By August 1964, moreover, Suharto had initiated political contacts with Malaysia, and hence eventually with Japan, Britain, and the United States.61 Although the initial purpose of these contacts may have been to head off war with Malaysia, Sundhaussen suggests that Suharto’s motive was his concern, buttressed in mid-1964 by a KOSTRAD intelligence report, about PKI political advances.62 Mrazek links the peace feelers to the withdrawal of “some of the best army units” back to Java in the summer of 1965.63 These movements, together with earlier deployment of a politically insecure Diponegoro battalion in the other direction, can also be seen as preparations for the seizure of power.64

In Nishihara’s informed Japanese account, former PRRI / Permesta personnel with intelligence connections in Japan were prominent in these negotiations, along with Japanese officials.65 Nishihara also heard that an intimate ally of these personnel, Jan Walandouw, who may have acted as a CIA contact for the 1958 rebellion, later again “visited Washington and advocated Suharto as a leader.”66 I am reliably informed that Walandouw’s visit to Washington on behalf of Suharto was made some months before Gestapu.67

The U.S. Moves Against Sukarno


Many people in Washington, especially in the CIA Plans Directorate, had long desired the “removal” of Sukarno as well as of the PKI.68 By 1961 key policy hard-liners, notably Guy Pauker, had also turned against Nasution.69 Nevertheless, despite last-minute memoranda from the outgoing Eisenhower administration which would have opposed “whatever regime” in Indonesia was “increasingly friendly toward the Sino-Soviet bloc,” the Kennedy administration stepped up aid to both Sukarno and the army.70

However, Lyndon Johnson’s accession to the presidency was followed almost immediately by a shift to a more anti-Sukarno policy. This is clear from Johnson’s decision in December 1963 to withhold economic aid which (according to Ambassador Jones) Kennedy would have supplied “almost as a matter of routine.”71 This refusal suggests that the U.S. aggravation of Indonesia’s economic woes in 1963-65 was a matter of policy rather than inadvertence. Indeed, if the CIA’s overthrow of Allende is a relevant analogy, then one would expect someday to learn that the CIA, through currency speculations and other hostile acts, contributed actively to the radical destabilization of the Indonesian economy in the weeks just before the coup, when “the price of rice quadrupled between June 30 and October 1, and the black market price of the dollar skyrocketed, particularly in September.”72

As was the case in Chile, the gradual cutoff of all economic aid to Indonesia in the years 1962-65 was accompanied by a shift in military aid to friendly elements in the Indonesian Army: U.S. military aid amounted to $39.5 million in the four years 1962-65 (with a peak of $16.3 million in 1962) as opposed to $28.3 million for the thirteen years 1949-61.73 After March 1964, when Sukarno told the U.S., “go to hell with your aid,” it became increasingly difficult to extract any aid from the U.S. congress: those persons not aware of what was developing found it hard to understand why the U.S. should help arm a country which was nationalizing U.S. economic interests, and using immense aid subsidies from the Soviet Union to confront the British in Malaysia.

Thus a public image was created that under Johnson “all United States aid to Indonesia was stopped,” a claim so buttressed by misleading documentation that competent scholars have repeated it.74 In fact, Congress had agreed to treat U.S. funding of the Indonesian military (unlike aid to any other country) as a covert matter, restricting congressional review of the president’s determinations on Indonesian aid to two Senate committees, and the House Speaker, who were concurrently involved in oversight of the CIA.75

Ambassador Jones’ more candid account admits that “suspension” meant “the U.S. government undertook no new commitments of assistance, although it continued with ongoing programs…. By maintaining our modest assistance to [the Indonesian Army and the police brigade], we fortified them for a virtually inevitable showdown with the burgeoning PKI.”76

Only from recently released documents do we learn that new military aid was en route as late as July 1965, in the form of a secret contract to deliver two hundred Aero-Commanders to the Indonesian Army: these were light aircraft suitable for use in “civic action” or counterinsurgency operations, presumably by the Army Flying Corps whose senior officers were virtually all trained in the U.S.77 By this time, the publicly admitted U.S. aid was virtually limited to the completion of an army communications system and to “civic action” training. It was by using the army’s new communications system, rather than the civilian system in the hands of Sukarno loyalists, that Suharto on October 1, 1965 was able to implement his swift purge of Sukarno-Yani loyalists and leftists, while “civic action” officers formed the hard core of lower-level Gestapu officers in Central Java.78

Before turning to the more covert aspects of U.S. military aid to Indonesia in 1963-65, let us review the overall changes in U.S.-Indonesian relations. Economic aid was now in abeyance, and military aid tightly channeled so as to strengthen the army domestically. U.S. government funding had obviously shifted from the Indonesian state to one of its least loyal components. As a result of agreements beginning with martial law in 1957, but accelerated by the U.S.-negotiated oil agreement of 1963, we see exactly the same shift in the flow of payments from U.S. oil companies. Instead of token royalties to the Sukarno government, the two big U.S. oil companies in Indonesia, Stanvac and Caltex, now made much larger payments to the army’s oil company, Permina, headed by an eventual political ally of Suharto, General Ibnu Sutowo; and to a second company, Pertamin, headed by the anti-PKI and pro-U.S. politician, Chaerul Saleh.79 After Suharto’s overthrow of Sukarno, Fortune wrote that “Sutowo’s still small company played a key part in bankrolling those crucial operations, and the army has never forgotten it.”80

U.S. Support for the Suharto Faction Before Gestapu


American officials commenting on the role of U.S. aid in this period have taken credit for assisting the anti-Communist seizure of power, without ever hinting at any degree of conspiratorial responsibility in the planning of the bloodbath. The impression created is that U.S. officials remained aloof from the actual planning of events, and we can see from recently declassified cable traffic how carefully the U.S. government fostered this image of detachment from what was happening in Indonesia.81

In fact, however, the U.S. government was lying about its involvement. In Fiscal Year 1965, a period when The New York Times claimed “all United States aid to Indonesia was stopped,” the number of MAP (Military Assistance Program) personnel in Jakarta actually increased, beyond what had been projected, to an unprecedented high.82 According to figures released in 1966,83 from FY 1963 to FY 1965 the value of MAP deliveries fell from about fourteen million dollars to just over two million dollars. Despite this decline, the number of MAP military personnel remained almost unchanged, approximately thirty, while in FY 1965 civilian personnel (fifteen) were present for the first time. Whether or not one doubts that aid deliveries fell off as sharply as the figures would suggest, the MILTAG personnel figures indicate that their “civic action” program was being escalated, not decreased.84 We have seen that some months before Gestapu, a Suharto emissary with past CIA connections (Colonel Jan Walandouw) made contact with the U.S. government. From as early as May 1965, U.S. military suppliers with CIA connections (principally Lockheed) were negotiating equipment sales with payoffs to middlemen, in such a way as to generate payoffs to backers of the hitherto little-known leader of a new third faction in the army, Major-General Suharto — rather than to those backing Nasution or Yani, the titular leaders of the armed forces. Only in the last year has it been confirmed that secret funds administered by the U.S. Air Force (possibly on behalf of the CIA) were laundered as “commissions” on sales of Lockheed equipment and services, in order to make political payoffs to the military personnel of foreign countries.85

A 1976 Senate investigation into these payoffs revealed, almost inadvertently, that in May 1965, over the legal objections of Lockheed’s counsel, Lockheed commissions in Indonesia had been redirected to a new contract and company set up by the firm’s long-time local agent or middleman.86 Its internal memos at the time show no reasons for the change, but in a later memo the economic counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta is reported as saying that there were “some political considerations behind it.”87 If this is true, it would suggest that in May 1965, five months before the coup, Lockheed had redirected its payoffs to a new political eminence, at the risk (as its assistant chief counsel pointed out) of being sued for default on its former contractual obligations.

The Indonesian middleman, August Munir Dasaad, was “known to have assisted Sukarno financially since the 1930′s.”88 In 1965, however, Dasaad was building connections with the Suharto forces, via a family relative, General Alamsjah, who had served briefly under Suharto in 1960, after Suharto completed his term at SESKOAD. Via the new contract, Lockheed, Dasaad and Alamsjah were apparently hitching their wagons to Suharto’s rising star:


When the coup was made during which Suharto replaced Sukarno, Alamsjah, who controlled certain considerable funds, at once made these available to Suharto, which obviously earned him the gratitude of the new President. In due course he was appointed to a position of trust and confidence and today Alamsjah is, one might say, the second important man after the President.89


Thus in 1966 the U.S. Embassy advised Lockheed it should “continue to use” the Dasaad-Alamsjah-Suharto connection.90

In July 1965, at the alleged nadir of U.S.-Indonesian aid relations, Rockwell-Standard had a contractual agreement to deliver two hundred light aircraft (Aero-Commanders) to the Indonesian Army (not the Air Force) in the next two months.91 Once again the commission agent on the deal, Bob Hasan, was a political associate (and eventual business partner) of Suharto.92 More specifically, Suharto and Bob Hasan established two shipping companies to be operated by the Central Java army division, Diponegoro. This division, as has long been noticed, supplied the bulk of the personnel on both sides of the Gestapu coup drama — both those staging the coup attempt, and those putting it down. And one of the three leaders in the Central Java Gestapu movement was Lt. Col. Usman Sastrodibroto, chief of the Diponegoro Division’s “section dealing with extramilitary functions.”93

Thus of the two known U.S. military sales contracts from the eve of the Gestapu Putsch, both involved political payoffs to persons who emerged after Gestapu as close Suharto allies. The use of this traditional channel for CIA patronage suggests that the U.S. was not at arm’s length from the ugly political developments of 1965, despite the public indications, from both government spokesmen and the U.S. business press, that Indonesia was now virtually lost to communism and nothing could be done about it.

