PRRI dalam kepentingan USA terhadap PKI, Angkatan Darat, Emas Papua, dan Soekarno

Seorang kolega penuh semangat menjelaskan analisisnya tentang PRRI, kalau diberi judul mungkin akan menjadi kegagalan PRRI sebagai keharusan bagi kemenangan “kepentingan US”. Banyak nama orang US yang disebutkan, tapi lebih banyak merepresentasikan kepentingan pribadi dan kelompok dari pada mewacanakan kepentingan nasional, sehingga lebih pas kalau diletakkan diantara tanda petik.

Terusik oleh penjelasan teman itu, dicoba menelusurinya. Salah satu jalan adalah dengan menggunakan kata kunci Wisner, tokoh CIA yang posisinya cukup penting dalam kasus PRRI. Beruntung, penelusuran pertama memperoleh sebuah paper seminar tahun 2001 tulisan Prof. Dr. Mary Somers Heidhues. Paper itu membahas tentang PRRI dan Tragedi 1965. Silahkan menikmati episode PRRI

The Regional Rebellion in Sumatra and Sulawesi, 1957-1958

Prof. Dr. Mary Somers Heidhues

The Genesis of the Rebellion

Indonesia’s regional crisis in the late 1950s had little to do with Communism – initially, at least. In fact, it arose out of widespread disillusionment with the non-achievements of the post-revolutionary period of parliamentary democracy between 1950 and 1957. Successive Indonesian leadership groups had failed to settle divisive issues of state philosophy and structure or to implement problem-solving policy effectively. Disappointment was exacerbated when the national elections in 1955 did not produce the desired improvement in effective governance.[1] Party conflict prevailed along regional, ethnic, religious and ideological lines, corruption was rampant and the economy remained weak.[2] As the only major party not represented in the cabinet, the PKI understandably benefited from this situation as a symbol of protest.[3] But in the context of regional rebellion, two rather different issues stand out: the structural imbalance between Java and the Outer Islands, and the military dimension.

The Java-Outer Islands problem has been described as a “complicated combination of social and cultural, as well as political and economic, hostilities.”[4] Javanese dominated everything: the population figures and thus the electorate, the national leadership elite, national culture – but not the economy. The producers of Indonesia’s major revenue earners –such as oil, tin, rubber and copra- were located in the under-populated Outer Islands, whereas most of the consumers of imports were located in over-populated Java. Various foreign exchange allocation systems in force during the 1950’s favored consumers over producers by maintaining an overvalued Rupiah exchange rate, thus triggering barter trade and smuggling in the export areas of the Outer Islands as a way of keeping profits at home in defiance of the central government.[5]

Taking the lead in organizing the smuggling operations in Sumatra and Sulawesi were the territorial commanders of the army, whose powerful standing stemmed from their leading role during the independence struggle in their respective regions. They resisted the imposition of civilian control over themselves, had a hand in commercial ventures and thus were firmly entrenched in their positions as virtual warlords in autonomous “fiefs”. Trying to contain such an erosion of central control in army affairs and to consolidate his own position among his most senior rivals, Army Chief of Staff Abdul Haris Nasution in early 1956 announced plans to rotate key territorial commanders as part of a broader move to rationalize, streamline and reorganize the Indonesian army. While Col. Alex E. Kawilarang, commander of West Java’s Siliwangi division, and Col. J.F. Warouw, commander of East Indonesia, in August 1956 accepted their transfer to positions as military attachés to Beijing and Washington, respectively, the move met the fierce opposition of Col. Maludin Simbolon, commander of North Sumatra, and Lt. Col. Zulfiki Lubis, deputy chief of staff, both former contenders for Nasution’s post. In November 1956, Lubis staged a coup against Nasution, but failed and went into hiding, only to reappear later in the rebellion. Simbolon and Lubis had led the opposition to Nasution’s centralizing policies since 1955 and were largely supported by non-Javanese, anti-Jakarta officers and politicians from Masyumi, the Muslim party with the greatest strength in the Outer Islands. By now army affairs were closely linked to regional interests.[6]

