The September 30 coup
Much mystery has been associated with the actual coup attempt on September 30, 1965. In this attempted coup, six of seven top military officers were murdered. Soon after, media fabrications about how these men were treated before being killed were to play a big part “in stirring up popular resentment against the PKI. Photographs of the bodies of the dead generals – badly decomposed [after being dumped in a well] – 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” (“Deadly Deceits”, pp57/8). The September 30/1 October coup is known as the “Gestapu” affair, with the attempt itself being crushed by the commander of the Army’s strategic command, Major-General Suharto, within fewer than 24 hours (“The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966”, p45). Aspects about the coup attempt have led to speculation about the possible role of an agent provocateur (or provocateurs). Was it in fact part of a more comprehensive CIA/Suharto plot? Peter Dale Scott has evidently made the strongest case, based on detailed analytical research, that even the coup attempt was probably manipulated from the inside by Suharto and the CIA (Pacific Affairs, volume 58, no.2, Summer 1985).
But the swift labelling of the Gestapu affair as a botched Communist grab for power has generally prevailed ever since, becoming a standard item of mainstream historical writing. Whatever the exact truth here, it is fascinating to see how the spurious Suharto/CIA version of history has regularly got reproduced, and in the most respected histories. For example, eminent (and very conservative) Oxford University historian, John Roberts, has had this to say: “Food shortages and inflation led to an attempted coup by the Communists (or so the military said), and in 1965, the Army stood back ostentatiously while popular massacre removed the Communists to whom Sukarno might have turned. He himself was duly set aside the following year and a solidly anti-Communist regime took power” (“Shorter Illustrated History of the World”, BCA, 1994, p547). So while Roberts does signal a doubt about the nature of the coup, he goes on, incredibly enough, to: (1) promote the blatant and easily demonstrable lie that the military had nothing to do with the genocide; (2) actually give the massacre a positive tone in the sense that it was purportedly “popular”; and, (3) then give the new regime a similarly positive tone in that it was “solidly” founded. All this can justly be called the crudest propaganda. Even Roberts’ expressed reservation about the coup seems tailored as well to help transmit the idea of a considered, judicious judgement. Such then is the best tradition of Western history-making on matters of this sort; and the fate of some one million people, brutally butchered, is cavalierly consigned to the dustbin of capitalist history.

One of the problems in investigating the 1965-69 genocide is the lack of reliable documentary evidence of the more specific details of what happened. Most of the killings during the peak period – from October 1965 through to March 1966 – were dispersed in action, and done at night in the countryside by small bands. “The New Rulers of the World” claimed to show the only extant photograph of any of the killings. Unlike the case with the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Indonesian official and unofficial records are very scanty. This seems to have been deliberate policy to a large degree so as to not only prevent scrutiny at the time, but also obfuscate any future efforts to establish the truth, or, worst of all, accountability. However, we do now know crucial elements of the American and British connections to the murders.
























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SEPTEMBER 30, 1965



























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End of an Era



US Interpretation of events – The Coup and its Aftermath

By 1965 Indonesia had become a dangerous cockpit of social and political antagonisms. The PKI’s rapid growth aroused the hostility of Islamic groups and the military. The ABRI-PKI balancing act, which supported Sukarno’s Guided Democracy regime, was going awry. One of the most serious points of contention was the PKI’s desire to establish a “fifth force” of armed peasants and workers in conjunction with the four branches of the regular armed forces (army, navy, air force, and police; see Organization and Equipment of the Armed Forces , ch. 5). Many officers were bitterly hostile, especially after Chinese premier Zhou Enlai offered to supply the “fifth force” with arms. By 1965 ABRI’s highest ranks were divided into factions supporting Sukarno and the PKI and those opposed, the latter including ABRI chief of staff Nasution and Major General Suharto, commander of Kostrad. Sukarno’s collapse at a speech aThe circumstances surrounding the abortive coup d’état of September 30, 1965–an event that led to Sukarno’s displacement from power; a bloody purge of PKI members on Java, Bali, and elsewhere; and the rise of Suharto as architect of the New Order regime–remain shrouded in mystery and controversy. The official and generally accepted account is that procommunist military officers, calling themselves the September 30 Movement (Gestapu), attempted to seize power. Capturing the Indonesian state radio station on October 1, 1965, they announced that they had formed the Revolutionary Council and a cabinet in order to avert a coup d’état by corrupt generals who were allegedly in the pay of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. The coup perpetrators murdered five generals on the night of September 30 and fatally wounded Nasution’s daughter in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate him. Contingents of the Diponegoro Division, based in Jawa Tengah Province, rallied in support of the September 30 Movement. Communist officials in various parts of Java also expressed their support.
The extent and nature of PKI involvement in the coup are unclear, however. Whereas the official accounts promulgated by the military describe the communists as having a “puppetmaster” role, some foreign scholars have suggested that PKI involvement was minimal and that the coup was the result of rivalry between military factions. Although evidence presented at trials of coup leaders by the military implicated the PKI, the testimony of witnesses may have been coerced. A pivotal figure seems to have been Syam, head of the PKI’s secret operations, who was close to Aidit and allegedly had fostered close contacts with dissident elements within the military. But one scholar has suggested that Syam may have been an army agent provocateur who deceived the communist leadership into believing that sympathetic elements in the ranks were strong enough to conduct a successful bid for power. Another hypothesis is that Aidit and PKI leaders then in Beijing had seriously miscalculated Sukarno’s medical problems and moved to consolidate their support in the military. Others believe that ironically Sukarno himself was responsible for masterminding the coup with the cooperation of the PKI.
And rumors that he was dying also added to the atmosphere of instability

n a series of papers written after the coup and published in 1971, Cornell University scholars Benedict R.O’G. Anderson and Ruth T. McVey argued that it was an “internal army affair” and that the PKI was not involved. There was, they argued, no reason for the PKI to attempt to overthrow the regime when it had been steadily gaining power on the local level. More radical scenarios allege significant United States involvement. United States military assistance programs to Indonesia were substantial even during the Guided Democracy period and allegedly were designed to establish a pro-United States, anticommunist constituency within the armed forces.
In the wake of the September 30 coup’s failure, there was a violent anticommunist reaction. By December 1965, mobs were engaged in large-scale killings, most notably in Jawa Timur Province and on Bali, but also in parts of Sumatra. Members of Ansor, the Nahdatul Ulama’s youth branch, were particularly zealous in carrying out a “holy war” against the PKI on the village level. Chinese were also targets of mob violence. Estimates of the number killed–both Chinese and others–vary widely, from a low of 78,000 to 2 million; probably somewhere around 300,000 is most likely. Whichever figure is true, the elimination of the PKI was the bloodiest event in postwar Southeast Asia until the Khmer Rouge established its regime in Cambodia a decade later.
The period from October 1965 to March 1966 witnessed the eclipse of Sukarno and the rise of Suharto to a position of supreme power. Born in the Yogyakarta region in 1921, Suharto came from a lower priyayi family and received military training in Peta during the Japanese occupation. During the war for independence, he distinguished himself by leading a lightning attack on Yogyakarta, seizing it on March 1, 1949, after the Dutch had captured it in their second “police action.” Rising quickly through the ranks, he was placed in charge of the Diponegoro Division in 1962 and Kostrad the following year.
After the elimination of the PKI and purge of the armed forces of pro-Sukarno elements, the president was left in an isolated, defenseless position. By signing the executive order of March 11, 1966, Supersemar, he was obliged to transfer supreme authority to Suharto. On March 12, 1967, the MPRS stripped Sukarno of all political power and installed Suharto as acting president. Sukarno was kept under virtual house arrest, a lonely and tragic figure, until his death in June 1970.

The year 1966 marked the beginning of dramatic changes in Indonesian foreign policy. Friendly relations were restored with Western countries, Confrontation with Malaysia ended on August 11, and in September Indonesia rejoined the UN. In 1967 ties with Beijing were, in the words of Indonesian minister of foreign affairs Adam Malik, “frozen.” This meant that although relations with Beijing were suspended, Jakarta did not seek to establish relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan. That same year, Indonesia joined Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore to form a new regional and officially nonaligned grouping, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN–see Glossary), which was friendly to the West.
Data as of November 1992


Communist daily ” Harian Rakjat” in its October 2 edition
expresses support for the Gestapu movement





1 Febnruary 1966
Promoting Suharto to 5-star General


2 February 1966
Sukarno and Navy Command


4 August 1966
Cabinet Meeting


17 August 1966
Independence Day


5 October 1966
Armed Forces Day


4 August 1966
Meeting at Merdeka Palace of newly appointed Cabinet


5 October 1966

Ghosts of a genocide
The CIA, Suharto And Terrorist Culture
During the period 1965-69, and especially during 1965-66, a series of mass murders took place in Indonesia which led to the institution in power of President Suharto and the opening up of the country to Western capitalism. Possibly more than a million people were slaughtered. In the documentary film on globalisation by John Pilger, “The New Rulers of the World” (2001 – screened on TV1, 10/10/01), there are scenes of some of the relatives of the victims of the massacres secretly exhuming the bones of their loved ones. As Pilger notes, evidence has increasingly come to light of the murderous role that the US and British governments performed both in initiating and in helping perpetrate the killings, and in the creation of the long reign of terror that ensued. The full story amounts to a remarkable and chilling record of capitalist genocide, cover-up, and subsequent foundation of a model which was then widely applied elsewhere in the Third World to eliminate the enemies of the West and ensure future profits. To a quite considerable extent, the new rulers of the world built capitalist success on the Indonesian genocide, and the platform it served for globalising Indonesia and the rest of the planet.
To date, the true story of what really happened is only partially told, only partly visible through a fog of propaganda and deception, and a dearth of information. However, trying to help unravel it, and to disclose it to a wider audience, is to embark on a greatly enlightening journey into the human psyche, into the political economy of capitalism, and into the meaning of the Western tradition of the Enlightenment today – the values of freedom, democracy, justice, truth, and respect for human rights. One comes face to face with the reality and psychology of political ideology, violence and civilised values, and what these mean in relation to the philosophical concept of truth. In such matters, if any conception of “truth” has an inevitable, insoluble element of subjectivism, there is always the question of the actual facts in the most fundamental and reportorial sense: who was killed by whom, where, how and why?

A Western Conspiracy Of Silence
The lack of investigation of the Indonesian genocide has been due to a range of reasons but the central reason has undoubtedly been the huge vested interest of both the Suharto regime and ruling Western forces in leaving the past undisturbed. “Western governments and much of the Western media preferred Suharto and the New Order to the PKI [Indonesian Communist Party] and the Old, and have been in many cases comfortable with the simple statement that some hundreds of thousands of ‘Communists’ were killed. A close investigation of who was being killed – and why – ran the risk not just of complicating a simple story but of uncovering skeletons in the New Order closet” (“The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966: Studies from Bali and Java”, edited by Robert Cribb, Monash Papers on Southeast Asia, no.21, 1990, pp. 5, 6). Instead: “If anything, the Indonesian killings have been treated as if they fall into an anomalous category of ‘accidental’ mass death” (ibid, p16).
More specifically, a number of Western organisations – most eminently, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – ran
from the start a carefully calculated disinformation campaign to mislead, and confuse any close scrutiny of the massacres.
Pretext for the genocide was given by a failed coup on September 30, 1965. The coup affair was apparently a venture by some young, middle-ranking officers to overthrow the existing Army high command. They might have feared the Army’s generals were about to stage their own coup to topple President Sukarno, and therefore decided to strike first. Allegations
of Communist involvement were quickly made when in actuality the PKI was innocent of this. Media fabrications whipped
up fear and hatred towards the Communists and other alleged subversives. Former CIA agent, Ralph McGehee, who visited Aotearoa/NZ in 1986, has revealed how: “To conceal its role in the massacre of those innocent people the CIA, in 1968, concocted a false account of what happened (later published by the Agency as a book, “Indonesia-1965: The Coup that Backfired”) . . .

At the same time that the Agency wrote the book, it also composed a secret study of what really happened.
[One sentence deleted] The Agency was extremely proud of its successful [one word deleted] and recommended it as a model for future operations [one-half sentence deleted]” (“Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA”, Sheridan Square, 1983, p58). Deletions identified in the text just quoted were enforced by the CIA under McGehee’s legal obligations as an ex-agent. McGehee had once had access to the CIA’s secret account of the coup and its aftermath and based his report of events on this.

Much mystery has been associated with the actual coup attempt on September 30, 1965. In this attempted coup, six of seven top military officers were murdered. Soon after, media fabrications about how these men were treated before being killed were to play a big part “in stirring up popular resentment against the PKI. Photographs of the bodies of the dead generals – badly decomposed [after being dumped in a well] – 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” (“Deadly Deceits”, pp57/8). The September 30/1 October coup is known as the “Gestapu” affair, with the attempt itself being crushed by the commander of the Army’s strategic command, Major-General Suharto, within fewer than 24 hours (“The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966”, p45). Aspects about the coup attempt have led to speculation about the possible role of an agent provocateur (or provocateurs). Was it in fact part of a more comprehensive CIA/Suharto plot? Peter Dale Scott has evidently made the strongest case, based on detailed analytical research, that even the coup attempt was probably manipulated from the inside by Suharto and the CIA (Pacific Affairs, volume 58, no.2, Summer 1985).

But the swift labelling of the Gestapu affair as a botched Communist grab for power has generally prevailed ever since, becoming a standard item of mainstream historical writing. Whatever the exact truth here, it is fascinating to see how the spurious Suharto/CIA version of history has regularly got reproduced, and in the most respected histories. For example, eminent (and very conservative) Oxford University historian, John Roberts, has had this to say: “Food shortages and inflation led to an attempted coup by the Communists (or so the military said), and in 1965, the Army stood back ostentatiously while popular massacre removed the Communists to whom Sukarno might have turned. He himself was duly set aside the following year and a solidly anti-Communist regime took power” (“Shorter Illustrated History of the World”, BCA, 1994, p547). So while Roberts does signal a doubt about the nature of the coup, he goes on, incredibly enough, to: (1) promote the blatant and easily demonstrable lie that the military had nothing to do with the genocide; (2) actually give the massacre a positive tone in the sense that it was purportedly “popular”; and, (3) then give the new regime a similarly positive tone in that it was “solidly” founded. All this can justly be called the crudest propaganda. Even Roberts’ expressed reservation about the coup seems tailored as well to help transmit the idea of a considered, judicious judgement. Such then is the best tradition of Western history-making on matters of this sort; and the fate of some one million people, brutally butchered, is cavalierly consigned to the dustbin of capitalist history.

One of the problems in investigating the 1965-69 genocide is the lack of reliable documentary evidence of the more specific details of what happened. Most of the killings during the peak period – from October 1965 through to March 1966 – were dispersed in action, and done at night in the countryside by small bands. “The New Rulers of the World” claimed to show the only extant photograph of any of the killings. Unlike the case with the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Indonesian official and unofficial records are very scanty. This seems to have been deliberate policy to a large degree so as to not only prevent scrutiny at the time, but also obfuscate any future efforts to establish the truth, or, worst of all, accountability. However, we do now know crucial elements of the American and British connections to the murders.


International Mass Murder Incorporated

Along with Marshall Green’s appointment in June 1965 as Ambassador to Indonesia during the critical period leading up to the Gestapu affair, had been the arrival earlier in 1964 of a new, activist CIA Chief of Station, “Bernardo Hugh Tovar, a naturalised Colombian who had spent years in the Philippines with the CIA’s Edward Lansdale in the early 1950s” (“Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia”, p243). Lansdale had specialised in unconventional warfare techniques against opponents of the Filipino regime. Later, Tovar, went on to CIA dirty work in Indochina.
Thanks to the dedicated digging of researcher Kathy Kadane, we have learnt that the CIA and American Embassy officials in Jakarta passed on the names of Communist organisers and activists to Suharto’s death squads (e.g. San Francisco Examiner, 20/5/90; “Year 501”, pp131/33).
Kadane found that: “The US government played a significant role by supplying the names of thousands of Communist Party leaders to the Indonesian Army, which hunted down the Leftists and killed them, former US diplomats say . . . 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 US officials . . . The lists were a detailed who’s who of the leadership of the Party of three million members, [foreign service Robert] Martens said” (“Year 501”, p131; Examiner, 20/5/90; see also “The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966”, p7).

In an interview with Kadane, Robert Martens, a former member of the US Embassy’s political section (and when interviewed, a State Department consultant), acknowledged: “It really was a big help to the Army . . . 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” (San Francisco Examiner, 20/5/90; also see Washington Post, 21/5/90; Boston Globe, 23/5/90). By 1990, several American newspapers at least were willing to print some hard material contesting the official version of events, although what should have been seen as a sensational and most important story was in fact, as might be expected, little used by the media. The Examiner report (20/5/90) declared that: “Silent for a quarter century, former senior US diplomats and CIA officers described in lengthy interviews how they aided Indonesian President Suharto, then Army leader, in his attack on the PKI”. Ex-diplomat and political section chief, Edward Masters, who had been Martens’ boss, confirmed that “CIA agents contributed in drawing up the death lists” (ibid.). Joseph Lazarksy, who was the deputy CIA station chief in Jakarta when Suharto took over, has admitted that the list of names was used as a “shooting list” by the Indonesian Army. All this, of course, was denied in 1990 by a CIA spokesman.

“Kadane reports that top US Embassy officials acknowledged in interviews that they had approved of the release of the names” (“Year 501″, p131). These officials included Ambassador Marshall Green, deputy chief of mission Jack Lydman, and Edward Masters. According to Howard Federspiel, the then Indonesia expert for State Department intelligence: ‘No one cared as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered; no one was getting very worked up about it” (ibid, p131). Green has commented that: “I know we had a lot more information [about the PKI] than the Indonesians themselves” (Examiner, 20/5/90). Likewise, Masters said that the Indonesian intelligence was “not as comprehensive as the American lists”. Martens supplied the American-compiled lists to an Indonesian emissary over a number of months. This emissary was an aide to Indonesian minister Adam Malik who in turn passed them on to Suharto’s headquarters. Lazarsky disclosed that information about who had been captured and killed came back from the Suharto command centre. “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” (ibid.). It is important to record here “that in many cases Party members were killed along with their entire families in order to prevent the possibility of retaliation in the future” (“The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966”, p11; also note the Time {17/12/65} report cited earlier).

Direct US complicity in the mass murders was actually already known from “cable traffic between the US Embassy in Jakarta and the State Department” (“Year 501”, pp123 & 132; & “Confronting the Third World”, pp177/83). For instance, Secretary of State Dean Rusk had instructed Ambassador Green on October 29 1965, that the “campaign against PKI” must continue and would receive US military aid to do so (“Confronting the Third World”, p181). US cable exchanges showed a high level of concern about whether or not the army would have the resolve to carry out the genocide. On October 14 1965 Green had cabled Washington that: “Their success or failure is going to determine our own in Indonesia for some time to come” (ibid, p180). Later, on November 4, 1965, Green told Rusk that Embassy staff had made it clear that the Embassy and the US government were “generally sympathetic with and admiring of what Army doing”; and a few days later reported that the Army was acting “ruthlessly” carrying out “wholesale killings” (ibid, p181). Green ensured “carefully placed assistance which will help Army cope with PKI”, to facilitate what the CIA called the “destruction” of the Party (ibid.). It needs to be noted that relevant US documents for the three months preceding September 30 1965 have been withheld from public scrutiny. As Kolko observes, given all the other material available, “one can only assume that the release of these papers would embarrass the US government” (ibid, p177). As Kolko suggests, too, the Suharto takeover could have already been planned for such an opportune moment.

On Bali an estimated 80,000 people, or roughly 5% of the population, were killed. “The populations of whole villages were executed, the victims either shot with automatic weapons or hacked to death with knives and machetes. Some of the killers were said to have drunk the blood of their victims or to have gloated over the numbers of people they had put to death” (“The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali” by Geoffrey Robinson, Cornell University Press, 1995, p1). In chapter 11 of his profound, in-depth study on Bali, Robinson goes into some detail as to extent and nature of US involvement in the massacres. His overall assessment is that: “Even if it is not possible to establish definitively the extent of US complicity, it can be demonstrated that US policy contributed substantially to the seizure of power by the military under Suharto and to the massacre that ensued” (ibid, p282). As he emphasises, at least as early as 1957, US policy initiatives had been deliberately exploiting and encouraging “internal political cleavages in Indonesia with the intention of bringing down the established government” (ibid). On Bali, it was the arrival of the military with death lists and logistical support that mobilised the slaughter on a large scale. There was an orchestrated propaganda campaign to both instigate and legitimate the killings of those defined as the enemy. The Western-created myth of exotic Bali as a marvellously peaceful island so appropriate as a tourist Mecca masks a violent tradition, and Bali’s part in the 1965-66 genocide was actually not quite the aberration it might seem.

Like Kolko, Robinson has analysed and reproduced key aspects of US documentation relating to the opportunity presented by the Gestapu affair. “Just days after the coup, the CIA in Jakarta telegraphed to the White House: ‘The Army must act quickly if it is to exploit its opportunity to move against the PKI’: CIA Report no.14 to the White House, 5/10/65” (ibid, p283). US officials were then well aware that the Army was inciting popular violence against the PKI, and the strategies of murder which were being employed. Despite its delight, the Johnson Administration still “put on a public show of tolerant noninterference in Indonesia’s ‘internal affairs'”(ibid, p284). In addition to such observations, Robinson draws attention to several matters connected with Indonesian public media during 1965 that are most suggestive of a typical CIA operation aimed at destabilisation of an existing government. For instance, an inflammatory newspaper Api Pancasila mysteriously emerged only days after the coup attempt and later just as suddenly disappeared, having contributed to the creation of an anti-Communist frenzy (ibid, p2 85).


The Empire Soldiers On
The British connections to all this have emerged in a variety of ways. Most damning have been the revelations from official documents. Whereas the Foreign Office has regularly denied that Britain was involved in the fall of Sukarno, new revelations in the mid/late 1990s showed that British Intelligence agencies and propaganda specialists carried out covert operations to overthrow the regime. Mark Curtis, author of “The Ambiguities of Power: British Foreign Policy since 1945” (Zed Books, 1995), had an excoriating editorial in 1996 in The Ecologist (Vol.26, no.5, September/October, 1996, pp202/04). Titled “Democratic Genocide”, it presented his findings “from recently declassified secret Government files”. Quotes immediately below in the next three paragraphs are from his editorial unless otherwise indicated.
Curtis states that: “The secret files reveal three crucial aspects of the British role”. The first was its intention to get rid of Sukarno. “According to a CIA memorandum of June 1962, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and President John Kennedy ‘agreed to liquidate President Sukarno, depending on the situation and the available opportunities’. In the late 1950s, Britain had aided covert attempts to organise a guerrilla army to overthrow Sukarno”. By 1965, the British Ambassador to Indonesia, Sir Andrew Gilchrist, was telling the Foreign Office that: “I have never concealed from you my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change” (see also “The New Rulers of the World”). Gilchrist went on in October 1965, after the Gestapu affair, to strongly press the generals to take ruthless action against the Communists. Meantime, the US Embassy had declared: “Now is the ideal time in some ways for the Army to be committed to a struggle to the death with the PKI”.

The second way that Curtis identifies that Britain undermined Sukarno in the 1960s was through specific covert operations, including carefully targeted propaganda like stories about China’s supposed links with the Indonesian Communist Party leader. Another action had more sinister implications. Indonesia had been in confrontation with Britain over the federation of Malaysia. Gilchrist suggested that word be passed on to the Indonesian generals that British forces would “not attack them whilst they are chasing the PKI. The C-in-C [British military commander in Singapore] thinks that this has some merit and might ensure that the Army is not detracted [sic] from what we consider to be a necessary task”. This suggestion was duly implemented, and a “secret communication was made to the Generals through the American contact”. Britain’s third type of role was indeed characterised by the “extremely close relations between the US and British embassies in Jakarta”. The US and Britain apparently agreed on supplying arms to “Moslem and nationalist youths”, i.e. the civilian-based death squads that the Indonesian military high command was initiating and sustaining in the field. With cynical black humour, this covert aid (weapons, etc.) was dubbed “medicines”. In “The New Rulers of the World”, Roland Challis, once a BBC correspondent in the region during 1964-69, observed that at one stage some Indonesian troops were taken by ship from Sumatra to new killing fields in Java. The troop transport vessel sailed down the Malacca Strait escorted by two British warships.

An insight into the meaning of free trade in such creatively innovative situations is highlighted by a memo written by the then Labour Foreign Secretary, Michael Stewart, to Prime Minister Harold Wilson during the genocide: “It is only the economic chaos of Indonesia which prevents that country from offering great potential opportunities to British exporters. If there is going to be a deal with Indonesia, as I hope one day there may be, I think we ought to take an active part and try and secure a slice of the cake ourselves”. So already, while the slaughter was in process, British strategists were planning an Indonesia designed to fit their business requirements. As we have seen, these plans took fruition at the conference held in Switzerland in 1967 courtesy of Time-Life Corp. when Time and Co. followed up their celebration of the massacres with practical facilitation of the economic gains – at a party where they cut up the cake with the Indonesian clients who had carried out their dirty work (“The New Rulers of the World”). Professor Jeffrey Winters of Northwestern University has pointed out that the imposition by Western capital of such a comprehensive package on a country at a one-off event appears so far to have been unique to Indonesia (ibid.). Perhaps Afghanistan is the next candidate? After all, while Afghanistan itself is resource poor it is very strategically placed for access to the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia. The US has ambitions for a gas pipeline from Central Asia running through Afghanistan (see e.g., NZ Listener, 13/10/01, p23).

More of the evidence of Britain’s involvement in the Indonesian genocide has been published in Paul Lashmar and James Oliver’s book, “Britain’s Secret Propaganda War 1948-1997” (Sutton Publishers, 1998). In late 1965, Britain sent a senior Foreign Office official and propaganda specialist to assist on the spot with the anti-Sukarno campaign. Foreign service operative, Norman Reddaway, was given 100,000 pounds by Foreign Office head, Joe (later Lord) Garner, to manipulate the media and told to do anything he could to get rid of Sukarno. Reddaway has said that the removal of Sukarno was considered a huge success, with Indonesia becoming one of Britain’s biggest customers for arms. British operations included coordinated activity by Foreign Office personnel, MI6 (Britain’s external Intelligence agency), and Army psychological warfare officers to spread anti-Sukarno propaganda. Reddaway’s unit aided pro-Western elements in the Indonesian military. As well as actions based in Singapore, and directly on the ground in Indonesia, Britain’s Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) eavesdropping agency listened in to the Sukarno government’s communications and passed on relevant information to his military opponents.


The Disinformation Game
An article in the Guardian (1/8/01), titled “Our Bloody Coup in Indonesia: Britain colluded in one of the worst massacres of the century” by Isabel Hilton, has indicated that a 1966 study carried out at Cornell University “discovered that what most of the officers [in the Gestapu Affair] had in common was not any association with the PKI, but a connection with General Suharto”.
As Hilton says “there is also evidence that the British and US responsibility for the fall of Sukarno goes back to the event that triggered it – an alleged Leftwing coup attempt in 1965”. Lt. Col. Untung, the supposed leader of the officers involved, was a known anti-Communist and some of his colleagues had been trained in the US. “It has been known for more than ten years that the CIA supplied lists of names for Suharto’s assassination squads.
What is less widely known is that the supposed pro-Communist coup that triggered the crisis was almost certainly the work of the CIA” (ibid.). Hilton points out “that the British and American governments did not just cover up the massacre: they had a direct hand in bringing it about”; and, furthermore, they succeeded “in selling a false version of events that persists to this day”. An intriguing aspect of the “Gestapu” affair is its very name. The term was allegedly coined as an acronym by an Indonesian army officer, “presumably with the intention of investing it with the aura of evil associated with the term ‘Gestapo'” (“The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966”, p46). Although the word would surely mean little in this sense to the average Indonesian, it would certainly have a suitably sinister ring in the Western media.

Roland Challis, the BBC correspondent, “has described how British diplomats planted misleading stories in British newspapers at the time” (Guardian, 1/8/01). Conservative media like the Atlantic Monthly systematically whitewashed the genocide. The Atlantic Monthly assured its readers that Suharto “is regarded by Indonesians who know him well as incorruptible . . . In attacking the Communists, he was not acting as a Western puppet; he was doing simply what he believed to be best for Indonesia” (Guardian, 1/8/01). This just happened to include “the granting of lucrative concessions to Western mining and oil companies”, along with such bonuses as the buying of British military aircraft (ibid).
It is sobering to recall that not too long ago Don McKinnon, as NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs (and now Commonwealth Secretary General!), was telling us how Indonesia was his kind of democracy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) was most happy to indicate Indonesia as a development success story. In the past, too, McKinnon brazenly justified Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor where some 200,000 people, about a third of the total population, had been killed by Suharto’s forces (e.g. TV1 6pm News, 21/3/95). Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 1975 was carried out with Western, including Australasian, complicity. In fact, newly released documents show President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, gave Suharto’s invasion the green light (NZ Herald, 8/12/01; Press, 8/12/01). Then, too, there has been the subjugation of West Irian. Suharto has apparently been a bigger mass murderer than Pol Pot (compare the figures for Khmer Rouge genocide in “The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966”, p18). NZ’s dirty little collaborationist role in all of this is a story still to be told.

