The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
The course of Indonesian policy today must cause doubt and deep concern regarding the future of the world's fifth largest nation. Since Premier Khrushchev's ten-day visit in February 1960, Indonesia has become a major target of Soviet aid and influence, and only massive Western efforts can now prevent its gradual incorporation into the Communist bloc. All the instrumentalities available to the Kremlin-overt and covert, domestic and international-are concentrated on the elimination of Western influences from Indonesia, its isolation from the new nations of Asia and Africa, erosion of the will of domestic anti-Communist political forces to resist capture of the government by the Communist Party, and eventual alignment with the Soviet Union. What the West faces in Indonesia is not simply harassment from a group of conspirators, in usual cold-war fashion, but an all-out challenge from a great power. Indonesia has become a testing ground for the new techniques of power politics, with the local Communist Party only one of various instruments used by the Soviet state to supplant Western influence.
Soviet advances in Indonesia are truly amazing. In the hectic years of Indonesia's struggle for independence, from 1945 to 1949, Moscow attacked nationalist leaders such as President Sukarno as bourgeois lackeys of imperialism, even though the Soviet delegation in the United Nations supported Indonesia as a matter of anti-imperialist principle. In June of 1961 Sukarno chose to celebrate his birthday in Moscow, where the top civilian and military leaders of the Soviet Union presented their felicitations to him. In September 1948, the Indonesian Communist Party engaged in armed rebellion against Sukarno's nationalist government and in a historic radio address he was forced to ask the people to choose between himself and Musso, the Communist leader who had just returned from long years of exile in Moscow. Today President Sukarno's most powerful political support comes from the Communist Party, which he protects against an anti- Communist but submissive officer corps. Until 1954 the Soviet Union was unable to establish diplomatic representation in Djakarta, although it had offered recognition to the nationalist government before independence was secured in 1949.
Today the Soviet presence in Indonesia is a force to be reckoned with in every respect. An initial line of credit of $100 million was agreed to by Sukarno during the first of his visits to Moscow, in September 1956. The Indonesian Parliament delayed ratification of this offer until February 1958, but at present Indonesia is the foremost recipient of Communist-bloc aid in the world. Credits for economic and military purposes from all the Communist-bloc countries to Indonesia now exceed $1.5 billion, which is more than the credits received by Communist China from the Soviet Union before the estrangement-a figure estimated at $1.3 billion from 1949 to 1957.
The deeper meaning of all this was perhaps best expressed in a speech made by President Sukarno on March 21, 1962, when he laid the cornerstone of a 300-bed hospital which the Soviet Union is building as a gift to Djakarta. Using a concept which he had already developed in his address to the Belgrade Conference of non-aligned nations in September of 1961, he stated that there are two great forces in the world today, the "newly emerging forces" represented by the new nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America together with all socialist states (meaning the Communist bloc), and the "old established forces" committed to the status quo and to imperialist domination, which are found in Western Europe and in "other countries" (which to an Indonesian audience could mean only the United States). The "newly emerging forces" favored freedom and sought only to help, "without splitting hairs as to terms of credit," whereas the "old forces" would "haggle for days, weeks, months, even years." Lest there be misunderstanding, the President made it clear that he was referring to the Soviet Union which, unlike "others," wanted Indonesia to be strong, free from imperialist influences, and in control of West New Guinea.
It is noteworthy that this speech was made on the second of the three days of preliminary Dutch-Indonesian negotiations on West New Guinea, held near Washington, D.C. It is also an open secret in Djakarta that a few days earlier Soviet Ambassador Mikhailov had expressed to Foreign Minister Subandrio his displeasure at Indonesia's efforts to achieve a peaceful solution of the West New Guinea dispute after receiving massive Soviet military aid and political encouragement to take West New Guinea by force. However, it does not seem plausible that President Sukarno's important statement was only meant to whip Washington into action on his behalf or to pacify an irate Moscow.
