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119 Cablegram From Watt to Spender

Cablegram, Canberra, 25 October 1951


Part 1. Reference paragraph 8 of your telegram 1828;[1] also your telegram 1846.[2]

Indonesia and Security Arrangements
We are most interested in developments reported in your telegram 1846, which is read here in the light of certain information we had ourselves acquired during the visit here of Dr. Subardjo[3] and his party after the Japanese Peace Conference. This information, which came to us at third hand from two separate members of the Indonesian party, was to the effect that the United States Government had made an indirect approach at San Francisco (through the intermediary of the Philippines Delegation) to the Indonesian Delegation, apparently to sound the Indonesians out on the question of possible participation in Pacific security arrangements. (This was presumably a separate contact from the one that Rusk states he made some four or five months ago.) According to one version of the San Francisco story - received from Dr. Subardjo through the Netherlands Ambassador - the Indonesians had given the Americans to understand that they were not anxious to participate. On the other hand, Dr. Abu Hanifah, another member of the party, is reputed to have told the Pakistan High Commissioner that the Indonesian response had been sympathetic, but that for the present there would be no public reference to it.

2. In considering these reported reactions, it is no doubt necessary to bear in mind the present somewhat fluid condition of Indonesian politics, and particularly the differing loyalties between groups which would like to see Indonesia leaning more towards the West and those which would prefer to cling to neutrality or even incline towards the Communist world. We gathered, for example, that Dr. Hanifah, who is a member of the executive of the Masjumi[4] Party, is working for closer association with the West; and this appeared to apply to certain other members of the party from San Francisco. On the other hand, it is also clear that there are important elements within the Masjumi Party which are unwilling to declare themselves in any direction. We have the impression that Dr. Ali Sastroamidjojo, the Ambassador in Washington, may be eager for closer links with the democracies; but a majority of his own party, the P.N.I.[5], appears to be rather less co-operative.

3. Our own impression is that the present Indonesian Government would find it politically very difficult to lead Indonesia into a security arrangement involving a United States guarantee. On the other hand, if the present Government, or a reasonable facsimile of it, can remain in power in Indonesia, the idea of a closer alignment with the West might in time gain sufficient strength to be given practical form.

4. In the meantime, while we ourselves are of course pursuing various ways of co-operating with Indonesia - including efforts to entice the Indonesians to take part in the Colombo Plan - the possibility of closer association with them in security arrangements is one that must present some difficulty to us particularly while the New Guinea question remains in its present uncertain state. Our attitude is therefore likely to be one of considerable reserve until some solution of the New Guinea problem is in sight. We have in fact already sounded a slight note of caution with the Indonesian Ambassador here against any tendency on the part of the Indonesians to assume too easily that the success of Mr. Casey's visit[6] to Indonesia and Dr. Subardjo's visit to Australia will instantly open up all avenues of co-operation and solve all past difficulties.

1 See note 1 to Document 118.

2 Document 118.

3 Achmad Subardjo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, arrived in Australia on 19 September for a four day visit on his return from the San Francisco conference.

4 Madjelis Sjoera Moslimin Indonesia (Council of Indonesian Moslem Associations).

5 Partai Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian Nationalist Party).

6 Casey had visited Jakarta during his visit to South-East Asia from 20 July to 23 August.

[NAA : A1838, 250/7/10, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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