150. Telegram From the Embassy in Indonesia to the Department of State
Djakarta, March 3, 1961, 3 p.m., source: https://history.state.gov
2508. CINCPAC also for POLAD. Embtel 2154.1 Embassy does not consider necessary at this time to re-submit analysis of pros and cons of New Guinea question in order to spell out recommendation of sevenpoint program contained reftel. Dept has made exhaustive studies, is fully informed of fact that all Indo foreign policy, much of Indo internal political life, revolves around this cardinal issue.
Embassy would like, however, to point out present appears to be most favorable moment for taking initiative to find solution; initiative which unlikely to come from any other source having equal amount of influence with both parties.
There has clearly been created a different atmosphere over this question than has existed at any time in the past. We now have the picture of Luns, other Dutch leaders, on one hand, Subandrio and company on the other, conducting, however indirectly, a sort of public exchange on this issue in lieu of direct discussion. Further, efforts of Rahman have [Page 317]attracted far more interest on part of both Dutch and Indonesians than might reasonably have been expected a year or two ago. For almost first time adversaries have begun to speak in terms of finite positions, which are always susceptible to bargaining. For example, the Indos once contended that UN trusteeship would be anathema under any circumstances.
Now, although they have not gone so far as to be willing to call a trusteeship a trusteeship, they talk in terms of “one or two years” of some kind of interregnum as being acceptable.
While Embassy would not undertake to analyze position of Netherlands, we have observed public reports, private comments, suggesting Netherlands thinking in terms of 10-year or similar period tutelage with self-determination as goal. Embassy submits these positions, however far apart, are of nature susceptible to compromise. Meanwhile, Australians appear to stand on position taken about year ago that they would not interfere with any arrangement reached by peaceful means between Dutch, Indos.
There is further increasing evidence that Indo war talk has become somewhat muted in recent weeks while Dutch speak publicly, at least, with much more confidence that Indos are not planning seize West New Guinea by force.
Embassy inclined to doubt, however, once valid objective of bringing about face-to-face discussion between Dutch, Indos any longer feasible. Indeed, such confrontation more likely to exacerbate situation than to ameliorate it. Honest broker necessary. While such role possibly inappropriate for US, US could at least be of assistance in locating one, such as UN.
Dept in best position to select course of action. Forthcoming visit of Sukarno would provide ideal opportunity to broach new plan for overall US initiative. Embassy urges therefore, that determination of course of action, together with any preliminary exploration with Netherlands, Australia, British or others, such as Malayans, be expedited with that in view.
Unless New Guinea question can be promptly removed as source of Soviet strength and US weakness, as incipient cause of war and as platform for variety of unhealthful isms within Indonesia, our best efforts in any other direction will fail to achieve our objectives here.