Exacerbating dissent in the regions, Vice President Hatta, an admired native Sumatran and able administrator, declared his resignation from office on December 1, 1956. This removed the major representative of Outer Islands interests from the central government. Following these developments, army commanders in Sumatra and Sulawesi between December 1956 and March 1957 formed regional “councils” and formulated “charters” to voice their grievances, but stopped short of a full break with Jakarta. They managed to rally substantial portions of the civilian populace behind them to demand greater local control of government and finances. On December 20, 1956, the regimental commander from Padang, Lt. Col. Ahmad Husein took over government in West Sumatra. Two days later, Col. Simbolon announced that North Sumatra was no longer taking orders from Jakarta. He was ousted from Medan the day after by his chief of staff, Lt. Col. Gintings, who was loyal to Jakarta, but Simbolon fled the city in time to join Husein in Padang. In South Sumatra, its commander Lt. Col. Barlian moved more cautiously since his region was geographically close to Java and he was personally close to Nasution, but he finally also jumped on the bandwagon of regional protest in March 1957 when it was clear that his colleagues in Sulawesi were doing the same.[7]

In Sulawesi, a shared sentiment against the Javanese troops operating in the South to quell a rural insurgency brought together the previously rivaling Buginese/ Makassarese officers from South- and the Minahasans from North Sulawesi to cooperate against the central government. Warouw’s successor as army commander of Sulawesi and the rest of East Indonesia, Lt. Col. H. N. Ventje Sumual, a fellow Minahasa Christian, was eager to promote Minahasa’s economic independence and joined the Southerners in their demand for greater military, political, and economic autonomy. When an ultimatum that was given to Jakarta to comply had passed unheeded, military and civilian leaders gathered in Makassar in the early morning of March 2, 1957, to declare martial law within the region and sign the Charter of Inclusive Struggle (Piagam Perjuangan Semesta Alam, or Permesta). By now the island of Sulawesi and whole of Sumatra except the city of Medan were in open defiance of the central government.[8]

In Indonesia’s political center, where parliamentary democracy was paralyzed by internecine party struggle, the regional challenge plunged the existing system into an even deeper crisis. Already in fall 1956 Sukarno had seized the initiative and proposed ideas (konsepsi) for a new system of “Guided Democracy”, a conception he formalized on February 21, 1957, arguing for an inclusion of PKI in a cabinet of national unity, advised by a National Council (Dewan Nasional) made up of functional groups from all segments of Indonesian society.[9] In his assault on the party system, Sukarno increasingly relied on Java-based radicals, protected the PKI to organize mass support, and alienated Masyumi, the latter being the party most sympathetic to regionalist demands. Calls for a renewed Hatta cabinet to resolve the regional challenge were left unheeded. With the nation literally falling apart, Nasution finally pressed Sukarno and the outgoing Ali Sastroamidjojo cabinet to declare martial law on March 14, 1957, a move that catapulted the military to a position of formidable authority throughout the country, gave Nasution the means to deal with its internal divisions, and put an end to parliamentary democracy in Indonesia.[10]

After a month of infighting in Jakarta, PKI inclusion in government was rejected by the other parties and a new working cabinet (Kabinet Karya) emerged without the PKI in April 1957, headed by Djuanda Kartawidjaja, a respected nonparty independent. The National Council was established in July. Both set about trying to achieve conciliation with the regions and limited attempts were made to meet their economic demands.[11] Nasution also attempted to heal the breach within the army, reorganizing the East Indonesia military command and winning over the leading Permesta figures of South Sulawesi, a move that forced Sumual to retreat to his Minahasa homeland in North Sulawesi.[12]

In September, a great National Conference (Musjawarah Nasional, or Munas) was convened in Jakarta on Djuanda’s and Hatta’s initiative, aimed to settle the regional crisis in an atmosphere of compromise and optimism. All the dissident colonels were invited, including Simbolon and Lubis, who had already been discharged from active duty. But very little was actually achieved.[13] A few days before the conference opened, Simbolon, Lubis, Husein, Barlian, Sumual and Dr. Sumitro Djojohadikusumo[14], a leading economist who had fled Jakarta to make common cause with the dissidents, met in Palembang and issued a bold, uncompromising declaration, the “Palembang Charter”, demanding: (1) restoration of the Sukarno-Hatta duumvirate, (2) Nasution’s dismissal, (3) decentralization and autonomy, (4) formation of a federal senate, (5) rejuvenation of the government, and (6) the banning of “internationally oriented communism.”[15]

As has been noted by Harvey, this was the first time that the rebels explicitly played on the issue of communism.[16] There were probably two reasons for this. First, the PKI had scored high in regional elections in Java between June and August of 1957, pressing harder than ever for participation in government[17] and deepening regionalist objections to Communism as it became synonymous with its Java stronghold.[18] Second, the rebels’ resolve was stiffened by CIA agents who had clandestinely assured them of American financial support.[19] Thus the stage was set for polarization.