Significantly enough, 1965 was the year that NZ was “finally briefed on ASIS [Australian Secret Intelligence Service] in order to facilitate official discussions being held in Canberra with delegations from Wellington and London” (“Oyster: The Story of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service” by Brian Toohey & William Pinwill, William Heinemann, 1989, p110). Previously, the NZ government had not been officially informed of this Intelligence agency’s existence. Over the years, ASIS was involved in various projects to destabilise the Sukarno regime. In fact, “Sukarno’s Indonesia was the main playground for ASIS attempts at ‘dirty tricks'” (ibid, p96). The working relations betw
“By June 1965, when the ANZUS* Ministers met in Washington for their annual consultations [US] Secretary of State Dean Rusk was voicing deep concern about the extent of Communist influence” (ibid, p100). State Department records show that Rusk “expected there would be some effort by various groups to prevent the PKI from further solidifying its control” (ibid). At the very least, ASIS played a part in creating a climate conducive to mass murder, and then joined in American and British rejoicing at Sukarno’s downfall. In point of fact here, it was specifically praised by the US Ambassador to Australia at the time, Ed Clark, for acting as much as it could to overthrow the Sukarno government; and this aid included “exchanges of top level intelligence, both formal and informal, to . . . possibly more active participation in Sukarno’s downfall” (ibid, p102). Even the CIA relied a lot on ASIS reporting in 1966 when Indonesia was in turmoil. A Captain Edward Kenny later testified that he had worked as an ASIS operative in the destabilisation programme but had resigned in disgust over the bloodbath. Critical to the covert action, he claimed, was the bribing of high-ranking Indonesian military officers. Whatever the exact mechanisms of destabilisation involved, the NZ government – certainly some key politicians and officials – must have been well aware of much of the real story of events. Along with trade and investment ties, until relatively recently NZ had also been a military partner of the Suharto regime, training personnel and selling equipment. *ANZUS – the 1951 military treaty between Australia, NZ and the US. The US unilaterally suspended NZ from it, in 1986, as punishment for NZ’s nuclear free policy. It still exists between Australia and the US. But as far as New Zealand is concerned, it is dead. Ed.een the CIA and ASIS were very close.

The maxim that truth is the first casualty of war is an old wisdom. But in 2002 it is more vital than ever to keep it in mind. During the Cold War, a constant refrain of the free press was the Communist atrocity story. Whether fact or fiction depending on the occasion, the theme was a recurring one. The obvious implication was that the Communist foe used methods of political control that the West and its allies would never stoop to use. Instead, values that the West supposedly stood for like freedom and democracy meant that Western forces consistently kept some measure of human decency in tailoring means to ends. Yet the 1965-66 Indonesian genocide clearly showed that any supposed regard for human rights could even be openly discounted in the media celebration of a particularly gruesome outcome. To carry this off convincingly, the right propaganda spin was critical. For the most part it was essential to deny any Western responsibility, or at least only admit this to a carefully calculated degree, and then only in a properly contrived context. So in the Indonesian case, as we have seen, the massacres were presented as the outraged response to a botched Communist takeover; a spontaneous, uncontrollable uprising of the masses; a desperate mobilisation in self-defence, etc. The victims were systematically dehumanised in all sorts of ways – some general in technique, others very much adapted to cultural and regional/local factors.


Cover-up Continues – “Ignorance is Strength”

With regard to the media, my own personal experience of the treatment by Christchurch’s Press of the Indonesian genocide has proved very illuminating. Some of this was once written up and published in Peace Researcher (first series, no.13, June 1987), as ‘The Free Press and the CIA’. This particular piece was prompted by the initial refusal of the Press to publish a letter of mine to the Editor, originally sent in September 1986. My letter had contended that certain recent items in the Press on Indonesia showed how CIA-inspired propaganda works in the West. In the letter I specifically took up the issue of the Gestapu affair and the alleged Communist coup. I had included the statement that analysts like Peter Dale Scott “demonstrate that even the coup attempt was manipulated from the inside by Suharto and the CIA. This coup attempt was the excuse for the planned systematic murder of Communist and other groups”.
After a direct personal approach and remonstrance with the then Editor, the matter of actual publication was resolved and my letter duly appeared. Various other related matters came to converge with this particular concern and so a Peace Researcher article took shape as well. The Press is a long time apologist for US foreign policy, whatever the crime, and has regularly used the atrocity story against American enemies while covering up and protecting the perpetrators of Western terrorism. In Suharto’s case, applying the pragmatic criterion of human rights, it turned against him like other media when the Indonesian President had obviously reached his “use-by” date.

In October 2000, there was a sense of deja vu when a letter of mine to the Press Editor was similarly declined on the topic of the Indonesian genocide. Ironically enough, the Press has a Latin motto proclaiming that “there is nothing useful which is not honourable”; and advertises itself as dealing with “every issue”. My October 2000 letter was another comment on a Press article about Suharto, the Gestapu affair and the massacre. Following the non-appearance of my letter, I next resubmitted it by hand, once more unsuccessfully. This time, I decided against going into the newspaper offices and trying to argue with the editor over the matter. Rather it is best written up here as yet another example of the continuing general cover-up of Western participation in the genocide. First of all, the letter is reproduced as follows:

“Peter Fry’s article blaming former President Suharto for the genocide of Communists, Chinese and other peoples in Indonesia during 1965-67 (Press, 2/10/00, p9) only tells part of the story. The massacres were deliberately planned and orchestrated by key Intelligence and military forces within the Western alliance. There is now ample documentation and admission of what really happened. In his book, ‘Deadly Deceits’, former CIA agent Ralph McGehee revealed how the Agency falsely portrayed the coup attempt against Sukarno as ‘Communist’, and how the CIA embraced the whole episode, including the massacres, as a model for future covert Third World interventions. American and British embassy staff in Indonesia drew up hit lists of victims for Suharto’s death squads as shown for example by declassified British files described in The Ecologist, vol.26, no.5, September/October 1996, p202. Today, Suharto is a scapegoat for the Western betrayal of the Indonesian people”.

Ever since economic crisis hit Indonesia and the Suharto regime started to crumble, the West has been disassociating itself from the regime and placing all the blame for Indonesia’s woes on the notoriously corrupt ruling family. This has been a standard, well practised tactic with a number of dictators that the West, particularly the US, has strongly supported in the past. These rulers have been ditched at strategic points, and the transition then made (or attempted) to the establishment of more acceptable rulers. Dramatic examples of this well tried practice include Marcos in the Philippines, “Baby Doc” Duvalier in Haiti, and Mobutu in Zaire/Congo. On the eve of the new Millennium, and in completely cynical fashion, Time actually launched its own campaign on Suharto’s abuse of the Indonesian economy. The World Bank’s development model was now the target of unashamedly hypocritical criticism, and not only by the Bank. A May 1999 cover story of Time (24/5/99) grandly proclaimed: “Suharto’s Billions. Luxury homes, fine art and private jets – our special investigation undercovers the former Indonesian leader’s staggering family fortune” (see also Murray Horton’s cover story on the NZ connections in Foreign Control Watchdog, no.92, December 1999). So this media wing of the Time-Life Corporation which hosted the 1967 business conference in Switzerland, a meeting that wrote the rules for foreign investment and trade in Indonesia, has now rounded quite nastily on its former client, a dictator whom it helped protect for many years. The political economy of the media and human rights is most fascinating.


Myth-making And New Spin
As indicated, my letter to the Editor of the Press in October 2000 was directed against an article by Peter Fry, billed as “formerly an Army colonel and defence attache in Indonesia”. The headlines for his article read: “Suharto’s double double-cross: As Indonesia grapples with Suharto’s legacy of corruption, Peter Fry questions the role the general played in the 1965 coup”. It was a most interesting article with not a hint of Western involvement in the whole episode. Suharto, the coup makers, the PKI and Sukarno shared all the blame, with Suharto coming in for special attention. A summary of Fry’s article is needed for an adequate examination of what he had to say. Until indicated, the quotes below come from his Press article. Fry maintained that: “On the eve of the coup, the PKI were confidantes to the President and at the brink of achieving political power through legal and peaceful means, while their arch-enemy, the Indonesian Army, was becoming increasingly at odds with Mr Sukarno”. As Fry rightly puts it, the official story that the PKI plotted and engineered the Gestapu affair does not make sense. “It seems unlikely that the PKI, poised to assume power legally, would have chanced its future on such an unpredictable mechanism as a violent coup d’etat”. Fry goes on to portray the coup attempt as a revolt by disillusioned officers, who invited PKI participation at a late stage, and that the PKI leadership then “gave the plan its cautious support”. He suggests that somehow Sukarno was in on it too and would announce his support for the coup makers at the appropriate moment.

However, as Fry points out, the plotters had inexplicably failed to ensure that Major-General Suharto was included on the list of generals to be purged. This was the result, Fry suggests, of Suharto’s “double double-cross” of the coup makers whereby Suharto was “fully part of the conspiracy” which he then betrayed. Next, to save the Army’s image, Suharto used the PKI as a scapegoat, picturing the Party as the instigator of the plot all along. In Fry’s words: “The Communists were easily blamed, but more was possible. Their guilt could be managed to obliterate all trace of Army complicity and eliminate the PKI. For the people of Indonesia the worst was to come. The horror was yet to be played out”. Fry goes on to emphasise the butchery and how: “The forces of retribution were unleashed, masked as spontaneous acts of revenge by local people”. He concludes by saying, whatever the truth of Suharto’s role in the coup attempt, “he did not fail to seize the opportunities presented to him, and in the bloody aftermath, ruthlessly destroyed the PKI and its supporters”.
Fry’s Press piece fits in with the recent Western approach of putting most of the blame for the genocide on Suharto, and certainly avoiding any Western responsibility. Some progress has been made, I suppose, in one sense. My 1986 letter to the Editor alleged that Suharto and the CIA manipulated the 1965 coup attempt from inside. Now we have reached the stage where Suharto’s role at least is being suggested by Establishment sources. On the other hand, of course, CIA connections to mass murder have always been highly sensitive and this is now especially true in the new era, after September 11, 2001, of the US/British “war on terrorism”. US government politicians and officials do not want the ghosts of previous American State-sponsored terrorist campaigns to come back and haunt them. In 1994 a lengthy US State Department document was released that disclosed details of major covert operations conducted by the CIA in Indonesia during the 1950s. It showed how the Eisenhower Administration secretly intervened in backing armed opposition groups on the islands of Sulawesi and Sumatra, supplying advisers, arms and communications equipment among other things. This bid to overthrow Sukarno had been in reaction to his efforts to nationalise Western commercial enterprises. But in 2001 a State Department study of the 1965-66 events in Indonesia was suppressed from public scrutiny by the Bush Administration. And this was even before the “war on terrorism”!

Controversy in the US over the State Department book was reported in July 2001 (Radio NZ, 29/7/01; Independent [London], 20/7/01). A copy of it was accidentally obtained in the US by the National Security Archive, an organisation that campaigns for access to declassified official documents. This State Department study is very revealing of the US role in the massacres. It further documents diplomatic cables showing how the US Embassy supplied the names of Communist Party members to the Indonesian army in Jakarta, and also American funding for a militia group (death squad). It shows, too, how the US worked to lower estimates of the number of people killed, and discloses that the US information given to the Indonesian military high command contributed to the murder of more than 100,000 PKI members. One of the documents sent to Washington states: “The chances of detection . . . of our support in this instance are as minimal as any black bag operation can be” (Independent, 20/7/01). According to the Archive, the book says that in December 1965, Marshall Green, as US Ambassador, “endorsed a 50 million rupiah (3,500 pounds) covert payment to the Kap-Gestapu movement leading the repression” (ibid). “Kap-Gestapu” was a special, militant anti-Communist group set up by the Army to spearhead the genocide – literally “action command to crush Gestapu”. NB. The Archive has posted one of two disputed volumes on http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB52/

More widely interpreted, this then is what the American idea of freedom means for the Third World, today most dramatically represented by Bush’s “war on terrorism”. Any resistance to US-led globalisation is to be similarly crushed, one way or another. Globalisation supposedly represents the inexorable advance of Western civilisation to which the rest of the world has to conform or else . . . Ex-Ambassador Green once “told writer Tad Szulc of a 1967 interview he had with Richard Nixon. Green said, ‘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'” (In These Times, July 4-17, 1990). With President Bush unleashing the CIA and covert operations against anybody whom this very Rightwing Administration considers a “terrorist”, it is most likely that the Indonesian model will be dusted off and implemented again (for a rare academic scrutiny of Western terrorism, see “Western State Terrorism”, ed. Alex George, Polity-Blackwell, 1991).


The Indonesian Model – “Jakarta is Coming!”
After the fall of Suharto, despite continuing efforts by much of the Western Establishment to cover up the record of destabilisation of the Sukarno government, it is becoming easier for those concerned to research and communicate on the issue. In particular, the Indonesian Institute for the Study of the 1965/66 Massacre – Yayasan Penelitian Korban Pembunuhan 1965/1966 – is engaged in this work. In March 2001, it declared that: “After the downfall of Suharto’s military regime, it is now possible at last to carry out serious research regarding the extent of the massacres, as well as the imprisonments, and flagrant abuses of power perpetrated during more than 30 years of the Suharto regime, a regime which has brought Indonesia to its knees economically, morally and socially”
(the Institute’s e-mail address is: korban65_66@hotmail.com).
The militarised national security state instituted by Suharto has been scrutinised in the past, to some extent at least. Ten years after the military takeover in 1965, it was estimated that about 100,000 political prisoners were still being held “in a vast number of prisons, detention centres, work camps and military units” (“Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia”, p100). Known as “tapols” (from “tahanan politik”, meaning political prisoner), the jails were regularly replenished with inmates following arrests on the pretext of alleged involvement, directly or indirectly, in the Gestapu affair. Likewise, some years later, researchers found that: “More than 15 years after the coup [attempt], the regime’s sustained anti-Communist propaganda and terror campaign effectively continues” (“Indonesia: Law, Propaganda and Terror” by Julie Southwood & Patrick Flanagan, Zed Books, 1983, p133). This pattern was long to prevail.

Most grotesquely, in Stalinist fashion, supposed leading Gestapu participants were periodically executed after show trials in order to remind the populace of the importance of obedience to governmental authority, and this practice carried on into the 1990s. Writing in July 1990, Joel Bleifuss observed that “since 1985, 20 people have been executed for their alleged role in the coup or for membership in the PKI. These deaths were a product of Indonesia’s formal judicial system. That was not the case, however, with the so-called ‘mysterious killings’ of some 5,000 Indonesians during the ‘anti-crime’ campaigns of 1983/86. President Suharto writes in his 1989 autobiography that these deaths were in fact officially sanctioned summary executions of suspected criminals” (In These Times, July 4-17, 1990). The legacy of the genocide was obviously a lasting one throughout the 32 years of Suharto’s rule; and it took many and diverse forms.
As indicated earlier, ex-CIA agent Ralph McGehee has flagged the significance of the CIA’s Indonesian 1965-66 operation as a model for other covert operations. Among a range of aspects, there are certain features we can readily identify: (1) cultivation of Rightwing military elements; (2) using an alleged atrocity to inflame public opinion; (3) general media manipulation to incite violent reaction; (4) instigation and logistic support for civilian vigilante groups; (5) swift and hard coordinated response targeted at the mass elimination of opponents, or potential opponents; and, (6) a continuing programme of disinformation and cover-up. Since some of these principles, if not all, were already standard guidelines for US covert operations, the perceived US success might have resided in the overall package and its secret, effective coordination. Perhaps manipulation of the Gestapu affair was the key element. At one point in his book, “Deadly Deceits”, McGehee refers to the “CIA [one word deleted] operation” (p57). Peter Dale Scott has suggested that the missing word is “deception” (“Year 501”, p123). Peter Fry, please take note. Whatever the exact success of the deception performed, there is no doubt that the greatest sense of US satisfaction came from wiping out the PKI.

When he visited Aotearoa/NZ in 1986, McGehee told us that probably the clearest example of the model’s application was the Pinochet* takeover in Chile in 1973. This CIA operation involved agents like Dr Ray Cline who later tried to set up a so-called “ANZUS think tank” here at the time of the mid-1980’s crisis over visits by American nuclear warships to NZ. As part of the psychological warfare programme leading up to the Pinochet coup in Chile, the warning slogans, “Jakarta, Jakarta”, and “Jakarta is coming”, were painted on walls around Santiago. “Covert Action in Chile: 1963-1973”, a staff report to a US Senate Select Committee, showed that: “In addition to support for political parties, the CIA mounted a massive, anti-Communist propaganda campaign. Extensive use was made of the press, radio, films, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, direct mailing, paper streamers, and wall painting. It was a ‘scare campaign’ . . .” (US Govt., 1975, p15). This campaign was aimed at goading the political opposition “or the Chilean military into action” (ibid, p23). *General Pinochet, dictator of Chile, 1973-90. A particularly brutal military coup overthrew the elected Leftwing government, headed by President Allende, who was amongst the thousands killed. Ed.
Besides the 1973 Chilean coup, among the many other coups in which the CIA has been a prime agent after Indonesia 1965, was that in Cambodia in 1970, of which many observers noted the same complex of CIA plotters, Japanese secret societies and oil interests behind the military takeover there. Even Suharto’s Army was implicated (“Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia”, pp239/40). “Suharto remained ‘our kind of guy’, as the Clinton Administration called him, as he compiled one of the most horrendous records of slaughter and other abuses of the late 20th Century” (“September 11”, Noam Chomsky,
Allen and Unwin, 2001, pp 78/79).


The Indonesian model
Excerpt relsating to Indonesia
Again, in this connection too, the advantages of the Indonesian model are plainly evident: in the future, the US will be seeking opportunities for mass slaughter of those it targets, and wherever this can be engineered covertly the better. This can mean employing proxies as much as possible to fight and wipe out the enemy in any ground fighting. “Former CIA Director William Colby, in an interview, compared the [US] Embassy’s campaign [in Indonesia] 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 US covert strategy in Asia” (San Francisco Examiner, 20/5/90). When in 1962 he took over this position, Colby “said he discovered the US did not have comprehensive lists of PKI activists” in Indonesia, and he identified this “as a gap in the intelligence system” (ibid.). He was then obviously instrumental in taking action to remedy this situation. Colby had been strongly criticised following disclosure of human rights abuses in the Phoenix Program, and in 1990 he was appealing in the public arena to the Indonesian 1965-66 model as justification for the strategy of targeting selected individual opponents.

Phoenix was basically an assassination project run by US special forces and aimed at cadres of the National Liberation Front (popularly known as the Viet Cong). The far greater visibility of the Vietnam War had led to political and media scrutiny of Phoenix and the probable 41,000 death toll that it had exacted (“The CIA: A Forgotten History”, p145). Ever since, exposure of the Phoenix operation has been a sore point with the American unconventional warfare establishment (e.g. see “Special Men and Special Missions: Inside American Special Operations Forces 1945 to the Present” by J Nadel & J Wright, Greenhill Books, 1994, p114). Hence the concerted Western publishing/film programme to glamourise special forces and their employment; similarly to some degree for the CIA. However, as Douglas Valentine, author of “The Phoenix Program” (William Morrow & Co., 1990) warns us, “Phoenix” is reborn; “Wherever governments of the Left or Right use military and security forces to enforce their ideologies under the aegis of anti-terrorism…But, most of all, look for Phoenix in the imaginations of ideologues obsessed with security, who seek to impose their way of thinking on everyone else” (pp. 428/29).

Michael Ignatieff has coined the term “virtual war” to describe those Western interventions in the post-Cold War era that have sought “to achieve their ends at the lowest possible military cost”, at least for the Western forces making war (“Virtual War: Kosovo And Beyond”, Chatto & Windus, 2000, p162). Virtual war in his terms refers to the sort of war that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) conducted over Kosovo where: hostilities are not formally declared as according to traditional practice; fighting is almost totally one-sided with high-tech weapons wielded at will overwhelmingly by one of the participants; legal questions are constantly canvassed; Western audiences view the conflict on television in some ways as a sort of video game; and where the outcomes are left indeterminate to a large degree. Such virtual wars are relatively remote in concern for Western publics, although international opinion still has limits of tolerance of the level and extent of violence. September 11, 2001 has changed much of this with the virtual war on Kosovo dramatically contrasted with the current war on Afghanistan, and the more general “war on terrorism”. Western publics are now far more involved in what is being sold as a continuing global struggle to the death. In this connection, Ignatieff’s warning about the potential for escalation of “violence which moralises itself as justice and which is unrestrained by consequences” stands as ever more urgent (ibid, p163 and concluding pp214/15). As Ignatieff also aptly declares, “deceptions have become intrinsic to the art of war” and therefore “a good citizen is a highly suspicious one” (ibid, p196).

Guy Pauker, who as we have seen was one of the policy architects of the Indonesian genocide, went on after the successful implementation of his advice in this Asian country, to examine the world situation and the prospects for continued American rule. Most significantly, ” . . . the struggle for control of the world’s resources between the advanced industrial powers (the ‘North’) and the underdeveloped countries of the Third World (the ‘South’)” came to be seen by Pauker and many other Rightwing analysts “as the most explosive threat to long-term US security” (“Beyond the Vietnam Syndrome: US Interventionism in the 1980s” by Michael Klare, IPS, 1981, p23). Pauker gave this outlook “further articulation in a widely-discussed 1977 RAND Corp. report” where he considered the prospect “that mankind is entering a period of increased social instability and faces the possibility of a breakdown of global order as a result of sharpening confrontation between the Third World and the industrial democracies” (ibid). Pauker was then looking ahead to the 1980s when he thought there was a growing likelihood of such conflict erupting. In the intervening years between 1977 and 2001, while there have been serious armed conflicts none of these has thankfully generalised on to wider fronts. However, a lot of world problems have only got worse, and the West seems to be getting mired in the Middle East and Central Asia with the planet’s diminishing oil and gas reserves at stake.


Brave New Wars?
As New World Disorder reigns, President Bush has labelled the US/British war on Afghanistan the first war of the 21st Century, while warning countries from Iraq to North Korea that they could well be next on the US hit list. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, Suharto’s New Order, long legitimated by the US until just recently, has ended in ignominy, debacle and disgrace with deep uncertainty for the near future. It has all unravelled to such a degree that the country is now being seen as a huge potential risk to Western prosperity and security with a predominantly Muslim population of some 220 million close to Australasia. Presently ruled by a precariously stable government, Indonesia is charged with volatile issues ranging from secessionist movements to political legitimacy at the centre. The country could well become another candidate for the US “war on terrorism”, at least in the sense of certain targeted groups and areas. Australasian forces have intervened in East Timor for ostensibly humanitarian reasons but how much has Australia (and other Western powers) got an eye on oil and gas resources, let alone other minerals? We should recall here that implicit in the US National Security Council strategy on Indonesia in the 1950s was the possible de facto partition of the country. This is a strategy that the US and other Western states have successfully implemented in Africa and other parts of the Third World.

Free trade and investment are core elements of the globalisation cultural package that the US and the rest of the West want to roll over the Third World, now meeting especial resistance in regions with large Muslim populations. It was surely salutary that Indonesia was a country which, even on official projections, was deemed one of the least likely to benefit from the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) Uruguay Round that closed in the mid-1990s. As GATT changed into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the conflicts that are generating the terrorist wars of the early 21st Century only increased in tension. Just one of the many contradictions inherent in all of this is that between US national security and its commitment to free trade and open markets (suitably defined and manipulated), and thus the export of military technology worldwide, enabling other countries to strengthen their capacity to eventually challenge the US more effectively (“Virtual War”, p210).
American intervention in Indonesia has demonstrated the pitfalls of economic and military policies toward the Third World that threaten to haunt us all for the foreseeable future unless those who care can rally sufficient support in the years ahead. Terrorism threatens to be employed continually in a truly vicious cycle. Breaking this cycle will take concerted commitment (see the latest Covert Action Quarterly, 71, Winter 2001 for some relevant articles. http://www.covertactionquarterly.org).


Economic plan

In 1966, with most of the bloodbath completed, the US Embassy and an US Agency for International Development (AID)-sponsored “Harvard [University] economist, fresh from writing South Korea’s banking regulations”, had helped Indonesian administrators write the country’s economic plans, later refined and finalised at the 1967 Geneva conference. Selling points at the Geneva conference were: “political stability . . . abundance of cheap labour . . . vast potential market . . . treasurehouse of resources” (ibid.). Later, a development team from Harvard, funded through the Ford Foundation, made sure that everything was running according to what the foreign controllers of Indonesia had prescribed.

As David Ransom (cited above) and others have shown, there had previously been a very extensive and coordinated US educational, cultural and economic input into the Indonesian elite which took power in 1965. By 1954, the National Security Council had “decided that the US would use ‘all feasible covert means’ as well as overt, including ‘the use of armed force if necessary’, to prevent the richest parts of Indonesia from falling into Communist hands” (“Confronting the Third World”, p174). In particular, Ransom’s research drew attention to what he called the “Berkeley Mafia”, a clique of Indonesian economists trained at Berkeley, the University of California. These economists had great influence on the military high command in the early 1960s, and rose to be the mandarins of Indonesia’s “modernisation” in Suharto’s New Order. Incorporated in the comprehensive American programme were the Ford Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, and some universities, among various other bodies. Peter Dale Scott has described this programme and its ramifications in considerable detail (see his ‘Exporting Military-Economic Development: America and the Overthrow of Sukarno’ in “Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia”, edited by Malcolm Caldwell, Spokesman Books, 1975, pp209/63). By 1965, some 4,000 officers of the Indonesian armed forces had received military training in the US, while the top staff had been schooled in integrated “military economic” development and given a pro-American political orientation. Writing in 1970, Ransom considered – at that stage of knowledge – and since this politicised aid programme was so pervasive in influence, that “neither the CIA nor the Pentagon needed to play any more than a subordinate role” in the 1965 takeover (Ramparts, October 1970, p45). We now know that this was not true but what is so striking from the research of analysts like Ransom and Scott is the extent and depth of the US policy of subversion, using a whole range of methods to effect the eventual objective.

In the several years just prior to September 1965, while loans and aid had been severely cut back, military assistance was actually increased, although this was also stopped in early 1965 when Indonesia’s confrontation policy with Malaysia became acute, and Sukarno had stepped up his nationalisation of foreign oil and rubber firms. As early as 1959, the military controlled sub-economy, which was focused on the oil company, Pertamina, led some Western journalists to see the armed forces enforcing a “creeping coup d’etat” (“Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia”, p236); and over time, too, more and more government ministries were usurped by the military. Pertamina itself, indeed, served as a convenient conduit for foreign money to the military. Besides certain Western oil companies, Japanese oil firms and other Japanese interests were connected with those plotting Sukarno’s overthrow and the demise of the PKI.


Indonesia in 1965/66 – A British view
The political struggle in Indonesia that prevented escalation of the Indonesian Confrontation into a full scale war – a British socialist viewpoint of Indonesia in 1965 & 1966.

During the Indonesian Confrontation (1963-1966), unrest within Indonesia probably accounted for the spasmodic involvement of Indonesian Forces against the Federated States of Malaysia. America remained aloft from the conflict although having been willingly supported by British Commonwealth countries in Korea, as she (US) was attempting to introduce democracy within Indonesia and more importantly, negotiating for long term sales of oil from Indonesia at the time. Had President Sukarno been singly focused with his threat to crush Malaysia, then the conflict may have escalated to a full scale war, and America would have had to support the British Commonwealth countries.
Gestapu coup attempt
By 1965 Indonesia had become a dangerous cockpit of social and political antagonisms. The Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) with rapid growth aroused the hostility of Islamic groups and the military. The ABRI-PKI balancing act, which supported Guided Democracy regime of President Sukarno, was going askew. One of the most serious points of contention was the desire of the PKI to establish a “fifth force” of armed peasants and workers.
The Indonesian killings
One of the biggest massacres in the history of Indonesia took place in 1965/66, when from half a million to two million people were killed in the suppression of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI).

