After the CIA's disastrous involvement in the regional rebellions of the late 1950s, Washington changed tack and now saw that its interests lay in building close ties with the Indonesian
armed forces under its commander, General A.H. Nasution
.In mid 1960, Nasution
worth by using special martial law powers to ban the communist party in three provinces, South Sumatra, South Sulawesi and South Kalimantan. (The bans were later rescinded on the president's orders.)
While on a visit to Washington in September 1960 for talks with the State and Defence Departments
, General Nasution
was given an assurance of US support in the event of a showdown between him and Sukarno over the communist issue.Assistant Secretary of State Graham Parsons was given the authority to tell Nasution
that 'we are aware of and heartened by recent actions which the Army has taken to curb Communist power ...
We would like General Nasution
to feel that the United States would wish to be helpful to Indonesia too in such circumstances.'(1) Five years later, the US had the chance to honour that pledge.
Britain was also in on the act.A CIA memorandum of June 1962 stated that President Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan had agreed at a meeting in April that year that it was desirable to 'liquidate' Sukarno, 'depending on the situation and available circumstances'.(2) Britain's hostility towards Sukarno went back many years and intensified after he
konfrontasi policy against the establishment of Malaysia in 1963.
Weighing up what the US could do to 'shape developments to our advantage', Green set out a number of guidelines, Point B of which was: 'Covertly indicate clearly to key people in army such as Nasution
and Suharto our desire to be of assistance where we can', while Point E was: 'Spread the story of PKI's guilt, treachery and brutality (this priority effort is perhaps the most needed immediate assistance we can give army if we can find way to do it without identifying it solely or largely as US effort.'(6)