The United States Intervenes

Since the early 1950s, U.S. leaders had watched developments in Indonesia with concern. Being the largest country in Southeast Asia, Indonesia was of considerable strategic, economic and political importance to them. But ever since its independence, Indonesia had refused to align itself with the West and instead pursued an intensely nationalistic, neutralist course. With the gathering of nonaligned nations in Bandung in April 1955, Sukarno emerged as a leader of the neutralist bloc. Furthermore, he caused headaches in Washington by his populist oratory at home, to which he often added a socialist tinge, and his willingness to cooperate with the PKI, the Communist party which continually grew. Sukarno himself, however, perceived the PKI as an essentially nationalist Communist party that he was confident he could “domesticate.”[20] Soviet aid to Indonesia and the army’s arms procurements in the Soviet Union were an added rub.[21]

By March 1957, the Eisenhower administration started its attempt to capitalize on the dissent in the Indonesian regions in order to reverse Indonesia’s perceived leftward drift and to dampen Sukarno’s grip at the top. Two internal factors in the United States were conducive to an interventionist policy in this case. First, the “loss-of-China” issue -a politically potent charge advocated by McCarthyists which claimed that China was “lost” to Communism in 1949 because the Truman administration had been preoccupied with China’s territorial integrity, instead of helping Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang to keep smaller parts of that country- had led Eisenhower to draw an analogy. As early as 1953 he had told his new ambassador departing for Indonesia, Hugh Cumming that “…as against a unified Indonesia, which would fall to the Communists, and a break up of that country into smaller segments, he [Eisenhower] would prefer the latter.”[22] Second, Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, relied heavily on the CIA as “one of America’s chief weapons in the Cold War,”[23] a fact partly due to the circumstance that J.F. Dulles’ brother Allen happened to be the agency’s director. Under Allen Dulles’ direction, the CIA took a proactive approach in the fight against communism and successfully engineered, for example, the overthrow of allegedly leftist governments in Iran and Guatemala in the early 1950s. Now it was to be Indonesia’s turn. Said Frank Wisner, the CIA’s chief of clandestine operations, to Alfred Ulmer, the head of the CIA’s Far East Division, in the fall of 1956: “I think it’s time we held Sukarno’s feet to the fire.”[24]

To justify a tough stance, a case against Jakarta had to be built. Allen Dulles asked his staff to produce credible evidence “to strengthen the case” for a “more vigorous policy” against Sukarno.[25] This task was fulfilled by badly flawed CIA reporting, which was given more credence in Washington than the more balanced reporting of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. It depicted the prospect of a Communist takeover in Java in alarmist terms and exaggerated the prowess of the dissidents. But it was this reporting on which Dulles based his assessment in a meeting of the National Security Council, or NSC, on March 14, 1957, when he envisaged the potential breakup of Indonesia.[26] In a follow-up NSC meeting on August 1, Eisenhower declared: “The best course would be to hold all Indonesia in the Free World. The next best course would be to hold Sumatra if Java goes Communist.”[27]

An Ad Hoc Interdepartmental Committee on Indonesia was set up, a secret taskforce chaired by Hugh Cumming, the former ambassador who was now the State Department’s intelligence director. Cumming had become a sharp critic of Sukarno during his later years as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, annoyed by Sukarno’s friendly ouvertures to the Communist camp, particularly China.[28] His Committee finally submitted a policy blueprint to the NSC in September, suggesting a two-track policy: one overt, maintaining diplomatic relations with Jakarta, and one covert, employing “all feasible covert means” to strengthen anticommunist forces outside Java. Its recommendations were endorsed on September, 23. As Conboy and Morrison aptly observed, “it was now presidential policy to hold Sukarno’s ‘feet to the fire.’”[29] The Kahins commented on the objectives of this covert policy: “Senior administration officials concluded that discontent in some of the islands outside Java provided an opening they could exploit to […] change the character of the Indonesian government, and move the country into an anti-Communist alignment with the United States. To accomplish this task they sought to shape this disaffection –especially in Sumatra and Sulawesi- into a fulcrum on which American power could be applied to effect these changes. The immediate objective was to eliminate the Communist party, weaken the army’s strength on Java, and drastically clip the wings of, if not fully remove, President Sukarno.”[30] Thus by late 1957, not only was the domestic scene in Indonesia set for polarization. The U.S. had identified and secretly encouraged its “assets” in Indonesia, awaiting an opportunity for full-scale intervention.