Ex-agents say CIA compiled death lists for Indonesians
The following article appeared in the Spartanburg, South Carolina Herald-Journal on May 19, 1965, then in the San Francisco Examiner on May 20, 1965, the Washington Post on May 21, 1965, and the Boston Globe on May 23, 1965. The version below is from the Examiner:
“Revolution and counter-revolution in Indonesia”
“Confused reports of Officers plotting, coups and countercoups which filtered through to the Western press were the first indication of a major revolutionary upheaval in Indonesia.
The recent events unfolded against a now familiar background of social and economic crisis in a backward country. The regime of Sukarno, despite the superficial appearance of stability has been exposed as rotten to the core. The analysis of the Indonesian events provides us with an object lessen in the fate of Bonapartism, bourgeois and proletarian.”
Bonapartism and bankruptcy
Since the end of the war (WW11), all the countries of the so-called “third world” have passed through a period of uninterrupted social convulsions, as the result of the growing gap in the terms of trade with the advanced capitalist countries. The Indonesian economy is a model of bankruptcy. At one time, Indonesia was a rice-surplus area; now it has to import 150,000 tons of rice every year. The once flourishing tin and rubber export industries have dwindled away. Only oil remains as an-imported earner of dollars.
The Indonesian economy is heavily in debt to the world banking community, especially to US bankers, Each year, the budget deficit doubles, The expected figures for this year is around 1,000 billion rupiahs. The value of the rupiah has sunk to a hundredth of its legal value, as the result of the chronic inflation which in the past six years has caused the cost of living to increase by 2,000 %.
In spite of this catastrophic economic collapse, the State spends 1,000 million US dollars a year on arms. i.e. 75% of the budget. The Bonapartist regime is riddled with corruption. In the midst of mass privation, low wages and a huge housing problem, Sukarno and his elite live like kings. Sukarno occupies a white mansion; formally the residence of the Dutch governor; surrounded by sumptuous furniture and expensive works of art. “Its three splendid state-rooms are museum-like in scope and feeling. Each is lavishly draped, carpeted and furnished. Each is hung with a fragment of Sukarno’s extensive collection of heroic canvasses.” Under his direction, huge sums have been lavished on prestige buildings like the Hotel Indonesia in Djakarta where, to quote the Sunday Times, “Three million people, mostly poor, live …. in low buildings …mostly falling apart.”
Indonesia boasts one of the most inept and useless of all parasitic ruling cliques. “We are not facing economic difficulties” Sukarno blithely protests. “The Indonesian people are faring well, reasonably well. Just compare us with India or some other countries. We have a new variety of rice that will give twice as much production as normal rice. It is quite an achievement for our own research centre. I wrote a poem about it, I was so happy. But it is untranslatable.”
Unfortunately, Sukarno’s creditors do not seem to have developed a taste for untranslatable poetry as a substitute for economic progress. They expected the economy to improve after the transfer of West New Guinea to Indonesia in 1963; to no avail. The World Bank attempted to lure Sukarno into deflation by an offer of additional loans to the tune of 142 million pounds. Instead of taking up the offer, Sukarno proceeded to burn the British Embassy in Djakarta and declare war on Malaysia – a move which cut off a further 200 million dollars worth of foreign trade. The US. was concerned. In reply to repeated American demands to shore up the economy, Sukarno announced to the world; “Economics bores me.” To the very last, he maintained that in twenty years, Indonesia would be “the richest country in the world”.
Faith may be able to move mountains but it had no effect in moving the Indonesian economy out of the red. The poverty and hardships of the masses led to an extraordinarily rapid growth of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). With the economy sliding downhill fast, Sukarno was forced to nationalise increasing numbers of foreign enterprises. To do this, he was obliged to lean on the support of the PKI – a process which did not go unnoticed in Washington.
Menshevik policy of the PKI
The whole lesson of the post-war period is that the elementary tasks of the bourgeois (democratic) revolution in backward countries cannot be solved on the basis of capitalist property relations. The weak bourgeoisies of the ex-colonial countries are too inextricably bound up with international finance capital to carry the nationalist revolution through to the end. Nor can they compete with their advanced industrial competitors for world markets. As a result, there is a constant deterioration of their economic status vis-a-vis the advanced capitalist countries.
The ruining of the economies of backward countries creates conditions of acute and permanent social crisis. On the one hand the old self-contained peasant society is steadily under-mined, on the other hand, the capitalist class is unable to put across its forms on the whole of society. The rise of military police states all over the “third world” is merely a surface expression of the inability of the colonial bourgeoisie to solve the problems of their own revolution. Only by the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, in alliance with the poor peasants, can the backward countries begin to solve their economic and social problems.
Nowhere in the “Third World” has the workers movement made such rapid strides in the last decade as in Indonesia. The PKI, which had virtually ceased to exist after the abortive coup of 1948, has grown into the third largest Communist Party in the world, only the Chinese and Russian Parties being larger. Its total paid up membership is three million, It commands the support of ten million trade unionists and organised peasants. Most important of all, it claims the allegiance of 4O% of the Indonesian army. Politically, it is aligned with Peking in the Sino-Soviet dispute, and maintains close contact with the Chinese Stalinists. A revolutionary combination, one might think. But one would be wrong; The policy of the PKI is one of blatant class collaboration. Since the 1948 fiasco, the PKI leadership has attempted to prove its own impotence by ingratiating itself with Sukarno. All traces of revolutionary ideology have been systematically deleted from the Party Programme. Thus the 1962 Programme and Constitution of the PKI outlined the Partys task as the establishment of a “people’s democratic state”. And what might this queer specimen be; Socialism? Capitalism? Worker State? The Programme goes on to clarify the class content of this “peoples democratic state”. It would be a “democracy of a new type”, based, not upon the working class, but on a bloc of workers and peasants with a strange and motley collection of “Allies”. This latter-day popular front would include “the urban petty bourgeoisie, the intellectuals, the national bourgeoisie, the advanced aristocratic elements, and patriotic elements in general
From such confusion, it is difficult to extract any positive conclusion concerning the class nature of the “people democratic state” since the above is simply a list of all classes and strata of present day bourgeois Indonesia. One might therefore justly conclude that the “revolutionary” Peking oriented Programme of the PKI is the maintenance of the status quo!
In all its documents, the PKI goes out of its way to avoid all mention of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead, the PKI refers to the “authority” of the “people”, a formula which offends no one. The class collaboration of the PKI attained its most bare faced expression in 1955 when it openly advocated a national coalition, and offered to water down its already insipid programme to a list of entirely non communist aims.
The unutterably philistine mentality of the PKI leadership is revealed in all the pronouncements of its chief “theoretician”, Aidit. As always with Stalinism, the “theory” is merely a crude apology for the betrayals of the leadership. Thus, using the sophist argument of “stages” Aidit puts off the question of the socialist revolution to the far distant future, “When we complete the first stage of our revolution which is now in progress, we can enter into friendly consultation with other progressive elements in our society and, without an armed struggle lead the country towards socialist revolution. After all, the national capitalists in our country are both weak and disorganised. At present, in our national democratic revolution, we are siding with them and fighting a common battle of expelling foreign economic domination from this soil”.
The Aidit argument condemns itself. If the national bourgeoisie is so weak and disorganised, all the more reason to sweep them aside and set up a workers and peasants government. As a matter of fact, as Lenin pointed out a hundred times, it is precisely the weakness of the national bourgeoisie that makes them a reactionary stumbling block in the path of the democratic revolution in backward countries. They doubt their ability to control the forces unleashed by a civil war, they equivocate, and finally they are driven into the arms of reaction out of fear of their own working class. For this reason it is entirely reactionary to attempt to separate mechanically the democratic and socialist phases of the revolution in backward countries. Either the democratic revolution ”grows over” into the dictatorship of the proletariat, or it succumbs to the hammer blows of reaction.
The “Leninist” position of Aidit and co. is in fact identical to that of the Mensheviks against whom Lenin waged a relentless struggle right up to 1917. The Mensheviks argued that the socialist revolution was out of the Question in Russia, because the bourgeois democratic revolution had yet to take place. Thus, the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat was relegated by them to a distant (and therefore safe) future, fifty, a hundred, or even three hundred years hence. First we complete the “first stage” then, when this is “completely attained” , we “enter into friendly agreements” with those who might be interested in the ”second stage”. A very pretty schema.
Events were posed altogether differently by history, which, alas , does not deem it at all necessary to follow the dictates of a Plekhanov or an Aidit. 1n 1905, the Mensheviks were forced with a clear choice: proletarian revolution, or reaction? While the workers struggled with reaction in the streets, Plekhanov gave his reply: “They should not have taken to arms”. Aidit today faces his 1905.
Palace Revolution

Bonapartist Government arises out of a social crisis, where no one class, group or party is capable of achieving stable government. The bonapartist dictator directly or indirectly basing himself upon the army, achieves political equilibrium by ”balancing” the antagonistic interests – playing off one class against another. This is what imparts to the bonapartist dictator his peculiar aura of isolation and individualism; because he represents no particular interest, (other than his own) the illusion is created of a power standing above society and regulating it “in the national interest”. In reality bonapartism always represents defence of the status quo and therefore in the last analysis always comes down on the side of the ruling class.
The delicate balance of forces which is the precondition for bonapartism is bound to he temporary and precarious. Sooner or later equilibrium is destroyed and illusory stability gives way to civil war. Thus, a Bonapartist regime must be considered, monolithic or paternalistic facade notwithstanding, as a regime of transition which is the prelude to the victory of revolution or reaction.
At 0600hrs. on Thursday 30th September, 1965 Radio Djakarta broadcast an announcement that an obscure officer of the palace guard, a Lt-Col Untung had President Sukarno under protective guard, and that loyalist forces had crushed a CIA take-over plot. Within hours, Radio Djakarta issued another statement that President Sukarno was safe and well and that a Communist coup had been crushed by Gen Nasution. The bonapartist illusion was shattered.
Initial reactions in the West were that this was just another power struggle caused by the illness or death of Sukarno. The Times, ever tasteful, thought that he had “ceased to be a factor on the Indonesian political scene”. As it happened, Sukarno was alive, but the Times had grasped the correlation of’ forces admirably. In the whole course of the struggle Sukarno and his Cabinet were pitifully isolated. The government was suspended in mid-air. The real political struggle had passed into the streets.
Little by little the picture became clearer. We may accept the accusation of a CIA plot and an attempt by the Stalinist middle stream of the officer caste to liquidate the generals and forestall a right wing coup planned for October 5th. 1965, as an accurate outline of the initial upheaval. Sukarno’s illness, his moves against foreign enterprises and his increasing dependence on the PKI, on top of the general bankruptcy of the Indonesian economy would be more than enough to interest the State Department in secret negotiations with the reactionary upper stratum of the officer caste (Gen Nasution is virulently anti-Communist). On the other hand, the army generals would need little persuading to liquidate the hated influence of the PKI and establish open military rule.
As a matter of fact, we have certain proof of at least one previous attempt of the CIA to oust Sukarno. In the late 50s, an anti-Sukarno guerrilla movement developed in Sumatra. The pilot of a rebel plane shot down after bombarding an air-field was a CIA agent called Allen Lawrence Pope. He was sentenced to death, but later reprieved on Sukarno’s personal order, “because I did not want to spoil the good relationship between Indonesia and America”.
That a rightist plot existed need not be seriously doubted. The PKI, as we have seen, was quite satisfied with the status quo. On the other hand, it is clear that the so-called ”Revolutionary Council” of Untung was a Stalinist front organisation composed of prominent Stalinists, fellow travellers and political non-entities. The ”respectable” members of the Council disowned it immediately Nasution looked like gaining the upper hand. There can be no doubt that the PKI leadership was behind this preventative coup. It has emerged, however, that Sukarno himself knew all about it at least 24 hours in advance, having been informed of the generals plot by the pro-PKI Air Chief, Dhani. Sukarno was in his palace in Djakarta protected by the palace guard on the night of the coup, but fled to Bogor with the help of Dhani when the fighting got out of hand.
The treachery of the PKI now stands revealed. With three million members, ten million supporters and 40% of the army under its control, its sole concern was to keep the masses out of the struggle, to confine it to a palace revolution.
Instead of publishing full details of the right wing plot, instead of mobilising the masses in a general strike and appealing to its supporters in the army to disarm their officers and join hands with the workers for the overthrow of the whole rotten regime, they made a secret pact with Sukarno to murder the offending generals. Unfortunately for them Nasution escaped and called out his troops. The palace revolution crumbled at a touch.
The gathering reaction

It is an elementary rule of revolutionary strategy that it is always an advantage if the other side is seen to strike the first blow, thus justifying the actions as self-defence. The PKI by its criminal policy, far from keeping the generals out, handed them power on a plate.
The provocative actions of the wretched ”Revolutionary Council” proved an excellent weapon in the hands of Nasution. Moslem reaction was incited. The PKI headquarters in Djakarta was stormed and burned by a mob of several thousand youths, shouting ”Kill Aidit”. Mobs roamed the streets, sticking up posters reading “Crush the Communists”. A mob outside the American Embassy chanted “Long Live America”, A mass rally of 500,000 demanded action against all who participated in the “September 30th Movement”. The murder of the six generals and the senseless killing of the six year old daughter of Nasutian, were used to fan the flames of reaction. The demands forwarded by this demonstration to the government (i.e. to Nasution ) showed that the programme of reaction has already crystallised.
It will not be long before the reactionary generals, with great reluctance of course, submit to the pressing demands of the mob. The above programme will be implemented.
And what of the PKI? Instead of pursuing a vigorous offensive against reaction which even now, at the “11th hour” could save the party, the leadership remains prostrate before Sukarno. While Communists struggle with the mobs of reaction, the PKI continues to be represented in the Sukarno cabinet, supporting his demagogic appeals for “national unity”, a return to the old stability, etc. Ominously, however, Aidit has gone into hiding.
Aidit may hide, but there is no hiding place for the three million Communist workers and peasants who are placed at the mercy of a bloody reaction. In the teeth of all the cowardly appeals of the leadership, the mighty PKI masses are clearly moving into action. The revolt in Central Java has spread to Sumatra, and is still growing. Indonesia has been split asunder. The Daily Telegraph, with some insight, analysed the situation in an editorial of October 12th. 1965, entitled:
“The civil war in Indonesia”
”It is plain from the events of the past ten days in Indonesia that it is not another palace coup that has rocked the Sukarno Republic, but a spreading civil war. The land of confrontation is confronting itself, The three heads of this dragon, Moslem, nationalist, Communist are biting at each other, and fighting has spread from Java to Sumatra and the long smouldering rivalry of forces over which Dr Sukarno presided for so long has burst into flame. If the army suspected a Communist coup, it was clearly surprised by its sudden ruthlessness and disorganised by the loss of its six murdered generals. Now it is clear that Dr Sukarno is in Army protection, that he has countenanced its campaigns against the Communist guerrillas and finally abandoned the pretence that his Nassakom or United Front still exists.”
The behaviour of the PKI leadership was craven to the last. To the very last moment before Sukarno switched sides, they identified themselves with him and his demagogic appeals to national unity. More than likely they still do. They behave like a cur that licks its master’s hand as he kicks it in the belly.
Where the state power is openly challenged in a civil war, all possibilities of “moderation”, of a ”middle way” vanish in thin air. If Sukarno emerges, at the end of the civil war, as the man in charge it cannot be on the same basis as before. He will no longer be a one Man dictator, keeping himself on top by balancing the classes, but as a puppet of the generals. The old order is irrevocably lost. It was both stupid and reactionary of the PKI leaders to appeal for its restoration.
It is by no means certain, however, that the revolt will be crushed. True, the PKI leaders have still not called an insurrection. But the PKI masses are reacting spontaneously to the threat of reaction. Their great numerical strength, and the complete rottenness of Indonesian society may yet bring victory. It is not impossible that the PKI leadership, or a section of that leadership, will realise the futility of attempts to restore the status quo, and support the development of a mass insurrection. If so, then this would certainly take the form of a protracted guerrilla war, the classical weapon of Stalinism in the Colonial Revolution.
More likely, however, the PKI leadership will carry their work of disruption to the bitter and bloody end. Ether they will actively discourage their members from fighting, in a craven and quite utopian effort to conciliate the forces of reaction, or they may temporarily lend their support to a guerrilla war, or even a general strike, not with a view to seizing power, but simply in order to obtain a stronger hand in secret negotiations with Nasution and/or Sukarno.
Whatever the outcome, the disastrous policies of the Stalinist leadership in Indonesia, will certainly have the initial result of causing widespread disillusionment of the masses in that country. A series of defeats of the present revolutionary movement would usher in a whole period of militarist reaction resting on the apathy and bitterness of the PKI masses. Not for nothing did the Daily Telegraph editorial express evident satisfaction at the chaos in Indonesia. The defeat of the Indonesian proletariat would be the best possible buttress to the crumbling edifice of Malaysia.”
President Sukarno was stripped of Presidential power on 12th. March 1966, however remained a symbolic President and a puppet of the “Generals” until a year and a day later when he was ousted on 12th. March 1967, replaced as President by General Suharto.


Managing Indonesia
he Modern Political Economy
John Bresnan
New York
Columbia University Press 1993

2. Sukarno Yields to Soeharto
In the center of the government quarter of Jakarta in the mid-1960s lay one of the largest open squares within the precincts of a modern city, nearly a full kilometer long on every side. From the early nineteenth century, this square was known as Koningsplein, or King’s Square, and on its northern side the Dutch colonial government built a palace to serve its governors-general. On December 27, 1949, the Dutch flag in front of the palace was taken down for the last time, and the flag of the new Republic of Indonesia was raised in a simple ceremony before a crowd of several hundred people. The square was subsequently named Medan Merdeka, or Freedom Square. The palace was known in early republican days as the Presidency, but by the 1960s, in the spirit of Guided Democracy, the building was again a palace, officially, and was named Istana Merdeka, or Freedom Palace.

The first raising of the Indonesian flag before the palace was reenacted each year on August 17, the anniversary of the proclamation of Indonesia’s independence in 1945. By the early 1960s the event was attended by throngs of people who stretched across the great square almost as far as the eye could see, while in demarcated ranks in front stood groups representing the armed services, the government departments, the boy scouts and girl scouts, the political parties and their affiliated youth and student groups, labor groups, farmers’ organizations, women’s associations, and all the rest, wearing uniforms or carrying banners that identified their attachments. Before such an assembly Sukarno was a spectacular orator, stirring the feelings of the great masses of people to a high pitch, until tens of thousands chanted with him, roared in response to him, exhibiting, as nothing else could, the power of his claim that a mystic union existed between himself and the Indonesian people. Resounding with his phrases, the palace and the square before it were filled with an emotional charge of very high voltage in the political imagination.

By March 11, 1966, however, when a morning meeting of the cabinet was to take place in the palace, opinion in the capital had turned against Sukarno. His purpose in calling the meeting was to obtain a statement from the cabinet denouncing the student demonstrations that had been creating an uproar in the city. Even as the day began, students were amassing in front of the palace. The atmosphere was tense. Two weeks earlier, presidential guards had shot and killed two students. But on this day, the forces that had been building up against the president would prevail.
Events Leading to March 11
Mass violence of the kind that swept the towns and villages of Central and East Java did not occur in Jakarta. Army units based in the capital city and its vicinity had come quickly to the support of General Soeharto, as had the Siliwangi Division responsible for the province of West Java, which constituted the capital’s immediate hinterland. The army units available to Soeharto were, however, countered for some time by units of the other services on which Soeharto could not rely, including the navy, the air force, and the police. In addition, army leaders did not arm civilian youths in the capital in any significant number; on the contrary, they attempted to keep what control they could over civilian demonstrators. The result was that, although violence did occur, it was directed principally against property, not persons, and was highly selective, not indiscriminate.
What was significant in Jakarta, as a result, was not violence so much as the threat of it, and the growing estrangement that developed in this environment between activist army officers and students on the one hand, and Sukarno and the political figures long associated with him on the other. The issue was initially the Communist party, but as Sukarno remained unyielding, and the economy neared collapse, the issue became the president himself.
Some sense of the spiraling of feelings on either side can be gained from a brief review of the larger events that followed the failure of the September 30 Movement.

On October 1 Sukarno declared that he was taking personal command of the armed forces. On the following day, after a tense meeting, General Soeharto was given responsibility for ‘the restoration of security and order.’ 1
Late on the night of October 3, after the bodies of the generals were discovered at the air force base, Sukarno made a radio broadcast in which he denied accusations that the air force had been involved in the affair.
On October 4 the bodies were removed from the well in the presence of a large assemblage of journalists, photographers, and television crew. Soeharto, who was present, spoke briefly for radio and television, suggesting that the president’s assessment was not acceptable to the army. It was not possible, he said, that the incident was unconnected to certain members of the air force. He also suggested that the Communist party had been involved. 2
On October 5 a massive funeral was held for the slain officers. The funeral was attended by almost everyone who mattered in the noncommunist elite–except Sukarno, who sent an aide.
On October 6 Sukarno presided at a meeting of the entire cabinet at the ‘summer palace’ in Bogor, about an hour’s drive from the capital. He now condemned the killing of the generals, said he had not approved of the formation of the Revolutionary Council, and appealed for calm. Two members of the Central Committee of the Communist party attended the meeting and read a statement dissociating the party from what they termed ‘an internal army affair.’ 3
On October 8 a rally organized by anticommunist students was attended by tens of thousands. Speakers called on the government to ban the Communist party. Posters read: ‘Crush the PKI! Hang Aidit!’ One group of youths went from the rally to Communist party headquarters and set the building on fire.
On October 11 Sjarif Thajeb, an army medical doctor and Minister of Higher Education, ordered the closure of fourteen leftist institutions of higher education, including Res Publica University, which was owned and operated by a Chinese-dominated organization, and ordered the Communist party’s student organization to halt its activities. On October 15 Res Publica was gutted by fire.
On October 16, presumably in a move to moderate the situation, Sukarno dismissed Omar Dhani as head of the air force, and appointed Soeharto commander of the army. At the ceremony installing Soeharto, the president spoke of the coup attempt as ‘a ripple in the ocean of revolution.’ 4
On October 21 Sukarno issued a number of decrees, which in the rhetoric of the time were described as ‘commands,’ one of which prohibited unauthorized demonstrations.
In late October a new and larger anticommunist student organization was formed at a meeting at Sjarif Thajeb’s home. This was the Indonesian Student Action Front (Kesatuan Aksi Mahasiswa Indonesia, or KAMI)
(Kami also is the Indonesian word for ‘we’). 5
By early November the army was rounding up leading figures in the Communist party and its affiliated organizations in Jakarta. Three members of the party Central Committee were arrested, and a fourth was shot. Aidit himself was captured and summarily executed in Central Java on November 22. 6
The deepening political divisions reflected in these events worked their way quickly through the economy. Commodities were already in short supply, and prices were rising rapidly. In November rice mills were placed under government supervision, and in December all foreign trade was placed under government control. By mid-December the government also decided to grant a large New Year’s bonus to government employees. There were an estimated four million government employees of one kind or another at the time, and further inflation was bound to follow the government action. The problem was confounded even further when the government hastily announced a ‘currency reform,’ called in all the currency in circulation, and introduced one new rupiah note for every thousand old ones.

The timing could not have been worse. At this season of the year, about nine months from the last rice harvest and three months before the next one, rice supplies were traditionally low and prices were pressing upward; the approaching year-end holidays added further to the pressure on prices. A buying panic followed the announcement on the currency, and the price of rice rose by two-thirds in a single day. By the end of December foreign exchange reserves were exhausted, and prices had reached a record growth of 500 percent for the year. Nor was any end in sight. On January 3 the price of gasoline was increased by 400 percent, and fares on Jakarta buses by 500 percent. 7
These economic developments produced a rapidly widening reaction among the anticommunist students in Jakarta. On January 10 the Indonesian Students Action Front opened a seminar at the University of Indonesia on the state of the economy. On the same day the Action Front also sponsored a rally that adopted a statement entitled ‘Three Demands of the People,’ calling for the banning of the Communist party, a halt to inflation, and the purging of leftists and incompetents from the cabinet. On January 15 the cabinet again met in Bogor, and Sukarno invited all the leading student organizations to send representatives. The Student Action Front mobilized thousands of anticommunist students in Jakarta and Bandung, and trucked and bussed them to Bogor. When they were outside the spacious Bogor palace grounds, some of the students tried to climb the high iron fencing, and warning shots were fired by the presidential guard. 8
Sukarno on this occasion compared himself to Martin Luther and proclaimed, ‘I will not move a millimeter.’ 9 He called on those who believed as he did to organize a Sukarno Front in his support. Leaders of numerous organizations made statements in support of Sukarno in the next few days, among them the leaders of the National Party and the Nahdatul Ulama, the nation’s foremost political parties, other than the Communist party, that were still legal. Soeharto followed suit, issuing a statement that the army ‘stands behind the President/Great Leader of the Revolution and awaits his further commands.’ 10
At this point, perhaps buoyed by this show of support, Sukarno overplayed his hand. On February 21 he announced a new cabinet of a hundred members. Notably missing from the long list was Nasution, at this stage the most prominent military figure in the nation and the army’s most prominent anticommunist. On February 24, the day the new cabinet was to be installed, a huge outpouring of students surrounded the Jakarta palace starting early in the morning. The army also had troops in place, separating the students from the presidential guard. Frustrated, students halted traffic and let air out of the tires of scores of vehicles, blocking the roads to the palace, and obliging Sukarno to order helicopters to bring some of his cabinet officers to the ceremony. As the cabinet, having been sworn in, was having tea, shots were heard. Students had broken through the army buffer, and presidential guards had fired, this time into the crowd. Two students were shot dead. 11
Events now moved swiftly. A massive procession marked the funeral on February 25 of one of the students, a rightist activist from the medical faculty of the University of Indonesia. In a lengthy meeting with Soeharto that same day and into the night, Sukarno insisted that the students be stopped, and again Soeharto gave in. The Student Action Front was declared ‘dissolved’ and demonstrations were banned. At the same time, on the advice of army officers, student leaders moved out of the University of Indonesia campus–and into the intelligence headquarters of Colonel Ali Moertopo, a long-time aide to Soeharto. 12
On February 28 Subandrio–a vice premier, the foreign minister who was seen as the architect of Indonesia’s increasingly warm official relations with Communist China, and a focus and symbol of the entire conflict–told a crowd of Sukarno supporters that terror on the part of the government’s enemies would be met with terror. A new anticommunist organization, nominally of high school students, held a rally at the University of Indonesia, and Subandrio was hanged in effigy. Leimena, another vice premier, ordered the University closed. Army guards were posted but ignored Leimena’s order, and the Women’s Action Front, joined by Yani’s widow, brought food to feed the large number of students who were now occupying the campus around the clock. 13
By early March Soeharto was under increasing pressure from some of his officers to take aggressive action. According to an official army history, he met with Sukarno on March 6 and warned, ‘I would not be responsible if some officers permit their troops to violate discipline and join the people’s action.’ 14
That evening he met with the principal anti-Sukarno officers: Ahmad Kemal Idris, chief of staff of the Strategic Reserve, Soeharto’s own former unit, and Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, commander of the Paracommando Regiment.
Sukarno now evidently feared that a showdown was imminent. On March 8 he issued an Order of the Day reminding members of the armed forces that it was their duty to be loyal to him as president of the republic. Nationalist supporters of Sukarno attacked the United States embassy. Anti-Sukarno students, now under yet another name and led by a militant Muslim student leader, occupied the foreign ministry and ransacked the building; occupied a Ministry of Education building; and attacked the New China News Agency office, a People’s Republic of China (PRC) consular building, and a PRC cultural center.
On March 10 Sukarno met with party leaders and demanded they sign a statement condemning the student demonstrations. After discussions that lasted five hours, language was agreed on and all signed.
Thus, for almost six months, the Indonesian state was increasingly divided between two poles of power. At issue by now was not only the legality of the Communist party, the foreign policy tilt toward Beijing, the mismanagement of the economy, and the whole cast of policy in the direction of revolutionary change. Among an elite that had all along been largely traditional in its orientation, at issue now was the duality in government, the lack of unity, and the prolonged absence of any kind of stability in the nation’s affairs.
The Events of March 11
On March 11 the cabinet met at the palace on the square. The topic was again the student demonstrations. Again the students were in the streets in the vicinity of the palace, letting air out of the tires of vehicles, and bringing traffic to a halt. Notably absent was Soeharto, pleading a sore throat. The atmosphere in the room was said to be tense. Sukarno began by calling on his ministers to resign if they were not prepared to follow his leadership. At this point an aide rushed to his side with a message: large numbers of unidentified troops were in the square and were advancing on the palace. Alarmed, Sukarno rushed from the room, followed by Subandrio and Chaerul Saleh, and fled the palace grounds by helicopter.

By early afternoon it was established that Sukarno was at the palace in Bogor. Three major generals of the army– Amir Machmud, Basuki Rachmat, and Andi Muhammad Jusuf–went to Bogor by helicopter to see him. They found Sukarno in the company of Subandrio, Leimena, Chaerul Saleh, and one of Sukarno’s wives, Hartini. Discussions among them went on for some hours. When the talks ended, the generals returned to Jakarta, carrying a short letter signed by Sukarno and addressed to General Soeharto, instructing him “to take all measures considered necessary to guarantee security, calm, and stability of the government and the revolution, and to guarantee the personal safety and authority of the President/Supreme Commander/Great Leader of the Revolution/Mandatory of the MPRS in the interests of the unity of the Republic of Indonesia and to carry out all teaching of the Great Leader of the Revolution.”

Soeharto acted promptly. On March 12, on the president’s behalf, he signed a decree banning the Communist Party of Indonesia. On March 18, having failed to persuade Sukarno to dismiss them, he ordered the arrest of Subandrio and other leftist cabinet members. Soeharto aides were soon referring to the March 11 letter as the Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret (Letter of Instruction of March Eleven) from which was coined the acronym Super-Semar . The acronym gave the letter, and Soeharto, a symbolic tie to one of the most mystical and powerful figures in the Javanese wayang .
For all their ambiguity, the events of the day were powerfully evocative of the forces operating in Jakarta at the time. They also were revealing of the personality of the new chief executive.

The Student Movement
The mass mobilization of anticommunist students, some of whom by January were demanding that Sukarno be arrested and tried for complicity in the attempted coup, was a new element in Indonesian political life. Students had played a significant role in the country’s political history before. Indonesian students in Europe were the leading advocates of national independence in the 1920s. On August 16, 1945, youth leaders had kidnapped Sukarno and Hatta and prevailed on them to issue an immediate declaration of national independence. Indonesian youths also fought in the revolution; in a battle recounted in schoolbooks for every Indonesian child to read, armed youths held off more than a division of British and Indian troops in Surabaya for ten days in November 1945–a battle that marked a turning point in the independence struggle. But university students–even secondary school students–had been few in number in 1945, the children of middle-ranking officials in the prewar colonial government. By 1965, with the rapid growth of the civil service after independence, some nine thousand students attended universities in Jakarta, and tens of thousands were in the city’s secondary schools. 16
The initial decision to organize Jakarta’s students to take political action after October 1 was made by two youthful Muslim and Catholic leaders: Subchan Z. E., vice chairman of the Nahdatul Ulama, and Harry Tjan, secretary general of the Catholic Party. Mar’ie Muhamad, secretary general of the large nonparty Islamic Student Association
(Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam, or HMI) was present as well. The three had found common cause during the previous year in trying to counter the increasingly aggressive initiatives of the Communist youth and student organizations. A principal battleground had been the national youth federation, which was part of the national front. Another was the campus of the University of Indonesia, which was the scene of continuing demonstrations and counterdemonstrations from early 1965 on. Learning that the air force was training young communist activists in the use of small arms, one of the three young men met with General Nasution to arrange the same training for anticommunist youth. The date was September 28. 17
When the Revolutionary Council was announced on the state radio on the morning of October 1, the young men had no doubt that the Communist party was behind the event. Their first thought was to flee the city and seek the protection of the Siliwangi Division. But one of the group, Catholic activist Lim Bian Kie (who later changed his name to Jusuf Wanandi), had a position with the Supreme Advisory Council and a government jeep with palace plates, and it was decided to send him in search of information; Lim drove through the square, saw the army units in formation there, and found the palace staff in a state of confusion: no one knew where Sukarno was. As time passed without further news, the youth leaders waited. When the state radio announced in the evening of October 1 that army units under the command of General Soeharto were in control of the city, they saw as well as anyone the significance of the event. 18

After their big rally of October 8, the religious youth leaders had paid their first call on General Soeharto. The student movement now grew in size and complexity. While most of the city’s students were Javanese, much of the organizing was done by activists of other ethnic origins–students from the more aggressive cultures of Sumatra and Sulawesi, and a handful who were of Chinese descent. Also, although most of the demonstrators were Muslims of varying persuasions–the Islamic Student Association had provided the bulk of the manpower to counter the Communists on the campus of the University of Indonesia–some of the leaders were Christians. The leadership group also acquired members who were democratic socialists in orientation, who identified with the old Socialist Party (Partai Sosialis Indonesia, or PSI), and who were soon publishing a daily newspaper and operating a string of radio stations in the name of the student movement. It was a loosely knit phenomenon, and it held together marvelously well–so long as its purposes were few and simple.