Hard facts would tend to substantiate Sukarno's statement that the Soviet Union wants Indonesia to be strong and, by implication, that the "old forces" may have different views on the matter. Indonesia had been anxious to obtain military equipment from the United States and other Western sources in 1956-57. The likelihood that these arms would be used against the Dutch in West New Guinea, and other considerations, delayed the extension of credits for such purchases till 1958. The United States program was never a very large one, although it was known that the Indonesians wanted to modernize and standardize their armed forces with Western equipment. Indonesian officers today express freely their disappointment about the halfhearted character of our military deliveries.
In 1957 President Sukarno stated publicly that Mao Tse-tung, whom he had visited in Peking in October 1956, had offered him unlimited amounts of military equipment, and in the spring of 1957 an Indonesian military mission headed by the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, Lieutenant-General Gatot Subroto, visited Communist China. No arms offers from the Soviet Union were publicized at that time. During the following year, however, the first arms from the Communist bloc began arriving. On Armed Forces Day in October 1958, the Indonesian public was electrified by the appearance over Djakarta of the first MIG-15 fighters piloted by Indonesians, who had apparently been trained in Czechoslovakia and Egypt. Some IL-28 bombers were received by the Indonesian Air Force during the same period.
Communist-bloc military aid was already about one-quarter of a billion dollars, but few military items had come directly from the Soviet Union up to the time of Premier Khrushchev's visit in February 1960. During the preceding five years (1955-59) the Middle East seems to have been the major Soviet target, with substantial amounts of aid going to Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. Then Premier Khrushchev presumably decided to exploit the opportunities Indonesia offered, and to embark on a program of direct Soviet military aid.
In a speech last March, President Sukarno stated that in February 1960 Premier Khrushchev had granted him $700 to $800 million, of which $250 million in economic credits were specifically publicized. After subtracting the economic credits, it appears that the visit resulted in military credits of from $450 to $550 million, bringing the Communist bloc's military assistance program in Indonesia to well over three-quarters of a billion dollars. The rate of implementation of this program is less easy to ascertain, but it seems to be much more rapid than that of Communist non- military programs in neutralist countries.
In January 1961 in Moscow, General A. H. Nasution, Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff of the Army, signed agreements implementing the program proposed by Mr. Khrushchev. At first the Indonesian services showed some reluctance to take advantage of the Soviet offer and delayed formal commitments until ordered to do so by President Sukarno. Additional agreements were signed by General Nasution in Moscow in June 1961.
Responsible Indonesians say privately that the total Communist military assistance program will eventually reach one billion dollars, that it already represents one-third of the total of Communist military aid to non- aligned nations, and that it may include, in certain circumstances, tactical nuclear weapons. Besides stressing that Soviet military deliveries have been much more rapid than the West's, they point out that, contrary to Western allegations that Soviet generosity consists primarily in selling them obsolete equipment for hard currency (payable at 2.5 percent annual interest over a period of 12 years), the program includes MIG-21 fighters armed with air-to-air missiles and TU-16 medium bombers carrying air-to- surface missiles, both of which are still operational in the Soviet Union. Apparently the army and the navy are also receiving missiles-surface-to-air and surface-to-surface. Furthermore, the army has obtained amphibious tanks and artillery, both novelties in Indonesia. The navy, which a few years ago had only one old British destroyer, now boasts six submarines, six destroyers and will soon have one Sverdlov-class cruiser, besides many smaller ships. While the air force claims to be able to fly all the planes they acquire from the Soviets, it is believed that ships and submarines for the navy arrive from Vladivostok with mixed Soviet-Indonesian crews.
Only a few years ago Indonesian military personnel received their training primarily in the United States, Western Europe and India. None went to bloc countries and no Communist military missions were active on Indonesian soil. Today Soviet military instructors are attached to all three services. Once President Sukarno had broken their initial resistance, the Indonesian armed forces have seemed increasingly eager to speed the Soviet aid programs, which vest them with important power status in Southeast Asia. Demand for training in the Soviet Union and by Soviet instructors in Indonesia is high. In February 1962 the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Vice Air Marshal Umar Dani, went to Moscow to expedite training programs and by April air force officers and non-coms were flying to Moscow for four months of intensive training. Altogether, several thousand Indonesian military personnel are being trained in Communist-bloc countries. The Soviet Military Advisory Group in Indonesia is believed to be the largest outside the Communist bloc, numbering about 400 instructors, under the command of Admiral Chernobay.