Civil War

It was not for long that this opportunity materialized. During the closing months of 1957, two events heightened political tension in Indonesia. On November 29, the United Nations refused to discuss Indonesia’s claim on West Irian, the still Dutch-held western part of the island of New Guinea. Throughout the 1950s, Sukarno had used the West Irian issue as a nationalist rallying cry. After this rebuff, Sukarno was incensed and ordered the take-over of Dutch enterprises and the ejection of about 46.000 Netherlanders from Indonesia, causing economic dislocation and further alienation from the West, not excluding the U.S., whose interests in Sumatra’s oil deposits and rubber plantations were threatened.[31] One day later, Sukarno survived an abortive assassination attempt in the Cikini area of Jakarta. He blamed this so-called Cikini-affair on Colonel Lubis and, by extension, the dissident colonels, and later also became to suspect that the CIA had a hand in it.[32]

As tension mounted, the possibility of a negotiated settlement receded. Joined by the prominent Masyumi figures Mohammad Natsir, Burhanuddin Harahap and Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, who had criticized the ill-prepared takeovers of Dutch property, the dissident colonels met in Sungai Dareh, West Sumatra, on January 9, 1958. While South Sumatra’s Barlian and the Masyumi politicians were at first hesitant to announce an open break with Jakarta, the dissidents finally agreed to serve an ultimatum on the central government (which appeared to be in a weak position after Sukarno went abroad a few days before), calling for a new central government in which Hatta would be given a prominent position, and, if their demands were not met, to proclaim full independence.[33]

The Sungai Dareh conference thus made clear that the dissidents would pursue confrontation instead of compromise. Simbolon and Lubis had already passed the point of no return and stood to gain nothing if a compromise were reached.[34] More important, the colonels exchanged information on substantial American backing that might ensure their success. Concurrent to their meeting, the first secret shipment of small arms and equipment for eight thousand troops was on its way from Subic Bay, a U.S. base in the Philippines, to Padang.[35] Already in early December 1957, J.F. Dulles “had expressed his desire to ‘see things to a point where we could plausibly withdraw our recognition of the Sukarno government and give it to the dissident elements on Sumatra.’”[36] This message, conveyed to the colonels by American agents, suggested that they could count on U.S. recognition as soon as they broke with Jakarta. Thus on February 15, 1958, after the expiration of the five day-ultimatum crafted in Sungai Dareh, Col. Husein declared the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia (Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia, or PRRI). Without prior consultation, Permesta figures were enlisted in PRRI’s cabinet and were to become the eastern wing of the rebellion. Sumual was in Manila at that time, but soon returned to Manado with a token delivery of American weapons aboard his plane.[37]

Civil war ensued. Sukarno returned to Indonesia on February 16, one day after the formation of the PRRI countergovernment. But it was Nasution, with the support of Prime Minister Djuanda, who pushed for a show of force. He outlawed the regional councils and mobilized his troops. On February 21 and 22, 1958, the Indonesian air force bombed PRRI/Permesta’s radio stations in Padang, Bukittinggi and Manado.[38] It became clear that Nasution was prepared to crush the regional rebellion with military means.

Realizing this, Col. Warouw and Col. Kawilarang returned from abroad to their Minahasa homeland, showing their solidarity for the rebels’ cause.[39] In Sumatra, the rebels arrested several hundred local Communists and continued to “win American support by emphasizing the communist danger,”[40] thus receiving a substantial airdrop of American weapons at Padang’s airfield on February 24.[41] But repeated weapons deliveries did not spark any ground movement on the rebels’ side. Simbolon requested even more weapons, this time to be dropped nearby the American-run Caltex oil fields at Pekanbaru, Central Sumatra, and got them in the early morning of March 6.[42] The Americans even sent the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet to Singapore -a formidable armada-, seeking an excuse to use it on behalf of the Sumatran rebels. Since there were indications that Nasution planned to wrest the oil fields back from PRRI, Allen Dulles hoped that if in fact Nasution’s forces bombed the Caltex installations, the U.S. could give them “a bloody nose” in a swift military intervention justified on the grounds of protection of U.S. citizens and property.[43]

Before the Americans could give them “a bloody nose”, though, Nasution’s forces occupied Pekanbaru and the oil fields in a preemptive strike three days ahead of schedule on March 12, 1958, “with a speed and decisiveness that surprised and bewildered both the PRRI military commanders and the United States.”[44] The few rebel troops present in Pekanbaru fled without a fight and left the Caltex installations intact, thus failing to provide the U.S. with a pretext to intervene. Worse still, they left behind boxes filled with U.S. weapons which had been dropped by another CIA mission a few hours earlier, only to be captured by the Indonesian troops and presented to the Indonesian public as incontrovertible evidence of U.S. involvement in support for the rebels.[45]

