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the United States than Castro; nonetheless, all of them fell under the CIA axe.
In 1996 it was revealed that in August, 1961, four months after the Bay of Pigs,
Che Guevara had met with Richard Goodwin, President Kennedy's assistant special
counsel, at an international gathering in Uruguay. Guevara had a message for Kennedy.
Cuba was prepared to forswear any political alliance with the Soviet bloc, pay for

confiscated American properties in trade, and consider curbing Cuba's support for leftist
insurgencies in other countries. In return, the US would cease all hostile actions
against Cuba. Back in Washington, Goodwin's advice to the president was to "quietly
intensify" economic pressure on Cuba. In November, Kennedy authorized Operation

31. Indonesia 1965

Liquidating President Sukarno ... and 500,000 others
Armed with wide-bladed knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of communists, killing
entire families. ... Travellers ... tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies. River
transportation has at places been seriously impeded.
Time magazine, December 1965 1

Nearly 100 Communists, or suspected Communists, were herded into the town's botanical garden
and mowed down with a machine gun ... the head chat had belonged to the school principal, a P.K.I.
[Communist Party] member, was stuck on a pole and paraded among his former pupils, convened in
special assembly.
New York Times, May 1966 2
Estimates of the total number of Indonesians murdered over a period of several
years following an aborted coup range from 500,000 to one million.3
In the early morning hours of 1 October 1965, a small force of junior military
officers abducted and killed six generals and seized several key points in the capital city of
Jakarta. They then went on the air to announce that their action was being taken to
forestall a putsch by a "Generals' Council" scheduled for Army Day, the fifth of October.
The putsch, they said, had been sponsored by the CIA and was aimed at capturing power
from President Sukarno. By the end of the day, however, the rebel officers in Jakarta had
been crushed by the army under the direction of General Suharto, although some
supportive army groups in other cities held out for a day or two longer.4
Suharto”a man who had served both the Dutch colonialists and the Japanese
invaders5”and his colleagues charged that the large and influential PKI was behind the
junior officers' "coup attempt", and that behind the party stood Communist China. The
triumphant armed forces moved in to grab the reins of government, curb Sukarno's authority
(before long he was reduced to little more than a figurehead), and carry out a bloodbath to
eliminate once and for all the PKI with whom Sukarno had obliged them to share national
power for many years. Here at last was the situation which could legitimate these long-
desired actions.
Anticommunist organizations and individuals, particularly Muslims, were
encouraged to join in the slaying of anyone suspected of being a PKI sympathizer.
Indonesians of Chinese descent as well fell victim to crazed zealots. The Indonesian
people were stirred up in part by the display of photographs on television and in the press
of the badly decomposed bodies of the slain generals. The men, the public was told, had
been castrated and their eyes gouged out by Communist women. (The army later made the
mistake of allowing official medical autopsies to be included as evidence in some of the
trials; and the extremely detailed reports of the injuries suffered mentioned only bullet
wounds and some bruises, no eye gougings or castration.)6

What ensued was called by the New York Times "one of the most savage mass
slaughters of modern political history."7 Violence, wrote Life magazine, "tinged not only
with fanaticism but with blood-lust and something like witchcraft."8
Twenty-five years later, American diplomats disclosed that they had
systematically compiled comprehensive lists of "communist" operatives, from top
echelons down to village cadres, and turned over as many as 5,000 names to the
Indonesian army, which hunted those persons down and killed them. The Americans
would then check off the names of those who had been killed or captured. Robert
Martens, a former member of the US Embassy's political section in Jakarta, stated in
1990: "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."
"I know we had a lot more information [about the PKI] than the Indonesians
themselves," said Marshall Green, US Ambassador to Indonesia at the time of the coup.
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."
"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."
Although the former deputy CIA station chief in Indonesia, Joseph Lazarsky, and
former diplomat Edward Masters, who was Martens' boss, confirmed that CIA officers
contributed in drawing up the death lists, the CIA in Langley categorically denied any