The actions of some U.S. corporations, moreover, made it clear that by early 1965 they expected a significant boost to the U.S. standing in Indonesia. For example, a recently declassified cable reveals that Freeport Sulphur had by April 1965 reached a preliminary “arrangement” with Indonesian officials for what would become a $500 million investment in West Papua copper. This gives the lie to the public claim that the company did not initiate negotiations with Indonesians (the inevitable Ibnu Sutowo) until February 1966.94 And in September 1965, shortly after World Oil reported that “indonesia’s gas and oil industry appeared to be slipping deeper into the political morass,”95 the president of a small oil company (Asamera) in a joint venture with Ibnu Sutowo’s Permina purchased $50,000 worth of shares in his own ostensibly-threatened company. Ironically this double purchase (on September 9 and September 21) was reported in the Wall Street Journal of September 30, 1965, the day of Gestapu.

The CIA’s “[One Word Deleted] Operation” in 1965


Less than a year after Gestapu and the bloodbath, James Reston wrote appreciatively about them as “A Gleam of Light in Asia”:


Washington is being careful not to claim any credit for this change in the sixth most populous and one of the richest nations in the world, but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it. There was a great deal more contact between the anti-Communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized.96


As for the CIA in 1965, we have the testimony of former CIA officer Ralph McGehee, curiously corroborated by the selective censorship of his former CIA employers:


Where the necessary circumstances or proofs are lacking to support U.S. intervention, the C.I.A. creates the appropriate situations or else invents them and disseminates its distortions worldwide via its media operations.A prominent example would be Chile…. Disturbed at the Chilean military’s unwillingness to take action against Allende, the C.I.A. forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders. The discovery of this “plot” was headlined in the media and Allende was deposed and murdered.There is a similarity between events that precipitated the overthrow of Allende and what happened in Indonesia in 1965. Estimates of the number of deaths that occurred as a result of the latter C.I.A. [one word deleted] operation run from one-half million to more than one million people.97


McGehee claims to have once seen, while reviewing CIA documents in Washington, a highly classified report on the agency’s role in provoking the destruction of the PKI after Gestapu. It seems appropriate to ask for congressional review and publication of any such report. If, as is alleged, it recommended such murderous techniques as a model for future operations, it would appear to document a major turning-point in the agency’s operation history: towards the systematic exploitation of the death squad operations which, absent during the Brazilian coup of 1964, made the Vietnam Phoenix counterinsurgency program notorious after 1967, and after 1968 spread from Guatemala to the rest of Latin America.98

McGehee’s claims of a CIA psychological warfare operation against Allende are corroborated by Tad Szulc:


CIA agents in Santiago assisted Chilean military intelligence in drafting bogus Z-plan documents alleging that Allende and his supporters were planning to behead Chilean military commanders. These were issued by the junta to justify the coup.99


Indeed the CIA deception operations against Allende appear to have gone even farther, terrifying both the left and the right with the fear of incipient slaughter by their enemies. Thus militant trade-unionists as well as conservative generals in Chile received small cards printed with the ominous words Djakarta se acerca (Jakarta is approaching).100

This is a model destabilization plan — to persuade all concerned that they no longer can hope to be protected by the status quo, and hence weaken the center, while inducing both right and left towards more violent provocation of each other. Such a plan appears to have been followed in Laos in 1959-61, where a CIA officer explained to a reporter that the aim “was to polarize Laos.”101 It appears to have been followed in Indonesia in 1965. Observers like Sundhaussen confirm that to understand the coup story of October 1965 we must look first of all at the “rumour market” which in 1965 … turned out the wildest stories.”102 On September 14, two weeks before the coup, the army was warned that there was a plot to assassinate army leaders four days later; a second such report was discussed at army headquarters on September 30.103 But a year earlier an alleged PKI document, which the PKI denounced as a forgery, had purported to describe a plan to overthrow “Nasutionists” through infiltration of the army. This “document,” which was reported in a Malaysian newspaper after being publicized by the pro-U.S. politician Chaerul Saleh104 in mid-December 1964, must have lent credence to Suharto’s call for an army unity meeting the next month.105

The army’s anxiety was increased by rumors, throughout 1965, that mainland China was smuggling arms to the PKI for an imminent revolt. Two weeks before Gestapu, a story to this effect also appeared in a Malaysian newspaper, citing Bangkok sources which relied in turn on Hong Kong sources.106 Such international untraceability is the stylistic hallmark of stories emanating in this period from what CIA insiders called their “mighty Wurlitzer,” the world-wide network of press “assets” through which the CIA, or sister agencies such as Britain’s MI-6, could plant unattributable disinformation.107 PKI demands for a popular militia or “fifth force,” and the training of PKI youth at Lubang Buaja, seemed much more sinister to the Indonesian army in the light of the Chinese arms stories.

But for months before the coup, the paranoia of the PKI had also been played on, by recurring reports that a CIA-backed “Council of Generals” was plotting to suppress the PKI. It was this mythical council, of course, that Untung announced as the target of his allegedly anti-CIA Gestapu coup. But such rumors did not just originate from anti-American sources; on the contrary, the first authoritative published reference to such a council was in a column of the Washington journalists Evans and Novak:


As far back as March, General Ibrahim Adjie, commander of the Siliwangi Division, had been quoted by two American journalists as saying of the Communists: “we knocked them out before [at Madiun]. We check them and check them again.” The same journalists claimed to have information that “…the Army has quietly established an advisory commission of five general officers to report to General Jani … and General Nasution … on PKI activities.”108


Mortimer sees the coincidence that five generals besides Yani were killed by Gestapu as possibly significant.
But we should also be struck by the revival in the United States of the image of Yani and Nasution as anti-PKI planners, long after the CIA and U.S. press stories had in fact written them off as unwilling to act against Sukarno.109 If the elimination by Gestapu of Suharto’s political competitors in the army was to be blamed on the left, then the scenario required just such a revival of the generals’ forgotten anti-Communist image in opposition to Sukarno. An anomalous unsigned August 1965 profile of Nasution in The New York Times, based on an 1963 interview but published only after a verbal attack by Nasution on British bases in Singapore, does just this: it claims (quite incongruously, given the context) that Nasution is “considered the strongest opponent of Communism in Indonesia”; and adds that Sukarno, backed by the PKI, “has been pursuing a campaign to neutralize the … army as an anti-Communist force.”110

In the same month of August 1965, fear of an imminent showdown between “the PKI and the Nasution group” was fomented in Indonesia by an underground pamphlet; this was distributed by the CIA’s long-time asset, the PSI, whose cadres were by now deeply involved: The PKI is combat ready. The Nasution group hope the PKI will be the first to draw the trigger, but this the PKI will not do.


The PKI will not allow itself to be provoked as in the Madiun Incident. In the end, however, there will be only two forces left: the PKI and the Nasution group. The middle will have no alternative but to choose and get protection from the stronger force.111


One could hardly hope to find a better epitome of the propaganda necessary for the CIA’s program of engineering paranoia.
McGehee’s article, after censorship by the CIA, focuses more narrowly on the CIA’s role in anti-PKI propaganda alone:


The Agency seized upon this opportunity [Suharto's response to Gestapu] and set out to destroy the P.K.I…. [eight sentences deleted]…. Media fabrications played a key role in stirring up popular resentment against the P.K.I. Photographs of the bodies of the dead generals — badly decomposed — were featured in all the newspapers and on television. Stories accompanying the pictures falsely claimed that the generals had been castrated and their eyes gouged out by Communist women. This cynically manufactured campaign was designed to foment public anger against the Communists and set the stage for a massacre.112


McGehee might have added that the propaganda stories of torture by hysterical women with razor blades, which serious scholars dismiss as groundless, were revived in a more sophisticated version by a U.S. journalist, John Hughes, who is now the chief spokesman for the State Department.113

Suharto’s forces, particularly Col. Sarwo Edhie of the RPKAD commandos, were overtly involved in the cynical exploitation of the victims’ bodies.114 But some aspects of the massive propaganda campaign appear to have been orchestrated by non-Indonesians. A case in point is the disputed editorial in support of Gestapu which appeared in the October 2 issue of the PKI newspaper Harian Rakjat. Professors Benedict Anderson and Ruth McVey, who have questioned the authenticity of this issue, have also ruled out the possibility that the newspaper was “an Army falsification,” on the grounds that the army’s “competence … at falsifying party documents has always been abysmally low.”115

The questions raised by Anderson and McVey have not yet been adequately answered. Why did the PKI show no support for the Gestapu coup while it was in progress, then rashly editorialize in support of Gestapu after it had been crushed? Why did the PKI, whose editorial gave support to Gestapu, fail to mobilize its followers to act on Gestapu’s behalf? Why did Suharto, by then in control of Jakarta, close down all newspapers except this one, and one other left-leaning newspaper which also served his propaganda ends?116 Why, in other words, did Suharto on October 2 allow the publication of only two Jakarta newspapers, two which were on the point of being closed down forever?