A brief, poorly coordinated upsurge by the rebels in Medan on March 16, crushed decisively by Nasution’s forces a day later, did nothing to improve the situation of the Sumatran rebels, a situation described by Allen Dulles by late March as “not very happy.”[46] To improve the martial prowess of the PRRI, a five-man CIA team was secretly flown into West Sumatra. The paramilitary advisors were supposed to teach the rebel troops some tactics and how to use the arms already delivered. In the event, however, the agents found almost no combatants who were eager to be trained, even less to fight.[47]

The military weakness of the Sumatran rebels was ultimately evident when an improvised Indonesian invasion fleet commanded by General Ahmad Yani easily recaptured Padang, the center of PRRI strength in West Sumatra, on April 17, 1958. Without a fight, Husein and his PRRI troops retreated to the hills. On May 4, Bukittinggi fell into central government hands and the PRRI capital was subsequently moved to the Permesta stronghold in Manado.[48] The South Sumatran part of the PRRI, indecisive from the beginning, defected. Thus the Sumatran rebellion was reduced to guerilla proportions. It was to continue sporadic counterattacks for three years, but with diminishing success.[49] After the fall of Padang, the CIA team got stuck behind Indonesian lines, hid in the jungle for two weeks and finally managed to arrange for a rescue mission – they took a fishing boat out to the sea and were secretly picked up there by a U.S. submarine.[50]

Allen Dulles realized that as far as the rebel forces in Sumatra were concerned “there’s no fight in them,”[51] a fact which apparently induced U.S. policymakers to deny them crucial air cover.[52] The Sulawesi-based Permesta rebels, however, seemed to deserve such an assistance. A revolutionary air force (Angkatan Udara Revolusioner, or AUREV) was established in April 1958, piloted by Poles, Filipinos and Americans who had been recruited by the CIA, operating from the Mapanget airfield in Manado, as well as Taiwanese, who operated somewhat independently from another airbase south of Manado. With AUREV’s air cover, Sumual planned to expand Permesta power throughout the island of Sulawesi, East Indonesia and East Kalimantan and finally launch an attack on Jakarta. Permesta’s bombing campaign was at its height between April-May of 1958, until the U.S. suddenly withdrew its covert supply of planes and pilots at the end of May.[53]

Permesta’s Air War: April-May, 1958

C:\Dateien Reinhard\Uni\Asian Studies\Indonesien\US-Indo-Relations\HS_map.jpg

Adapted from a map appearing in Kahin and Kahin (1995), 171.

The Air War began with reconnaissance missions. To identify possible targets, such as airfields and harbors, two U.S. reconnaissance planes (with their national markings erased) flew over Kalimantan and Sulawesi on March 27. Ironically, one of them came under friendly Permesta antiaircraft fire over Manado. It probably had been mistaken for an Indonesian Air Force plane and had to undertake an emergency landing in the southern Philippines with a damaged wing. The mysterious incident was reported in the local Filipino press,[54] but was not publicized widely enough as to embarrass the U.S. to a significant degree. Thus AUREV forcefully started its campaign by mid-April, bombing the Makassar and Balikpapan airfields, then Ternate, Jailolo and Morotai (in Maluku) and Central Sulawesi. Permesta forces occupied Morotai, securing an airstrip from WW II that was long enough to accommodate B-29 long-range bombers. Ambon harbor, commercial shipping and central government installations and warships were repeatedly attacked.[55]

It seemed that as long as AUREV controlled the skies over East Indonesia, central government attempts to move strongly against Permesta could be mitigated, even though its buildup of forces made considerable headway. On May 15, Indonesian bombers destroyed an AUREV plane on the ground, exactly the plane that had been delivered by the CIA to bomb Jakarta.[56] But it was another incident three days later that not only turned out to be a major setback for Permesta, but unravelled the whole U.S. covert operation in support of it. While carrying out a bombing raid against Ambon and two Indonesian naval vessels, a rebel aircraft was shot down. Its American pilot, Allen Pope, and his Minahasan radio operator were captured alive.[57]