The student leaders were in touch with Soeharto and his associates on a more or less daily basis from early October on. The students had to deal with the army. They needed permission to travel at night in spite of a curfew. They needed funds to organize and transport their demonstrators. They needed to be sure their demonstrations would not be stopped. And they needed small arms to defend themselves. So student leaders consulted regularly with officers of the Strategic Reserve, notably its two principal commanders, Ahmad Kemal Idris and Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, and with the Strategic Reserve’s principal intelligence officers, Ali Moertopo and Yoga Sugama. The students also needed physical protection as the atmosphere grew increasingly heated. It was out of fear that their lives were in danger from pro-Sukarno military units–chiefly members of the presidential guard, and, after January, the marines–that they agreed to move in with Ali Moertopo’s intelligence staff. It was the first intimate contact between student leaders and members of the army who were close associates of Soeharto. 19
Relations between the student leaders and these army men were antagonistic almost from the beginning. The students wanted to get rid of Sukarno while their own movement had momentum, and before he could build a countermovement of his own. As far as the students were concerned, Soeharto and his associates were overly cautious, wanting to be sure of every step before it was taken. Ali Moertopo and his fellow intelligence officers, on the other hand, viewed the students as young hotheads who could bring the government down but could not put a new one in its place. More immediately, Soeharto and his associates did not want any more student martyrs; one more student martyr of either the Left or the Right, they feared, could plunge the city into a level of violence they could not hope to control. 20

The Army Activists
The students gained considerable strength from their open alliance with anti-Sukarno activists among the army officer corps. These officers also lent a good deal of credence to Soeharto’s warning to Sukarno that they might take action against him.
The senior figure was Brig. Gen. Ahmad Kemal Idris. His father was a Minangkabau from West Sumatra, a region that has produced an inordinate share of the intellectuals, politicians, and businessmen of modern Indonesia. Kemal Idris had a sizable reputation for speaking his mind in plain language–and for taking direct action. In 1952, as a young cavalry officer of the Siliwangi Division, he had made the dramatic gesture of placing an armored unit in front of the Presidency with its cannons aimed at the building; this was at the height of an army protest over a cabinet decision to sack Nasution, as well as other accumulated grievances, an incident that set in train a series of events that eventually led to the fall of the cabinet. In 1956 Kemal Idris was implicated in another plot by Siliwangi officers, this one touched off by allegations of corruption against Roeslan Abdulgani, the Nationalist foreign minister;
Abdulgani was eventually charged and convicted, but not before Kemal Idris and others had been relieved of their commands.
Sukarno refused to approve any further appointments of Kemal Idris for several years; Kemal Idris managed to be reinstated only by offering to serve in the Congo with the Indonesian detachment that was part of the United Nations forces there. On his return to Indonesia he served under Soeharto in the Strategic Reserve and, in an extraordinary show of defiance of the president by army commander Yani, was designated to lead Sukarno’s pet project, the invasion of Malaysia. Kemal Idris is thought to have been against the proposed invasion, and was later said to have done what he could to delay it. 21
Certainly no love was lost between Kemal Idris and Sukarno. And by March 1966 Kemal Idris was in effective command of the army’s crack units in Jakarta.
The other principal activist officer was Colonel Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, commander of the elite Paracommando Regiment, which was at the core of Kemal Idris’s reserve forces. Sarwo Edhie was born in Central Java and had his early career in the Diponegoro Division. He stood in the jago or ‘fighting cock’ tradition of the region and was early drawn to more adventurous pursuits. He was trained as a paratrooper and, in 1957, led a daring raid on a rebel-held airfield in Sulawesi. On October 1, 1965, by his own account, he had asked permission of Nasution and Soeharto to lead the predawn raid on the air base to which Sukarno and the Communist party leaders had fled. He also personally led one of his battalions in putting down the army rebellion in Central Java in late 1965, and trained and armed the youth groups responsible for much of the killing there. Later, he captured headlines in Jakarta when he went to the University of Indonesia, addressed a student rally, and, in a further show of support, registered himself as a student.

Both men said later that, along with Maj. Gen. Hartono Rekso Dharsono, the commander of the Siliwangi Division, they had wanted to depose Sukarno as a prelude to a thorough reform of the political system. Kemal Idris said that the main purpose of the troops in the square was to frighten the president. Both men said they also thought they might be able to arrest a few cabinet officers as the men came out of the cabinet meeting; Soeharto had told them to arrest certain Sukarno cabinet officers when they had the opportunity, but had left it to them as to how to proceed. The two officers also claimed they had not been ordered to put the troops in front of the palace on March 11; both said they had decided it on their own. They also said they did not give details to Soeharto beforehand. 23 It
is inconceivable, however, that Soeharto did not know what was afoot. Both Ali Moertopo and Yoga Sugama, intelligence officers who were reporting to Kemal Idris at Strategic Reserve headquarters, were Soeharto aides from Diponegoro days, and undoubtedly were keeping him fully informed.
The principal aim of the anti-Sukarno officers, then, was to follow up Soeharto’s warning to Sukarno five days earlier, and to make the point more strongly that his personal security could not be guaranteed by his own security guard, but only by the leadership of the army itself. That accomplished, talks would no doubt ensue. Soeharto would be able to say that the troops were not there on his orders, that some of his hot-headed officers were threatening to take action against the president, and that he could not predict what they might do next unless the president were to demonstrate greater confidence in him and give him a wider mandate. And there was a good deal of truth to this view of the situation.

The Letter of Instruction
The message the three generals took to Bogor, then, was that Sukarno had to give Soeharto increased executive authority if he was to keep the army in line. If not, Soeharto would not accept responsibility for what might happen.
The three do not seem to have been especially qualified to serve as ‘king makers.’ What seems to have led to their selection was their presence at the palace that morning when Sukarno had fled. The three also were on good terms with Sukarno.
Amir Machmud was the Jakarta area commander at the time. He was a Sundanese from West Java, where he had helped put down a rebellion that had aimed to establish an Islamic state, and later served under Soeharto in the West Irian campaign. He had the reputation of being equidistant between Sukarno and the hard-line Nasution camp. When Sukarno had complained to him back in January about the increasingly aggressive student demonstrations, Amir Machmud issued orders that in the future they were to be ‘chanelled through the proper authorities in an orderly and proper way.’ 24
Basuki Rachmat was a politically experienced man who had helped to run the martial law authority under Nasution’s direction after 1959, and was the commander of the Brawijaya Division of East Java on October 1.

Visiting in Jakarta at the time, he had quickly come to Soeharto’s support. He was named Minister of Veterans Affairs in the Sukarno cabinet of a hundred, from which Nasution had been excluded. He was seen as a moderate reformer who was probably willing to see Sukarno remain as head of state, but with some curtailment of his decision-making powers. He also had a reputation for keeping his own counsel. He was the senior member of the group and, according to Amir Machmud, Soeharto initially thought of sending him to Bogor alone.

Andi Muhammad Jusuf was a titled aristocrat from Bone in Sulawesi, a man long experienced in politics. When his own former superior officer in Sulawesi had gone into rebellion in the 1950s, Jusuf supported the army leadership in Jakarta and tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a truce. When the Communist party launched a verbal attack on General Nasution and others in 1960, and the army had rounded up the entire Central Committee ‘for interrogation,’ Jusuf was one of the commanders in the ‘outer islands’ who used the occasion to ban the party in his area. He was in 1966 the Minister of Basic Industry in Sukarno’s cabinet. In addition, he had a brother-in-law who was a member of the palace staff, and for this reason it was thought that his going to Bogor would ‘ease the way’ for the group.

Only Amir Machmud has spoken for the public record on the origin of the ‘letter of instruction.’ According to his accounts, Soeharto had asked the three generals to assure Sukarno that the army commander could bring the security situation under control if the president would place full confidence in him. Sukarno is said to have been extremely angry at the start of the discussion. He accused the army leaders of failing to follow his orders to control the students and their own troops. Moreover, he asked, what more did he need to do to show his confidence in Soeharto? According to Amir Machmud, the letter was his own idea. Basuki Rachmat wrote out a draft. Sukarno met with Subandrio, Leimena, and Saleh, heard their opinions, then retired to his study for an hour before sending the draft back with proposed changes. Basuki Rachmat wrote out a final draft. What changes were involved in these several drafts is unknown. Sukarno then met in a reception room with all six men, asked to have the letter typed on his letterhead, and signed it.

General Nasution later remarked that the three generals realized only on the trip back to Jakarta that the letter constituted a transfer of power. It is highly unlikely, however, that either Sukarno or Soeharto failed to realize the import of what was involved. Sukarno and his advisers might have seen the letter as assuring their personal safety and buying time to rebuild their political forces. The letter was brought from Bogor directly to Soeharto’s home. Soeharto then went to Strategic Reserve headquarters, where his staff assembled and the letter was read. It was quickly decided that the letter was enough to enable Soeharto to ban the Communist party.
Sukarno soon made it clear that he did not construe his letter as having given Soeharto authority to act independently. He issued a statement that he was responsible only to the Assembly that had elected him president for life and to Almighty God. He issued ‘commands’ and in other ways attempted to exercise the powers and prerogatives of the presidency. But he did not rescind the letter. And his efforts to restore his position were met with a slowly diminishing response from his supporters in the army, the other armed services, and the political parties. Trials of coup plotters, Communist party leaders, and former cabinet officers reflected badly on Sukarno. And Soeharto was no longer to be outmaneuvered. The letter gave him only a thread of legitimacy, but with patience and persistence he slowly reined the president in.

On June 21, 1966, a Provisional Consultative People’s Assembly confirmed the transfer of authority of March 11, making it impossible for Sukarno to revoke it, and called on Sukarno for an explanation of his actions in connection with the September 30 Movement. On March 12, 1967, the Assembly revoked Sukarno’s title and powers and appointed Soeharto acting president. On February 28, 1968, the Assembly appointed Soeharto president pending elections.
Thus the long history of Indonesian army contention with the country’s civilian leadership reached an end. That history had included kidnappings and arrests of cabinet officers, and at least one kidnapping of a prime minister. The motives were sometimes personal. But the central theme was corporate. Army commanders, not the least of them Nasution, had stood for an army role in national policy-making ever since 1945.
Yet the army leaders were not much different from the civilian leaders with whom they had contended. By the 1960s, even a sympathetic observer concluded that army officers, being involved in current politics as they were, had acquired the political habit of settling for small gains and individual rewards. They had failed to close ranks, just as the political party leaders had, and failed to use their collective strength to create a strong and effective government. Material corruption and moral deterioration were as widespread within their own ranks as among the rest of the elite. 28 Now they were left to decide the future course of the government.

The Question of Succession
It was not clear at the beginning of these events that Sukarno would be removed from the presidency. There was a good deal of indirect evidence to link him with the September 30 coup attempt, and many members of the elite later concluded that he must at least have known that something of the kind was going to occur. On the other hand, his position was almost sacrosanct, and the constitutional situation was delicate. If Sukarno were found guilty of having broken the laws of the nation the previous September, the validity of his delegation to Soeharto in March 1966 would be open to question. Also, having forestalled an unconstitutional military push, most of whose leaders had previously served under his own command, Soeharto had to avoid even the appearance of unconstitutional action on his own part. Soeharto seems to have entertained for some time the possibility of Sukarno’s remaining as titular head of state. The man continued to enjoy strong support among the population, especially in Java, and among some elements of the armed forces. When the Parliament adopted a resolution early in 1967 calling for Sukarno’s trial, Soeharto opposed it on the grounds that the evidence was not sufficient to charge him. But it was not in Sukarno’s character to accept a ceremonial role, and as the months passed he made that abundantly clear.
A further consideration was that the only likely candidates to succeed to the presidency in the early months were General Nasution and the Sultan of Jogjakarta, and neither showed any serious taste for the prospect.
Nasution has been seen by many commentators as indecisive, especially at times of crisis. He had given important political support to Soeharto by coming to his headquarters on the afternoon of October 1, his leg in a cast, and indicating his approval of Soeharto’s actions of the day. Some felt this merely reflected Nasution’s reputation as a stickler for regulations: Soeharto was the officer in line to act for Yani in his absence. But it was well known in army circles that the two men were not close–that Nasution had relieved Soeharto of his divisional command over charges of corruption. Nasution also was vastly more experienced on the national political scene, and had a much clearer sense of direction than Soeharto did at this point; he had put some stiffening into Soeharto’s position more than once before March 11. But because he was experienced, he must also have known that as a Sumatran he would not be acceptable to the Javanese commanders who dominated the army, or the Javanese politicians who dominated the civilian elite. As a confirmed Muslim, he also knew he would be viewed with some suspicion by the abangan element among these same men. 29 So Nasution, outmaneuvered by events, chaired the Congress that stripped Sukarno of his titles and installed Soeharto in his place.

The Sultan had been a national hero from the time he declared for the revolution against the Dutch and gave sanctuary to the revolutionary leaders in his capital, the city of Jogjakarta, in Central Java. He was briefly active in national politics in the early 1950s; as Minister of Defense, he had supported Nasution’s plan to demobilize large numbers of soldiers and use scarce resources to build a modern army–a plan rejected by politicians who stood to lose constituencies of military groups with ties to themselves. The Sultan then retreated to private life, except for the ceremonial tasks of his inherited office. His strength in 1966 was that he had the aura of royalty about him, had been neutral in the political wars of the previous decade, and was revered by many of the common people of Java. The Sultan told one supporter that although he knew Sukarno had to go for the good of the country, he simply could not bring himself to take part in his downfall. 30 He also observed to an aide that the army generals were not the people pressing him to take the presidency. 31 So the Sultan also hung back, served for a time with Soeharto as a member of a short-lived triumvirate, and later served as his vice president.

Soeharto also had reason to hesitate. Aside from the constitutional element, he might well have shared the Sultan’s scruples, and indeed close associates were to say much later that Soeharto eventually did feel a burden of guilt over his role in Sukarno’s fall. 32 Also, having had no previous role in national politics, he was almost unknown outside
army circles, and it was some months before people prominent in the political life of the capital concluded that Soeharto was the man to succeed to the presidency. Nor was much known about him. A naturally reticent man, he kept his opinions largely to himself. When he finally consented to the writing of a biography, his biographer had to inquire how he preferred to spell his name.

Clearly the country was going to have to get used to a very different kind of leader.
Soeharto and the Army
The first insight into Soeharto that was made clear on March 11 was that the army had been more than his career. It had been his family–or, more accurately, it had given him the warmth and security his family never did.
Soeharto was born the son of a village official in Central Java in 1921. His father was responsible for the village irrigation system; not a small thing, as the position gave its holder the right of use of two hectares of village-owned rice land, enough to provide considerable economic security and social position in village society. But Soeharto had an unsettled childhood. His parents separated when he was only forty days old, and he lived with one, then the other, and later with a series of relatives and family friends. One of these, with whom Soeharto went to live at age fifteen, was a dukun , a traditional healer and seer, as well as an irrigation official like his father.


September 30, 1965.

General Abdul Harris Nasution
gives the eulogy at the funeral
for the officers killed


The officers killed in the G30S events:

Gen. Ahmad Yani
Lt.-Gen. Haryono
Lt.-Gen. Parman
Lt.-Gen. Suprapto
Maj.-Gen. Panjaitan
Maj.-Gen. Siswamohardjo
Captain Tendean (aide to Nasution)
Brigadier-Gen. Katamso
Colonel Inf. Mangunwijoto

What really happened in 1965?
Nobody knows. There are dozens of theories, some of them with little evidence in their favor. Many of the participants are now dead; from some of them, we only have the confessions they made after being arrested. Under Suharto, the government routinely banned most books and publications about the 1965 events, which makes the situation even more difficult.


Coup and counter-coup. 1965 chronology of events
Kerry B. Collison

Sunday, October 1. 2006

By 1964 and 1965, the Indonesian economy was in terrible shape. Shortages of food and clothing were common. Prices during 1965 increased by 700 percent, and the price of rice increased even more. The government’s budget deficit was running at 300 percent. Millions of people collected a government salary, but it was worth less and less each month. ABRI personnel in particular found themselves unable to support themselves without engaging in smuggling or other corrupt activities. The 1957-58 rebellions, the West Irian campaign, and the preparations for Konfrontasi had all been expensive for both the government as a whole and for ABRI.
September 30 In the evening, Lt.-Col. Untung, head of the Cakrabirawa Regiment (Presidential Guards), other Diponegoro and Brawijaya Division soldiers, and PKI supporters gather at Halim Air Base, with Gen. Omar Dhani and Aidit present. The forces are under the tactical command of Brigadier-General Supardjo, who had recently been commanding guerilla forces in the Konfrontasi against Malaysia. They leave and attempt to take seven top army generals. Nasution escapes by leaping over the wall of his house, his young daughter is shot and Lt. Tendean, his aide, is taken away. Gen. Ahmad Yani is killed at his house, as are two others. Three other generals are taken alive with Lt. Tendean and the bodies of the dead to Halim, where the remaining live captives are murdered and thrown in the well called Lubang Buaya.
The officers killed in the G30S events:
Gen. Ahmad Yani
Lt.-Gen. Haryono
Lt.-Gen. Parman
Lt.-Gen. Suprapto
Maj.-Gen. Panjaitan
Maj.-Gen. Siswamohardjo
Captain Tendean (aide to Nasution)
Brigadier-Gen. Katamso
Colonel Inf. Mangunwijoto

What really happened in 1965? Nobody knows. There are dozens of theories, some of them with little evidence in their favor. Many of the participants are now dead; from some of them, we only have the confessions they made after being arrested. Under Suharto, the government routinely banned most books and publications about the 1965 events, which makes the situation even more difficult.
Was the army behind it? Certainly not as an organization. Rebel officers such as Untung probably acted without broad support.
Was Sukarno behind it? There is interesting evidence, but answers to this question remain somewhat inconclusive. If Sukarno intended to rid himself of opponents, he failed: the eventual losers were his political allies.
What about Suharto? There is no direct evidence against him. However, rumors persist that Suharto may have heard of the coup plans before September 30th, and so was ready to take advantage of the disorder beforehand.
Was the PKI behind it? The PKI had made two hopeless attempts to take power before, in 1926 and again at Madiun in 1948. Is it possible that rebellious, undisciplined officers planned the coup, and then the PKI announced its support?
The coup plotters may have been motivated by President Sukarno’s illnesses–assuming that a weaker president meant that the government could be taken more easily. This sort of thinking may have led them to overestimate their own strength. It might also be possible that Sukarno’s worsening health caused the coup plotters to act too soon.
Were foreign powers involved? There was heavy involvement by China in Indonesian politics in 1965. The Chinese government in Beijing seemed to already know the names of the generals who had been targeted before the announcements on the middle of October 1–and the Chinese list of names included Nasution as a victim, even though he had escaped. Long after the coup in Jakarta was suppressed, on October 19, Chinese news stories expressed support for it.
Both the United States and the Soviet Union were supplying aid either directly to the government or to their friends in ABRI. Some official Soviet news stories were critical of the coup events, however. The West German goverment supplied secret aid to anti-communists. We know today, too, that the CIA gave lists of Indonesian communists to the Indonesian military during the purges that came after. But did foreign powers help plan G30S? Probably not, but again, we do not know.
It is perhaps most possible that whatever secret plans had been made did not go exactly as the planners intended.

By the end of 1965, a huge wave of popular violence against the PKI had started. In West and Central Java, the army began rounding up Communists, but in many villages, people took the law into their own hands. In some areas, such as East Java or Aceh, Islamic groups (such as the Nahdlatul Ulama youth group Ansor) fought to wipe out communists. However, there was a heavy anti-communist purge on Bali as well. Thousands were sent to prison, and over a year’s time, perhaps more than 250,000 were dead. ABRI did not commit all of the killings, but ABRI officers did arm and train the student groups that committed killings, and also did not act to stop the violence until the PKI had been wiped out.
January 25 A ceasefire between Malaysia and Indonesia, arranged after several diplomatic trips by Robert F. Kennedy of the United States, goes into effect.
PKI confiscates British-owned properties.
February 6 “Maphilindo” meeting in Bangkok between representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Subandrio flies to Bangkok, but snubs the main dinner hosted by the Thai foreign minister.
February 13 Lampung is made a province.
Central Sulawesi is separated from North Sulawesi and made a province; Southeast Sulawesi is separated from South Sulawesi and made a province.
March 3 Second round of “Maphilindo” talks in Bangkok fall apart.
March 7 Gurkhas clash with Indonesian regular troops along the border in Sarawak.
March 25 Sukarno, at a public rally, tells the U.S. ambassador in attendance to “go to hell with your aid”.
April Violence related to land reform spreads in Central Java.
May Sukarno puts air force chief Omar Dhani in charge of Konfrontasi.
May 30 Volunteer fighters recruited on Java for “Konfrontasi” leave for border areas of Kalimantan.
June 1 Indonesia agrees to withdraw forces from border areas with Malaysia in exchange for continued negotiations.
June 13 Major clash between Indonesia-based guerillas and Malaysian forces in Sarawak.
June 17 British forces defeat a group of Indonesian-based guerillas in Sarawak.
June 18 Three-day summit in Tokyo between Sukarno, Macapagal of the Philippines, and Tunku Abdul Rahman of Malaysia. The three leaders agree to call together an “Afro-Asian Conciliation Commission” to settle their differences.
TVRI, government-run television station, begins broadcasting.
July 21 Rioting between Malays and Chinese in Singapore kills 21.
August 17 Unsuccessful rogue landings, led by Indonesian paratroopers, on the shore of Malaya in Johore. 49 are killed, the rest are captured. Australia sends troops to help defend Malaya.
August 17 Sukarno gives his “Year of Living Dangerously” speech (“vivere pericoloso”).
August 27 Sukarno reshuffles his cabinet, passing over Aidit for top posts.
September 2 Second wave of unsuccessful Indonesian paratroop landings in Johore, near Singapore. All are killed or captured.
September 2 Rioting breaks out again in Singapore.
September Group of pro-Sukarno intellectuals led by Adam Malik (Badan Pendukung Sukarnoisme) criticizes the PKI.
September 9 Indonesian raids into Malaya are brought before the United Nations Security Council.
September 17 U.N. Security Council votes 9-2 to condemn the Indonesian raids, but the Soviet Union vetoes the resolution.
October Sekretariat Bersama Golongan Karya or Sekber Golkar (Secretariat of Functional Groups) is founded by army interests.
Sukarno requests and receives from the Soviets a promise of new military equipment to help with the Konfrontasi campaign against Malaysia.
October 17 Nuclear research reactor at Bandung produces its first chain reaction.

Army shakeup reduces prestige of Omar Dhani, transfers best troops to Suharto.
November PKI establishes secret bureau to coordinate infiltration of army units.
Sukarno travels to China for secret meetings.
Australian troops have skirmishes with Malay communists along the Thai-Malaysian border.
November Australia starts military conscription as a hedge against possible war.
People’s Republic of China offers 100,000 small arms to Indonesia to arm a peasant militia, if Indonesia wants.
Bank of China assets in Indonesia given to Indonesian government.
December Chaerul Saleh claims to have evidence that the PKI is planning a coup.
December 4 Mobs attack and burn the U.S. Information Service libraries in Jakarta and Surabaya.
December 17 Badan Pendukung Sukarnoisme–a movement to counter PKI influence by invoking Sukarno’s own pancasila principles–is banned by Sukarno as a “CIA plot”.
Street scene, Jakarta, 1965. The banner says “45 TAHUN PKI” (45 Years of the PKI) and displays famous communists in history, including Marx, Stalin, and Mao. Sukarno is also added in for political expediency.
By 1964 and 1965, the economy was in terrible shape. Shortages of food and clothing were common. Prices during 1965 increased by 700 percent, and the price of rice increased even more. The government’s budget deficit was running at 300 percent. Millions of people collected a government salary, but it was worth less and less each month. ABRI personnel in particular found themselves unable to support themselves without engaging in smuggling or other corrupt activities. The 1957-58 rebellions, the West Irian campaign, and the preparations for Konfrontasi had all been expensive for both the government as a whole and for ABRI.
One Rupiah note with a portrait of Sukarno, 1964. At the time, this note was almost worthless.
January 1 Malaysia is seated in the U.N. Security Council.
January 6 Twenty-one publications that had supported the Badan Pendukung Sukarnoisme are closed down.
January 7 Indonesia walks out of the United Nations (effective March 1), in protest of Malaysia’s admission.
January 17 Aidit gives a speech calling for millions of workers and peasants to be armed to carry out Konfrontasi against Malaysia.
January 29 British Gurkha troops execute secret counterstrike into Indonesian territory on Kalimantan.
Buddhism is recognized as an official religion.
January 31 Three leaders of the Socialist Front in Malaysia are arrested on charges that they were planning to found a “government-in-exile” in Indonesia.
Sukarno, under pressure from PKI, declares ban on the activities of the Murba Party, whose members included Chaerul Saleh and Adam Malik.
February Anti-PKI newspapers are closed down.
February 3 Australia sends combat troops to Sarawak and Sabah.
February Kahar Muzakkar is killed in Sulawesi.
March Leftist naval officers mutiny in Surabaya.
April China repeats its offer of small arms from the previous November.
April 24 Sukarno orders all foreign-owned enterprises to be nationalized.
April 25 Indonesian Army troops attack British camp at Plaman Mapu.
May Gen. Ahmad Yani suggests that “Nasakom” be promoted in the Army.

May 25 Indonesian raiders make an unsuccessful landing in Johore east of Singapore.
May 17 Aidit calls for elections.
Sukarno calls for a “Fifth Force” of armed peasantry to be organized.
Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) is formed by former members of the Dutch-organized colonial militia.
May 29 The “Gilchrist letter”: Sukarno accuses Army elements of plotting against him, with cooperation from the British Embassy. (Letter itself generally considered to be a forgery.)
June Discussions on “arming the people” along Maoist lines take place; army sidesteps, air force and navy support it.
June 17 Gen. Ahmad Yani gives a speech at Manado stating that “arming the people” according to the PKI’s concept is “unnecessary”.
Indonesian-based raiders strike near Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. 5000 Chinese squatters in the area are resettled further away from the border by the Malaysian government.
PKI supporter becomes police commander in Jakarta.
July 19 Gen. Nasution gives a speech rejecting the PKI’s concept of “arming the people”.
July 20 Sukarno declares that if British raids occur against Indonesian territory, “Singapore will be destroyed”.
July 2000 PKI supporters begin receiving military training from Air Force officers at Halim Air Base near Jakarta.
July 30 Demonstration attack the U.S. Consulate in Medan.
August Anti-PKI elements in PNI are purged.
August 5 Sukarno collapses during a public reception.
August 7 Demonstrators occupy the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya for five days.
August 7 Malaysia and Singapore sign papers agreeing to separate into two nations, after several weeks of harsh talk between Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and Malay members of parliament, including Dr. Mahathir (later president of Malaysia).