As was stated at the outset, it would be foolish to suggest that in 1965 the only violence came from the U.S. government, the Indonesian military, and their mutual contacts in British and Japanese intelligence. A longer paper could also discuss the provocative actions of the PKI, and of Sukarno himself, in this tragedy of social breakdown. Assuredly, from one point of view, no one was securely in control of events in this troubled period.117

And yet for two reasons such a fashionably objective summation of events seems inappropriate. In the first place, as the CIA’s own study concedes, we are talking about “one of the ghastliest and most concentrated bloodlettings of current times,” one whose scale of violence seems out of all proportion to such well-publicized left-wing acts as the murder of an army lieutenant at the Bandar Betsy plantation in May 1965,118 And, in the second place, the scenario described by McGehee for 1965 can be seen as not merely responding to the provocations, paranoia, and sheer noise of events in that year, but as actively encouraging and channeling them.

It should be noted that former CIA Director William Colby has repeatedly denied that there was CIA or other U.S. involvement in the massacre of 1965. (In the absence of a special CIA Task Force, Colby, as head of the CIA’s Far Eastern Division from 1962-66, would normally have been responsible for the CIA’s operations in Indonesia.) Colby’s denial is however linked to the discredited story of a PKI plot to seize political power, a story that he revived in 1978:


Indonesia exploded, with a bid for power by the largest Communist Party in the world outside the curtain, which killed the leadership of the army with Sukarno’s tacit approval and then was decimated in reprisal. CIA provided a steady flow of reports on the process in Indonesia, although it did not have any role in the course of events themselves.119


It is important to resolve the issue of U.S. involvement in this systematic murder operation, and particularly to learn more about the CIA account of this which McGehee claims to have seen. McGehee tells us: “The Agency was extremely proud of its successful [one word deleted] and recommended it as a model for future operations [one-half sentence deleted].”120 Ambassador Green reports of an interview with Nixon in 1967:


The Indonesian experience had been one of particular interest to [Nixon] because things had gone well in Indonesia. I think he was very interested in that whole experience as pointing to the way we [!] should handle our relationships on a wider basis in Southeast Asia generally, and maybe in the world.121


Such unchallenged assessments help explain the role of Indonesians in the Nixon-sponsored overthrow of Sihanouk in Cambodia in 1970, the use of the Jakarta scenario for the overthrow of Allende in Chile in 1973, and the U.S. sponsorship today of the death squad regimes in Central America.122


Peter Dale Scott,University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A., December 1984


1. The difficulties of this analysis, based chiefly on the so-called “evidence” presented at the Mahmilub trials, will be obvious to anyone who has tried to reconcile the conflicting accounts of Gestapu in, e.g., the official Suharto account by Nugroho Notosusanto and Ismail Saleh, and the somewhat less fanciful CIA study of 1968, both referred to later. I shall draw only on those parts of the Mahmilub evidence which limit or discredit their anti-PKI thesis. For interpretation of the Mahmilub data, cf. especially Coen Holtzappel, “The 30 September Movement,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 (1979), pp. 216-40. The case for general skepticism is argued by Rex Mortimer, Indonesian Communism Under Sukarno (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp. 421-3; and more forcefully, by Julie Southwood and Patrick Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, Propaganda, and Terror (London: Zed Press, 1983), pp. 126-34.

2. At his long-delayed trial in 1978, Gestapu plotter Latief confirmed earlier revelations that he had visited his old commander Suharto on the eve of the Gestapu kidnappings. He claimed that he raised with Suharto the existence of an alleged right-wing “Council of Generals” plotting to seize power, and informed him “of a movement which was intended to thwart the plan of the generals’ council for a coup d’etat” (Anon., “The Latief Case: Suharto’s Involvement Revealed,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 [1979], pp. 248-50). For a more comprehensive view of Suharto’s involvement in Gestapu, cf. especially W.F. Wertheim, “Whose Plot? New Light on the 1965 Events,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 (1979), pp. 197-215; Holtzappel, “The 30 September,” in contrast, points more particularly to intelligence officers close to the banned Murba party of Chaerul Saleh and Adam Malik: cf. fn. 104.

3. The three phases are: (1) “Gestapu,” the induced left-wing “coup”; (2) “KAP-Gestapu,” or the anti-Gestapu “response,” massacring the PKI; (3) the progressive erosion of Sukarno’s remaining power. This paper will chiefly discuss Gestapu / KAP-Gestapu, the first two phases. To call the first phase by itself a “coup” is in my view an abuse of terminology: there is no real evidence that in this phase political power changed hands or that this was the intention.

4. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Research Study: Indonesia — The Coup that Backfired, 1968 (cited hereafter as CIA Study), p. 71n.
5. Harold Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1978), pp. 79-81.
6. In addition, one of the two Gestapu victims in Central Java (Colonel Katamso) was the only non-PKI official of rank to attend the PKI’s nineteenth anniversary celebration in Jogjakarta in May 1964: Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 432. Ironically, the belated “discovery” of his corpse was used to trigger off the purge of his PKI contacts.

7. Four of the six pro-Yani representatives in January were killed along with Yani on October 1. Of the five anti-Yani representatives in January, we shall see that at least three were prominent in “putting down” Gestapu and completing the elimination of the Yani-Sukarno loyalists (the three were Suharto, Basuki Rachmat, and Sudirman of SESKOAD, the Indonesian Army Staff and Command School): Crouch, The Army, p. 81n.

8. While Nasution’s daughter and aide were murdered, he was able to escape without serious injury, and support the ensuing purge.
9. Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 165 (CIA Memorandum of 22 March 1961 from Richard M. Bissell, Attachment B). By 1965 this disillusionment was heightened by Nasution’s deep opposition to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

10. Crouch, The Army, p. 40; Brian May, The Indonesian Tragedy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978), pp. 221-2.
11. I shall assume for this condensed argument that Untung was the author, or at least approved, of the statements issued in his name. Scholars who see Untung as a dupe of Gestapu’s controllers note that Untung was nowhere near the radio station broadcasting in his name, and that he appears to have had little or no influence over the task force which occupied it (under Captain Suradi of the intelligence service of Colonel Latief’s Brigade): Holtzappel, pp. 218, 231-2, 236-7. I have no reason to contradict those careful analysts of Gestapu — such as Wertheim, “Whose Plot?” p. 212, and Holtzappel, “The 30 September,” p. 231 — who conclude that Untung personally was sincere, and manipulated by other dalangs such as Sjam.

12. Broadcast of 7:15 a.m. October 1; Indonesia 1 (April 1966), p. 134; Ulf Sundhaussen, The Road to Power: Indonesian Military Politics, 1945-1967 (Kuala Lumpur and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 196.
13. Ibid., p. 201.
14. Broadcasts of October 1 and 4, 1965; Indonesia 1 (April 1966), pp. 158-9.
15. CIA Study, p. 2; O.G. Roeder, The Smiling General: President Soeharto of Indonesia (Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1970), p. 12, quoting Suharto himself: “On my way to KOSTRAD HQ [Suharto's HQ] I passed soldiers in green berets who were placed under KOSTRAD command but who did not salute me.”

16. Anderson and McVey concluded that Sukarno, Air Force Chief Omar Dhani, PKI Chairman Aidit (the three principal political targets of Suharto’s anti-Gestapu “response”) were rounded up by the Gestapu plotters in the middle of the night, and taken to Halim air force base, about one mile from the well at Lubang Buaja where the generals’ corpses were discovered. In 1966 they surmised that this was “to seal the conspirators’ control of the bases,” and to persuade Sukarno “to go along with” the conspirators’ plans (Benedict Anderson and Ruth McVey, A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965, Coup in Indonesia [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1971], pp. 19-21). An alternative hypothesis of course is that Gestapu, by bringing these men together against their will, created the semblance of a PKI-air force-Sukarno conspiracy which would later be exploited by Suharto. Sukarno’s presence at Halim “was later to provide Sukarno’s critics with some of their handiest ammunition” (John Hughes, The End of Sukarno [London: Angus and Robertson, 1978], p. 54).

17. CIA Study, p. 2; cf. p. 65: “At the height of the coup … the troops of the rebels [in Central Java] were estimated to have the strength of only one battalion; during the next two days, these forces gradually melted away.”

18. Rudolf Mrazek, The United States and the Indonesian Military, 1945-1966 (Prague: Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, 1978), vol. II, p. 172. These battalions, comprising the bulk of the 3rd Paratroop Brigade, also supplied the bulk of the troops used to put down Gestapu in Jakarta. The subordination of these two factions in this supposed civil war to a single close command structure under Suharto is cited to explain how Suharto was able to restore order in the city without gunfire. Meanwhile out at the Halim air force base an alleged gun battle between the 454th (Green Beret) and RPKAD (Red Beret) paratroops went off “without the loss of a single man” (CIA Study, p. 60). In Central Java, also, power “changed hands silently and peacefully,” with “an astonishing lack of violence” (CIA Study, p. 66).