When Pope’s capture was made public in Jakarta a few days later, it became evident that he had carried U.S. military identification papers and a detailed account of previous bombing missions on his person, leaving no doubt that the AUREV airstrikes were orchestrated by the U.S. Washington could not credibly contend that Pope was simply a “soldier of fortune” and realized that in Indonesia, the rebellion was increasingly perceived as a case of foreigners versus Indonesians. The PKI was particularly quick to capitalize on anti-American feelings. Thus it is understandable that Allen Dulles, as soon as he got news of Pope’s capture, decided that the CIA was “pulling the plug”, suspended its assistance for the rebels and ordered the immediate withdrawal of its personnel from Minahasa.[58]

Since April some U.S. officials –disconcerted by PRRI’s weak showing in Sumatra- had been arguing for a policy-change towards Indonesia, identifying the army under Nasution as a more powerful anti-Communist element within Indonesia than the rebels were. This view was advanced particularly by the new U.S. Ambassador, Howard P. Jones, who was later to recall: “…While Washington was acting upon information to the effect that a pro-Communist Djakarta government with a heavily Communist infiltrated army was fighting the anti-Communist forces of Indonesia in Sumatra and Celebes [Sulawesi] – it was clear that an anti-Communist Indonesian army led by one of the country’s top anti-Communists was locked in combat with the other principal anti-Communist force of the nation.”[59] After the embarrassing capture of Pope, the Dulles brothers, who in April had still been confident in Permesta as a useful force providing leverage on Jakarta, finally switched sides.[60] A U.S. official, summing up the policy reversal, confided to an Australian diplomat on May 20 that “in view of the collapse of the Sumatra dissidents due to their unwillingness to fight and of the small leverage provided by the Celebes [Sulawesi] group, we had to come to the conclusion that a solution would have to be found through development of assets on Java.”[61]



The “assets” on Java to which the U.S. now turned to were the army leadership, Prime Minister Djuanda and other moderate elements in the central government. During the second half of 1958, the U.S. began to provide Jakarta with the badly needed economic and military support it had denied Indonesia in the years before on grounds of the country’s perceived leftward drift. This more cautious approach, aiming at reconciliation, emerged as the Dulles brothers, having failed in their dogmatic intervention policy, gradually retreated from active decision-making on Indonesia.[62]

But the damage had been done. With the CIA’s “messy fingerprints”[63] everywhere, PKI leaders were the first and the most active domestic politicians having correctly charged the U.S. with physical support of the rebels. In the Kahins’ words, the PKI thus had become “the principal beneficiary of the explosion of widespread patriotic outrage against the destructive intrusion of the United States and its Asian client states into Indonesia’s domestic affairs.”[64] Public outrage was exacerbated as rebel air attacks continued well into July of 1958, with Taiwan and the Philippines running the show. The U.S. apparently did nothing to prevent them from doing so.[65] In the meantime, the Indonesian military moved successfully to defeat Permesta, taking Manado after a fierce fight on June 24, 1958. Thus Permesta was reduced to guerilla proportions, as the rebels in Sumatra had been before. The movement was to dissolve into mutually hostile factions, with Warouw being killed in internecine fighting and Sumual finally rallying to the central government in October 1961.[66]

The impact of the abortive rebellion on Indonesia was considerable. First, President Sukarno, who was credited with being a major actor in crushing it and enjoyed increased prestige, was even more steadfast than before in avoiding alignment with either the Soviet Union or the United States. Second, the army’s power and unity were significantly strengthened, transforming it into a major contender for power. With its heavy-handed rule under martial law it consolidated its grip on economic and administrative matters previously in civilian hands, whereas civilian moderates such as politicians from Masyumi or the PSI, tainted by their sympathy for the regionalists’ cause, were weakened – as was the whole parliamentary system. Third, the Communist party PKI gained popular support as it capitalized on the widespread outrage against the U.S. intrusion into Indonesia’s affairs.[67] Thus, if we recall the objectives of the Eisenhower administration’s attempt to manipulate the politics of Indonesia as formulated by the Kahins (see page 10), none of them had been achieved, but exactly the opposite.