In the short run, the Soviet Union would probably derive the highest return from this massive investment if the dispute over West New Guinea led to overt Indonesian military operations against the Dutch. Indonesia's isolation from the West would be increased, making it fully dependent on the Communist bloc for military supplies. Foreign Minister Subandrio told Parliament in closed session on February 3, 1962, that Indonesia would not be ready to invade West New Guinea before the end of 1962. If the Indonesians should attack prematurely, without first eliminating Dutch air and sea power based on Biak, they are likely to suffer serious casualties, thus becoming even more dependent on Soviet military aid. Maybe it is for precisely this reason that the Soviet Union is prodding Indonesia to attack West New Guinea without further delay.
Militarization is bound to have the most severe impact on the Indonesian economy. In 1960 Indonesian military expenditures amounted to at least one- third of the total regular budget of about rupiah 46 billion ($1.0 billion).[i] In 1961 military expenditures increased to almost one-half of the regular budget of about rupiah 53 billion ($1.2 billion). In 1962 the burden of military expenses is likely to be even higher. Besides the inflationary pressures created as budgetary deficits cumulate, the military program further drains the country's foreign exchange supply, which has to be diverted from the civilian sectors of the economy to service foreign debts. Indonesia's exports, including the best earners of foreign exchange such as rubber, copra and tin, are being increasingly pledged to the Soviet Union under long-term agreements. Moscow firmly insists on payments according to schedule and recently turned down requests for deferment.
One must distinguish temporary crises such as the skyrocketing price of rice in urban markets at the end of 1961 from the long-range prospects of a country whose population is growing at a faster rate than food production. The rice crisis was due in part to the severe drought of that year, which deprived Indonesia of 400,000 tons of rice and increased the normal deficit covered by imports. What is more important is that, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the provisional results of the 1961 census indicate a total population of 95,889,000 and an annual growth rate of 2.3 percent. This would give Indonesia 100 million people by 1963 and an average population density of 475 inhabitants per square kilometer for Java and Madura (as against an average for the country as a whole of 50 inhabitants per square kilometer).
Similarly, the foreign exchange crisis which threatened Indonesia with international insolvency at the end of 1961 is less disturbing than the long-run decline in the production of rubber, palm oil, tobacco, tea and other products earning foreign exchange. How this situation will affect economic development was revealed last December by Finance Minister Notohamiprodjo, who informed the cabinet that the enterprises on which the National Planning Council relied for the financing of the eight-year plan initiated the preceding January had yielded no revenue during 1961.
Other economic portents are equally distressing. Money in circulation increased from rupiah 33.5 billion in 1959 to 46.2 billion in 1960, to 60 billion in 1961 and nearly 70 billion in April 1962. The cost of living in Djakarta, already very high in January 1961, had doubled by the end of the year. The extent of the inflationary pressures may be judged by the fact that deficits in the national budget rose from rupiah 1.56 billion in 1956 to rupiah 16.65 billion in 1961, and the figure is expected to reach rupiah 37 billion this year. This does not include the costs of acquiring Soviet arms, nor could it cover the expenditures of a military campaign against the Dutch in West New Guinea. Whatever the real total, the impact on the cost of living may be catastrophic.
At this point the Soviet master plan for Indonesia should be clear. Once the Soviet military assistance program has been completed it will have destroyed the fabric of Indonesian society by fomenting runaway inflation comparable to that of Germany in the 1920s. The chaos and despair thus created may well bring the Communist Party to power even if the West New Guinea dispute is solved peacefully. But this success will be facilitated in a variety of ways if the Indonesian Government is inveigled into major military operations against the Dutch.