The massacre put a horrific end to the well-organized PKI national organization.
But it did not put to rest the basic questions underlying the events of 1965, to wit:
Was there in actual fact a Generals' Council aiming to take over the government
within a matter of days? A semi-official account of the whole affair published in Indonesia
in 1968 denied the existence of the Council.10 However, a study written and published by
the CIA the same year confirmed that there was indeed a Generals' Council but that its
purpose was only to devise a way to protect itself from a purported plan of Sukarno to
crush the army.11
What was the nature and extent, if any, of PKI involvement in the alleged
coup attempt? Did some members of the party know of the junior officers' plans in
advance and simply lend moral support, or did they take a more active role? The semi-
official account stated that the PKI's aim was not to seize political power for itself but to
"prevent the army from eliminating the Parry after Sukarno's death."12 (Sukarno had
suffered a kidney attack in August, although he quickly recovered. His part in the affair
also remains largely a mystery.) The CIA study comes to a similar conclusion: "It now
seems clear that the Indonesian coup was not a move to overthrow Sukarno and/or the
established government of Indonesia. Essentially, it was a purge of the Army
What was the role, if any, of the CIA? Was the coup attempt instigated by an agent
provocateur who spread the story of the Generals' Council and its imminent putsch? (The
killing, or even the abduction, of the six generals probably could not have been
foreseen”three of them were actually slain resisting abduction.)14 Was PKI
participation induced to provide the excuse for its destruction? There are, in fact,
indications of an agent provocateur in the unfolding drama, one Kamarusaman bin

Ahmed Mubaidah, known as "Sjam". According to the later testimony of some of the
arrested officers, it was Sjam who pushed the idea of the hostile Generals' Council and
for the need to counteract it. At the trials and in the CIA Study, the attempt is made to
establish that, in so doing, Sjam was acting on behalf of PKI leader Aidit. Presentation
of this premise may explain why the CIA took the unique step of publishing such a
book; i.e., to assign responsibility for the coup attempt to the PKI so as to "justify" the
horror which followed.
But Sjam could just as easily have been acting for the CIA and/or the generals in
the same manner. He apparently was a trusted aide of Aidit and could have induced the
PKI leader into the plot instead of the other way around. Sjam had a politically
checkered and mysterious background, and his testimony at one of the trials, in which
he appeared as a defendant, was aimed at establishing Aidit as the sole director of the
coup attempt.15
The CIA, in its intimate involvement in Indonesian political affairs since at least
the mid-1950s (see Indonesia, 1957-58 chapter), had undoubtedly infiltrated the PKI at
various levels, and the military even more so, and was thus in a good position to
disseminate disinformation and plant the ideas for certain actions, whether through Sjam
or others.
The desire of the US government to be rid of Sukarno”a leader of the non-
aligned and anti-imperialist movements of the Third World, and a protector of the
PKI”did not diminish with the failure of the Agency-backed military uprising in 1958.
Amongst the various reports of the early 1960s indicating a continuing interest in this
end, a CIA memorandum of June 1962 is strikingly to the point. The author of the
memo, whose name is deleted, was reporting on the impressions he had received from
conversations with "Western diplomats" concerning a recent meeting between President
Kennedy and British Prime Minister Macmillan. The two leaders agreed, said the
memo, to attempt to isolate Sukarno in Asia and Africa. Further, "They agreed to
liquidate President Sukarno, depending upon the situation and available opportunities.
(It is not clear to me [the CIA officer] whether murder or overthrow is intended by the
word liquidate.)"16
Whatever was intended, Sukarno was now, for all practical purposes, eliminated
as an international thorn in the flesh. Of even greater significance, the PKI, which had
been the largest Communist Party in the world outside the Soviet bloc and China, had
been decimated, its tattered remnants driven underground. It could not have worked out
better for the United States and the new military junta if it had been planned.
If the generals had been planning their own coup as alleged, the evidence is
compelling that the United States was intimately involved before, during and after the
events of 30 September/1 October. One aspect of this evidence is the closeness of the
relationship between the American and Indonesian military establishments which the
United States had been cultivating for many years. President Kennedy, his former aide
Arthur Schlesinger has written, was "anxious to strengthen the anti-communist forces,
especially the army, in order to make sure that, if anything happened to Sukarno, the
powerful Indonesian Communist Party would not inherit the country."17
Roger Hilsman, whose career spanned the CIA and the State Department, has
noted that by 1963 ...

one-third of the Indonesian general staff had had some sort of training from
Americans and almost half of the officer corps. As a result of both the civic action
project and the training program, the American and Indonesian military had come
to know each other rather well. Bonds ofpersonal respect and even affection

This observation is reinforced by reports of the House Committee on Foreign
At the time of the attempted Communist coup and military counter-coup [sic] of
October 1965, more than 1,200 Indonesian officers including senior military figures,
had been trained in the United States. As a result of this experience, numerous
friendships and contacts existed between the Indonesian and American military
establishments, particularly between members of the two armies. In the post-coup
period, when the political situation was still unsettled, the United States, using these
existing channels of communication, was able to provide the anti-Communist forces
with moral and token material support.19
When the average MAP [Military Assistance Program] trainee returns home he may
well have some American acquaintances and a fair appreciation of the United States.
This impact may provide some valuable future opportunity for communication as
occurred in Indonesia during and immediately after the attempted Communist-backed
coup of October 1965.20