19. Ibid., p. 60n; Arthur J. Dommen, “The Attempted Coup in Indonesia,” China Quarterly, January-March 1966, p. 147. The first “get-acquainted” meeting of the Gestapu plotters is placed in the Indonesian chronology of events from “sometimes before August 17, 1965″; cf. Nugroho Notosusanto and Ismail Saleh, The Coup Attempt of the “September 30 Movement” in Indonesia (Jakarta: [Pembimbing Masa, 1968], p. 13); in the CIA Study, this meeting is dated September 6 (p. 112). Neither account allows more than a few weeks to plot a coup in the world’s fifth most populous country.

20. Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 429.
21. Of the six General Staff officers appointed along with Yani, three (Suprapto, D.I. Pandjaitan, and S. Parman) were murdered. Of the three survivors, two (Mursjid and Pranoto) were removed by Suharto in the next eight months. The last member of Yani’s staff, Djamin Gintings, was used by Suharto during the establishment of the New Order, and ignored thereafter.
22. Howard Palfrey Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1971), p. 391; cf. Arnold Brackman, The Communist Collapse in Indonesia (New York: Norton, 1969), pp. 118-9.
23. Crouch, The Army, p. 150n.
24. Ibid., pp. 140-53; for the disputed case of Bali, even Robert Shaplen, a journalist close to U.S. official sources, concedes that “The Army began it” (Time Out of Hand [New York: Harper and Row, 1969], p. 125). The slaughter in East Java “also really got started when the RPKAD arrived, not just Central Java and Bali” (letter from Benedict Anderson).
25. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 171, 178-9, 210, 228; Donald Hindley, “Alirans and the Fall of the Older Order,” Indonesia, 25 (April 1970), pp. 40-41.
26. Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 219.
27. “In 1965 it [the BND, or intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany] assisted Indonesia’s military secret service to suppress a left-wing Putsch in Djakarta, delivering sub-machine guns, radio equipment and money to the value of 300,000 marks” (Heinz Hoehne and Hermann Zolling, The General Was a Spy [New York: Bantam, 1972], p. xxxiii).

28. We should not be misled by the CIA’s support of the 1958 rebellion into assuming that all U.S. Government plotting against Sukarno and the PKI must have been CIA-based (cf. fn. 122).

29. Daniel Lev, The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University press, 1966), p. 12. For John Foster Dulles’ hostility to Indonesian unity in 1953, cf. Leonard Mosley, Dulles (New York: The Dial Press / James Wade, 1978), p. 437.
30. Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue (Woodbridge, Connecticut: Research Publications, 1982), 001191.

31. As the head of the PKI’s secret Special Bureau, responsible only to Aidit, Sjam by his own testimony provided leadership to the “progressive officers” of Gestapu. The issue of PKI involvement in Gestapu thus rests on the question of whether Sjam was manipulating the Gestapu leadership on behalf of the PKI, or the PKI leadership on behalf of the army. There seems to be no disagreement that Sjam was (according to the CIA Study, p. 107) a longtime “double agent” and professed “informer for the Djakarta Military Command.” Wertheim (p. 203) notes that in the 1950s Sjam “was a cadre of the PSI,” and “had also been in touch with Lt. Col. Suharto, today’s President, who often came to stay in his house in Jogja.” This might help explain why in the 1970s, after having been sentenced to death, Sjam and his co-conspirator Supeno were reportedly “allowed out [of prison] from time to time and wrote reports for the army on the political situation” (May, The Indonesian, p. 114). Additionally, the “Sjam” who actually testified and was convicted, after being “captured” on March 9, 1967, was the third individual to be identified by the army as the “Sjam” of whom Untung had spoken: Declassified Documents Retrospective Collection (Washington, D.C.: Carrollton Press, 1976), 613C; Hughes, p. 25.

32. Wertheim, “Whose Plot?” p. 203; Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 431 (Sjam); Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 228 (Suwarto and Sarwo Edhie).
33. Joseph B. Smith, Portrait of a Cold Warrior (New York: Putnam, 1976), p. 205; cf. Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets (New York: Knopf, 1979), p. 89.
34. U.S., Congress, Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders,” 94th Cong., 1st Sess., 1975 (Senate Report No. 94-465), p. 4n; personal communications.
35. Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 002386; 1981, 367A.
36. Ibid., 1982, 002386 (JCS Memo for SecDef, 22 September 1958).
37. Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 164 (CIA Memorandum of 22 March 1961, Attachment A, p. 6).

38. Scholars are divided over interpretations of Madiun as they are over Gestapu. Few Americans have endorsed the conclusion of Wertheim that “the so-called communist revolt of Madiun … was probably more or less provoked by anti-communist elements”; yet Kahin has suggested that the events leading to Madiun “may have been symptomatic of a general and widespread government drive aimed at cutting down the military strength of the PKI” (W.F. Wertheim, Indonesian Society in Transition [The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1956], p. 82; George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1970], p. 288). Cf. Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 26-30.

39. Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 68; cf. Nasution’s statement to students on November 12, 1965, reprinted in Indonesia, 1 (April 1966), p. 183: “We are obliged and dutybound to wipe them [the PKI] from the soil of Indonesia.”

40. Examples in Peter Dale Scott, “Exporting Military-Economic Development,” in Malcolm Caldwell, ed., Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia (Nottingham, England: Spokesman Books, 1975), pp. 227-32.
41. David Ransom, “Ford Country: Building an Elite for Indonesia,” in Steve Weissman, ed., The Trojan Horse (San Francisco, California: Ramparts Press, 1974), p. 97; cf. p. 101. Pauker brought Suwarto to RAND in 1962.
42. John H. Johnson, ed., The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1962), pp. 222-4. The foreword to the book is by Klaus Knorr, who worked for the CIA while teaching at Princeton.

43. Shaplen, Time, p. 118; Hughes, The End, p. 119; Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 75-6; Scott, “Exporting,” p. 231. William Kintner, a CIA (OPC) senior staff officer from 1950-52, and later Nixon’s ambassador to Thailand, also wrote in favor of “liquidating” the PKI while working at a CIA-subsidized think-tank, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, on the University of Pennsylvania campus (William Kintner and Joseph Kornfeder, The New Frontier of War [London: Frederick Muller, 1963], pp. 233, 237-8): “If the PKI is able to maintain its legal existence and Soviet influence continues to grow, it is possible that Indonesia may be the first Southeast Asia country to be taken over by a popularly based, legally elected communist government…. In the meantime, with Western help, free Asian political leaders — together with the military — must not only hold on and manage, but reform and advance while liquidating the enemy’s political and guerrilla armies.”

44. Ransom, “Ford Country,” pp. 95-103; Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 34-6; Scott, “Exporting,” pp. 227-35.
45. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 141, 175.

46. Published U.S. accounts of the Civic Mission / “civic action” programs describe them as devoted to “civic projects — rehabilitating canals, draining swampland to create new rice paddies, building bridges and roads, and so on (Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation [Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1967], p. 377). But a memo to President Johnson from Secretary of State Rusk, on July 17, 1964, makes it clear that at that time the chief importance of MILTAG was for its contact with anti-Communist elements in the Indonesian Army and its Territorial Organization: “Our aid to Indonesia … we are satisfied … is not helping Indonesia militarily. It is however, permitting us to maintain some contact with key elements in Indonesia which are interested in and capable of resisting Communist takeover. We think this is of vital importance to the entire Free World” (Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 001786 [DOS Memo for President of July 17, 1964; italics in original]).

47. Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 35; Scott, “Exporting,” p. 233.
48. Ransom, “Ford Country,” pp. 101-2, quoting Willis G. Ethel; cited in Scott, “Exporting,” p. 235.
49. Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 141. There was also the army’s “own securely controlled paramilitary organization of students — modelled on the U.S.R.O.T.C. and commanded by an army colonel [Djuhartono] fresh from the U.S. army intelligence course in Hawaii”: Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, p. 139, citing interview of Nasution with George Kahin, July 8, 1963.

50. Pauker, though modest in assessing his own political influence, does claim that a RAND paper he wrote on counterinsurgency and social justice, ignored by the U.S. military for whom it was intended, was influential in the development of his friend Suwarto’s Civic Mission doctrine.

51. Noam Chomsky and E.S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1979), p. 206; David Mozingo, Chinese Policy Toward Indonesia (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1976), p. 178.
52. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 178-9. The PSI of course was neither monolithic nor a simple instrument of U.S. policy. But the real point is that, in this 1963 incident as in others, we see conspiratorial activity relevant to the military takeover, involving PSI and other individuals who were at the focus of U.S. training programs, and who would play an important role in 1965.

53. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 228-33: in January 1966 the “PSI activists” in Bandung “knew exactly what they were aiming at, which was nothing less than the overthrow of Sukarno. Moreover, they had the protection of much of the Siliwangi officer corps” Once again, I use Sundhaussen’s term “PSI-leaning” to denote a milieu, not to explain it. Sarwo Edhie was a long-time CIA contact, while Kemal Idris’ role in 1965 may owe much to his former PETA commander the Japanese intelligence officer Yanagawa. Cf. Masashi Nishihara, The Japanese and Sukarno’s Indonesia (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1976), pp. 138, 212.

54. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 99-101. Lubis was also a leader in the November 1957 assassination attempt against Sukarno, and the 1958 rebellion.
55. Ibid., 188; cf. p. 159n.

56. Suharto’s “student” status does not of course mean that he was a mere pawn in the hands of those with whom he established contact at SESKOAD. For example, Suharto’s independence from the PSI and those close to them became quite evident in January 1974, when he and Ali Murtopo cracked down on those responsible for army-tolerated student riots reminiscent of the one in May 1963. Cf. Crouch, The Army, pp. 309-17.

57. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 228, 241-43. In the same period SESKOAD was used for the political re-education of generals like Surjosumpeno, who, although anti-Communist, were guilty of loyalty to Sukarno (p. 238).
58. Crouch, The Army, p. 80; at this time Suharto was already unhappy with Sukarno’s “rising pro-communist policy” (Roeder, The Smiling, p. 9).
59. Crouch, The Army, p. 81; cf. Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, pp. 149-51.
60. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 241-3.
61. Through his intelligence group OPSUS (headed by Ali Murtopo) Suharto made contact with Malaysian leaders; in two accounts former PSI and PRRI / Permesta personnel in Malaysia played a role in setting up this sensitive political liaison: Crouch, The Army, p. 74; Nishihara, The Japanese, p. 149.
62. Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 188.
63. Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, p. 152.

64. Cf. Edward Luttwak, Coup D’Etat: A Practical Handbook (London: Allen Lane / Penguin Press, 1968), p. 61: “though Communist-infiltrated army units were very powerful they were in the wrong place; while they sat in the Borneo jungles the anti-Communist paratroops and marines took over Jakarta, and the country.” What is most interesting in this informed account by Luttwak (who has worked for years with the CIA) is that “the anti-Communist paratroops” included not only the RPKAD but those who staged the Gestapu uprising in Jakarta, before putting it down.
65. Nishihara, The Japanese, pp. 142, 149.

66.Ibid., p. 202, cf. p. 207. The PRRI / Permesta veterans engaged in the OPSUS peace feelers, Daan Mogot and Willy Pesik, had with Jan Walandouw been part of a 1958 PRRI secret mission to Japan, a mission detailed in the inside account by former CIA officer Joseph B. Smith (Portrait of a Cold Warrior [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1976], p. 245), following which Walandouw flew on “to Taipeh, then Manila and New York.”

67. Personal communication. If the account of Neville Maxwell (senior research officer at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Oxford University) can be believed, then the planning of the Gestapu / anti-Gestapu scenario may well have begun in 1964 (Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 [1979], pp. 251-2; reprinted in Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 13): “A few years ago I was researching in Pakistan into the diplomatic background of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict, and in foreign ministry papers to which I had been given access came across a letter to the then foreign minister, Mr. Bhutto, from one of his ambassadors in Europe … reporting a conversation with a Dutch intelligence officer with NATO. According to my note of that letter, the officer had remarked to the Pakistani diplomat that ‘Indonesia was going to fall into the Western lap like a rotten apple.’ Western intelligence agencies, he said, would organize a ‘premature communist coup … [which would be] foredoomed to fail, providing a legitimate and welcome opportunity to the army to crush the communists and make Soekarno a prisoner of the army’s goodwill.’ The ambassador’s report was dated December 1964.”

68. Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 164 (CIA Memo of March 27, 1961, Appendix A, p. 8); cf. Powers, The Man, p. 89.
69. Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 165 (CIA Memo of March 27, 1961).

70. The lame-duck Eisenhower NSC memo would have committed the U.S. to oppose not just the PKI in Indonesia, but “a policy increasingly friendly toward the Sino-Soviet bloc on the part of whatever regime is in power.” “The size and importance of Indonesia,” it concluded, “dictate [!] a vigorous U.S. effort to prevent these contingencies”: Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 000592 (NSC 6023 of 19 December, 1960). For other U.S. intrigues at this time to induce a more vigorous U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia, cf. Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1983, 001285-86; Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy (New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1972), pp. 12-14, 17-20.

71. Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream, p. 299.
72. Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, pp. 385-6.
73. U.S. Department of Defense, Military Assistance Facts, May 1, 1966. Before 1963 the existence as well as the amount of the MAP in Indonesia was withheld from the public; retroactively, figures were published. After 1962 the total deliveries of military aid declined dramatically, but were aimed more and more particularly at anti-PKI and anti-Sukarno plotters in the army; cf. fns. 46, 76 and 83.
74. The New York Times, August 5, 1965, p. 3; cf. Nishihara, The Japanese, p. 149; Mrazek, vol. II, p. 121.

75. A Senate amendment in 1964 to cut off all aid to Indonesia unconditionally was quietly killed in conference committee, on the misleading ground that the Foreign Assistance Act “requires the President to report fully and concurrently to both Houses of the Congress on any assistance furnished to Indonesia” (U.S. Cong., Senate, Report No. 88-1925, Foreign Assistance Act of 1964, p. 11). In fact the act’s requirement that the president report “to Congress” applied to eighteen other countries, but in the case of Indonesia he was to report to two Senate Committees and the speaker of the House: Foreign Assistance Act, Section 620(j).
76. Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream, p. 324.