So far, there is no evidence that Communist efforts to infiltrate the armed forces have been very successful. A massive conversion of the senior officers to Communism seems unlikely unless other factors, such as total loss of faith in the viability of the present system and in Western support, create an atmosphere of despair. However, the mentality of junior officers, whose nationalism was not hardened in the struggle for independence of 20 years ago, is not easy to fathom; they may prove more susceptible than their elders to the appeals of Communism. High-ranking officers and their civilian advisers must begin to wonder whether some figure comparable to the Laotian major, Kong Le, will appear in their midst. The lesson of the May 1961 coup in Korea also has not escaped their attention; but the early detection of such political activities is very difficult. The wiser among them surely recognize the wide gap in status and benefits between themselves and, say, the new graduates of the military academy in Magelang, whose dissatisfaction may lead them to try extremist solutions.
Among the rank and file of the armed forces, Communist penetration may be faster, especially as Communist youth groups have been instructed to volunteer for military service in response to the campaign for the liberation of West New Guinea. However sensitive the commanders of the armed forces may be to this problem, they will find it difficult to bar young Communists who profess nationalist enthusiasm from military service, especially as the rejuvenation of the army and the expansion of the air force and navy will make new recruitments unavoidable.
Changes in the political composition of the armed forces are bound to have a profound impact on the political dynamics of Indonesia. Before 1959 Indonesian political life was complex and unpredictable, reflecting the turbulence of free competition among small groups in the nationalist élites. The masses were largely passive and their interests ignored. The collapse of the parliamentary system permitted President Sukarno to govern with the support of the army and of the Communist Party, the country's two principal political forces. The residual or latent political power of other groups is difficult to ascertain under present repressive conditions. Certain parties such as the Moslem Masjumi Party and the Socialists (P.S.I.) were banned in August 1960, and seem at present too demoralized to maintain even covert strength. Others, such as the Nationalist Party (P.N.I.) or the Moslem Nahdatul Ulama, have become stage-props of the Sukarno régime, which needs their names and those of a sufficient number of public figures, irrespective of their real political power, to give credence to the claim that Indonesia is a "guided democracy."
The President has been officially proclaimed "great leader of the revolution" by the Provisional People's Consultative Congress. Stripped of all verbiage, his present role in Indonesian society, whether by chance or design, has become much more that of absolute monarch than that of a modern dictator. Although he remains a father-figure to the masses, who listen respectfully to his many speeches, he does not rely on control of a strong political organization but on the favors which he dispenses to groups whose primary loyalties rest elsewhere. The Indonesian masses do not blame him for misgovernment but assume that his aides are bad, an attitude strikingly similar to that of the Russian peasants toward the Tsar. In point of fact Sukarno does not govern; he rules. Uninterested in the details of governmental administration, he issues "commands" to be implemented by others. His will nevertheless becomes the law of the land, as if projected into a vacuum where it does not clash with the wills of various interest groups-a peculiar phenomenon observed in countries at a stage of development where the political infrastructure is still weak.
President Sukarno's lifetime tenure seems no longer open to question. Private political discussions in Indonesia today center on the more distant future, the so-called "post-Sukarno period." They are not directly related to recurrent rumors concerning the President's health. He is only 61 years old and all those in contact with him are aware of his extraordinary vitality. This is why there is much less speculation in Djakarta about who is likely to become the next president than about which group will eventually be in control-the army or the Communists. Most articulate people believe that if a succession crisis were to develop in the near future, the officer corps would take over full responsibility and would appoint as head of state either General Nasution or a civilian political figure associated with the struggle for independence.