August 9 The separation of Malaysia and Singapore is ratified in the Malaysian parliament.
A court in Surabaya issues a death sentence to a Chinese shopkeeper accused of hoarding.
Violence between PNI and NU supporters on one side and PKI supporters on the other heats up in Central and East Java.
Sukarno cuts off ties with IMF, World Bank, Interpol.
August 17 Sukarno gives a speech in Merdeka Square promoting an anti-imperialist alliance with Beijing and other Asian Communist regimes, and warning the Army not to interfere. He also states that he will take the PKI’s idea of “arming the people” under consideration, and make the final decision on the matter.
Aidit returns from trip to China, makes August 17 speech calling for millions of workers and peasants to be armed.
August 26 Government of Singapore announces that it has foiled a plot backed by Indonesia and local communists to assassinate Lee Kuan Yew.
September 8 U.S. Consulate in Surabaya is barricaded by PKI demonstrators for two days.
September 11 Embassy of India is attacked and burned by a mob.
September 14 Subandrio and Aidit speak to a PKI rally, urging in sharp language that “thieves and corruptors” be removed from high offices, and that PKI members should be alert for possible trouble.
September 16-19 Air Force Gen. Omar Dhani makes a secret trip to China.
A Chinese doctor examines Sukarno secretly; Sukarno is diagnosed with a serious and worsening kidney disease. The diagnosis is kept secret, but is made known to Aidit, Subandrio, and possibly others, including the Chinese government in Beijing.
Inflation begins to skyrocket; prices for some items increase nearly 50 percent in a week’s time.
September 22 Army takes control of the distribution of rice in Jakarta.
September 22 Aidit, in a public speech, states that Sukarno has surrounded himself with men who “have no political support”.
September 23 Sukarno declares the total dissolution of the Murba party.
September 25 Sukarno gives a speech stating that Indonesia was entering the “second phase of the revolution”, which would be the “implementation of socialism”.
September 27 Gen. Ahmad Yani speaks against Nasakom in the army and “arming the people”.
September 28 Anti-Communist student leaders ask Gen. Nasution for paramilitary training comparable to what PKI supporters would receive.
September 28 The PKI Minister of Agriculture states that “subversive elements” who were supposedly responsible for the economic crisis should be shot.
September 30 PKI organizations Pemuda Rakyat and Gerwani hold mass demonstrations against the runaway inflation in Jakarta.
September 30 In the evening, Lt.-Col. Untung, head of the Cakrabirawa Regiment (Presidential Guards), other Diponegoro and Brawijaya Division soldiers, and PKI supporters gather at Halim Air Base, with Gen. Omar Dhani and Aidit present. The forces are under the tactical command of Brigadier-General Supardjo, who had recently been commanding guerilla forces in the Konfrontasi against Malaysia. They leave and attempt to take seven top army generals. Nasution escapes by leaping over the wall of his house, his young daughter is shot and Lt. Tendean, his aide, is taken away. Gen. Ahmad Yani is killed at his house, as are two others. Three other generals are taken alive with Lt. Tendean and the bodies of the dead to Halim, where the remaining live captives are murdered and thrown in the well called Lubang Buaya.
Rebel soldiers take Merdeka Square in Jakarta by the Presidential Palace, the radio and TV stations.
October 1 Suharto arrives at Kostrad Headquarters overlooking Merdeka Square, takes emergency control of loyal troops after consulting with available generals.
October 1 At 7:00 A.M., the radio announces that “Movement 30 September” (Gerakan 30 September, or G30S) is pro-Sukarno, anti-corruption, anti-United States and anti-CIA.
Gen. Omar Dhani issues a statement supporting the rebels.
Mutinies in five of seven Diponegoro Division battalions support the rebels, as do Naval officers in Surabaya.
Sukarno goes to Halim, consults with Omar Dhani but not with Aidit.
Suharto offers water to hot soldiers in Merdeka Square, they come to his side. He ignores messages from Sukarno.
Suharo offers the army leadership to Nasution. Nasution refuses.
Suharto announces on radio that six generals are dead, he is in control of the army, and he will suppress the coup attempt and protect Sukarno.
Senior leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama go into hiding. Ansor, the Islamic youth organization associated with Nahdlatul Ulama, releases a statement that it and NU have nothing to do with the coup attempt (despite claims by the rebels that four NU leaders are part of G30S).
October 1 Sukarno leaves for Bogor, Aidit leaves for Yogya, Omar Dhani leaves for Madiun.
October 2 Loyal army units retake Halim Air Base.
Mayor of Surakarta supports the coup.
PKI supporters march in Yogya.
PKI newspaper Harian Rakyat publishes issue in favor of coup.
Military rebels in Central Java retreat to countryside.
Suharto agrees to Sukarno order taking presidential control of army, but only if Suharto has emergency powers to restore order.
Omar Dhani retracts his earlier statement supporting the coup.
October 3 Bodies discovered in Lubang Buaya. Sukarno, in a radio broadcast, claims the Air Force was not involved, and that he went to Halim Air Base of his own free will, simply to have a means of leaving the area if necessary.
October 3 Ansor releases a statement urging its members to help the Army restore order.
October 4 Bodies are removed from Lubang Buaya in the presence of print and TV reporters. Suharto is also present.
Nahdlatul Ulama issues a statement calling for the PKI to be banned, possibly under pressure from Ansor activists. Senior NU leaders do not sign it until the day after or later.
October 5 Public funeral in Jakarta for dead generals.
October 6 Sukarno meets with his cabinet in Bogor, including Subandrio and PKI members Lukman and Njoto, then finally issues a statement denouncing the attempted coup. Njoto is detained by Army officers after the meeting.
October 6 The newspaper “Djalan Rakyat” in Surabaya publishes a letter from Aidit describing the September 30 events as an “internal army affair”.
October 8 Mass demonstration in Jakarta (possibly of more than 100,000) demands the dissolution of the PKI. PKI headquarters in Jakarta are burned.
October 13 Ansor holds anti-Communist rallies across Java.
October 14 Suharto begins moving loyal troops into Central Java.
October 14 Antara news agency offices reopen under new, non-PKI management.
October 16 Sukarno dismisses Omar Dhani as head of Air Force. Suharto is appointed commander of the army.
October 18 Nearly a hundred Communists killed in battle with Ansor youths. Beginning of general massacre of PKI supporters in Central and East Java.
October 27 KAMI student activists group is founded.
Inflation runs wild in the general uncertainty.
November 1 Kopkamtib security force established with Suharto at head.
November 11 Fighting between PNI and PKI supporters on Bali begins massacre of Communists on Bali.
November 22 Aidit is captured and executed.
The Assembly (DPR), consisting entirely of members appointed by Sukarno, is purged of PKI members.
Sukarno’s 1963 decree is used to ban all books written by members of the PKI and associated organizations.
Muhammadiyah declares jihad against PKI. Sukarno pleads with Muslims to give dead proper burial. Anti-Communist movement spreads throughout Java.
December 10000 PKI supporters have been arrested, many thousand more killed. Anti-Communist massacres are heavy on Bali. The ABRI commander for Aceh announces that Aceh is now free of Communists.

December 13 Major currency adjustment due to inflation: 1000 old rupiah are converted to 1 new rupiah.
Special Military Courts begin holding trials of PKI members.
December 18 Sukarno, in a meeting with Suharto and Nasution, orders them to give him assurances that they will carry out his commands as President. Suharto replies that the Army will carry out Sukarno’s orders that are consistent with their mission of protecting national security.
Posted by Kerry B Collison in Eye on Asia at 08:11




Gestapu: The CIA’s “Track Two” in Indonesia
By David Johnson, 1976
October 1995 note from David Johnson: This is a paper I wrote in 1976. It is presented here in its original version. It was written to encourage Congressional investigation of the issue by the Church Committee at the time. This paper was circulated privately but never published. It may have some enduring merit. Comments and criticisms are welcome.

As evidence that the subject matter is still relevant, please note this recently declassified quotation:
“From our viewpoint, of course, an unsuccessful coup attempt by the PKI might be
the most effective development to start a reversal of political trends in Indonesia.”

Then-US Ambassador to Indonesia Howard Jones
March 10, 1965
Chiefs of Mission Conference, Baguio, Philippines
Quoted in Audrey R. Kahin and George McT. Kahin, “Subversion as Foreign Policy: The Secret Eisenhower and Dulles Debacle in Indonesia,” 1995, p.225]

David T. Johnson
Center for Defense Information
1500 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20005
(* “Track Two” was the name given to a CIA covert operation undertaken in Chile in the fall of 1970 at the direction of President Nixon. Its purpose was to use all possible means to prevent Allende from assuming the presidency. Knowledge of Track Two was very tightly held. The State Department, the Defense Department, the American Ambassador in Chile, and the Forty Committee were not informed. Track Two was partially responsible for the murder of General Schneider, the Chilean Army Chief of Staff who opposed efforts of other military officers to stage a coup. Track Two failed in its objective in 1970. Other analogies to the Indonesian events are the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Reichstag fire.)

This paper presents the preliminary outline of a new interpretation of the events in Indonesia in 1965 that climaxed in the “coup” attempt of October 1st and the actions of the September 30th Movement (GESTAPU). It is argued that the September 30th Movement was not an action by “progressive” or dissatisfied middle-level military officers, nor a creature of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), nor was it stimulated by President Sukarno. GESTAPU was an instrument directly in the hands of General Suharto (and probably General Nasution) [1995 note from David Johnson: today I would delete the reference to Nasution] and most likely a creation of the Central Intelligence Agency for the purpose of “saving Indonesia from Communism” in a desperate situation.

GESTAPU served the crucial function of providing a legitimate pretext for the drastic extermination of the PKI. It was calculated to put the reins of power quickly into the hands of Suharto and to place Sukarno in a restricted position.
GESTAPU worked. It is probably the most successful covert operation that the CIA has ever carried out. The participation of the CIA in GESTAPU–its “fingerprints on the gun”–cannot be proven unless the Congress digs hard to find the truth, as was done partly in the case of Chile. The CIA connection is hypothesized because it seems a logical outcome of U.S. policy toward Indonesia and because of the relative sophistication and complexity of the GESTAPU operation. Because of the close contact between the Indonesian Army and U.S. Defense Department advisers and attaches it is probable that certain of these personnel were also involved.

It is not maintained that the thesis of this paper is necessarily correct or proven. The author’s hope is to demonstrate that it is sufficiently plausible that further research along these lines will be conducted by those more knowledgeable than he and that those in a position to do something about it will begin to look into the secret official record. The thesis is presented without a great deal of hedging but the author is aware that many of the facts he uses are open to a number of alternative explanations. Of course, many “facts” are in dispute. This first draft assumes some knowledge on the part of the reader of the basic events of the time and of the existing interpretive controversy. No special attempt is made here, however, to refute alternative theories. Only a portion of the supporting material is indicated.
Gestapu: The CIA’s “Track Two” in Indonesia

The events of October 1, 1965, in Indonesia and their origin may truly be called “a riddle wrapped in an enigma.~ There is no consensus among students of Indonesia about the “correct” explanation. All existing theories have their articulate and plausible critics. Probably the majority of careful Indonesian scholars have abandoned the search for explanation. GESTAPU is an enormously complicated puzzle in which the pieces never fit together, their shape constantly changes, and new pieces keep appearing.

In an earlier age of innocence, the attributing to the CIA of a significant causal role in international affairs was a disreputable enterprise in which most professional analysts seldom engaged. With the revelations of recent years, however, the inhibitions on serious study of CIA activities have somewhat broken down. We also know far more than we did ten years ago about the extent of CIA operations and how the CIA works. In many cases, including Indonesia, we still know very little about what the CIA actually did over the years. But more than before we can feel on safe ground to think that the CIA was active. This is not CIA scapegoating, left-wing propaganda, conspiracy fascination, or a search for simple-minded solutions. It is a necessary and important research effort that must be undertaken before it can be seriously rejected. Of course, the great secrecy that envelops the subject places substantial restrictions on what normal academic research can accomplish.

This paper is based in the first instance on the author’s reading of the recently released CIA Research Study “Indonesia-1965: The Coup That Backfired.” The author has also read nearly everything available in English in the Library of Congress on the events of 1965. The major source material that has not been examined, except as described in secondary sources, is the large body of records of post-October 1 interrogations of prisoners held by the Indonesian Army and the records of the numerous trials that have been held. Undoubtedly new insights can be derived from these materials. The author’s knowledge of Indonesia in general is relatively sparse, although he has visited the country and spent some time in previous years studying Indonesian political development. The present paper is the product of a month of very intensive research on the events of 1965 as well as some limited examination of studies on the CIA.
U.S. Assessment of Indonesia
At some point in 1964 or 1965 (probably late 1964) the deterioration of U.S. relations with Indonesia and the left-ward drift of Indonesia had gone so far that the U.S. faced the need to reassess its policy toward Indonesia with an eye toward adopting new policies. Howard Jones, the American ambassador at the time, has described the extremely pessimist official assessment of how bad things had gotten from the American point of view. Ewa Pauker and Guy Pauker at RAND have described the projection of near-term PKI takeover and the pessimism about the ability of the Indonesian Army to reverse the apparently inevitable flow of events.

Jones indicates that a number of important meetings were held in which U.S. policy toward Indonesia was reassessed, beginning at the State Department in August 1964 after Sukarno’s Independence Day speech, his most anti-American statement up to that time. The March 1965 annual meeting of U.S. mission chiefs held in the Philippines with Averell Harriman and William Bundy, was also important. Ellsworth Bunker, personal representative of President Johnson, spent 15 days in Indonesia in April 1965 evaluating the situation. There were undoubtedly other secret and perhaps more important meetings in which U.S. policy was put together.
The U.S. seems to have faced essentially six options with regard to Indonesia:
1. A hands-off policy of continuing much the same as before, letting things drift. (Of course, the U.S. had never been passive toward Indonesia and this can only be characterized as a hands-off policy in contrast to the other options.) The probable result would be that Indonesia would go Communist. There seems to have been near unanimous official agreement on the inevitability of Communist takeover in Indonesia if existing trends continued. The most important country in Southeast Asia would be lost. The U.S. effort to save Vietnam (bombing of North Vietnam began in February 1965) would probably be frustrated and all of Southeast Asia would be threatened. Clearly, this was an unacceptable option.
2. Try to get Sukarno to change his apparent policy of leading Indonesia toward Communist rule. The Embassy under Ambassador Jones had been pursuing this course for years, with little success (in American eyes). Sukarno had made more than clear his determination to continue his left-ward drive, both domestically and in foreign policy. Most Washington officials had given up on Sukarno and many agreed that “Sukarno has to go.” Some identified him as a “crypto- Communist.” This option was simply unworkable.

3. Eliminate Sukarno. Apparently this was considered, but rejected. The consequences would be too unpredictable. The Communist Party and its affiliates were so large and so extensively embedded in Indonesian society and political life that even in the absence of Sukarno’s protection they might be able to hang on and prosper. An effort to go after the PKI in such circumstances would probably result in a very unpredictable and dangerous civil war which the United States, preoccupied with Vietnam, was not in a position to handle. A danger of killing Sukarno was that those who might be identified with it would be discredited because of Sukarno’s enormous popularity in Indonesia, which efforts to undermine over the years had been unable to shake. Blaming an assassination on the left would not be credible because of the close alliance between Sukarno and the Communists. The PKI would have no plausible motive for such an action. An arranged “natural” death for Sukarno would leave the PKI as a very important force in Indonesia, and perhaps as the logical successor.
4. Encourage the Indonesian Army to take over the government. The Embassy had been pushing this option for years with some success but without achieving the final objective. Disunity within the Army had prevented any such explicit step to date and there seemed to be other inhibitions on a direct military takeover. The Army as a whole was still unwilling to move directly against Sukarno. Sukarno’s determination to resist any further expansion of the Army’s role was clear. In fact, he was doing much to try to “domesticate” and undermine the Army as an independent, anti-Communist force. Even in the event of an Army coup, without a solid pretext for quickly eliminating the PKI and a means of controlling Sukarno, the prospect of civil war would arise for the same reasons indicated in Option 3. While the U.S. could continue to cultivate military officials and try to stiffen their “backbone,” Army takeover via some sort of coup would not resolve the problem in Indonesia.

5. Try to undermine the PKI and get the Communists to take actions that would discredit themselves and legitimize their elimination. (Option 6, the fabrication of such a discrediting, is a variant of this option.) Such a step would also necessitate moving against Sukarno as he probably would never permit the Army to act forcefully against the PKI no matter how objectionable the PKI might appear to be. A variety of covert efforts were mounted to try to damage the PKI’s reputation and provoke it to misbehavior. These included linking the PKI with China, trying to show that the PKI did not really support “Sukarnoism” (the BPS episode), and the fabrication of documents and the attributing of provocative statements to PKI spokesmen (printed in non-Communist papers). But Sukarno helped to frustrate these efforts by banning almost all non-Communist political and press activity. The PKI was careful not to go too far and not to provide the excuse for its elimination. As PKI Chairman Aidit said, “We are prepared to tolerate insults and threats. We will not be provoked. If the army spits in our faces we will wipe it off and smile. We will not retaliate.” Option 5 was continually tried but it did not seem to be working.
6. If the PKI would not provide its own death warrant, the pretext for extermination had to be fabricated for it. The optimum implementation of this option would serve to eliminate both the PKI and Sukarno as dominant forces in Indonesian political life. This option appears to have been the one finally chosen, although the point at which commitment to it was irrevocable is very uncertain. Parts of the other options, other “tracks” continued at the same time.

Background to October 1st
Undoubtedly, elements of the Indonesian military (and other anti-Communist groups) were also considering what to do about the drift of Indonesia toward Communist rule. It was highly unlikely, however, that the U.S. could sit passively and expect that Indonesians on their own would do what had to be done. American analysts seemed to have concluded that no Indonesian group on its own had the capability and will to do what was necessary to prevent Communist takeover. American initiative and cooperation were necessary.
The U.S. over the years had built up close relationships with many Indonesians, particularly in the Army. In fact, this was the essence of U.S. policy toward Indonesia over the previous five or more years. The coincidence of U.S. and anti-PKI Army interest would make natural, and simply a continuation of patterns already established, a collaboration and pooling of resources to carry out the best means available for stopping the PKI and “saving” Indonesia. The CIA provided a pool of expertise and technical capability for devising and implementing a relatively sophisticated and delicate maneuver.

The problem of lack of Army internal cohesion, as indicated in Option 4, remained a stumbling bloc. Efforts were made to achieve unity in moving against the PKI (and necessarily Sukarno) but although most generals agreed that the PKI had to go, some very important officers–notably the Army Chief of Staff General Yani– were apparently unwilling to take steps that would severely damage Sukarno. After the failure of attempts to secure Army unity, the U.S. and the collaborating generals (principally Suharto and Nasution) [1995 note: again, I would today delete Nasution] decided that the urgency of the threat and the need for quick action required working with those who were willing. It was necessary to move in spite of the absence of Army unity.
Actions were undertaken to try to polarize Indonesian politics between the Communists and others, an effort that it was hoped might move the reluctant generals to the “right” side. The Gilchrist letter seems to have been part of a covert effort to stimulate distrust and antagonism between Sukarno and General Yani. It appears, however, that General Yani remained something of a Sukarno-loyalist. General Yani had become dispensable and probably he stood in the way of what had to be done.
The “Generals’ Council” rumor, frequently considered the product of PKI work, was probably an important element of the CIA-Suharto covert operation in preparing the ground for GESTAPU. The rumor served a number of useful purposes. It helped to further the heightening of tension and uncertainty in Indonesian political life. It served to stimulate mistrust between Sukarno and certain generals that the CIA wanted to break with Sukarno. It alarmed the PKI and might even make it take the provocatory step that was hoped for. It provided a focus for debate and rumor that distracted attention from the real “conspiracy.” It bore a resemblance to something that actually existed, General Yani’s “braintrust,” and thus provided a ready target group for the GESTAPU operation, plausible victims for the “PKI’s” atrocities. The rumor helped to create a climate in which people would find GESTAPU at least superficially plausible, especially immediately on October 1st. There would be widespread belief in the imminent threat of a Generals’ Council coup and “unwitting” people (notably the soldiers used by GESTAPU on October 1st) would be willing to take actions that they might otherwise question. The General’s Council rumor helped to create something of a “controlled environment” in which certain planned stimuli would produce a relatively predictable response. Finally, the rumor was an important part of the cover story for why the PKI might be believed to have taken the action to be attributed to it.

The exploitation of the Sukarno’s health rumor mill was another important part of the cover for GESTAPU. Unfortunately for the cover story, however, it turns out to have been one of the weak links. The post-1965 explanation of why the PKI allegedly carried out GESTAPU attributes a major role to the presumed fear on the part of the PKI that Sukarno was about to die. Chinese doctors are alleged to have convinced Aidit of this. The problem is that Sukarno recovered rapidly from his illness in August 1965 and Aidit, who was in constant contact with Sukarno, had more than sufficient time to find out about Sukarno’s health for himself and to turn off any plans that were based on Sukarno’s imminent demise. (The implausibility of this story may in part account for the growth of theories that attribute the authorship of GESTAPU to Sukarno and place the PKI in a subordinate role. Even the Suharto government seems to have adopted this “explanation.~) In 1965, however, the circulation of rumors by the CIA-Suharto group served to create a climate that would make GESTAPU plausible as well as the PKI’s complicity in it.
It does seem clear that the PKI Politburo held meetings in August 1965 at which the health of Sukarno was discussed, as well as the Generals’ Council rumors, and probably the existence of “progressive” officers. What was actually said about these subjects, however, is far from clear. The official Army version, presented through “confessions,” probably took real events, kernels of truth, and spun them into the required pattern.
A very interesting question is whether the Untung group made contact with the PKI, perhaps to get the PKI to directly implicate itself or at least to take actions that could later be interpreted as “participation in GESTAPU.” It seems likely that the GESTAPU conspirators would have considered it risky to acquaint anyone not “in the know” with what was going on. The danger would have been very great that the PKI would be suspicious and pass the information to Sukarno who would investigate. The PKI was constantly on the alert for “provocations.” There is a possibility, however, that some vague intimation of GESTAPU was passed to Aidit via a source that Aidit would have found credible. If so, it appears that Aidit rejected PKI participation, despite later trial evidence.

An overlooked source of information on the relationship, if any, between the PKI and a “progressive” officers GESTAPU group is an article by the leftist journalist Wilfred Burchett that was originally published in November 1965. Burchett, relying on “an Indonesian whom I know as having close contact with the PKI leadership and who escaped the army dragnet in Jakarta,” states that the PKI received “documentary” evidence of the existence of a Generals’ Council in August and informed Sukarno about it. Burchett continues:
“In late September, Colonel Untung, head of the presidential guard, learned of the planned coup from independent sources. He approached leaders of the PKI, among others, revealing what they had known for some time, and urged joint action. to thwart the coup. The PKI leaders reportedly refused on the ground that such an action would be “premature” and that as long as Sukarno remained at the helm everything possible should be done to maintain unity, while all patriotic elements within the armed forces should remain vigilant to deal with any coup from above.”
Of course, we have no way of knowing if this is what happened but it is possible.
The backgrounds of Lt. Col. Untung, the alleged leader of the September 30th Movement, and his colleagues have been examined by a number of independent scholars. The picture that emerges is not that of a group of “progressive” or disgruntled officers, but rather of a group of successful and professional military officers who had exhibited signs of anti-PKI views, had been given sensitive positions in which their past and present political affiliations and views would have been subjected to careful examination, and some of whom–perhaps the most important ones–had recently been trained in the U.S. (General Supardjo and Col. Suherman) and undoubtedly exhaustively “vetted” by the CIA and U.S. defense intelligence.
What seems to link most of the GESTAPU officers together is not their “progressiveness” but their association, both past and present, with General Suharto. Those participants, particularly in the Air Force, not overtly linked with Suharto may be considered CIA-Suharto “assets” activated to play their role in the GESTAPU scenario. The penetration of the Air Force and the Palace Guard by anti-PKI Army forces (and the CIA) is at least as plausible as the degree of penetration attributed to the PKI. The vigilance of the anti-PKI generals in keeping PKI influence out of their officer corps is well known, as is the effort to keep track of and penetrate the more leftist branches of the military services.
Before examining what took place on October 1st it is important to recognize that (if the thesis of this paper is correct) we are looking at a collection of actors and a sequence of events that were put together primarily to accomplish a very immediate and urgent task: the discrediting of the PKI (and its allies) in as dramatic and quick a fashion as possible, and the immobilization of factors that might complicate the situation. While some thought had obviously been given to cover, it is doubtful that extensive effort was put into constructing a cover story that would withstand close, dispassionate scrutiny . The ability of the Cornell researchers, after only a few months of research using primarily written materials, to reveal the weaknesses of the immediate cover story is testimony to its inherent crudeness. The CIA-Suharto group probably felt that, if they moved quickly and drastically enough, there was little likelihood that much foreign effort would be put into examining GESTAPU in detail. Certainly no Indonesian would he disposed to raise doubts.

A certain refinement of cover and justification for actions that, for the most part, had already been taken (the murder of hundreds of thousands of Indonesians) was provided by the obviously spurious Aidit “confession” and the fabricated confession and show trial of Njono. Untung was also put on trial early in 1966. Even sympathetic foreign journalists have raised questions about these early trials (no foreign journalists were permitted to attend and only selected Indonesians). We do not know at what point the Indonesian authorities found out about the Cornell study and other evidence that apparently their story was not going over abroad as well as they had hoped. It seems probable that the trials of Dani and Subandrio were primarily milestones in the campaign to remove Sukarno and less parts of the GESTAPU cover story. It was the trial of Sudisman in 1967 and that of Sjam in 1968 that were explicitly calculated for their effect on the foreign skeptics. Of course, Suharto has had other reasons as well for continuing the show trials.
The Events of October 1st
The major military units involved on the side of the September 30th movement were officially under the command of General Suharto’s KOSTRAD, the Army’s Strategic Reserve. The semi-official Indonesian Army history of GESTAPU states: “Both the 454th and 530th Battalions together with the 328th Kudjong Battalion of the Siliwangi Division were under the operations command of the 3d Paratroop Brigade of the Army’s Strategic Reserve.” The Army book observes further that “KOSTRAD troops were scattered all over Indonesia, as [sic] that at the time of the coup General Soeharto had only the dc Kudjava and dc Parakomando battalion around Djakarta. Other KOSTRAD troops were at ‘the other side.'”
The major mission of these KOSTRAD “coup” units was to take up positions around the crucial Merdeka Square, controlling Sukarno’s Palace, the Indonesian Radio station, and the central telecommunications facilities.

One company of soldiers from the Palace Guard, the Tjakrabirawa, are said to have participated, together with KOSTRAD elements, in the kidnapping-murder of the six army generals. Lt. Col. Untung had been since May 1965 commander of one of the three Tjakrabirawa battalions. Considering Untung’s position, this participation is quite possible, although it could have introduced a perhaps unnecessary complication into the proceedings. General Sabur, the commander of the Palace Guard, played a very unclear role in the GESTAPU and its aftermath. Although jailed for a period after 1965, he has been released and no charges have been brought against him. Whether Untung could have acted without Sabur’s knowledge is uncertain. Only a few Tjakrabirawa troops were really necessary on October 1st, and they could have been KOSTRAD soldiers in Palace Guard uniforms. The extraordinary lack of professionalism in the execution of the “kidnappings” makes it unlikely that “unwitting” Tjakrabirawa troops played a significant role. Their role seems to have been that of making the first contact at each of the victim’s home.

In the early morning hours of October 1st GESTAPU troops went to the homes of seven generals. Three of the generals, including Army head General Yani, were killed immediately and their bodies and three other generals were taken to a place called Lubang Buaja (Crocodile’s Hole) on the outskirts of Halim Air Force Base. More than 100 troops surrounded the house of General Nasution but in a “near miraculous” escape, Nasution got away by climbing over a wall and hiding in the bushes. The fiction that one of his aides was captured and successfully impersonated one of the best known men in Indonesia for some hours afterwards (a crucial element in the CIA Research Study version of events), need not puzzle us. No such thing happened and General Nasution was meant to “escape,” (The shooting of his daughter, apparently by accident through a door, seems too ghastly to have been part of the GESTAPU plan, although her death and funeral were very important in whipping up the subsequent fury against the PKI. Nasution’s much commented upon “moodiness” after October 1st may in part be accounted for by his remorse about not taking better precautions to protect his family.)
General Nasution, the leading anti-Communist military figure in Indonesia, had to be on the list of victims of GESTAPU. His absence would have been incredible. He was not, however, a member of General Yani’s “Generals’ Council.” The fact that it was General Suharto, rather than the more well known Nasution, who took the leadership of the counter-GESTAPU forces may have a complicated explanation. We do not know the subtleties of the Suharto-Nasution relationship. The most probable explanation is that the immediate appearance of Nasution as the head of the anti-PKI effort would have aroused suspicions. Some stories have Nasution being kept “protected” in a hidden place on October 1st from 6 AM until 7 PM when he finally appeared at KOSTRAD headquarters. Other reports have him at KOSTRAD headquarters on the morning of October 1st. Nasution is alleged to have broken his ankle in climbing over the wall, probably part of the cover story for why it had to be Suharto who took the lead.

Among the more incredible “mistakes” of the GESTAPU movement was the failure to try to kill or kidnap the two generals in Djakarta who had operational command of military forces in the area, General Suharto and General Umar. Ruth McVey has commented on how extraordinary this omission was, in view of the fact that Col. Latief was one of the major GESTAPU conspirators: “Col. A. Latief headed the mobile force of the Djaya (Djakarta) Division and had commanded a series of interservice capital defense maneuvers; he must have known the basic provisions for an emergency in the capital.” In fact, Col. Latief seems to have been one of Suharto’s men. McVey states: “Latief, also a Diponegoro Division officer (Suharto’s former division), had fought under Suharto during the revolution; at the time of the Irian campaign he was at the Mandala Command headquarters in Ambone….He was assigned to KOSTRAD; his command at the time of the coup, Brigade I, was one of the KOSTRAD infantry brigades.” Latief, according to Suharto himself, visited him on the night of September 30th at the hospital where Suharto was seeing his ill son. Another account has Col. Latief paying a visit to the military hospital on the morning of October 1st where Nasution’s injured daughter had been brought. General Suharto and General Umar worked closely together almost immediately from the beginning on October 1st in “defeating” GESTAPU.
One general who was supposed to have originally been on the list of GESTAPU victims because of his position on General Yani’s staff was General Sukendro. He was in Peking on October 1st. In fact, Sukendro was a close associate of Nasution and had the reputation of a man with intimate associations with the American military and the CIA. Sukendro came back from Peking with the story that on October 1st Chinese officials had shown Indonesians a list of the murdered generals before it had been announced. (Intimations of Chinese involvement in GESTAPU were rampant in the early months after October 1st but faded to nothing after their purpose had been served.)

What exactly occurred at Lubang Buaja where the six murdered and captured generals were taken and eventually dumped into a well is uncertain. Why they were taken there seems clear. Lubang Buaja, despite stories that “secret” military training of PKI people was occurring there, was well known as a place where Air Force officers since July had been conducting training of volunteers for the Malaysian Confrontation. Those trained included youths from both PKI and other organizations. The quick murder of the generals and their alleged mutilation by Communists was the core of the GESTAPU scenario. Whether there were people from Communist organizations present at Lubang Buaja is uncertain. It is possible that unwitting volunteers had been brought there to lend their presence to the proceedings. This could have been complicating however. It was sufficient that the dastardly deed be done at a place that was known as a gathering spot for the training of PKI volunteers. “Confessions” could be produced later.
There are a few indications that if, in fact, there were “volunteers” present at Lubang Buaja on the morning of October 1st they were not necessarily from PKI organizations. The eye-witness account used in the CIA Research Study states that there were civilians crowding around the prisoners yelling “kill the unbelievers,” rather extraordinary words for Communists to be uttering. Accounts seem . to agree that the generals were almost unidentifiable, bloodied and beaten up, wearing pajamas, and blindfolded. Mortimer states that, among other non-Communist youths, people from the Moslem Ansor youth organization were expected at Lubang Buaja for training on October 1st. We may speculate that the GESTAPU officers present may have told anti-PKI youths that they had captured the killers of the generals.

Whoever killed and “mutilated” the generals, their murder served several important purposes for GESTAPU. Most importantly, it could be blamed on the PKI. The murder of General Yani opened the way for Suharto to take over control of the Army and implement the wrap-up of GESTAPU. It was standing procedure for Suharto to become acting Army head whenever Yani was not available. Suharto’s behavior on October 1st seems to be that of someone who is immediately aware that Yani is dead. We find no discussion in accounts of October 1st of efforts by Suharto to locate and rescue captured generals until late in the day. He acted very quickly to take charge. He exhibited none of the uncertainty and hesitancy that characterized nearly everyone else on October 1st.
The killing of the generals was also important in inhibiting Sukarno from declaring in favor of the September 30th Movement, a danger that could have upset the scenario but which had been taken into account. The fact that Lubang Buaja could also be associated with the Air Force (although, contrary to general impression, it was not in fact located on Halim Air Force Base) was also useful in assuring that General Dani and the Air Force would not be tempted to throw their military forces behind the September 30th Movement. Once it became known what an enormous crime had been committed by the “progressive” GESTAPU–political murder was very rare in Indonesia–no one was likely to jump on the band-wagon and complicate the planned failure of GESTAPU. Of course, the discrediting of the leftist Air Force and General Dani was part of the purpose of GESTAPU.