77. U.S., Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Multinational Corporations and United States Foreign Policy, Hearings (cited hereafter as Church Committee Hearings), 94th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1978, p. 941; Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, p. 22. Mrazek quotes Lt. Col. Juono of the corps as saying that “we are completely dependent on the assistance of the United States.”
78. Notosusanto and Saleh, The Coup, pp. 43, 46.
79. Nishihara, The Japanese (pp. 171, 194, 202), shows the role in the 1965-66 anti-Sukarno conspiracy of the small faction (including Ibnu Sutowo, Adam Malik, and the influential Japanese oilman Nishijima) who interposed themselves as negotiators between the 1958 PRRI Rebellion and the central government. Alamsjah, mentioned below, was another member of this group; he joined Suharto’s staff in 1960. For Murba and CIA, cf. fn. 104.
80. Fortune, July 1973, p. 154, cf. Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1967; both in Scott, “Exporting,” pp. 239, 258.
81. Declassified Documents Retrospective Collection, 609A (Embassy Cable 1002 of October 14, 1965); 613A (Embassy Cable 1353 of November 7, 1965).
82. The New York Times, August 5, 1965, p. 3.
83. U.S. Department of Defense, Military Assistance Facts, May 1, 1966. The thirty-two military personnel in FY 1965 represent an increase over the projected figure in March 1964 of twenty-nine. Most of them were apparently Green Beret U.S. Special Forces, whose forward base on Okinawa was visited in August 1965 by Gestapu plotter Saherman. Cf. fn. 122.
84. George Benson, an associate of Guy Pauker who headed the Military Training Advisory Group (MILTAG) in Jakarta, was later hired by Ibnu Sutowo to act as a lobbyist for the army’s oil company (renamed Pertamina) in Washington: The New York Times, December 6, 1981, p. 1.
85. San Francisco Chronicle, October 24, 1983, p. 22, describes one such USAF-Lockheed operation in Southeast Asia, “code-named ‘Operation Buttercup’ that operated out of Norton Air Force Base in California from 1965 to 1972.” For the CIA’s close involvement in Lockheed payoffs, cf. Anthony Sampson, The Arms Bazaar (New York: Viking, 1977), pp. 137, 227-8, 238.
86. Church Committee Hearings, pp. 943-51.
87. Ibid., p. 960.
88. Nishihara, The Japanese, p. 153.
89. Lockheed Aircraft International, memo of Fred C. Meuser to Erle M. Constable, 19 July 1968, in Church Committee Hearings, p. 962.
90. Ibid., p. 954; cf. p. 957. In 1968, when Alamsjah suffered a decline in power, Lockheed did away with the middleman and paid its agents’ fees directly to a group of military officers (pp. 342, 977).
91. Church Committee Hearings, p. 941; cf. p. 955.
92. Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 59.
93. Crouch, The Army, p. 114.
94. Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 002507 (Cable of April 15, 1965, from U.S. Delegation to U.N.); cf. Forbes Wilson, The Conquest of Copper Mountain (New York: Atheneum, 1981), pp. 153-5.
95. World Oil, August 15, 1965, p. 209.
96. The New York Times, June 19, 1966, IV, 4.
97. Ralph McGehee, “The C.I.A. and the White Paper on El Salvador,” The Nation, April 11, 1981, p. 423. The deleted word would appear from its context to be “deception.” Cf. Roger Morris and Richard Mauzy, “Following the Scenario,” in Robert L. Borosage and John Marks, eds., The CIA File (New York: Grossman / Viking, 1976), p. 39: “Thus the fear of Communist subversion, which erupted to a frenzy of killing in 1965-1966, had been encouraged in the ‘penetration’ propaganda of the Agency in Indonesia…. ‘All I know,’ said one former intelligence officer of the Indonesia events, ‘is that the Agency rolled in some of its top people and that things broke big and very favorable, as far as we were concerned.’” All references to deletions appear in the original text as printed in The Nation. These bracketed portions, shown in this article in bold-face type, reflect censorship by the CIA.
98. Victor Marchetti and John Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (New York: Knopf, 1974), p. 245. For a list of twenty-five U.S. operatives transferred from Vietnam to Guatemala in the 1964-73 period, cf. Susanne Jonas and David Tobis, Guatemala (Berkeley, California, and New York: North American Congress on Latin America, 1974), p. 201.
99. Tad Szulc, The Illusion of Peace (New York: Viking, 1978), p. 724. The top CIA operative in charge of the 1970 anti-Allende operation, Sam Halpern, had previously served as chief executive officer on the CIA’s anti-Sukarno operation of 1957-58: Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power (New York: Summit Books, 1983), p. 277; Powers, The Man, p. 91.
100. Donald Freed and Fred Simon Landis, Death in Washington (Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill, 1980), pp. 104-5.
101. Time, March 17, 1961.
102. Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 195.
103. Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream, p. 374; Justus M. van der Kroef, “Origins of the 1965 Coup in Indonesia: Probabilities and Alternatives,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, III, 2 (September 1972), p. 282. Three generals were alleged targeted in the first report (Suharto, Mursjid, and Sukendro); all survived Gestapu.
104. Chaerul Saleh’s Murba Party, including the pro-U.S. Adam Malik, was also promoting the anti-Communist “Body to Support Sukarnoism” (BPS), which was banned by Sukarno on December 17, 1964. (Subandrio “is reported to have supplied Sukarno with information purporting to show U.S. Central Intelligence Agency influence behind the BPS” [Mortimer, p. 377]; it clearly did have support from the CIA- and army-backed labor organization SOKSI.) Shortly afterwards, Murba itself was banned, and promptly “became active as a disseminator of rumours and unrest” (Holtzappel, p. 238).
105. Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 183; Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, pp. 376-77; Singapore Straits Times, December 24, 1964; quoted in Van der Kroef, “Origins,” p. 283.
106. Sabah Times, September 14, 1965; quoted in Van der Kroef, “Origins,” p. 296. Mozingo, Chinese Policy (p. 242) dismisses charges such as these with a contemptuous footnote.
107. Powers, The Man, p. 80; cf. Senate Report No. 94-755, Foreign and Military Intelligence, p. 192. CIA-sponsored channels also disseminated the Chinese arms story at this time inside the United States — e.g., Brian Crozier, “Indonesia’s Civil War,” New Leader, November 1965, p. 4.
108. Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 386. The Evans and Novak column coincided with the surfacing of the so-called “Gilchrist letter,” in which the British ambassador purportedly wrote about a U.S.-U.K. anti-Sukarno plot to be executed “together with local army friends.” All accounts agree that the letter was a forgery. However it distracted attention from a more incriminating letter from Ambassador Gilchrist, which Sukarno had discussed with Lyndon Johnson’s envoy Michael Forrestal in mid-February 1965, and whose authenticity Forrestal (who knew of the letter) did not deny (Declassified Documents Retrospective Collection, 594H [Embassy Cable 1583 of February 13, 1965]).
109. Cf. Denis Warner, Reporter, March 28, 1963, pp. 62-63: “Yet with General A.H. Nasution, the defense minister, and General Jani, the army chief of staff, now out-Sukarnoing Sukarno in the dispute with Malaya over Malaysia … Mr. Brackman and all other serious students of Indonesia must be troubled by the growing irresponsibility of the army leadership.”
110. The New York Times, August 12, 1965, p. 2.
111. Brackman, The Communist, p. 40.
112. McGehee, “The C.I.A.,” p. 423.
113. Hughes, The End, pp. 43-50; cf. Crouch, The Army, p. 140n: “No evidence supports these stories.”
114. Hughes, The End, p. 150, also tells how Sarwo Edhie exploited the corpse of Colonel Katamso as a pretext for provoking a massacre of the PKI in Central Java; cf. Crouch, p. 154n; also fn. 6.
115. Anderson and McVey, A Preliminary, p. 133.
116. Benedict Anderson and Ruth McVey, “What Happened in Indonesia?” New York Review of Books, June 1, 1978, p. 41; personal communication from Anderson. A second newspaper, Suluh Indonesia, told its PNI readers that the PNI did not support Gestapu, and thus served to neutralize potential opposition to Suharto’s seizure of power.
117. Thus defenders of the U.S. role in this period might point out that where “civic action” had been most deeply implanted, in West Java, the number of civilians murdered was relatively (!) small; and that the most indiscriminate slaughter occurred where civic action programs had been only recently introduced. This does not, in my view, diminish the U.S. share of responsibility for the slaughter.
118. CIA Study, p. 70; Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 185.
119. William Colby, Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), p. 227. Crouch, The Army (p. 108), finds no suggestion in the Mahmilub evidence “that the PKI aimed at taking over the government,” only that it hoped to protect itself from the Council of Generals.
120. McGehee, “The C.I.A.,” p. 424.
121. Szulc, The Illusion, p. 16.
122. Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 38-9 (Cambodia). According to a former U.S. Navy intelligence specialist, the initial U.S. military plan to overthrow Sihanouk “included a request for authorization to insert a U.S.-trained assassination team disguised as Vietcong insurgents into Phnom Penh to kill Prince Sihanouk as a pretext for revolution” (Hersh, The Price, p. 179). As Hersh points out, Green Beret assassination teams that operated inside South Vietnam routinely dressed as Vietcong cadre while on missions. Thus the alleged U.S. plan of 1968, which was reportedly approved “shortly after Nixon’s inauguration … ‘at the highest level of government,’” called for an assassination of a moderate at the center by apparent leftists, as a pretext for a right-wing seizure of power. This raises an interesting question, albeit outlandish: did the earlier anti-Sukarno operation call for foreign elements to be infiltrated into the Gestapu forces murdering the generals? Holtzappel (“The 30 September,” p. 222) has suspected “the use of outsiders who are given suitable disguises to do a dirty job.” He points to trial witnesses from Untung’s battalion and the murder team who “declared under oath not to have known … their battalion commander.” Though these witnesses themselves would not have been foreigners, foreigners could have infiltrated more easily into their ranks than into a regular battalion.

Hidden Holocaust of 1965

May 15, 2009 Secret records of the US State Department and CIA provide evidence that the massacre of Indonesia’s communists in 1965 was not a result of spontaneous uprisings but a deliberate campaign by General Soeharto. MARIAN WILKINSON reveals that the records show the US and Australia knew what was happening – but continued to back the army in its bloody takeover.
The recent elections in Indonesia were the first in three decades not stage-managed by the army and former President Soeharto.
But casting a long shadow over the poll are the brutal events in 1965 that first brought General Soeharto to office and toppled the government of President Sukarno, the father of Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Between 500,000 and a million Indonesians, many of them members or supporters of Indonesia’s then Communist party, the PKI, are estimated to have died in the slaughter that accompanied the military takeover. Tens of thousands more were rounded up and sent to gulag-style of prisons.
Some of these former political prisoners are calling for any new government to hold a truth commission into this dark period of Indonesian history, and several recent events lend weight to those calls.
The current brutal activities by paramilitary groups in East Timor have direct parallels with the events of 1965. Cables from the US State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, recounting the Indonesian Army’s strategy in 1965, eerily reflect many incidents now taking place in East Timor: most disturbingly, the training and arming of paramilitary death squads to kill leftist opponents.

The records from 1965 show damning evidence of the Indonesian Army directing massacres and employing death squads against its communist opponents. Over the past two decades, leading American and Australian academics have been examining these records as they became declassified.

In 1990, a US lawyer, Kathy Kadane, published an extraordinary account detailing how an American diplomat provided lists of Indonesian communists to the Soeharto forces when the mass killings were beginning. A collection of former “Top Secret” and “Secret” US records on the massacres was recently gathered by Washington researcher John Kelly for a documentary project, but when the project lapsed these records were handed to the Herald. Using these and other recently declassified documents, along with Kadane’s records, it is possible to chart one of the greatest massacres of postwar history through the voices of American diplomats and intelligence officers.

Many of the cables, written over five months from October 1965 to February 1966, are from the US Ambassador, Marshall Green, who later served as ambassador to Australia. They are addressed to the then US Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and his aides.

One of the most confronting aspect of the cables is the American accounts of the Indonesian Army’s use of death squads drawn from Muslim and Catholic youth groups, and the propaganda efforts used to whip up their political supporters into a frenzy. The cables reveal the strong US support for the anti-communist purges even as the killings mounted. They also reveal the extensive links between senior Indonesian Army officers and the US Embassy.

Two key US connections were General Nasution, Soeharto’s close confidant, and Adam Malik, the man who would become Soeharto’s long-serving Foreign Minister. Indeed, as Kadane revealed, it was Malik’s aide who was given the list of communist names by the US Embassy to hand to the army.
The events that triggered the bloody army takeover are bitterly disputed, even today. Both the Indonesian Army and the West maintained the bloodshed began after an attempted coup masterminded by the PKI.
In September 1965, Indonesia, under the left-wing nationalist President Sukarno, was in crisis. Sukarno’s power rested, in part, on the support of the PKI, the largest political party in the country. Sukarno used the PKI to contain the power of the army. His relations with his top generals and the West were tense. His country was in armed border “confrontation” with Britain and Australia over Malaysia, and he was threatening to break diplomatic relations with the US and nationalise American oil assets. His deputy, Foreign Minister Subandrio, only months before had accused the West of working with senior army officers to assassinate the President, and rumours were rife that pro-US generals were planning a coup for early October.

