The incubus of intervention: JFK vs. Dulles

Poulgrain questions how history would have unfolded if the US had not trained the Indonesian military to be a pro-Western ‘state within a state’. This action paved the way for the brutal Suharto regime which unleashed the bloody anti-communist purges of 1965-66.  Moreover, he asks the intriguing question of what would have happened if Kennedy had dodged the assassin’s bullet and survived to implement his alternative strategy to use massive civic aid to bring the archipelago into the Western camp

Source: The Incubus of Intervention: Conflicting Indonesia Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles – Australian Institute of International Affairs

13 comments

  1. Anthony says:

    just one of many issues on which President Kennedy’s foreign policy decisions could be interpreted as being against America’s strategic interest in the Cold War. Dulles’ close friend and colleague James Angleton went on to make something of a habit of concluding that foreign politicians such as Wilson, Palme and Brandt were agents of influence. In the context of the time it is quite easy to see how a similar.conclusion could have been reached over Kennedy.
    This is just one small example of how such a view could have developed.

    Thanks for the interesting posts

  2. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Great article. Thanks Mr. Morley. More evidence JFK conflicted with Dulles on the events of the time. Ultimately resulting in his death.

  3. David Regan says:

    Indonesia 1958: Nixon, the CIA, and the Secret War – L. Fletcher Prouty
    http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/Indo58.html

  4. David Regan says:

    At a White House meeting the evening of 11/19/63, Kennedy said he was willing to visit Indonesia the following spring. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v23/d320

    JFK had welcomed Sukarno to the White House in April 1961 and the Indonesian leader offered to reciprocate, promising to give the U.S. President “the grandest reception anyone has ever received here.” https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v23/d319

    Kennedy’s openness to Sukarno placed him in direct conflict with the CIA. Richard Bissell wrote to McGeorge Bundy in March 1961: “Indonesia’s growing vulnerability to communism stems from the distinctive bias of Sukarno’s global orientation, as well as from his domestic policies…That his dictatorship may possibly endure ‘as long as he lives’ strikes us as the crux of the Indonesian problem.” https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v23/d155

    Richard Bissell put Congo leader Patrice Lumumba and Sukarno in the same disposable category: “Lumumba and Sukarno were two of the worst people in public life I’ve ever heard of. They were mad dogs…I believe they were dangerous to the U.S.” Richard Bissell, cited in Evan Thomas, ‘Very Best Men’, pp. 232-33.

    The CIA wanted Sukarno dead. Kennedy instead looked at the situation through Sukarno’s eyes: “When you consider things like CIA’s support to the 1958 rebellion [against his government], Sukarno’s frequently anti-American attitude is understandable.” Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy (New York: Dell, 1964) p. 363

    JFK countered the CIA’s plots against Sukarno by issuing NSAM 179 on 8/16/62. Addressing NSAM 179 to the heads of the State Department, Defense Department, CIA, AID and the U.S. Information Agency, Kennedy ordered them to take a positive approach to Indonesia: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v23/d287

  5. Fearfaxer says:

    “That [Sukarno’s] dictatorship may possibly endure ‘as long as he lives’ strikes us as the crux of the Indonesian problem.”

    “Lumumba and Sukarno were two of the worst people in public life I’ve ever heard of. They were mad dogs[.]”

    You don’t even have to read between the lines there, do you?

    • David Regan says:

      If that wasn’t enough. Ex-agents say CIA compiled death lists for Indonesians http://www.namebase.org/kadane.html

      • Fearfaxer says:

        Yes, I’d heard about that. Somewhere between a half million and a million and a quarter people were slaughtered over a period of less than a year. And according to Bissell, Sukarno was the “mad dog” in that country?

        Just as an interesting footnote, the current POTUS was living in Indonesia at that time.

  6. Lisa Pease says:

    I wrote about how JFK’s policy in Indonesia put him at odds with the CIA in a two-parter on a company involved in anti-Castro plots and the gold mine referred to here. You can read both at http://www.ctka.net/2015/FromTheArchive.html.

    • greg poulgrain says:

      Lisa Pease
      trying to get your postal address to send you a copy of ‘Incubus of Intervention : conflicting Indonesia strategies of JFK and Allen Dulles’, published a year ago in Malaysia. As the author, I’d very much appreciate your opinion. Since the 90s, I’ve been based in Brisbane, specialised on Indonesian History&Politics, now at Sunshine Coast University. regards, Greg Poulgrain pandai@bigpond.com

  7. Ira Jesse Hemingway says:

    If you really want to find the entire scope and depth of the United States governments’ corruption and involvement that will lead you to a criminal conspiracy; the fact the United States government was the main architect in the execution of President John F. Kennedy. You need to follow the money between the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his little bro Allan Dulles director of the CIA. During the 1950’s the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was using a variety methods to fund covert operations to his brother. The largest funds that were manipulated were the many Stockpiles of materials and food commodities. That is why on January 31, 1962 President John F. Kennedy 22nd presidential news conference he initiated an investigation into the these stockpiles of material and commodities.

  8. lysias says:

    Similar remarks could be made about Brazil. In 1963, Joao Goulart’s elected government attempted to assist JFK to reach a deal with Castro’s Cuba. Followed by the coup in 1964 that was assisted by Americans on the scene like Vernon Walters.

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