It is probable that the killing of the generals was communicated as rapidly as possible to Sukarno so that he would not think of backing GESTAPU. Accounts have a helicopter flying over Lubang Buaja, perhaps part of Sukarno’s (or Suharto~s?) efforts to verify absolutely that it was true. Sukarno was also probably told how the PKI was linked to the murders. His early knowledge that Nasution had probably “escaped” also served to inhibit any impulse to support GESTAPU.
When the first message of the September 30th Movement was broadcast over Radio Indonesia around 7 AM it was announced that Sukarno was being protected and that certain prominent persons who were to be targets of the Generals’ Council action had also been taken under “protection.” This was actually part of a deliberate action to control the behavior of and information available to leading non-GESTAPU political figures whom, if at large, could interfere with the GESTAPU scenario. PKI Chairman Aidit was brought to Halim very early on October 1st. (His wife states that he was kidnapped from his home.) Dani was brought to Halim. (Accounts differ on this.) Sukarno was brought to Halim. Most of Sukarno’s advisors, such as Subandrio, Njoto, and Ali Sastroamidjojo, were not in Djakarta. Reports have it at if they had been in Djakarta they were on the list of persons to be “protected.” Although there was some contact between these individuals at Halim, much of the time they were kept separated from each other in different houses with GESTAPU messengers going back and forth. (The phones had been cut in Djakarta. Only the Army had an emergency communication system functioning.) Aidit in particular was kept “protected” from any contact with Sukarno.
From the CIA Research Study account we learn that “Aidit definitely was accompanied by two bodyguards, who stayed with him the whole day of the 1st while he was at Halim and who accompanied him on the plane on his flight from Halim to Jogjakarta on the morning of the 2nd.” The actual function of these “bodyguards” seems obvious. (It is remarkable how little role, even in the official accounts, Aidit seems to have played at Halim in guiding the movement that he is alleged to have been responsible for.)

Back at Merdeka Square, the GESTAPU-KOSTRAD troops had occupied the radio station at about the same time that the generals were being kidnapped. The use of the radio to broadcast a carefully prepared series of messages was a crucial part of the GESTAPU operation. The fact that Suharto, located just across the square in KOSTRAD headquarters, took no action until the evening to put the radio off the air–although he says that he very quickly decided that something was wrong–was suspicious and “explained” in the official version in terms of Suharto’s desire to avoid violence. (His tolerance toward troops who had apparently killed or abducted six leading Army generals is remarkable.) In fact, Suharto deliberately waited to “retake” the radio station until the planned messages were completed. This he accomplished without firing a shot. (In the whole GESTAPU affair, including outside of Djakarta, only a handful of people were killed other than the generals.)
The most important characteristic of the first 7 AM GESTAPU radio broadcast in which the existence of the September 30th Movement was announced was that it was unclear whether GESTAPU was pro- or anti-Sukarno. The deliberate creation of uncertainty was necessary in part so as to prevent anyone “unexpected” from involving themselves. The fact that the name of Sukarno was not invoked in support of GESTAPU, which any genuine leftist coup attempt would probably have faked if necessary in order to increase the chances for success, probably made GESTAPU seem somewhat anti-Sukarno. The emphasis on its being “inside the military” was calculated to prevent anyone, especially the PKI, from taking to the streets and getting in the way. Basically, the impact of the 7 AM message was to confuse people and keep them sitting still waiting for the next message. In any event, given the climate of rumor in Djakarta, GESTAPU was not an implausible event, although who was behind it and what it was to accomplish was uncertain.

Another apparently calculated aspect of the first radio broadcast was the statement that a Revolutionary Council was going to be set up, with the implication–later made very clear–that it would be the new government. It was not until the afternoon that the “rather peculiar assortment of names” on the Revolutionary Council was announced. The indication of the abolition of the existing cabinet, however, was apparently partially intended to provide a rationale and gloss of legality for General Suharto to take quick command of the Army without consultation with Sukarno. In justifying his behavior afterwards, Suharto has cited the fact that GESTAPU had overthrown the existing government and therefore he was free to act on his own. (One of the contradictions in the post-1965 explanation of GESTAPU is that if the Untung group was primarily concerned to execute a limited operation to purge the Army of leading anti-PKI generals, why was it necessary to set aside the existing government, giving the operation the clear flavor of a political coup?)
Even the term “Revolutionary Council” may have been devised as another bit of dust thrown in the eyes of the confused public. Apparently the last time that “Revolutionary Councils” had been established in Indonesia was in 1956 and 1957 when some of the dissident anti-PKI regional military commanders had done so.

Although the radio announcement of the membership of the new Revolutionary Council, “the source of all authority in the Republic of Indonesia,” was not broadcast until about 2 PM, we will discuss it here. It seems possible to discern several functions for this message. The rather heterogeneous and lack-luster membership seems calculated to discourage anyone from rallying to support. (Clearly, few, if any, of the non-military members of the Council had been informed before hand. A better selection could have been faked if assuring the success of the “coup” had really been important.) The unknown middle-ranking officers took the top positions for themselves. The heads of the non-Army military services were prominently displayed as members of the Council, perhaps part of the overall plan to prevent uncontrolled military forces from involving themselves in the GESTAPU events. Linking the heads of the Air Force, Navy, and Police with GESTAPU would make it possible to label any unwanted military action by these forces as part of the GESTAPU revolt.
It is uncertain how much additional calculation was put into the membership list. A handful of PKI officials from affiliated organizations were included, but none of the top PKI leaders. This again would discourage unplanned PKI involvement Later analyses of the membership indicate the possibility that the CIA’s “experts” on communism may have devised the list according to their calculation of a plausible “stage” which the “revolution” in Indonesia had reached. In October 1965 The Washington Post published a story by Chalmers Roberts, apparently based on CIA briefings, that said U.S. officials reported to have evidence that Sukarno, through a coup, had “intended to turn his country into an Indonesian version of a Communist ‘People’s Democracy.'” We may guess that as part of the devising of a cover story for GESTAPU the CIA experts tried to simulate the kind of government that the PKI and Sukarno (apparently little distinction was made) might plausibly have been expected to set up if a pro-Communist coup occurred in Indonesia in the fall of 1965.

The 1968 CIA Research Study states that “the Revolutionary Council was the perfect Communist front organization.” Justus van der Kroef has provided the most extensive exposition of the “People’s Democracy” thesis, along the lines of Eastern European experience. Actually, judging by a more careful study of Soviet and Chinese examples, the PKI membership on the Revolutionary Council was too limited and the composition of the Council was far from being a “perfect” simulation. (The eight year old CIA Research Study contains several rather amateurish efforts to show the traces of Chinese Communist ideology or practice in the GESTAPU events, reflective of the spirit of the times.)
The behavior of Sukarno on October 1st, the subject of much speculation later on, seems to be that of someone who is unsure of what is going on, but wary and trying desperately to get a handle on the situation. The GESTAPU officers did not actually keep him prisoner at Halim Air Force Base–General Supardjo’s role seems to have been that of a rather skilled handler of Sukarno, keeping up the GESTAPU pretence–and permitted him to send and receive messages and selected visitors. To the extent possible, however, information and advice available to Sukarno was controlled. (Sukarno’s later emphasis on his being at Halim of his own free will was in the context of the rising anti-PKI hysteria. Sukarno struggled to keep it under control and did not want people to think that the “PKI-GESTAPU” had kidnapped him.)
We must assume that the CIA had prepared a psychological assessment of Sukarno which was an ingredient in planning the GESTAPU operation. How accurate and insightful the CIA’s profile may have been we do not know. Considering the obsession of Westerners with Sukarno’s sex life and the image of irresponsibility and irrationality that had been built up about him, we may suspect that the assessment was not highly useful. Some Americans seem to have considered Sukarno a coward and Howard Jones cites a Washington view, circa 1958, that Sukarno “did not have the intestinal fortitude to order the Indonesian military into action since it would split the country. Sukarno had worked all his life to unite his country; he was the last man to take an action that would result in a division that might be irrevocable.” The view of Sukarno as unwilling to take decisive and divisive military action against other Indonesians could have been a factor in the planning of GESTAPU. Sukarno’s lack of ruthlessness would be exploited.

One of the clearer indications of the absence of collusion between Sukarno and the GESTAPU officers, and of their willingness to ignore him when necessary, is the fact that (according to the CIA Research Study) at about noon on October 1st Sukarno told General Supardjo to stop the September 30th Movement. However, some important radio broadcasts had yet to be made, and the rationale for the apparently fabricated incriminating October 2 Harian Rakjat editorial would have been destroyed if General Supardjo had immediately stopped GESTAPU. The GESTAPU actions continued in Djakarta until the evening.
At about 1 PM an announcement, over General Sabur’s name, was broadcast that “President Sukarno is safe and well and continues to execute the leadership of the State.” This seems to have been a genuine statement from Sukarno, and implied his rejection of the September 30th Movement. Sukarno did not leave Halim until about 8:30 PM when he went to Bogor, having failed to prevent Suharto from taking over the Army.
In addition to the GESTAPU radio broadcasts containing the details of the Revolutionary Council, the other important afternoon message was a statement attributed to General Dani, the leftist Air Force Chief of Staff, expressing support for the September 30th Movement. This was broadcast at 3:30 PM. The means by which this “Order of the Day” was elicited from Dani, or whether it was fabricated, is uncertain. The statement carried a dating of 9:30 AM, before Sukarno’s radio message, although it was not actually broadcast until six hours later.

The CIA Research Study comments on this “incredibly poorly timed” message of General Dani: “Two hours after Sukarno had studiously avoided committing himself over the radio the Air Force Chief Dani had pledged support of the Air Force to the coup.” The peculiarity of this was accentuated by the fact that Dani was considered to be a man who carefully calculated his steps to fall in line with Sukarno. It seemed impossible that Dani could take such an action without Sukarno’s endorsement. Perhaps in the confused and controlled circumstances at Halim the GESTAPU officers had managed to convince Dani earlier in the day that Sukarno wanted him to prepare a pro-GESTAPU Order of the Day to have on hand in case of need. (The possibility of straight fabrication exists, although the author has found no emphatic assertion to this effect by Dani.)
Assuming that the Dani message was a planned part of the GESTAPU scenario, it’s purpose, of course, was to incriminate the leftist Dani and the Air Force in the GESTAPU coup attempt and the murder of the generals. (In the early days after October 1st Suharto seems to have been even more interested in defaming the Air Force than the PKI. After all, the Air Force had weapons and the PKI did not.) The Dani message also helped to enhance the plausibility of a PKI newspaper editorial expressing similar views on the next day. Early and unambiguous identification of Dani with GESTAPU would also inhibit him from taking unwanted military action.
Following the broadcast of the Dani statement, there were only a few steps left for GESTAPU, except for the action in Central Java to be examined later. Another incident of incriminating PKI involvement in GESTAPU was the alleged appearance late in the day near Merdeka Square of Pemuda Rakjat (the PKI youth organization) youths armed with Chinese weapons supposedly given to them by the Air Force. They were quickly disarmed by units of the KOSTRAD-GESTAPU 530th Battalion which had already “rejoined” the loyal forces. (Perhaps the incident was arranged in part to demonstrate that the KOSTRAD-GESTAPU units were not really bad.)

This futile arming of “PKI” youths with marked Chinese weapons that were never used is another of the almost endless string of GESTAPU “mistakes.” The CIA Research Study comments: “The weapons were all small arms of Chinese origin, with the ‘Chung’ trademark stamped on them. The Indonesian army was known not to have any weapons of that type. There is absolutely no doubt that the arms were the property of the Indonesian Air Force.” (Suharto is later said to have thrust one of these “Chung” guns before Sukarno as proof of GESTAPU’s evil.)
While the CIA analyst may have “no doubt,” another explanation seems more probable. (Stories of Chinese arms shipments to Indonesia were rife after October 1st but even the CIA Study, in other places, questions their accuracy.) The CIA is known to have had a large store of Chinese weapons at this time, which were used for a variety of purposes, including such “incriminating” schemes. This incident was simply another planned part of the GESTAPU effort to incriminate the PKI in GESTAPU in dramatic fashion. The youths might have been unwitting Pemuda Rakjat but that could have been too dangerous and it seems more probable that they were other youths, or possibly it did not even happen at all.
Apparently there were armed anti-PKI youths in Djakarta already on October 1st who had some idea of what was going on. Donald Hindley has written the following:

“October 1 was an even more confusing day for the civilians of Djakarta….And yet, while the situation was still in doubt, a few civilians did take action to use the September 30 Movement as the excuse for a public attack on the Communist Party. “By the evening of 1 October, several Moslems had met and agreed to form a Moslem Action Command Against Communism. These initial, and very few, activists were members of HMI (Moslem University Student’s Association), PII (Moslem High School Students), Gasbiindo (Indonesian Moslem Trade Union Association), and the Muhammadijah, all of them organizations formerly affiliated with Masjumi. The only politician willing to be involved on that first day was Subchan, a vice-chairman of the NU and, in many ways, atypical of his party’s leadership. That evening the group made contact with the army leadership, in the person of Djakarta commander Major General Umar Wirahadikusuma, who agreed to give them a few weapons. More important, Umar approved the formation of KAP-Gestapu (Action Front for the Crushing of Gestapu: Gestapu being an abbreviation of the Indonesian for ‘September 30 Movement’). The plans for the more narrowly based, specifically Moslem Action Command were quietly dropped. Already, then, the army leadership had proffered its encouragement and (as yet less clearly apparent) protection for those who would spearhead a civilian campaign against the PKI.”
If this is true, it indicates either remarkable prescience (it occurred before any evidence of PKI connection to GESTAPU had been announced) or, in our interpretation, that the GESTAPU action was a CIA-Suharto creation. The list of organizations involved on October 1st reads like a list of those civilian groups who would most likely have been working under CIA guidance. The use of anti-PKI students by the Army after October 1st is well known. The use of similar groups in many countries is also standard CIA practice. The extraordinarily early creation of KAP-GESTAPU with Army support is evidence of how the groundwork for the subsequent exploitation of the GESTAPU events was laid right from the beginning, if not before.

By about 7 PM on October 1st the Army had retaken the Indonesian Radio station and at 8:45 PM an announcement was broadcast that the “counter-revolutionary” September 30th Movement had kidnapped a number of generals but that Sukarno and Nasution were now safe and “the general situation is again under control.”
Then occurred what subsequent observers have considered one of the most puzzling GESTAPU “mistakes,” the appearance on October 2nd (after almost all other papers had ceased publication) of an issue of the PKI newspaper Harian Rakjat containing an editorial and cartoon endorsing the September 30th Movement. There is a remote possibility that the PKI editors were taken in by the messages they heard over the radio and had thrown caution overboard and in fact wrote such an editorial, but it is more probable that it was a fabrication. The Cornell study examined the October 2nd issue of Harian Rakjat at length and raised some doubts about the authenticity of the editorial and cartoon. The Cornell researchers, however, did not go so far as to declare them phony. The Cornell study does state that “the Djakarta garrison commander, Maj. Gen. Umar Wirahadikusumae, issued an order dated 6:00 p.m. on the 1st to the effect that no publications of any kind were to appear without permission of the Djakarta war authority, save for the Army newspapers Berita Yudha and Angkatan Bersendjata, whose buildings were to be guarded to ensure that they did come out.” The Cornell study states that it is “quite likely that the Harian Rakjat office and plant…was occupied by government troops at or not long after the time that Gen. Umar gave this order.”

The Djakarta pattern was followed even to the extent of having another remarkable “escape” of the leading military figure, General Sujosumpeno, the Division Commander, who then put down the coup with ease. Only two officers were killed by GESTAPU, Col. Katamso, the commanding officer in Jogjakarta, and his deputy. The subsequent discovery of their bodies was again used to whip up anti-PKI emotions. The interesting wrinkle in this case is that Col. Katamso was a most unlikely victim of the “progressive” GESTAPU. According to Ruth McVey’s research, Katamso was a relatively pro-PKI military officer and, in Rex Mortimer’s words, “the singling out of Colonel Katamso for destruction seems decidedly perverse.” (We may speculate that as no further victims of the Yani-type were needed, the CIA-GESTAPU group decided that they might as well make a pro-PKI officer the sacrificial lamb in Central Java.)
There were a few alleged PKI demonstrations of support for GESTAPU in Central Java but it appears that, as in Djakarta, most, if not all, were fabricated. The “PKI” action that received most attention was a demonstration in Jogjakarta on October 2nd. Major Muljono, a civic action officer in the Diponegoro Division, was the GESTAPU leader in Jogjakarta. He seems to have been the one that put together the demonstration and other pro-GESTAPU actions. The CIA Research Study states that “The major PKI mass organizations were restrained from action….Apparently Muljono was able to influence the Communist youth more than the PKI leadership.” The Cornell study states that the demonstration in Jogjakarta “appears to have been chiefly a function of connections between the local coup leader, Major Muljono, and civilian youth groups. The demonstration was notable for the absence of PKI, SOBSI, Gerwani, and BTI participants.” Major Muljono was the only important officer in Central Java who was later put on trial. He “confessed” everything.
The wrap up of GESTAPU in Central Java took slightly longer than in Djakarta but followed the same pattern of “Suharto-style” negotiations and immediate, cooperative surrender.

Our analysis is that the basic reason why the CIA-Suharto group decided to extend GESTAPU outside of Djakarta is that they wanted to show that the PKI-GESTAPU was a nation-wide threat so as to justify a nation-wide repression of the PKI. Central Java was the easiest place for Suharto to arrange the necessary GESTAPU actions and PKI “implication.” GESTAPU was limited to a few cities where the Diponegoro Division was concentrated. As the CIA Research Study states, “Nothing of the sort that happened in Semarang, Jogjakarta, and Solo happened anywhere else in Java, not even in East Java, where there were many powerful centers of Communist strength.” The Cornell study comments on the Central Java coup efforts that “what is extraordinary is not the amount of Communist participation in the initial phase of the affair but the lack of it.”
Before concluding, let us consider the fate of the leading GESTAPU conspirators. Some of them were tried and sentenced to death (Lt. Col. Untung, General Supardjo), others were said to have been killed in military clashes (Col. Suherman), and others (Col. Latief) have never been brought to trial or had their execution announced. It is our assumption that all of the leading military officers involved in GESTAPU on October 1st were “witting” actors in the CIA-Suharto plan. There is a remote chance that someone like Untung could have been unwitting but considerations of security would seem to have excluded the possibility of using someone who might easily have informed higher authorities of GESTAPU’s existence or plans. We believe, particularly if the CIA connection is accurate, that these conspirators have subsequently been provided with new identities by the CIA and resettled outside of Indonesia. This kind of resettlement and looking after one’s assets is relatively standard CIA procedure. The temptation to tie up loose ends and prevent any possibility of leaks raises the suggestion that the GESTAPU officers have been eliminated after serving their purpose but, not to be ironic, the honorable men at the CIA would probably consider this to be in violation of their code of conduct.

The official announcements of executions of GESTAPU officers, such as there have been, have been rather vague. For example, although Untung was tried and convicted in early 1966, it was not until September 1968 that Suharto stated for the first time that Untung and three other military leaders of the coup had been executed in December 1967. The 1968 CIA Research Study speculated that Latief was one of those executed in 1967 but in 1972 Latief made his first public appearance as a witness in the trial of Pono, an alleged PKI coup organizer. General Supardjo remained at large after October 1965 and was not arrested until early 1967. Apparently the Army knew where he was and his arrest was timed to serve a purpose in the ouster of Sukarno. In December 1965 it was announced that Col. Suherman and the other important GESTAPU officers from the Diponegoro Division headquarters had been shot dead in a clash with government troops in Central Java. Other Army sources have said that they were actually captured before they were shot. The evidence available to the author indicates that there have been no public or independently verified executions of any of the GESTAPU officers.
Discounting the dubious confessions displayed at the post-1965 show trials, the CIA-Suharto hypothesis seems to have the following advantages over other explanations of GESTAPU:

1. It is consistent with PKI policy and behavior before, during, and after the October 1st events. It explains PKI unpreparedness.
2. It is consistent with President Sukarno’s behavior before, during, and after the events of October 1st. Sukarno had never resorted to political murder.
3. It explains why the coup was launched in such a disadvantageous military situation, why it was carried out with such incompetence, and why it failed so easily. GESTAPU was meant to fail, and quickly.
4. It is consistent with expected U.S. activism. It is highly implausible that the U.S. would have passively permitted Indonesia to “go Communist.” Something had to be done. A desperate situation required desperate measures.
5. It relates the GESTAPU action to those who benefited from it.
6. It is consistent with what we know of the backgrounds of the GESTAPU officers. They were, for the most part, Suharto’s men and there is no evidence, except for that obtained through “confessions,” that they had any pro-PKI inclinations.
7. It explains why General Yani and his associates were killed (and not merely kidnapped or put on trial). There were several strong motives for the CIA and Suharto to get rid of Yani. Victims of the “PKI” were required and in the Indonesian context, Yani was a “constitutionalist,” loyal to the existing regime, as General Schneider was later in Chile.
8. It is inconsistent (a positive value) with a series of highly suspicious trials that were stage-managed by the Indonesian Army for obvious political purposes. As Justus van der Kroef wrote in 1970, “What Indonesians have been reading about Gestapu thus far is likely, in retrospect, to be more valuable as an index to the manipulation of the opinion and feelings concerning the September 30 events than as a contribution to an understanding of the coup itself.” That a few trials, those of Sudisman and Sjam, impressed some foreign observers is only indicative of the fact that the state of the art has advanced since the 1930’s in the Soviet Union.
The Cornell study in 1966 perceived the absence of links between GESTAPU on the one side and the PKI and Sukarno on the other and the essentially reactive behavior of the latter. The Cornell researchers concluded that the GESTAPU actors were entirely within the military establishment. A number of analysts noted the many associations between the GESTAPU officers and General Suharto. In the climate of 10 years ago, however, prior to the revelations of CIA operations, few were willing to take the next step and draw the logical connections that most adequately explain GESTAPU and its origins.


















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End of an Era



Friendly Fascism (Excerpt)


As a master diplomat for Washington, among further similar achievements, Green’s track record also includes “direct experience of the CIA-sponsored replacement of President Syngman Rhee by the military regime of Chung Hee Park” when he was a US Foreign Service Officer in Seoul, South Korea, in 1960 (“Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia”, p243).

Rhee resigned because of student-led disorder and Peter Dale Scott suggests that one of Green’s qualifications for the Ambassador’s post in Indonesia in 1965 was his proven ability at fomenting violent student movements. “Because of the role of students in that eventual military takeover [Park’s coup], Green was widely suspected in Indonesia of encouraging the student activists in the post-coup purge of the PKI” (ibid, p244).

Later, Green was US Ambassador at the time of the Whitlam Labor government’s fall in Australia in 1975. The CIA and other spy and covert action agencies were accused of engineering the fall, and there is much evidence for that interpretation, including the “panic” shown by the CIA over Whitlam’s intention to name a CIA agent in connection with the US Pine Gap spy base in Australia (see e.g. “Oyster”, pp177/80).

One Australian Labor Government Minister has reported an earlier threat made by Green “that if Labor handed control and ownership of US multinational subsidiaries to the Australian people ‘we would move in'” (“Rooted in Secrecy: The Clandestine Element in Australian Politics” by Joan Coxsedge et al, Campaign Against Political Police, 1982, p24).
With regard to Indonesia, Green regularly told Australian audiences that when he was there in the mid-1960s: “we did what we had to do and you’d better be glad we did because if we hadn’t Asia would be a different place today” (“Ten Years’ Military Terror in Indonesia”, p244; “The CIA: A Forgotten History” by William Blum, Zed Books, 1986, p220). The pragmatic criterion of human rights is ever triumphant, but may ultimately eventuate in unpleasant consequences as well.

A lovely Press puff-piece by Christopher Moore on Green’s visit to Aotearoa/NZ in 1988 had this to say about the master diplomat: “For nearly 40 years, he trod the delicate tightrope of power politics with considerable skill. The archetypal New Englander, Marshall Green treats life with flinty personal integrity, a bemused view of human foibles and a robust, no-nonsense approach which has seen him confronting student mobs in Jakarta and devious politicians in Washington DC, with the manner of a strict but benign headmaster” (16/3/88). Such then is the Free Press’s portrayal of a man bloodied with the terrorist mass murders of Indonesian and Cambodian peasants. Fittingly, it was observed that Green, after his retirement from the foreign service, was still “active in foreign affairs think tanks and groups examining the world population crisis” (ibid.). For sure, Green was then a director of the Population Crisis Committee. The urbane New Englander had certainly made his own peculiarly personal contribution to this crisis through wholesale slaughter. With a final thoughtful touch, the Press article ends on Green’s considered wish: “I hope that throughout it all I have always remained a realistic humanitarian” (ibid). Exactly. Ironically, 1988, the year of Green’s visit to NZ was also the year of publication of Gabriel Kolko’s book, “Confronting the Third World” (cited above), which presented the damning evidence from cable traffic of Green’s role in the perpetration of the Indonesian genocide.

Another puff-piece in the Dominion Sunday Times (28/2/88) by Richard Long on Green’s 1988 visit was equally enlightening. Long commented that: “He was appointed Ambassador to Jakarta in 1965 when the moderates managed to defeat President Sukarno’s Communist takeover attempt”. We thus have a very neat summary of Western disinformation here from Long who was well known to be close to the US Embassy in Wellington. A standard item in the disinformation package is the line that fascist-style mass murderers are “moderates” (“Year 501”, chapter 5). Long went on to present Green as “far from being an old hawk” – to be sure, the old boy sounded “positively dovish on some issues” (Dominion Sunday Times, 28/2/88). Green praised the Indonesians who had the “great courage to oppose Sukarno”; and said this courage was “demonstrated, not just by the military, but also by other elements throughout the Indonesian bureaucracy and society” (ibid.). Besides all the propaganda previously described, it should be noted that by mid-1964 President Sukarno had become seriously ill (he died in 1970 in a state of virtual house arrest). The only concession by Long to any doubts about Green’s record was the observation that Green maintained “there are great fallacies in the conspiracy theories attempting to link Washington to coups and overthrows in the region”, including Whitlam’s fall (ibid).


In the Indonesian case, the problem
Mr. Green’s historical integrity is all
the incriminating documentary evidence accumulated in his own name.



Subversion as Foreign Policy


Kahin, George McT. and Kahin, Audrey R.
Subversion as Foreign Policy: The Secret Eisenhower and Dulles Debacle in Indonesia.
New York: The New Press, 1995. 318 pages.
George Kahin has taught at Cornell University since 1951 and is one of the leading scholars of Southeast Asian history. This book covers Indonesian history from the end of the colonial period through the Eisenhower years.
It stops short of the 1965 coup, which a CIA study described as follows: “In terms of the numbers killed the anti-PKI massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s.”


To get anything else out of the CIA about Indonesia, you still need a crowbar, even if you leave out 1965.
But George Kahin was personally acquainted with most of the key players in Indonesian politics during the 1950s, and
he managed even without the CIA’s documents. The importance of this work is that it exposes the covert policy of Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers in Indonesia during the 1950s.
This policy set the stage for the 1960s.
The events of 1965-1966, dismissed at the time by the world’s media as an “abortive Communist coup,” are still hotly disputed, and appear suspicious by any reasonable standard — the whole thing could have been set up by the CIA. That’s a book that cannot yet be written, but at least we’re off to a reliable start.


Ex-agents say CIA compiled death lists for Indonesians

After 25 years, Americans speak of their role in exterminating Communist Party
by Kathy Kadane, States News Service, 1990

WASHINGTON — 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 nconfirmed reports that firing squads we re 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 prov iding 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, 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 f ederation, 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 Washing ton.

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 aroun d 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 hem for th e 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.”
—– This article first appeared in the
Spartanburg, South Carolina Herald-Journal on May 19, 1990, then in the San Francisco Examiner on May 20, 1990, the Washington Post on May 21, 1990, and the Boston Globe on May 23, 1990. The version below is from the Examiner.


Revelations and mysteries
Four decades after the beginning of the Indonesian Civil War, questions remain about the veracity of accounts of the events both leading up to and during the war provided by the Western governments and by Suharto. The ousting of the Suharto regime and beginning of the Reformation period in Indonesia and the end of the Cold War for the Western governments has allowed greater freedom of information, leading to a significant process of historical revisionism as well as the formation of conspiracy theories around the Indonesian Civil War. Still, mysteries remain over the time period.

Was PKI actually involved in the G30S?
Supporters of Suharto claim that his actions as field general were justified due to the imminent threat of a PKI-led coup to seize power, as had been attempted in 1948. Several critics of Suharto note, however, that the PKI in 1965 had an inclination that was similar to Eurocommunism and had come to prefer parliamentary electoral politics to armed insurrection; in fact, the PKI placed third in a 1955 presidential election, behind Sukarno’s own Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI) and the Islamist party Masyumi.

These critics allege that Suharto purposefully exaggerated PKI involvement in the assassinations of the generals (both during the war and in subsequent propaganda events held on the anniversary) as mere window dressing for what was his own ruthless quest for power. The critics commonly point out that Suharto had already been involved in a 1959 corruption scandal involving sugar smuggling in the Bandung area, and that since the 1990s post-Cold War period that Suharto’s regime was known for both dishonesty and brutality.
There are several theories about the involvement of the PKI in the G30S movement. They are as follows:
The culprit of the G30S was the PKI
The PKI launced a coup d’etat against the Indonesian Army and the government to launch a communist government in Indonesia.
The G30S was an army Internal Problem
An army clique led by Suharto launched the coup precisely by sneaking into the PKI
The G30S was done by the CIA
The CIA worked together with an army click to destroy the PKI. The aim of CIA in Indonesia at that time was clearly to destroy communism in Southeast Asia.

The G30S was a Meeting Point between American and British Interests
The interests of Britain which wanted Sukarno’s confrontation against Malaysia to end with him losing power and the USA’s interest of ridding the world of communism sparked the G30S.
Sukarno was the Mastermind of the G30S
One of the most controversial theories of the G30S, Sukarno wanted to make the top army officials ‘vanish’ because they threatened his power. The PKI was also pulled into the mess because of its closeness with Sukarno.
The Chaos Theory
Nobody actually did the G30S. There was no grand scenario and it was ultimately affected by field operations.The G30S was a mix of Western nations, the doings of the PKI’s leaders and the army’s corrupt cliques.
Further muddling matters are recriminations of coup plots by both the left-wing and right-wing. As mentioned before, the PKI had in fact launched a coup effort in 1948; lesser known is that the right-wing military faction had already made several attempts on Sukarno’s life.