  1. For an analysis of the elections, see Herbert Feith (1957), The Indonesian Elections of 1955. Four major parties emerged, but none won a majority: the Indonesian Nationalist Party (Partai Nasional Indonesia, or PNI) won 22.3 percent, the Islamic Masyumi party 20.9 percent, the conservative, mainly Java-based Islamic scholar’s association (Nahdlatul Ulama, NU), 18.4 percent and PKI, with its stronghold in Java, 16.4 percent. It is interesting to note that the CIA discreetly supported the election campaign of the Islamic, anticommunist Masyumi party with one million dollars in an effort to contain leftist forces, Conboy and Morrison (1999),13.
  2. An exhaustive study of this period is Feith (1962); see also Kahin and Kahin (1995), 36-53; Harvey (1977), 1-15 and Ricklefs (1993), 237-256.
  3. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 50.
  4. Lev (1966), 3.
  5. Feith (1962), 487-500; Harvey (1977), 6-7, 34-38. Producers of export crops were paid at the official exchange rate and, at times, got only one-third as much as they would have from direct barter trade.
  6. This account is based on Harvey (1977), 8-13; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 51-57; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 3-6; Ricklefs (1993), 252-253.
  7. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 57-66, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 7-12.
  8. Harvey (1977), 28-34, 39-41; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 63-65; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 7-10.
  9. Lev (1966), 17.
  10. Lev (1966), 15-16, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 66-67, Harvey (1977), 13-15; Ricklefs (1993), 254-256.
  11. Lev (1966), 20-30, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 67-68.
  12. Harvey (1977), 67; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 19.
  13. On Munas, see Lev (1966), 31-33, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 71-74; Harvey (1977), 77-78.
  14. Dr. Sumitro was a noted intellectual and a key figure of the Socialist Party (Partai Sosialis Indonesia, or PSI), a party sidelined during the emergence of Guided Democracy. He added legitimacy to the dissident’s cause since he was a native Javanese. Furthermore he had useful connections abroad and “he saw the value of playing the anticommunist card to draw U.S. support”, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 22. On Sumitro’s role as representative of the rebels abroad, see Kahin and Kahin (1995), 101-107, 136-137, 147.
  15. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 76, see also Harvey (1977), 77.
  16. Harvey (1977), 90.
  17. Lev (1966), 84-101.
  18. Lev (1966), 29; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 22.
  19. Harvey (1977), 91; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 72-73.
  20. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 40; see also: McMahon (1999), 84; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 12-13.
  21. As repeated Indonesian government’s requests during 1956-57 to purchase U.S. military equipment were turned down by the U.S., Indonesia finally accepted Soviet offers, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 82.
  22. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 75; see also Conboy and Morrison (1999), 12.
  23. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 6.
  24. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 15; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 85.
  25. Joseph Burkholder Smith as quoted in Kahin and Kahin (1995), 85. As part of its effort to “strengthen the case” for a “more vigorous policy” against Sukarno, the CIA even produced a bogus porno movie starring an actor who slightly resembled Sukarno as having an affair with a blond woman purported to be a Soviet agent. The movie may have been intended “to capitalize on Secretary Dulles’s known disapproval of Sukarno’s womanizing”, as suggested by Kahin and Kahin (1995), 85, or to be used for clips, which CIA stations could then plant in Asian media, as noted by Conboy and Morrison (1999), 15, footnote 29. Here, Conboy and Morrison also quote Samuel Halpern, a senior officer in the agency’s Far East Division at that time, as commenting on the movie: “It backfired, because in some of the Third World places where it was released, they liked the idea of a man of color having sex with a white woman.”
  26. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 86, 91-93.
  27. Eisenhower as quoted in Mc Mahon (1999), 73.
  28. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 81-82; Conboy (1999), 16.
  29. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 17.
  30. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 17.
  31. On the takeovers of Dutch property, see Feith (1962), 320-321; Lev (1966), 33-34; Harvey (1977), 81-82; Ricklefs (1993), 261; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 111-112; and Conboy and Morrison (1999), 27.
  32. A U.S. Senate committee investigating “Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders” found out in 1975 that the CIA had “contemplated” the assassination of Sukarno, but “the project got no further than the identification of an ‘asset’ that might be recruited for it”, Brands (1989), 790, footnote 8. See also Kahin and Kahin (1995), 114; and Scott (1985), 3 (Web version). It is now believed that the perpetrators were army officers from West Java not connected to the colonels, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 27, footnote 30.
  33. On the Sungai Dareh Conference, see Kahin and Kahin (1995), 127-130; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 33.
  34. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 135.