ON THE night of September 30, 1965, a small group of junior military officers, led by one of Sukarno’s bodyguards, Colonel Untung, kidnapped and killed six senior army generals and announced that a revolutionary council was now running the country in order to save Sukarno from a “CIA-backed coup”. But one of its main targets, General Nasution, escaped to launch a counterattack with General Soeharto, then head of the army’s strategic command.

There was great confusion at the time over who ordered the original attack: was it Sukarno himself, a dissident military faction or the PKI? Despite the contradictory evidence, Soeharto and Nasution moved quickly to blame the PKI and used the “September 30 affair” as the justification for the bloody suppression of the communists and their supporters.

The PKI could muster very little resistance, despite the army’s claims that it had been preparing an armed uprising. In just five months, hundreds of thousands were slaughtered. The US and Australia came out strongly behind Soeharto.


Just when the army first decided to exploit the “September 30 affair”, to purge the PKI, is outlined in a cable from Green to Washington five days after the generals’ murder. The cable, dated October 5, shows Green is still unsure of the evidence for the PKI’s role. He telegrams that the rebels probably included the air force, a key army division, and Colonel Untung but that the: inclusion of Sukarno and or PKI leadership not certain although there is considerable evidence that both probably involved in some way. But Green stresses: Whatever the background … army in control, and it has important instruments of power such as press, radio and TV. It also has a cause in murder of six top leaders if army chooses to use it and it has already begun to do so … Muslim groups and others (except communists and their stooges) are lined up behind army … PKI has suffered a serious setback for its endorsement of, and perhaps participation in, discredited Sept Movement … Army now has opportunity to move against PKI if it acts quickly … Momentum is now at peak with discovery of bodies of murdered army leaders. In short, it’s now or never …
Then he advises: Despite all its shortcomings, we believe odds are that army will act to pin blame for recent events on PKI and its allies. Much remains in doubt, but it seems almost certain that agony of ridding Indonesia of effects of Sukarno … has begun.

Green’s recommendations to Washington were: Avoid overt involvement as power struggle unfolds … However, indicate clearly to key people in army such as Nasution and Soeharto our desire to be of assistance where we can … Maintain and if possible extend our contact with military, and: Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality (this priority effort is perhaps most-needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as solely or largely US effort).
The next day the embassy’s Indonesian Working Group, made up of diplomats and CIA officers, sent an optimistic report to Washington: The army appears now to have determined to move vigorously against the PKI … Chief of the Jakarta PKI Committee and former head of SOBSI (PKI-led labour federation) was arrested by the army along with several members of Pemuda Rakjat and Gerwani (respectively, PKI youth and women’s auxiliaries) and an undetermined number of lesser PKI officials. There is less reliable information that firing squads are being formed to execute captured PKI members.
But a day later Green warned Washington he was worried that: Extent army determination to stand up to Sukarno still not (repeat) not clear. However, he informed them: Army has begun extensive sweeps in Jakarta lower-class suburbs to round up communist para-military elements active in Sept 30 violence. He also had news that Muslim and Christian newspapers had began publishing anti-PKI stories: Joining anti-communist campaign begun by the two army dailies; and that a pro-army youth group in Medan, the IP-KI: Began destroying PKI property in late afternoon of Oct 5 and PKI had gone into hiding there. He also stated the embassy had received reports: That PKI in recent days slaughtered 90 Muslims in Padang.

By October 8, Green cabled Washington optimistically: Communists are now on the run for the first time in many years in Indonesia. The most encouraging developments, he reported, were: … PKI organisational apparatus has been disrupted and party documents dispersed. This capped today with burning of PKI headquarters in Jakarta. At the same time, Green reported, the US defence attache, Colonel Willis Ethel, met a senior aide to General Nasution who informed him that the general: is calling shots which Soeharto is implementing [and] encouraging religious groups to take political action which army will support. Army meanwhile is staying in background politically. Contact indicated this political action will continue and, in fact, increase in next two or three days. By October 13, Green could report that the purge was going well: Anti-communists continue [to] make most of their present ascendancy. Today’s tally included closing of communist universities, banning of leftist student organisations and still more attacks on PKI premises. Formation of special military “investigating teams” provided further evidence of army determination to exploit to fullest September 30 affair … Youth groups sacked second PKI bookstore … [Youth] headquarters in Chinese section also hit. Youth painted fresh anti-PKI signs on city walls. Most promising new theme: banning of PKI means cheaper rice.

AROUND this time, the embassy was dealing not only with senior army officers but with key Muslim political leaders who were working with the army in the purges, as Green revealed in a cable to Washington on October 15: Army and Muslim sources have discussed with [embassy officers] strategy they hope army will follow. They hope army will proceed in step-by-step campaign not only against PKI but against whole communist/Sukarno clique. However, they believe that for tactical reasons army is trying to discredit and destroy PKI first while leaving other groups temporarily intact.

The same day, in a cable dealing with “anti-communist actions”, Green wrote that confidential sources reported that: Army has already executed 74 communists seized in connection with coup attempt, despite efforts by Subandrio to stop executions.

But Green wanted no let-up in the anti-communist campaign. In a cable to Washington which he asked to be forwarded to the US Information Agency, Green stressed the need to keep pushing anti-PKI propaganda: In all media, by implication as well as by repetition of bald facts, link this horror and tragedy with Peking and its brand of communism; associate diabolical murder and mutilation of the generals with similar methods used against village headmen in Vietnam. On Indo-language broadcasts show that the South Vietnamese are fighting this same kind of Gestapu terror.

Two days later, a State Department memo of conversation shows the US Assistant Secretary of State, McGeorge Bundy, met the head of Australia’s Foreign Affairs Department, Sir James Plimsoll, and Australia’s Ambassador, Keith Waller, in Washington to discuss Indonesia and the army’s strategy. Bundy informed the Australians: Army is aiming at [Subandrio] above all and that they want especially to clip the wings of his intelligence organisation … The next day, Green was back with news of a bloody anti-communist assault in the northern province of Sumatra, where an army-linked Muslim youth group was highly active: IP-KI youth arm Pemuda Pantjasila, which has spearheaded anti-communist attack in North Sumatra, may have set out to kill leadership of PKI youth organisation, Pemuda Rakjat. Several Pemuda Rakjat dead, reportedly found in Medan streets after weekend demonstrations … Army source intimated that attacks on North Sumatran PKI have army support and army’s ban on demonstrations simply designed to hide army’s role. … Separate … source states that military director of army-controlled Permina oil company has ordered the arrest, interrogation and execution of PKI leaders in Permina camp.

Muslims have begun attacking Chinese-communist elements in Medan and other North Sumatran cities. Merchandise burned, homes sacked and Chinese beaten. Consulate has noted many fires in Medan and Belawan Chinese districts. Muslims apparently not distinguishing between Chicom [Chinese communists] and Indonesian citizens.

By October 20, Green summed up the success so far of the anti-Communist Party campaign: Party has received major, though not necessarily mortal, blow to its image, considerable damage to its communications and command structures, and some damage to its organisational strength through arrest, harassment and, in some cases, execution of PKI cadres … Some thousands of PKI cadres have reportedly been arrested in Jakarta … several hundred of them have been executed. We know that … head of Jakarta PKI arrested and may have been executed …
But Green believed the campaign had not yet gone far enough: Thus far, however, basic PKI organisational potential would appear to be largely intact and capable of recovering quickly in a purely organisational sense if its status were recognised by the government and army attacks were stopped.

… Army repression of PKI will not be success unless it is willing to attack communism as such, including associations with China and other bloc countries and communist ideology … Army has nevertheless been working hard at destroying PKI and I, for one, have increasing respect for its determination and organisation in carrying out this crucial assignment.

That same day Green, in a separate cable sent to Washington, detailed what amounted to death squad killings by army-backed Muslim groups after a secret visit to the embassy by a Muslim Youth leader: … who has given accurate information over past several months. The leader told of: … army sweeps continuing in kampongs and other locations Jakarta area … Muslim youth “assistants” are accompanying troops. Source said “some” killings had resulted from these sweeps. MORE evidence of army links with organised gangs in the anti-PKI campaign came after another meeting between Colonel Ethel, and General Nasution’s senior aide, who told the American: Anti-PKI demonstrations and raids taking on more of an anti-Chinese line. Recently there have been raids against Chinese residents in [the outer provinces] Kalimantan and Atjeh [now spelt Aceh] … The forcible entry and search of Chinese Embassy commercial office in Tjikini was not done by the army but by those “who do this kind of thing for us”, Muslims and Ansor. (Ansor was the youth organisation of Indonesia’s most influential Muslim organisation, NU.)