The Anderson theory
The allegations by the G30S assassins, that they acted to stop a coup by the right-wing Council of Generals and to take power, have always been dismissed by Suharto supporters as absurd. These Suharto supporters state that there was no such Council of Generals and that the G30S was merely a communist coup for whom the assassination of the generals was a prelude to the overthrow of Sukarno.
Recent historical revisionism by a leading American expert on Indonesia, Professor emeritus Benedict Anderson of Cornell University, refutes this quick dismissal. Anderson has put forward a theory that the Civil War was almost totally an internal matter of a divided military with the PKI playing only a peripheral role; that the right-wing generals assassinated on 1 October 1965 were, in fact, the Council of Generals coup planning to assassinate Sukarno and install themselves as a military junta; and that G30S was in fact a movement of officers loyal to Sukarno who carried out their plan believing it would preserve, not overthrow, Sukarno’s rule. The boldest claim in the Anderson theory, however, is that Suharto was in fact privy to the G30S assassination plot.

Central to the Anderson theory is an examination of a little-known figure in the Indonesian army, Colonel Abdul Latief. Latief had spent a career in the Army, and according to Anderson had been both a staunch Sukarno loyalist and a friend with Suharto. In the civil war, however, he was jailed and named a conspirator in G30S, and given a military trial in the 1970s. At his trial, Latief made the accusation that Suharto himself had been a co-conspirator in the G30S plot, and had betrayed the group for his own purposes.
Anderson points out that Suharto himself has twice admitted to meeting Latief in a hospital on 30 September 1965, the namesake of G30S, and that his two narratives of the meeting are contradictory. In an interview with American journalist Arnold Brackman, Suharto stated that Latief had been there merely “to check” on him, as his son was receiving care for a burn. In a later interview with Der Spiegel, Suharto stated that Latief had gone to the hospital in an attempt on his life, but had lost his nerve. Anderson believes that in the first account, Suharto was simply being disingenuous; in the second, that he had lied.

Further backing his claim, Anderson cites circumstantial evidence that Suharto was indeed in on the plot.
Among these are:
That almost all the key military participants named a part of G30S were, either at the time of the assassinations or just previously, close subordinates of Suharto: Lieutenant-Colonel Untung, Colonel Latief, and Brigadier-General Supardjo in Jakarta, and Colonel Suherman, Major Usman, and their associates at the Diponegoro Division’s HQ in Semarang.
That in the case of Untung and Latief, their association with Suharto was so close that attended each others’ family events and celebrated their sons’ rites of passage together.
That the two generals who had direct command of all troops in Jakarta (save for the Presidential Guard, who carried out the assassinations) were Suharto and Jakarta Military Territory Commander Umar. Neither of these figures were assassinated, and (if Anderson’s theory that Suharto lied about an attempt on his life by Latief) no attempt even made.
That during the time period that the assassination plot had been made, Suharto (as commander of the Kostrad) had made a habit of acting in a duplicitous manner: while Suharto was privy to command decisions in Confrontation, the intelligence chief of his unit Ali Murtopo had been making connections and providing information to the hostile governments of Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States through an espionage operation run by Benny Murdani in Thailand. Murdani later became a spy chief in Suharto’s government.

Anderson’s theory, for all the exhaustive research it has entailed, still leaves open a number of questions of interpretation. If, as Anderson believes, Suharto did have inside knowledge of the G30S plot, this still leaves open several possibilities: that Suharto had truly taken part in the plot and defected; that he had been acting as a spy for the Council of Generals; or that he was disinterested completely in the factional struggle of G30S and Council of Generals. Given that Suharto is infirm, reclusive, and judged as senile by the Indonesian judicial system, the questions raised by the Anderson speculation may never receive an answer from the man himself.

British psyops
The role of the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office and MI6 intelligence service has also come to light, in a series of exposés by Paul Lashmar and Oliver James in The Independent newspaper beginning in 1997. These revelations have also come to light in journals on military and intelligence history.

The revelations included an anonymous Foreign Office source stating that the decision to unseat Pres. Sukarno was made by Prime Minister Harold MacMillan then executed under Prime Minister Harold Wilson. According to the exposés, the United Kingdom had already become alarmed with the announcement of the Konfrontasi policy. A CIA memorandum of 1962 indicated that Prime Minister Macmillan and President John F. Kennedy were increasingly alarmed by the possibility of the Confrontation with Malaysia spreading, and agreed to “liquidate President Sukarno, depending on the situation and available opportunities.”
To weaken the regime, the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department (IRD) coordinated psychological operations in concert with the British military, to spread black propaganda casting the PKI, Indonesian Chinese, and Sukarno in a bad light. These efforts were to duplicate the successes of British Psyop campaign in the Malayan Emergency.
Of note, these efforts were coordinated from a British embassy in Singapore where the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), Associated Press (AP), and New York Times filed their reports on the Indonesian Civil War.
According to Roland Challis, the BBC correspondent who was in Singapore at the time, journalists were open to manipulation by IRD due to Sukarno’s stubborn refusal to allow them into the country: “In a curious way, by keeping correspondents out of the country Sukarno made them the victims of official channels, because almost the only information you could get was from the British ambassador in Jakarta.”

These manipulations included the BBC reporting that Communists were planning to slaughter the citizens of Jakarta. The accusation was based solely on a forgery planted by Norman Reddaway, a propaganda expert with the IRD. He later who bragged in a letter to the British ambassador in Jakarta, Sir Andrew Gilchrist that it “went all over the world and back again,” and was “put almost instantly back into Indonesia via the BBC.” Sir Andrew Gilchrist himself informed the Foreign Office on 5 October 1965: “I have never concealed from you my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change.”
In the April 16, 2000 Independent, Sir Denis Healey, Secretary of State for Defence at the time of the war, confirmed that the IRD was active during this time. He officially denied any role by MI6, and denied “personal knowledge” of the British arming the right-wing faction of the Army, though he did comment that if there were such a plan, he “would certainly have supported it.”
Although the British MI6 is strongly implicated in this scheme by the use of the Information Research Department (seen as an MI6 office), any role by MI6 itself is officially denied by the UK government, and papers relating to it have yet to be declassified by the Cabinet Office. (The Independent, December 6, 2000)

American assistance to Suharto
Often cited by the left as evidence of a broader, international plot to topple Sukarno, a number of revelations were made by former employees of U.S. State Department and Central Intelligence Agency regarding American actions during the Indonesian Civil War.
Beginning in 1990, American diplomats divulged to the Washington Post and other media outlets that they had compiled lists of Indonesian “communist operatives” had turned over as many as 5,000 names to military and intelligence loyal to Suharto. American journalist Kathy Kadane revealed the extent of the secret American support of some of the massacres of 1965-66 that allowed Suharto to seize the Presidency. She interviewed many former US officials and CIA members, who spoke of compiled lists of PKI operatives, which the Americans ticked off as the victims were killed or captured. They worked closely with the British who were keen to protect their interests in Malaysia.


Sir Andrew Gilchrist cabled the Foreign Office in London saying:
“…a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change”.
The PKI had won some popular support from the poor, it was this popularity, rather than any armed insurgency that alarmed the American government. Like Vietnam in the North, Indonesia might ‘go communist’. (San Francisco Examiner May 20, 1990)

In 2001, the National Security Archive at George Washington University obtained several internal documents of the U.S. Department of State, bolstering the ambassadors’ claims of American collaboration with Suharto. However, the National Security Archive claims that communications between Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency have been heavily redacted.

Anderson, Benedict. “Petrus Dadi Ratu” New Left Review. May-June 2000
“Army in Jakarta Imposes a Ban on Communists.” New York Times. 19 October 1965
Blum, William. Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Black Rose, 1998, pp. 193-198 ISBN 1567510523
CIA Stalling State Department Histories. The National Security Archive. URL accessed on May 23, 2005.
“Jakarta Cabinet Faces Challenge.” New York Times 16 December 1965
“Jakarta Leftist Out As Army Chief.” New York Times 15 October 1965
Kadane, Kathy: “Ex-agents say CIA compiled death lists for Indonesians”, San Francisco Examiner, 20 May 1990.
Lashmar, Paul and Oliver, James. “MI6 Spread Lies To Put Killer In Power” The Independent. (16 April 2000)
Lashmar, Paul and Oliver, James. “How we destroyed Sukarno” The Independent. (6 December 2000)
Lashmar, Paul; Oliver, James (1999). Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, Sutton Pub Ltd. ISBN 0750916680.
“Sukarno Removes His Defense Chief” New York Times. 22 February 1966
“Sukarno Seen Behind Coup” New York Times. 6 October 1965
“Tapol Troubles: When Will They End?,” Inside Indonesia, April-June 1999.

Toer, Pramoedya Ananta (2000). The Mute’s Soliloquy : A Memoir, Penguin. ISBN 0140289046.
External links

State Department Historical Advisory Committee’s summary as of September 1, 1999 of the
“Status of Johnson and Nixon Era FRUS High Level Panel Covert Action Cases” (2 pages).
This document shows that the Panel decided on April 20, 1998 to acknowledge covert action in Indonesia, that the CIA completed review of the documents on August 28, 1998, and that the volume then went into page proofs, “however, publication has been delayed.”

Western Covert Intervention in Indonesia, October 1965 – March 1966

David Easter
London School of Economics and Political Science,
UK. Email: D.Easter@lse.ac.uk.
This study examines the role played by the West in the destruction of the Indonesian communist party, the PKI, and the removal of the radical Indonesian president, Sukarno, in 1965-66. After the murder of six generals in October 1965 the Indonesian army massacred thousands of communists and seized power from Sukarno. The United States secretly helped the army in this period by providing intelligence, arms, medicines and radios and by giving assurances that Britain would not attack Indonesia while the army was suppressing the PKI. The US, Britain, Australia and Malaysia also used propaganda to encourage hostility in Indonesia towards the PKI. The article assesses the impact of Western covert intervention and concludes that Western propaganda may have encouraged the mass killings of the communists.

The changes that took place in Indonesia from October 1965 to March 1966 were a watershed in the history of South-East Asia and a major reverse for communism in the Cold War. Prior to October 1965 Indonesia was a radical Third World state. Its charismatic president, Sukarno, was a vocal anti-imperialist, dedicated to resisting what he called the Nekolim (neo-colonialists-imperialists) of the West. Sukarno openly aligned himself with the communist bloc in this struggle, proclaiming support for the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War, establishing close ties with the People’s Republic of China and angrily pulling Indonesia out of the United Nations in January 1965. Sukarno also tried to destabilize his pro-Western neighbour Malaysia through a campaign called ‘Confrontation’. He denounced Malaysia as a British neo-colonialist creation and sponsored a guerrilla insurgency in the country. To leaders in Washington, London and Canberra, Sukarno appeared to be mounting a omprehensive
In internal affairs Sukarno was also moving Indonesia to the left. For many years there had been an uneasily balanced triangle of power in the country between Sukarno, the staunchly anti-communist army and the large Indonesian communist party, the PKI (Partai Komunis Indonesia). During 1964-65 Sukarno increasingly favoured the PKI. Government propaganda campaigns created a siege mentality by warning of Nekolim ‘encirclement’ of Indonesia and alleging American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plots to assassinate Sukarno. The president banned rival political parties to the PKI or allowed them to be taken over by the leftists. He also permitted the communists to gain control over most of the press and the Antara news agency.
It appeared that Sukarno, who was 64 years old and known to be in ill health, was creating the conditions for the PKI to
take control in Indonesia after his death. Such an outcome would have been a major defeat for the West as Indonesia
was a glittering geo-strategic prize. With a population of 103 million it was one of largest countries in the world, it had abundant raw materials and the sprawling Indonesian island chain covered vital sea lanes,.a challenge to Western interests in South-East Asia.
The loss of Indonesia would also outflank American efforts to contain communism in South Vietnam.

Events in the winter of 1965-66 completely transformed the situation. An abortive coup took place in Jakarta on 1 October, which, although unsuccessful, caused the death of six leading army generals. The Indonesian army blamed the coup attempt on the PKI and it retaliated with a ferocious campaign of repression against the party. An estimated 300,000-500,000 people were killed in an anti-communist Terror and the PKI was extinguished as a political force.
The army leader, Suharto, then compelled Sukarno in March 1966 to hand over executive powers to him in what was effectively a military coup. Under Suharto’s leadership Indonesia moved sharply to the right, both domestically and internationally, making peace with Malaysia and breaking ties with China.
Sukarno was marginalized and died while under house arrest in

This ‘reverse course’ in Indonesia was an important victory for the Western powers in the Cold War.
It removed the spectre of a communist Indonesia and ended Sukarno’s troublesome anti-Malaysia campaign
Since the West was such an obvious beneficiary of the reverse course, there has been speculation as to
whether the Western powers were actually responsible for it.


Peter Dale Scott has argued that the events of 1965-66 were in fact ‘a three phase right-wing coup – one which had been both publicly encouraged and secretly assisted by U.S. spokesmen and officials’.


Scott sees Suharto as the puppet master behind the reverse course, ‘inducing, or at a minimum helping to induce’ the October 1965 coup attempt and then using it as pretext to eliminate the PKI and remove Sukarno. In this conspiracy Scott believes Suharto had strong covert support from the United States, especially in areas like propaganda and secret aid to the Indonesian army. By contrast, the historian H.W. Brands has argued that Washington was not to blame for the changes in Indonesia.


Examining the documentary sources Brands could find no evidence of American links to the October 1965 coup attempt and he claims that the United States only gave cautious and limited support to the army in the subsequent power struggle. In short, he thinks that ‘Sukarno’s overthrow had little to do with American machinations. It resulted instead from developments of essentially Indonesian origin’.


Other writers have focused on Britain’s role


The journalists Paul Lashmar and James Oliver claim in their book Britain’s Secret Propaganda War that ‘the British government secretly helped overthrow President Sukarno of Indonesia, assisting the rise of General Suharto to power’.


Lashmar and Oliver draw on interviews with former Foreign Office officials to show that London mounted a covert propaganda campaign against Sukarno after the October 1965 coup attempt. However, Lashmar and Oliver provide little documentary proof and they also make bold claims about earlier Western plotting against Sukarno which are not supported by the evidence


This article will seek to answer the question of whether the West was responsible for the reverse course in Indonesia. Using British, Australian and American sources it will examine the covert role played by the West in the destruction of the Indonesian communist party and the ousting of Sukarno.
By the summer of 1965 there was a consensus amongst Britain, the United States, Australia and Malaysia, that Sukarno was an implacable enemy, threatening the stability of the region and leading his country to communism. Both the British and the Americans believed that the longer Sukarno remained in power the greater chance there was of a communist takeover in Indonesia after his death.


The Western powers responded to this threat in a similar way: by using propaganda and covert action. For the three Commonwealth powers the immediate problem was Confrontation. Britain and Australia had committed substantial forces to defend Malaysia but for political reasons they were reluctant to openly retaliate for the Indonesian guerrilla raids. If, for example, the British and Australians bombed targets in Indonesia it would confirm to the Indonesian public Sukarno’s warnings about the threat posed by the Nekolim. An open war between Britain, Australia and Indonesia could strengthen the position of the PKI and damage the prestige of the army, hastening moves towards a communist takeover. The Commonwealth allies therefore had to rely on covert pressures to make Indonesia halt Confrontation; British and Australian soldiers secretly crossed the jungle border to attack guerrilla units inside Indonesia and Britain and Malaysia gave aid to rebel groups in the outer Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi.


In addition, the British and Malaysians used covert propaganda to erode support for Confrontation and encourage disunity in Indonesia.


In February 1965 the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office, which specialized in unattributable propaganda, set up the South East Asia Monitoring Unit in Singapore to carry out propaganda directed at Indonesian audiences.


London instructed that the propaganda from Singapore should undermine the will of the Indonesian armed forces to attack Malaysia, by representing that their real enemies were the PKI and communist China.
Propaganda should also ‘Discredit any potential successor to Sukarno . whose accession to power might benefit the PKI’.


In July the Foreign Office decided to step up its propaganda operations by appointing a Political Warfare Coordinator in Singapore. Norman Reddaway, the Regional Information Officer in Beirut, was selected for the position, although Reddaway would not take up the post until November.


Malaysian propaganda against Sukarno and the PKI was disseminated overtly, through Radio Malaysia’s external broadcasts to Indonesia, and covertly, through a ‘black’ radio station, ‘Radio Free Indonesia’, which masqueraded as the work of Indonesian émigrés.


The United States’ primary concern was the communist threat. In March 1965 the 303 Committee of the National Security Council approved a CIA-State Department political action programme to reduce the influence of the PKI and communist China and support non-communist elements in Indonesia.


As part of the programme the US would ‘develop black and grey propaganda themes for use within Indonesia and via appropriate media assets outside Indonesia’.


The aim would be to ‘Portray the PKI as an increasingly ambitious, dangerous opponent of Sukarno and legitimate nationalism and instrument of Chinese neo-imperialism’. The next month the United States effectively abandoned any attempt to work with Sukarno. The veteran American diplomat Ellsworth Bunker visited Sukarno in April but he could find no common ground – he came back convinced that the Indonesian leader ‘was a Marxist at heart’.


Bunker warned President Lyndon Johnson that the large and widespread American presence in Indonesia gave the PKI political targets to attack and allowed it to portray those who were friendly to the US, such as the army, as defenders and stooges of the imperialists. He therefore recommended that ‘U.S. visibility should be reduced so that those opposed to the communists and extremists may be free to handle a confrontation, which they believe will come, without the incubus of being attacked as defenders of the neo-colonialists and imperialists’.


The Americans should quietly keep in contact with ‘the constructive elements of strength in Indonesia’ and try to give these elements ‘the most favourable conditions for confrontation [with the PKI]’, although Bunker thought that Indonesia ‘would essentially have to save itself’.
Washington put Bunker’s recommendations into effect and adopted what one American official described as a ‘low silhouette’ policy.


American diplomats and aid workers were pulled out and the visible US presence reduced. At the same time Washington tried to find ways to influence opinion in Indonesia. Plans were drawn up to improve Voice of America (VOA)’s signal to Indonesia by erecting ten transmitters at Clark Field air base in the Philippines


In August US officials also held talks with the Australians in Canberra to discuss possible cooperation in broadcasts to Indonesia


It is clear, then, that by September 1965 the Western powers were hostile to Indonesia and trying to use propaganda to combat the PKI. But it was the coup attempt in Indonesia that gave them a real opportunity to do this. In the early hours of 1 October a group headed by Lieutenant Colonel Untung, a left-wing commander in the Presidential Guard, abducted and killed six leading Indonesian generals. Untung’s troops also took over broadcasting facilities in Jakarta and announced the formation of a Revolutionary Council.
The Untung putsch swiftly collapsed. Its armed bands failed to capture the Defence Minister, General Naustion, although they did manage to fatally injure his six-year-old daughter, and Major General Suharto, commander of the army’s strategic reserves, used his troops to regain control of the capital and crush the plotters. By 2 October the coup was effectively over.
What was less easily resolved and which remains a mystery to this day, is whether Untung was acting on behalf of other forces. There has been a welter of conflicting theories as to who was behind the coup attempt.


Some on the right have blamed the PKI, Red China, the pro-communist Indonesian Foreign Minister Subandrio or even Sukarno. Others, such as Scott, have constructed an elaborate conspiracy theory that the coup attempt was an army provocation, led by Suharto, to give a pretext for a crack-down on the communists.
There is insufficient space here to assess all the conflicting theories of the coup’s origins but looking at American, British and Australian primary sources it is apparent that despite their interest in covert action and propaganda, the Western powers were surprised by the coup attempt. In the first few days of October American, Australian and British diplomats in Jakarta were shocked and confused and had trouble in finding out what was going on.


There is no evidence that the coup attempt was a Western-backed army provocation. Indeed, on 1 October the American Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Richard Helms, told George Ball at the State Department that the CIA ‘had had absolutely nothing to do with it’.


The immediate suspicion of Western officials was of a possible connection to the PKI.


Yet evidence for PKI involvement in the coup was not clear-cut. Communist transport and communications unions helped Untung on 1 October by cutting communications in and out of Jakarta and the next day a communist newspaper endorsed the action he had taken. The coup attempt was centred on the Halim air force base and made use of communist cadres being given military training there. But the PKI did not try to mobilize its massive party membership behind the coup and an American ‘clandestine source’ reported that the PKI central committee only decided to give Untung military support after hearing his radio broadcast on 1 October


After the coup had failed the PKI denied any involvement and claimed it had been an internal army matter, with junior officers attacking senior officers.
Faced with this conflicting evidence, privately Western policymakers were uncertain how far the PKI was responsible for the abortive coup. US State Department officials believed that the PKI had not planned or engineered the coup attempt.


Instead they thought that Untung, without consulting the party, might have put into effect a communist contingency plan to seize power on the death of Sukarno. Certainly there had been a flurry of reports in August-September that the president was seriously ill and these could have sparked Untung into action. Once the coup was underway the PKI felt it had no choice but to get on board. Sir Andrew Gilchrist, the British Ambassador in Jakarta, suspected that the communists only became aware of Untung’s plan at a late stage and joined in because they feared that if the army crushed Untung it would crush them as well.


The Australian Joint Intelligence Committee noted that while individual communist groups clearly participated in the coup, ‘evidence of actual PKI involvement – that is of prior planning by the Central Committee – is largely circumstantial’.


By contrast, Marshall Green, the US Ambassador to Indonesia, was convinced that party chairman Aidit and other top PKI leaders ‘were almost certainly in on planning’ the coup although he conceded that the ‘PKI decision to participate seems to have been hurried one’.


If Western policymakers were unsure about the role of the communists the Indonesian army appeared to have no doubts and it pressed Sukarno for strong action against the PKI. However, the president tried to protect the PKI and he refused to ban the party. He promised a peaceful political settlement and called for national unity, warning that division would only benefit the Nekolim. Reportedly at a cabinet meeting on 6 October Sukarno and Subandrio blamed the coup attempt on the CIA and alleged that the CIA’s aim was to spread confusion before an American and British invasion of Indonesia.


The army, though, was not diverted by Sukarno’s appeals for unity and it began to move against the PKI. It arrested communist cadres and encouraged anti-PKI demonstrations in Jakarta. It also tried to mobilize public opinion by taking control of the mass media.


The army closed down the communist press while ensuring the continued publication of military newspapers such as Angkatan Bersendjada, Berita Yudha and the English language Jakarta Daily Mail. It took control over Radio Indonesia and the Antara news agency, which was the main supplier of news carried by Indonesian radio stations and newspapers. Through these outlets the army attacked the PKI and linked it to Untung’s coup attempt. On 4 October an editorial in Angkatan Bersendjada lambasted the PKI as ‘devils’ who were ‘injecting poison into the Indonesian nation and the revolution’.


Two days later the paper claimed the coup attempt was masterminded by the PKI and called on the government to declare the party illegal.


One prominent theme in this propaganda campaign was the murder of the six Indonesian generals. The army-controlled media alleged that members of the PKI youth organization, Pemuda Rakjat, and the communist women’s group, Gerwani, had brutally tortured the generals before killing them.


For example, on 10 October Berita Yudha reported that the generals’ eyes had been gouged out. These claims were untrue. Although the generals’ bodies had partially decomposed after being dumped in a well by the rebels, autopsies showed they had not been tortured or mutilated after death.


Nonetheless this story became a central feature of the army’s propaganda campaign and a founding myth for the later Suharto regime.
In mid-October Suharto seems to have given approval for army units to deal with the PKI and the army rounded up and killed party members throughout the country. It also armed nationalist and Muslim groups, such as the Ansor Muslim youth organization, and encouraged them to eliminate the communists. The result was a wave of mass killings, spreading across Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and into Bali by December and then onto Timor, Flores and Lombok. News of the slaughter slowly reached Western diplomats in Jakarta, who had only limited information on what was happening outside the capital. On 9 November an Australian teacher returning from central Java reported ‘All manner of atrocities, stakes through heads, eye gouging, live burials being freely committed by both sides’.


On 14 November an American missionary told her embassy of the massacre of 3,400 PKI activists by Ansor at Kediri, in East Java.


An Indonesian source informed the British air attaché that PKI men and women were being executed in very large numbers


Often they were given knives and told to kill themselves. If they refused they were shot in the back. An American observer in Bali reported ‘many headless bodies encountered on roads’ and a traveller in Sumatra saw Muslim youth group members stop a bus, drag out numerous communist passengers and hack them to death.


In February 1966 a visiting Australian diplomat learnt that 250 PKI members had been killed in the town of Kupang in Timor.


He was told by the chief of the Public Works Department in Kupang that torture was the customary prelude to death and was in fact carried out in the army establishment next door to his own home. The nightly executions, carried out just outside Kupang, were open to the public provided those who attended took part in the executions. The Army was in complete control of these operations.
Precisely how many were killed in the massacres is not known and may never be known. Estimates varied widely.


In January 1966 Colonel Stamboul, an army liaison officer, confided to the British military attaches that the army had no exact idea of the death toll but he estimated 500,000. Others in the army put the figure far higher. Major-General Adjie, the fiercely anti-communist commander of the Siliwangi division in West Java, told the Australian military attaché that nearly two million were killed. Short of hard evidence Western governments were cautious on the scale of the bloodletting. In April 1966 the State Department thought that around 300,000 had died.


Even so, the violence from October 1965 to January 1966 would still rank as one of the largest mass killings of the twentieth century. The army-controlled media in Indonesia did not report the massacres. Instead the media stoked up hatred of the communists by portraying them as sadistic murderers, intent on killing their opponents. It alleged that the coup attempt and the murder of the generals had been only the start of the communists’ plans for a reign of terror. Antara reported at the beginning of November that a list had been found in Garut of the names of hundreds of government officials the PKI had planned to kill if the coup had been a success.


In December the news agency ran a story that Aidit had offered party activists in Java 25 million rupiahs if they murdered more than 1,000 people on a PKI black-list.


Communist atrocity stories were also a prominent feature in the media


In November Antara claimed that Pemuda Rakjat members in Sumatra had kidnapped two youths and tortured them for five days, removing eyes and cutting off hands and testicles, before killing them. Another Pemuda Rakjat gang in Sumatra was alleged to have attacked Muslims praying on the bank of a river and again tortured and murdered them. The moral depravity of the communists was emphasized in other ways: Antara reported on 8 December that Aidit had encouraged the Gerwani and Pemuda Rakjat killers of the generals to take part in ‘delirious sexual orgies’ for six months before the coup.


In December the Jakarta Daily Mail denounced the communists as ‘mentally and morally perverted creatures who consider slander, abduction, mutilation and murder their way of life’.


The paper declared that there was no place for the PKI in God-fearing Indonesia and called on people to ‘Cast out this spawn of hell root and branch’. Such demonization of the PKI could only have fuelled the pogrom against the party. This is certainly what Sukarno feared. The Indonesian president tried to protect the communists from the massacres – he constantly called for calm and national unity, condemned the killings and threatened to punish by death those who used force against the PKI.


He also repeatedly warned the press not to incite the public with inflammatory articles and irresponsible reporting.


Sukarno and Subandrio both denied stories that the communists had tortured and mutilated the six generals during the coup.


They pointed out that the general’s death certificates had not mentioned any ‘abnormalities’. These efforts were in vain though. The army retained control of most of the media and it ensured that Sukarno’s message did not get through to the Indonesian public. Newspapers and Antara frequently failed to publish the text of speeches by the president.


Other papers, such as the Jakarta Daily Mail, carried commentaries which distorted Sukarno’s remarks, to make them appear to add up to a case for destroying the PKI.


Sukarno was powerless in the face of the massacres. During the period of repression the West gave covert support to the army. The Western powers had been greatly heartened by the events in Indonesia after 1 October. A real chance had appeared to smash the PKI and perhaps remove Sukarno, and the West was anxious that the army leaders fully seized the opportunity. As both the Australian and American embassies put it in telegrams on 5 October, it was ‘now or never’ for the army.


The key question was how the West could best encourage and help Suharto and Nasution. Any overt support was likely to be counterproductive as Sukarno and Subandrio would immediately denounce Nekolim interference in Indonesia. The West would therefore have to be circumspect in its approach. For Green the priority was to smear the PKI’s image through propaganda. On 5 October the ambassador had urged Washington to ‘Spread the story of PKI’s guilt, treachery and brutality’, adding that this was ‘perhaps the most needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it as sole or largely US effort’.


The State Department agreed. It had already begun a VOA and information programme connecting the PKI to the coup attempt.


Green appeared satisfied with the results. He cabled Washington on 7 November ‘that VOA doing good job’.


There are also indications that the CIA carried out covert anti-PKI propaganda after the coup.


The Australians were also active in this field. After 1 October the Department of External Affairs gave daily guidance to Radio Australia over its broadcasts to Indonesia.


The Department stressed that Radio Australia should not give information to the Indonesian people that the army-controlled internal media would withhold, such as disavowals by the PKI of responsibility for the coup. Instead the station should highlight reports discrediting the PKI and showing its involvement in the Untung coup attempt. The station seems to have faithfully followed these guidelines, for Keith Shann, the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta, was pleased with Radio Australia’s output, describing it as ‘generally good’.


For their part the Malaysians tried to blame the putsch on the communists and inflame popular feeling in Indonesia. For example, on 13 October a news commentator on Radio Malaysia read out an editorial from the Beirut newspaper Lissan Al-Hal which claimed that, ‘without the slightest shade of doubt’, the coup was contrived by the PKI.