The CIA, wrote the New York Times, was said "to have been so successful at
infiltrating the top of the Indonesian government and army that the United States was
reluctant to disrupt CIA covering operations by withdrawing aid and information
programs in 1964 and 1965. What was presented officially in Washington as toleration of
President Sukarno's insults and provocations was in much larger measure a desire to keep
the CIA fronts in business as long as possible."21

Finally, we have the testimony of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara before
a Senate Committee in 1966:
Senator Sparkman: At a time when Indonesia was kicking up pretty badly”when we
were getting a lot of criticism for continuing military aid”at that time we could not
say what that military aid was for. Is it secret any more?
McNamara: I think in retrospect, that the aid was well justified.
Sparkman: You think it paid dividends?
McNamara: I do, sir.22
There are other statements which may be pertinent to the question of American
involvement. Former US Ambassador Marshall Green, speaking in Australia in 1973
where he was then ambassador, is reported as saying: "In 1965 I remember, Indonesia was
poised at the razor's edge. I remember people arguing from here that Indonesia wouldn't go
communist. But when Sukarno announced in his August 17 speech that Indonesia would
have a communist government within a year [?] then I was almost certain. ... What we did
we had to do, and you'd better be glad we did because if we hadn't Asia would be a different
place today."23
James Reston, writing in the New York Times in 1966:
Washington is being careful not to claim any credit for this change [from Sukarno to
Suharto] ... bur this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it. There
was a great deal more contact between the anti-Communist forces in chat country and
at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian
massacre than is generally realized. General Suharto's forces, at times severely short
of food and munitions, have been getting aid from here through various third
countries, and it is doubtful if the [Suharto] coup would ever have been attempted
without the American show of strength in Vietnam or been sustained without the clan-
destine aid it has received indirectly from here.24

Neville Maxwell, Senior Research Officer, Institute of Commonwealth Studies,
Oxford University:
A few years ago I was researching in Pakistan into the diplomatic background of the
1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict, and in foreign ministry papers to which I had been given
access came across a letter to the then foreign minister, Mr Bhutto, from one of his
ambassadors in Europe (I believe Mr J.A. Rahim, in Paris) reporting a conversation
with a Dutch intelligence officer with NATO. According to my note of that letter,
the officer had remarked to the Pakistani diplomat that Indonesia was "ready to fall
into the Western lap like a rotten apple". Western intelligence agencies, he said,
would organize a "premature communist coup ... [which would be] foredoomed to
fail, providing a legitimate and welcome opportunity to the army to crush the
communists and make Soekarno a prisoner of the army's goodwill". The
ambassador's report was dated December 1964.25

It should be remembered that Indonesia had been a colony of the Netherlands, and
the Dutch still had some special links to the country.

The record of the "New Order" imposed by General Suharto upon the people of
Indonesia for almost three decades has been remarkable. The government administers the
nation on the level of Chicago gangsters of the 1930s running a protection racket. Political
prisoners overflow the jails. Torture is routine.26 ... Death squads roam at will, killing not
only "subversives" but "suspected criminals" by the thousands.27 ... "An army officer [in
the province of Aceh] fires a single shot in the air, at which point all young males must
run to a central square before the soldier fires a second shot. Then, anyone arriving late”
or not leaving his home”is shot on the spot."28

And 200,000 more
In 1975 Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which
lies at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago and which had proclaimed its
independence after Portugal relinquished control. It was the beginning of a massacre that
continues into the 1990s. By 1989, Amnesty International estimated that Indonesian
troops, with the aim of forcibly annexing East Timor, had killed 200,000 people out of a
population of between 600,000 and 700,000.29 The level of atrocity has often been on a par
with that carried out against the PKI in Indonesia itself.
The invasion of 7 December 1975”of which, said the New York Times: "By any
definition, Indonesia is guilty of naked aggression"30”was launched the day after US
President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger left Indonesia following a
meeting with President Suharto. Columnist Jack Anderson later reported:
By December 3, 1975, an intelligence dispatch to Washington reported that "Ranking
Indonesian civilian government leaders have decided that the only solution in the
Portuguese Timor situation is for Indonesia to launch an open offensive against Fretilin [the
leading East Timorese resistance movement]."


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