By October 23, however, the US Embassy was again worried that the army was weakening in its drive. Green reported to Washington a meeting between his deputy and a Catholic youth leader close to Nasution’s headquarters, who claimed that communist youths had tried to attack his group with arms. The youth informant told the embassy his group: … had trained 100 men to handle weapons and army approved their possessing them but so far have been able to provide them with only five assorted rifles and pistols. The youth leader wanted the US to supply machineguns which, Green said, had been refused.
But four days later, Green was more encouraged after another meeting between Ethel and senior Indonesian army officers. Over golf, Green said, Ethel was told: We are soon likely to hear reports about executions, including executions of public figures on whose behalf Sukarno is likely to make pleas for leniency … Ethel’s contacts expressed the view the US: playing current situation about right, but that: Army would appreciate anything US could quietly do to help alert the Indonesian people to dangers of association with Communist China. They specifically mentioned psywar [psychological warfare] techniques. The embassy’s high-ranking intelligence links to the army were confirmed by a CIA cable to the White House the same day with information from the commander of the East Java Military reporting: he will begin a mass suppression and round-up of the PKI … Significantly, while the embassy was feeding propaganda about the PKI’s masterminding of the events of September 30, a secret CIA memo at the time admitted that: Elements of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) were involved, but the role of the party leadership remains obscure, and: Information is sketchy as to the involvement and reaction of communist leaders. A confidential CIA source had reported that: The party’s central committee decided to give Untung military support only after hearing his radio announcement on 1 October … Communist leaders believed the army was about to take action against the party …

On the critical question of who had given the order to kidnap and murder the generals, the CIA admitted: Precisely who instructed them … is not known. But the anti-PKI campaign by the army was now unstoppable and, on October 29, the State Department sent a cable marked “Action” to Jakarta, noting that Washington was developing its policy on Indonesia and wanted a military-run government. Washington said: Sooner or later … it will become increasingly clear to army leaders they are only force capable of creating order in Indonesia, and that they must take initiative to form a military or civilian-military provisional government, with or without Sukarno. It urged the embassy to convey this to the army: The next few days, weeks or months may offer unprecedented opportunities for us to begin to influence people and events … Small arms and equipment may be needed to deal with the PKI … As events develop, the army may find itself in major military campaign against PKI, and we must be ready for that contingency … We shall, of course, want to consult the British, Australians, and others as well. At this very time, the mass killings of PKI supporters was under way in earnest, causing even some senior Indonesian army officers to baulk, as Green reported on October 29: Army sources report All-Sumatra Commander Mokoginta wants to stop army-inspired violence against PKI but his subordinates continuing to incite attacks behind his back … Muslim fervour in Atjeh [province] has apparently put all but few PKI out of action. Atjehese has decapacitated [sic] PKI and placed their heads on stakes along road.
From Riau province, a US Embassy officer reported: Muslims with army consent have sacked communist premises in city and closed their buildings in countryside. Army has raided PKI leaders’ houses and informed Caltex management it plans on Oct 29 to arrest key leaders of communist oil workers’ union Perbum, which forms core of PKI structure that province. Oil fields, however, remain vulnerable to communist sabotage.

From East Kalimantan, the embassy reported: Muslim paper running stories that PKI youth set major fire which left 10,000 homeless and planned to poison city water supply … Impossible confirm reports of this nature but such rumours in themselves are source further violence. By November 4, just five weeks into the anti-communist campaign, Green had high praise for the army, reporting to Washington: Army is doing a first-class job here of moving against communists, and by all current indications is the emerging authority in Indonesia … In the immediate offing there is the problem of pacifying and establishing a firm control over communist redoubt areas, particularly in Central Java, and of combating PKI sabotage and terror. There is likely to be bloodshed involving Muslims and Christian youth groups, as well as military and others. Need for medical and other assistance likely to very real and urgent … Green ended this cable with an appeal that the US meet one of Soeharto’s senior officers, General Sukendro, who was on his way to Bangkok to ask the US to covertly supply the army with medical supplies, communications equipment and small arms for its campaign against the PKI.

THE next day, the US Ambassador in Bangkok, James Wilson, cabled Washington saying Sukendro had arrived in Thailand. Wilson wrote: There ensued a discussion of the covert arrangements to be made for the Indonesian Army’s ostensible purchase of the medicines … but, Wilson added: Sukendro specifically stated the Indonesian Army leadership does desire to pursue further in subsequent discussion here the possibility of covert limited provision of weapons and communications equipment. Wilson demanded clarification: … We necessarily need more explicit guidance as to how this matter is to be handled here. By now it was increasingly apparent that the army was using Muslim and Christian youth groups as death squads. On November 7, 1965, the American Consul in Surabaya, Ted Heavner, cabled Washington with information that: Army recently held meeting Malang with Muslim youth leaders and told them be ready face PKI and prepared ‘kill or be killed’. Heavner commented: Seems likely East Java Military Command with its shortage troops may be planning use Muslim manpower, if PKI starts getting out of hand. On the other hand army may be seeking to establish greater control over Muslims and reduce likelihood their provoking PKI in some military actions.

Five days later, Green reported confidential information from Jakarta’s police information chief that: almost all of top PKI leadership, politburo and central committee levels, had been seized by army, and further on the death squads, that: from 50 to 100 PKI members are being killed every night in East and Central Java by civilian anti-communist groups with blessing of army.
SOON after, on November 16, another cable from the American consul in Medan brutally illustrated that US officials were being informed of planned massacres: Two officers of Pemuda Pantjasila [the Muslim youth group] separately told consulate officers that their organisation intends kill every PKI member they can catch … He stated [they] will not (repeat) not hand over captured PKI to authorities until they are dead or near death … Similar statements made few days earlier by leader North Sumatra cultural arm of Pemuda Pantjasila.

The consul then noted that confidential sources: indicate that much indiscriminate killing is taking place … Sources have connected some of this violence with declaration “holy war” against PKI by local Muslim leaders … Attitude Pemuda Pantjasila leaders can only be described as bloodthirsty. While reports of wholesale killings may be greatly exaggerated, number and frequency such reports plus attitude of youth leaders suggests that something like real reign of terror against PKI is taking place. This terror is not (repeat) not discriminating very carefully between PKI leaders and ordinary PKI members with no ideological bond to the party. [Source] suggests that army itself is officially adopting extreme measures against PKI with plans to put many thousands in concentration camps. Days later, the consul sent a full report to Washington. With details of massacres, it included the propaganda and psychological warfare techniques being used by the army in conjunction with Muslim groups: In mid-October the army began a determined effort to wipe out the Communist Party on Sumatra. By November 1, this army-directed drive was rapidly cutting down communist and fellow traveller resistance, and by the end of the reporting period, army authorities were saying that the PKI no longer exists as an organisation on this island.

… PKI leaders are under arrest, in hiding, or dead. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of PKI cadre and activists are in jail or in makeshift detention areas.The attack on the PKI has included much violence. Spearheaded by extremist youth groups, particularly the Pemuda Pantjasila, PKI offices, businesses and homes have been burned. While no figures are available, it is clear that many PKI leaders and cadre have been killed outright.

The PKI, reported the consul, offered: no meaningful resistance. Nevertheless, he reported: In early November the attacks on the PKI took on an even more violent aspect; spearheaded by the Pemuda Pantjasila and often protected by the army, anti-communist gangs began to round up and beat known communist leaders and cadre. The beatings frequently resulted in fatalities … This violence is apparently now becoming even less discriminating … [Sources] paint a picture of widespread killings. In particular, [sources] suggest large numbers have died in what amounts to a wave of terror.

At the same time, Ambassador Green cabled from Jakarta that killings of PKI members were being sanctioned from the top: As to Central Java situation, fighting continues. RPKAD [the key paratrooper strike force] is not taking prisoners (I gather this means they are shooting PKI on sight).

This was followed by a blunt cable quoting confidential informants saying that: … Three separate Muslim youth sources informed us that all PKI officers and cadres in Djakarta and Bogor areas being killed after capture. This massacre justified as necessary to prevent third communist uprising. Green added that in Lampung province there was an “unconfirmed report” of kidnappings and assassination of Muslims and non-communist leaders, apparently by leftists as it was a province “harbouring strong communist sympathies”. But any communist response was minimal. Green cabled soon after that the PKI chairman was finally dead: Big news today was report of capture and execution of PKI chairman Aidit. He included information from the Foreign Ministry that: PKI prisoners in Java now total 34,000 … This most authoritative count of PKI arrests embassy has yet received. By the new year, just three months after the anti-PKI campaign began, the CIA reported: Nearly every member of the PKI politburo has been arrested; many have already been executed, including the three top party leaders. The party’s mass organisations have been paralysed and virtually put out of business … The slaughter of PKI members and sympathisers in North Sumatra, East and Central Java and Bali is continuing.

The scale of the mass slaughter, whipped up by the propaganda campaigns, finally began to register in the embassy by February and in a cable to Washington, Green’s deputy reported intelligence from a friendly power that: as a result of … calculations by his embassy as well as [confidential], a total of about 400,000 killed as a result of the Sept 30 affair had been agreed. But, the cable admitted, there could be many more dead.

For the US and its allies, the success of the army’s anti-PKI campaign was a triumph. The purge broke the power of Sukarno, who was forced to resign, and Soeharto’s military-backed regime took over.

A year later, US scholars were estimating that between 500,000 and a million Indonesians had died in the slaughter.
Sydney Morning Herald

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