  35. It is assumed that this was the first secret shipment of U.S. weapons to the rebels, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 32-34, esp. footnote 12; whereas Kahin and Kahin charge that such supplies were delivered as early as November 1957, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 121. The rebels, particularly those in Minahasa, also purchased substantial amounts of weapons by themselves, mainly in the Philippines and Taiwan, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 41-45. After all, the CIA “was confident that the military capacity of the rebels would prevail against the center’s military power, at least outside Java”, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 134.
  36. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles as quoted in Kahin and Kahin (1995), 132.
  37. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 38-41.
  38. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 146; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 52; Harvey (1977), 99.
  39. Harvey (1977), 102; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 46-49. Kawilarang, though, avoided getting actively involved in the rebellion and was one of the few senior officers to be left unscathed after its collapse.
  40. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 146-147; Stevenson (1963), 144.
  41. For a detailed account of the airdrop, which was routed via Thailand without Thai approval, see Conboy and Morrison (1999), 57-59.
  42. During this airdrop, one CIA agent almost fell out of the plane, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 63-66.
  43. Allen Dulles as quoted in Conboy and Morrison (1999), 67. See also Jones (1971), 69-70.
  44. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 151.
  45. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 73-75.
  46. Allen Dulles as cited in Conboy and Morrison (1999), 82.
  47. The paramilitary advisors were infiltrated by an amphibian which landed at Lake Singkarak, a scenic lake east of Padang. As cover for their assignment, “they were to be a team of entomologists seeking rare Sumatran butterflies.” Disillusioned by the low level of tenacity shown by the PRRI troops, one of them later poignantly commented: “Why the fuck did we come?”, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 80-81.
  48. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 166; Harvey (1977), 108.
  49. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 163-166. On the Padang invasion, Mossman (1961), 149-153. PRRI’s protracted guerilla war is discussed in Kahin and Kahin (1995), 197-199; and Conboy and Morrison (1999), 156-157.
  50. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 108-111.
  51. Allen Dulles as quoted in Kahin and Kahin (1995), 175.
  52. This is suggested by Kahin and Kahin (1995), 166. They quote Allen Dulles as stating in a message to his agents in Sumatra that “if fighting resulted in the boys moving to the mountains don’t deliver [possibly an airplane?].” A plan to use planes in Sumatra is also mentioned by Conboy and Morrison (1999), 100.
  53. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 169-174; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 82-91, 106.
  54. See Doeppers (1972); Kahin and Kahin (1995), 169-170; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 82-84.
  55. Harvey (1977), 108; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 172-173; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 115-119. Conboy and Morrison provide particularly well informed accounts on each of these bombing raids and the (American) individuals who carried them out.
  56. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 126-127.
  57. The number of civilians killed during an earlier strike on Ambon conducted by Pope has been an issue of controversy, with casualty figures between six and “several hundred”. For a discussion, see Conboy and Morrison (1999), 129, esp. footnote 4, and Kahin and Kahin (1995), 180. Pope reportedly was treated well during his imprisonment, but eventually sentenced to death in 1960, only to be released after a visit of U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy to Jakarta in 1962. The Kahins add that “…it is not entirely clear whether it was Robert Kennedy or Pope’s wife, mother and sister who exerted the most influence in getting Sukarno to grant Pope a pardon. Women’s tears were known to make Sukarno extremely uncomfortable, and all three women cried profusely when being received by him.” They also quote Sukarno as telling Pope before his departure: “Just go home, hide yourself, get lost, and we’ll forget the whole thing,’” Kahin and Kahin (1995), 182. Conboy and Morrison relate a fanciful story about a CIA plot to have Pope “whisked straight out” of his Jakarta prison with an aerial retrieval system called Skyhook, a device which, in the event, did not need to be put to the test, Conboy and Morrison (1999), 162-165.
  58. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 143.
  59. Howard P. Jones as quoted by Kahin and Kahin (1995), 160. Jones also bluntly dismissed any hopes of a rebel military success.HoHiw
  60. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 98; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 175.
  61. Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs Walter Robertson as quoted in Kahin and Kahin (1995), 183.
  62. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 190-193.
  63. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 155.
  64. Kahin and Kahin (1995), 194.
  65. After the U.S. withdrew its support for Permesta in late May, it still kept open the option of renewed rebel air attacks for some time, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 191. Nationalist China’s President Chiang Kai-shek, afraid of being “exposed to Communism from the south”, contemplated dispatching Taiwanese marines to support Permesta and asked U.S. officials “not to interfere with his plan”, In the event, Taiwan supported the rebels until August 1958, albeit on a smaller scale. Conboy and Morrison (1999), 148.
  66. On the final stages and the defeat of the Permesta rebellion, see Harvey (1977), 113-149; Kahin and Kahin (1995), 184, 197-205, 213-216; Conboy and Morrison (1999), 159-160.
  67. This account is based on the Kahins‘ conclusion, Kahin and Kahin (1995), 217-220.

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