He recalled the murder of Naustion’s daughter and ‘the mutilated bodies of the six Muslim generals. who [were] dismembered, cut to small bits and thrown in a well’. Whipping up feelings further, the newsreader said ‘Such atrocities against Muslims cannot but make the blood boil in every Muslim heart . they open every Muslim eye to the dirty work which no communist lackey would hesitate to do whenever the master dictates’. The British were working on similar lines. The Foreign Office hoped to ‘encourage anti-Communist Indonesians to more vigorous action in the hope of crushing Communism in Indonesia altogether’


The Information Research Department would stimulate broadcasts to Indonesia by the BBC, Radio Malaysia, Radio Australia and VOA. It would also try to disseminate propaganda through newspapers read in Indonesia such as the Straits Times. The same anti-PKI message was to be spread by more clandestine outlets, such as a ‘black transmitter’ (presumably Radio Free Indonesia) and ‘IRD’s regular newsletter’, which seems to have been ‘black’ propaganda prepared in Singapore by the Information Research Department’s South East Asia Monitoring Unit.


Suggested propaganda themes included ‘PKI brutality in murdering Generals and families, Chinese interference, particularly arms shipments, PKI subverting Indonesia as the agents of foreign Communists’.


On 9 October the Foreign Office reported that it was mounting some ‘short term unattributable ploys design British propaganda efforts were strengthened by the arrival in November of Norman Reddaway as Political Warfare Coordinator in Singapore. Reddaway received news on the situation in Indonesia from the embassy in Jakarta and from intelligence sources, which seem to have included signals intelligence, as Britain had broken the Indonesian ciphers.


The mistrust could reach ludicrous levels. In mid-October Nasution’s aide quizzed Ethel about reports of British arms shipments to the PKI and asked whether the coup could have been a plot by Britain and communist China


He would then supply information that suited British purposes to news agencies, newspapers and radio via contacts in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. This news would be carried out into the world’s media and return to Indonesia, allowing Britain to influence Indonesian opinion. The reports were designed to damage the communists. A draft Foreign Office brief in late November explained that Britain had been ‘blackening the PKI’s reputation within Indonesia and outside,
by feeding into the ordinary publicity media news from Indonesia that associates the PKI and the Chinese with Untung’s treachery plus corresponding covert activity’. Thus, despite some private doubts over communist responsibility for the coup attempt, all four Western powers used the media to pin the blame on the PKI and discredit the party in Indonesia. This propaganda offensive supported the army’s own activities, as the stories on VOA, Radio Malaysia, Radio Australia and the BBC and in the press confirmed the stories in the army-controlled media. The synergy between the two publicity campaigns was not accidental. The British and Americans recycled reports from Radio Jakarta or the army newspapers by broadcasting them back to Indonesia


For example, on 5 November the Jakarta Daily Mail claimed that on the day of the coup 100 women from Gerwani had tortured one of the generals by using razor blades and knives to slash his genitals before he was shot


In December an Information Research Department official noted that this atrocity story would be included in the South East Asia Monitoring Unit’s propaganda output


Furthermore the Indonesian army actively advised the Western powers on the themes they should or should not use in their propaganda. On 2-3 November Indonesian Brigadier-General Sukendro had secret talks in Bangkok with Dato Ghazali Shafie, the Permanent Secretary at the Malaysian Ministry of External Affairs.


Sukendro said that Radio Malaysia should not give the army ‘too much credit’ or criticize Sukarno but should emphasize PKI atrocities and the party’s role in the coup. Sukendro also asked for help in ‘the character and political assassination’ of Subandrio and offered to send background information on the Foreign Minister which could be used by the Malaysians. On 5 November an Indonesian military contact also approached the Americans and warned them against broadcasts that implied approval of army actions.


An officer in the army information section told Shann that Radio Australia should never suggest that the army was pro-Western or rightist and should mention other organizations, such as Muslim and youth groups, opposing the PKI.


As well as using propaganda against the PKI the Western powers helped the army in other ways. The Americans set up a back-channel link to the army leaders through Colonel Willis Ethel, the US Army Attaché in Jakarta, who regularly met with an aide to Naustion. Through this channel the Americans reassured the Indonesian army about British activities and intentions, for although these two groups shared a common interest in the removal of the communists, because of the Confrontation the army was suspicious of Britain.
ed to keep the Indonesian pot boiling’.


To Washington these bizarre ideas showed the ‘somewhat naïve international view ‘ of the army leaders, but they genuinely seemed to suspect a conspiracy between London and Beijing.


Ethel had to assure them that Britain had not colluded with the Chinese and the PKI


Ethel also gave a broader assurance that Britain would not escalate the Confrontation while the army was dealing with the communists. With the approval of London, on 14 October Ethel told Nasution’s aide that the British did not intend to start any offensive military action.


In early November the British and Australians reinforced this message.


Counsellor James Murray promised General Mokoginta, the Commander of Indonesian Armed Forces in Sumatra, that Britain had no intention of stepping up the Confrontation while the army was engaged with the PKI. Gilchrist and Shann said the same thing to Helmi, an Under-Secretary at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who was close to the army. Shann declared that the army ‘would be completely safe in using their forces for whatever purpose they saw fit’.


The Indonesian army could suppress the communists without worrying about British and Australian operations in the Confrontation. In addition, the Americans secretly gave the army material aid. At the end of October Sukendro asked the US for medical supplies, communications equipment, rice and small arms to support the army’s campaign against the PKI.


Washington was willing to help but it knew that there were major political risks involved. If American aid was exposed Sukarno and Subandrio would have proof of Nekolim interference in Indonesian internal affairs and this would seriously embarrass both the United States and the army. So the Americans moved carefully. On 12 November the State Department informed the British and Australians that the US had agreed to send $100,000-worth of medical supplies to the Indonesian army via covert channels.


The 303 Committee also agreed on 19 November to give the army leaders a secure communications system, to maintain contact with each other and with ‘U.S. elements’.


In interviews in 1981-82 Sukendro confirmed that the US had secretly supplied medicines, radios and small arms through the Bangkok CIA station.


Money may have been provided as well – in December Green recommended a ‘black bag’ operation giving 50 million rupiahs to Adam Malik, a key figure in KAP-Gestapu, an army-inspired action group that organized anti-PKI demonstrations.


Finally, the US supplied the army with intelligence.


The American embassy in Jakarta had compiled lists of names of the PKI leadership and senior cadres and, according to Green, this information was superior to anything held by the Indonesian army. After the coup attempt embassy officials passed on to the army lists of names of known PKI leaders. The army could use this information to round up key communists and dismantle the party structure.
The actions taken by the army in suppressing the communists did seem to trouble the consciences of some of the Western ambassadors in Jakarta. In a telegram to Canberra on 19 December Shann wrote that ‘In many cases the massacre of entire families because one member spoke to the Communists, has occurred. Some of the methods adopted are unspeakable . [It has been] a blood-bath of savage intensity, remarkably unpublicised and locally regarded with a ghoulish cynicism’.


Gilchrist asked Reddaway in February 1966 ‘What have we to hope from the [Indonesian] generals? 400,000 people murdered, far more than total casualties in Vietnam+nobody cares. “They were communists.” Were they? And are communists not human beings?


Yet the massacre of thousands of communists did not affect Western policy.
The logic of the
Cold War meant that the army was fulfilling the Western interest by eliminating the PKI and removing the danger of Indonesia falling to communism. The army was also the only means to dispose of Sukarno and end the Confrontation. Therefore, despite distaste for the army’s methods, the West still wanted to support it. The main problem for this policy was not ethical concerns but the fear that overt aid could embarrass the army in its power struggle with Sukaro and Subandrio.
On 1-2 December 1965 American, Australian, British and New Zealand officials held secret Quadripartite talks to coordinate policy towards Indonesia.


The mass killings were not even mentioned. Instead the officials discussed the difficulties in helping the army while Sukarno and Subandrio remained in power. The West still had to take care not to make the army appear to be Nekolim stooges and for this reason it was agreed at the meeting that ‘except for some cautious propaganda (on lines already agreed) we should take no initiative at this moment to help the Generals’.
There was another reason why the West would not offer greater aid, especially economic aid: the army did not seem to want it. In November Sukendro had raised the possibility of the US and Malaysia giving rice, which was in short supply in some areas in Indonesia.


But by the middle of December the army leaders seemed to have abandoned this idea. On 13 December Malik told Green that there was an urgent need for food and clothing in Indonesia but Suharto and Nasution wanted to let Sukarno and Subandrio ‘stew in their own juice’.


Economic mismanagement hurt the civilian government, not the army, and if the situation worsened Sukarno and Subandrio would be blamed. Malik advised the US not to give aid yet.
Malik’s prediction about the effects of economic distress soon came true. To try and rescue the floundering economy in mid-December Sukarno’s government devalued the rupiah by an order of 1,000 and then quadrupled fuel prices in early January.


These harsh fiscal measures provoked mass student protests. An Indonesian Student Action Front, composed mainly of Muslim and nationalist students, organized demonstrations. They linked economic discontent to political protest, demanding not just a reduction in prices but also the removal of left-wing ministers, such as Subandrio, and the formal banning of the PKI. The army gave covert assistance to the students, transporting them to demonstrations and protecting them. The army leaders saw the student protests as a way to undermine Sukarno’s rule and ease him and Subandrio from office.
In their campaign the army and students again received propaganda support from the West. Reddaway reported on 11 February that: We have . stepped up our efforts. The Malaysian black radio is taking our tapes, material written by us in Djakarta is appearing in Middle East Muslim newspapers and being repeated by Radio Malaysia so that Indonesians hear it. The newsletter undoubtedly continues to get through and be read. We pick up anti-Subandrio propaganda circulated within Indonesia and get it published world-wide via news agencies.


On 21 February Sukarno tried to reassert his authority by reshuffling his cabinet and sacking Nasution as Defence Minister. But this move backfired. It triggered off even larger student demonstrations, again abetted by the army, and on 11 March troops mounted a show of force outside Sukarno’s palace. Under this pressure Sukarno yielded and he signed a
letter of authority handing over executive power to Suharto. Although Sukarno remained nominally in charge real power was now in the hands of the army.
The Western allies were delighted with the army’s seizure of power.
An American official explained to President Johnson on 12 March that:
It is hard to overestimate the potential significance of the army’s apparent victory over Sukarno (even though the latter remains as a figurehead). Indonesia has more people – and probably more resources – than all of mainland Southeast Asia.
It was well on the way to becoming another expansionist Communist state, which would have critically menaced the rear of the whole Western position in mainland Southeast Asia. Now, though the unforeseen can always happen, this trend has been sharply reversed


The pro-communist trend had indeed been reversed. During the remainder of 1966 and 1967 Suharto moved methodically to undo all of Sukarno’s policies. He banned the PKI, detained Subandrio, ended Confrontation with Malaysia, rejoined the United Nations and froze relations with communist China. Sukarno was stripped of his remaining powers and died in obscurity.

Indonesia was saved for the West.

The question remains of how far the Western powers were responsible for this outcome. Did Western covert intervention in Indonesia cause the destruction of the PKI and the removal of Sukarno? The origins of the coup attempt in October 1965 remain obscure but on the evidence from currently available American, Australian and British archives it does not seem to have been a Western-inspired or -supported plot. Certainly the West gave covert support to the army after the coup but it appears, as Brands argues, that the indigenous actors were the key to events in Indonesia from October 1965 to March 1966. It was the army that chose to crush the communists and topple Sukarno’s government. While the attitude of the West may have encouraged the army to move against the PKI it probably did not need much encouragement. Nasution, for example, whose daughter had been murdered in the coup, had reasons enough of his own. The United States did help the army by providing radios, medicine, small arms and lists of names and by giving assurances that Britain would not escalate the Confrontation, but this support was not essential to the army’s success.
Western propaganda may have been of more importance in bringing down Sukarno’s regime and in inciting the massacre of the communists. The documentary sources do, for example, corroborate a lot of Lashmar and Oliver’s revelations about British covert propaganda operations in 1965-66. The influence of the West on the anti-communist Terror should not be exaggerated though. The killings were not just political acts in the Cold War, they were also a complex sociological phenomenon and the perpetrators had a wide variety of local motives.


The PKI had supported land reform in rural areas and this had created bitter resentment between peasant party members and small landlords. Muslims and, in Bali, Hindus were driven by religious fervour to slaughter the atheist communists. The killings sometimes had racial overtones, such as attacks on ethnic Chinese in North Sumatra. In the frenzy of violence people saw a chance to satisfy personal vendettas. Other factors than propaganda drove civilians to murder suspected communists. The killings were not just a reaction to Western propaganda – they were the culmination of years of built up tension and hatred.
It can also be questioned how large the audience for Western propaganda actually was. Australian officials believed that the only about 60 per cent of the adult Indonesian population was literate and the number of newspaper readers was thought to be just 500,000.


Radio was a more important source of news but the number of listeners was still limited. Radio Indonesia estimated in 1963 that there were 3.5 million radio sets in the country with an effective listenership of 17 million, but this might have been an underestimate, as one radio set could be listened to by a large number in a small village which had no other sources of information.
Of the foreign radio stations Radio Australia was generally agreed to be the most popular, indeed an army officer told the Australians in September 1965 that Radio Australia was more popular than Radio Indonesia.


It was listened to by the elite – Nasution was said to be a regular listener – and by students, who liked it because it played rock music, which had been officially banned in Indonesia. The BBC Indonesian service had far fewer listeners and was dismissed in an Information Research Department report in June 1965 as being ‘probably only of marginal value’


Voice of America suffered from having a weak signal and was difficult to hear.


Green complained to Washington on 19 October 1965 about the ‘appalling inadequacy of VOA signal to Indonesia’ and called for emergency measures to give a clear reception.


Radio Malaysia was audible, but in the opinion of Gilchrist it was not trusted by Indonesians and therefore had no great influence.


The audiences of the West’s covert propaganda outlets are impossible to gauge, but judging by the relatively few newspaper readers and radio listeners in Indonesia, Western propaganda may have only been able to reach and affect a limited number of people.
Nevertheless, there are signs that Western propaganda may have had an impact. The Indonesian government seemed to notice the propaganda campaign and feel threatened by it. In a speech in January 1966 Sukarno declared those unhappy with his leadership should say so openly and ‘not carry out campaigns of secret slander inspired by Nekolim to bring about his downfall’


In February an editorial in the Indonesian Herald newspaper, which acted as the mouthpiece for Subandrio’s Foreign Ministry, warned of a ‘Necolim psywar’ being used to ‘subdue our revolution’.


On the other side, British officials believed that their propaganda had been effective. Gilchrist wrote in April 1966 that military and political propaganda pressure on Indonesia ‘has had no small effect in breaking up the Soekarno regime’.


Reportedly, Sir John Grandy, the British Commander in Chief in the Far East, thought Reddaway’s propaganda work ‘made an outstanding contribution to the campaign against the Indonesians’.


The explanations ordinary Indonesians gave for the massacres also appeared to show the influence of propaganda. Western journalists travelling in Java and Bali in the spring and summer of 1966 observed that people repeatedly justified
the killings as self-defence.
Seymour Topping wrote in the New York Times that ‘Many Indonesians say bluntly “It was them or us”‘.


He heard rumours in the towns of the PKI digging mass graves prior to the coup and PKI files naming high-ranking army officers, local officials and religious leaders that were to be executed. Stanley Karnow reported in the Washington Post that ‘Everywhere . people sought to justify the destruction of the Communists with the same phrase “If we hadn’t done it to them they would have done it to us”‘.


He believed this pervasive attitude was largely due to the ‘the brutal fashion in which the Communists murdered [the] six army generals’. Dennis Warner, quoted an Indonesian in The Sydney Morning Herald as saying ‘I think the murder of the generals and Nasution’s daughter had such an impact on us all, especially when we learnt what was in store for the rest of us, that no one had any sympathy for the PKI’.


Clearly, some of the themes of the propaganda campaign are present here but there is a difficulty in separating out the effects of internal army propaganda from Western propaganda, as both were conveying the same message. It is likely that Western propaganda played a secondary, supporting role. The news coming from abroad would have confirmed the stories Indonesians were hearing at home – that the PKI had masterminded the coup, that communist women tortured and murdered the six generals, that the communists had planned to massacre their enemies. Western propaganda helped build up the picture of the communists as menacing, bloodthirsty killers that needed to be eradicated. The impact of this campaign was to dehumanize the communists and make it easier to murder them. As one Indonesian civilian, who executed 18 communists, put it to a journalist in 1966 ‘I did not kill people. I killed wild animals’.


To this extent Western covert intervention may have encouraged the massacres in Indonesia in the winter of 1965-66.

1. Scott, ‘The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno’
2, Scott, ‘The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno’, 239
3. Brands, ‘The Limits of Manipulation’
4. Brands, ‘The Limits of Manipulation’, 787.
5. Lashmar and Oliver, Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, 1-10.
6 Lashmar and Oliver, Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, 1.
7. Lashmar and Oliver allege that in 1962 the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and the American President John Kennedy secretly agreed to ‘liquidate’ Sukarno. This allegation was recently repeated in Blum, Killing Hope. The original basis for this claim is a partially declassified CIA document, Declassified Documents Referencing Service (DDRS), British Library of Political and Economic Science, 1975, Item 240A, CIA Report CS-3/522,563, 17 September 1962. In this document the writer does claim that Macmillan and Kennedy had agreed to liquidate Sukarno. However, although the document has been partially sanitized, it is fairly clear that it is a report from an Indonesian diplomat or intelligence officer which had been obtained by the CIA (the writer tells a Pakistani diplomat that Pakistan should leave the Western bloc and become neutralist; he interchangeably refers to Indonesia and ‘we’ buying parachutes from Pakistan). Furthermore the writer’s claim about the Kennedy-Macmillan plot is, by his own admission, based on ‘impressions I have received in conversations with Western diplomats’ and not on hard evidence. The document might illustrate Indonesian fears about Western intentions but it offers no proof of an Anglo-American plot in 1962 to liquidate Sukarno.
8. The National Archives (TNA) (Public Records Office) CAB 148/19 OPD(65)25, 26 January 1965; National Intelligence Memorandum NIE 54/55-65, 1 July 1965, FRUS, Indonesia 1964-68, vol. 26, 270-71.
9. Easter, ‘British and Malaysian Covert Support’.
10. Easter, ‘British Intelligence and Propaganda’.
11. TNA FO 1101/1, Minute ‘War of nerves Indonesia’, not dated.
12. Easter, ‘British Intelligence and Propaganda’ , 93-4.
13. TNA FO 371/187587, Minute Stanley to Edmonds, 17 June 1966; TNA FO 371/181530, Telegram 2645 Commonwealth Relations Office (CRO) to Kuala Lumpur, 19 October 1965.
14. TNA DEFE 28/144, Minute Drew to PS/Minister, 19 December 1963; TNA FO 953/2140, Telegram 2380 Kuala Lumpur to CRO, 25 October 1963.
15. Political Action Paper, 19 November 1964; Memorandum for 303 Committee, 23 February 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 181-84; 234-37.
16. Memorandum for 303 Committee, 23 February 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 234-7.
17. TNA FO 371/180337, Despatch 10342/65 Stewart to Peck, 26 April 1965.
18. Report from Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker to President Johnson, not dated, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 256.
19. National Archives of Australia (NAA) A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, ‘Overseas broadcasts to Indonesia. Discussions with United States’ officials’, Canberra 3-4 August 1965, not dated; Bunnell, ‘American “Low Posture” Policy towards Indonesia’.
20. NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, Telegram 2122 Washington to Department of External Affairs (DEA), 22 June 1965.
21. NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, ‘Overseas Broadcasts to Indonesia. Discussions with United States’ Officials’, Canberra 3-4 August 1965, not dated.
22. For an examination of the different theories see Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia, 97-134, and Elson, Suharto, 110-18.
23. DDRS, Retrospective Collection, Item 605D, Telegram 800 Jakarta to Washington, 1 October 1965; NAA A6364/4 JA 1965/07, Telegram 1149, Jakarta to Canberra, 1 October 1965; TNA FO 371/180317, Gilchrist to Foreign Office (FO), 3 October 1965.
24. FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 301 footnote.
25. TNA FO 371/180317, Telegram Guidance 398 CRO to Kuala Lumpur, 4 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/18/8 Part 1, Telegram 3445 Washington to DEA, 4 October 1965.
26. DDRS, Retrospective Collection, Item 29C, CIA Office of Central Intelligence, OCI No 2342/65, 28 October 1965.
27. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 3445 Washington to DEA, 4 October 1965; Telegram 3442 Washington to DEA, 4 October 1965.
28. TNA FO 371/180320, Despatch DH1015/2/5 Gilchrist to Stewart, 19 October 1965.
29. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 7, Note ‘Indonesia, PKI Responsibility for the Attempted Coup’, 9 December 1965.
30. Telegram 1184 Jakarta to State Dept, 26 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 335-7.
31. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 28E, Telegram CIA/OCI 12980 Jakarta to Washington, 6 October 1965; Retrospective Collection, Item 29A, Telegram CIA/OCI 13185 Jakarta to Washington, 8 October 1965.
32. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 1156 Shann to DEA, 2 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 2, UPI report 274, 11 October 1965; NAA A6364/JA1965/015 Political Savingram 52, Jakarta to DEA, 15 October 1965; TNA FO 371/180317, Telegram 2083 Gilchrist to FO, 8 October 1965.
33. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 1169 Jakarta to DEA, 5 October 1965.
34. TNA FO 371/180317, Telegram 2061 Gilchrist to FO, 6 October 1965.
35. Anderson, ‘How did the Generals Die?’
36. Anderson, ‘How did the Generals Die?’. Simons, Indonesia: The Long Oppression, 173-4.
37. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 5, Record of a conversation with Marietta Smith, 9 November 1965.
38. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 615C, Telegram 171 Surabaya to Jakarta, 14 November 1965.
39. TNA FO 371/180325, Letter by Charney, 24 November 1965.
40. Lyndon Johnson National Security Files (NSF), Kings College, London, Reel 8 634-6, Telegram 1814 Jakarta to State Dept, 21 December 1965; Sydney Morning Herald, 30 December 1965.
41. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 11, Despatch Starey to DEA, 25 February 1966.
42. NAA A1838/3034/1 Part 2, Visit to Indonesian Military Establishments 20-27 June 1966 by Warner, 30 June 1966. TNA FO 371/186027, Despatch 1011/66 Jakarta to FO, 13 January 1966.
43. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 13 Memo No 601/66 Birch to DEA, 19 April 1966.
44. TNA FO 371/180322, Telegram 2426 Jakarta to FO, 3 November 1965.
45. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 8, UPI report 284, 18 December 1965.
46. TNA FO 371/180323, Cambridge to Tonkin, 9 November 1965; Telegram 2528 Gilchrist to FO, 13 November 1965.
47. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 7, UPI report 264, 8 December 1965; UPI report 265, 8 December 1965.
48. TNA FO 371/180325, Jakarta Daily Mail, 11 December 1965.
49. NAA A1209/1965/6674 Part 1, Telegram 1278 Jakarta to DEA, 22 October 1965; Telegram 1294 Jakarta to DEA, 26 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 8, UPI report 10, 17 December 1965.
50. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 5, UPI report 96, 10 November 1965; NAA A6364/JA1965/015, Savingram 59, Jakarta to DEA, 25 November 1965.
51. NAA A1838/3006/4/9 Part 30, Interview Subandrio and Hastings, 15 December 1965; NAA A6364/JA1965/015, Savingram 62 Jakarta to DEA, 17 December 1965.
52. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 611C, Telegram 1195 Jakarta to State Dept, 25 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1 Part 48, Macdonnell to Ottawa, 18 November 1965.
53. NAA A6364/JA1965/015, Savingram 64 Jakarta to DEA, 23 December 1965.
54. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 28C, Telegram CIA/OCI 12848 Jakarta to Washington, 5 October 1965; NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 1, Telegram 1172, Shann to DEA, 5 October 1965.
55. Telegram 868 Green to State Dept, 5 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’” 307-8.
56. Telegram 400 State Dept to Jakarta, 6 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 308-10.
57. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 613A, Telegram 1353 Jakarta to State Dept, 7 November 1965.
58. McGehee, Deadly Deceits , 57-8.
59. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 3, Minute Hay to Minister, 18 October 1965.
60. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 3, Minute Hay to Minister, 18 October 1965; Najjarine and Cottle, ‘The Department of External Affairs’
61. TNA FO 371/180320, Radio Malaysia 2140 hours News Commentary, 13 October 1965.
62. TNA DEFE 25/170, Telegram 1863 FO to Singapore, 8 October 1965.
63. TNA FO 371/187587, Adams to de la Mare, attached diagram, 2 June 1966.
64. TNA FO 371/181455, Telegram 2679 CRO to Canberra, 13 October 1965.
65. TNA FO 371/181530, Telegram 1460 Stanley to Reddaway, 9 October 1965.
66. Easter, ‘British Intelligence and Propaganda’ , 85; TNA FO1101/5, Minute Reddaway to Tovey, 30 October 1965.
67. TNA FO 371/181455, Minute Stanley to Cable, 7 October 1965; Telegram 2679 CRO to Canberra, 13 October 1965.
68. TNA FO 371/180324, Despatch DH 1015/311 Jakarta to FO, 22 November 1965.
69. TNA FO 371/180324, Minute by Weilland, 22 December 1965.
70. TNA FO 371/181457, Record of meeting between Ghazali and Sukendro on 2-3 November 1965, 10 November 1965.
71. Lyndon Johnson NSF, Reel 8, 338-9, Telegram 1357 Jakarta to Washington, 5 November 1965.
72. NAA A6364/JA1965/10, Telegram 1340 Shann to Canberra, 5 November 1965.
73. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 610B, Telegram 497 State Dept to Jakarta, 21 October 1965; Johnson NSF, Reel 8, 251-2, Telegram 1139 Jakarta to State Dept, 22 October 1965.
74. Intelligence Memorandum OCI No 2942/65, 18 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 372.
75. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 611D, Telegram 526 State Dept to Jakarta, 26 October 1965; Johnson NSF Reel 8, 288-289, Telegram 1201, Jakarta to State Dept, 26 October 1965.
76. Telegram unnumbered, Jakarta to State Dept, 10 October 1965; Telegram 1006 Jakarta to State Dept, 14 October 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 317-18; 321-2.
77. TNA FO 371/181457, Record of Conversation with General Mokoginta by James Murray, 9 November 1965; Telegram 2509 Gilchrist to FO, 12 November 1965.
78. NAA A6364/JA1965/10, Telegram 1383 Shann to DEA, 12 November 1965.
79. Telegram 1288 Jakarta to State Dept, 1 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 345-7.
80. Telegram 749 State Dept to Bangkok, 4 November 1965; Telegram 951 Bangkok to State Dept, 11 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 357-8; 364-6.
81. Memorandum for 303 Committee, 17 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 368-71.
82. Bunnell, ‘American “Low Posture” Policy towards Indonesia’, 59, footnote. On the supply of radios see also a letter from the journalist Kathy Kadane to the Editor, New York Review of Books, 10 April 1997.
83. Telegram 1628 Jakarta to State Dept, 2 December 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 379-80.
84. Editorial Note, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 386-7; Article by Kathy Kadane in San Francisco Examiner, 20 May 1990.
85. NAA A6364/JA1965/10, Telegram 1503 Jakarta to DEA, 19 December 1965.
86. TNA FO 1101/30, Gilchrist to Reddaway, 9 February 1966.
87. NAA A1209/1968/9055, Memorandum by Eastman for DEA, 9 December 1966.
88. TNA FO 371/181457, Record of meeting Ghazali and Sukendro on 2-3 November 1965, 10 November 1965; Telegram 1288 Jakarta to State Dept, 1 November 1965, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 345-7.
89. NAA A1838 3034/2/1/8 Part 8, Telegram 8 Washington to DEA, 4 January 1966; Memorandum of conversation, 14 February 1966, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 399-401.
90. NAA A1838 3034/2/1/8 Part 7, UPI report 284, 14 December 1965. NAA A1838 3034/2/1/8 Part 8, UPI report 230, 4 January 1966.
91. TNA FO 1101/23, Minute by Reddaway, 11 February 1966. Reddaway’s comments suggest that the editorial in Lissan Al-Hal broadcast by Radio Malaysia on 13 October 1965 may have been British-inspired.
92. Memorandum Komer to Johnson, 12 March 1966, FRUS, ‘Indonesia’, 419.
93. Cribb, The Indonesian Killings 1965-1966
94. NAA A1838/3034/1 Part 2, ‘Head of Mission Meeting, Bangkok, December 1965, Indonesia’, not dated. NAA A1838/570/5/1/4 Part 1, Upton to DEA, not dated.
95. NAA A1838/555/1/9 Part 2, Conversation Sofjan and Jackson, 21 September 1965; NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, Memorandum ‘Radio Australia Indonesian Audience’, by Barnett, not dated; TNA FO1101/1, Gilchrist to Reddaway, 11 August 1965.
96. TNA FO1101/1, Report by Drinkall, 3 June 1965. Audience figures were assessed by the number of letters the station received from Indonesian listeners. While Radio Australia received 16,000 letters a month, the BBC Indonesia service received 4,000 letters a year. NAA A1838 555/1/9 Part 2, Memorandum ‘Australian information policy towards Indonesia’, not dated; TNA FO1101/11, Reddaway to Commander in Chief, 3 March 1966.
97. NAA A1838/555/1/9/1 Part 1, Telegram 2069 Washington to DEA, 17 June 1965.
98. DDRS Retrospective Collection, Item 609G, Telegram 1086 Jakarta to State Dept, 19 October 1965.
99. TNA FO1101/1, Gilchrist to Reddaway, 11 August 1965.
100. NAA A1838/3034/2/1/8 Part 9, Savingram 3 Jakarta to DEA, 19 January 1965.
101. TNA FO1101/23, Indonesian Herald, 3 February 1966.
102. TNA FO 371/186044, Despatch 5 Gilchrist to Stewart, 12 April 1966.
103. TNA FO 1101/32, Telegram 205 POLAD Singapore to Bangkok, 26 September 1966.
104. New York Times, 24 August 1966.
105. Washington Post, 16 April 1966.
106. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June 1966.
107. The Australian, 22 April 1966.
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Brands H.W. The Limits of Manipulation: How the United States didn’t Topple Sukarno, Journal of American History, 76(3) (1989) 785-808.
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Bunnell F. American “Low Posture” Policy towards Indonesia in the Months
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British Intelligence and Propaganda during the “Confrontation”1963-66, Intelligence and National Security, 16(2) (2001) 83-102.
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