There seems to be no leader in control of a popular political force, ready to take over. Since Dr. Mohammad Hatta resigned from the vice-presidency of the Republic in December 1956, the constitutional line of succession has remained vacant. In the absence of an elected representative body, democratic legitimacy could be conferred only by a plebiscite. Close friends of General Nasution claim that being essentially "a modest man" he does not wish to be the next president. Whether this be true or not, General Nasution's political power within the army is based not so much on the loyalty of the officer corps to him personally as on the delicate equipoise of various factions unwilling to force a clash similar to the one which led to the rebellion of commanders in Sumatra and Celebes in 1957- 1958. In this respect his position in the army is strikingly similar to that of Sukarno in the country as a whole. Nasution is likely to remain in command as long as the antagonistic forces which he manipulates are unwilling to face a showdown. In Machiavelli's terms, he is a fox, not a lion.
General Nasution's staying power was tested again at a conference of territorial commanders and general staff officers held late last winter in response to President Sukarno's suggestion that the positions of Minister of Defense and Army Chief of Staff (both of which Nasution holds) be entrusted to different individuals. General Nasution did not attempt to demonstrate that the commanding officers stood firmly behind him. On the contrary Sukarno's suggestion was seriously considered. The suitability of various candidates for the position of Chief of Staff of the Army was weighed and the decision that General Nasution should remain Chief of Staff actually resulted from the officers' inability to agree on another candidate. It is by no means certain, then, that General Nasution would make a strong chief of state. Nor is it clear that a military régime would tackle the country's basic problems more vigorously than has been done in the past, unless a rededication to their mission should call forth within the officer corps a release of latent energies.
Many responsible elements in Indonesia are convinced that if the officer corps appreciated its historic role, it could be the nation's salvation. The revolutionary guerrilla leaders of 1945-1949 have been transformed into a professional group. Their emergence as a key element in the new élite is partially the result of good professional training at the staff and command school in Bandung as well as abroad, and partially the result of a process of natural selection, whereby the army has attracted individuals of intelligence, energy and dedication. In the last five years an impressive national military academy patterned on West Point has been drawing several hundred of Indonesia's most promising young men each year. These are hopeful factors, but there are others less encouraging.
The military have penetrated deeply in recent years into the economic sector and the civilian administration of the country. Their performance has, by and large, been as disappointing as that of the civilian politicians, administrators and entrepreneurs whom they displaced.[ii] Charges of inefficiency and corruption have tarnished some of the most prominent senior officers. The key question is whether this state of affairs will eventually alienate the junior officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men from their commanders, making them vulnerable to extremist appeals. In the absence of a vigorous political life-elections have been postponed at the insistence of the commanding officers who fear a Communist victory-the military will not withdraw from essentially civilian pursuits.
Under these circumstances, there would seem to be three possible developments: Indonesia may languish indefinitely in a situation very much like the present; a group of field-grade officers, identity unknown, may organize covertly and take over from their less dynamic seniors; or a rapid conversion of the rank and file may destroy the balance between the military and the Communists and give power to the latter.
The Communist Party of Indonesia (P.K.I.) is powerful. The Seventh (extraordinary) Congress of the P.K.I. held in Djakarta in April 1962 was officially informed that the Party now has over two million members. For tactical reasons, the figure may even be understated; but in any case the Indonesian Party is quite certainly the largest outside the Communist bloc. Unlike all other political parties in Indonesia, it has disciplined professional cadres. While its labor organizations, which claim over three million members, may have lost striking power somewhat in recent years (they were forced into the role of "company unions" following the nationalization of the economy), this has probably been offset by the increased strength of the peasant front organization, Barisan Tani Indonesia (B.T.I.), which claims four million members. If economic deterioration and sharpened social conflict are the fuel of revolutions, then both peasants and workers may have greater revolutionary potential than is commonly assumed, and they are unlikely to be drawn to parties other than the P.K.I. Historically the Party has been strongest in east and central Java, where population densities are greatest and poverty is intense. Today the P.K.I. is also making gains in the sparsely settled outer islands, and especially in Sumatra. This has occurred despite the repressive means which the army possesses (and employs) by virtue of the continuation of the state of emergency.
It has often been argued that the P.K.I. benefits greatly from the fact that it has no overt party members in the cabinet and hence does not share responsibility for the misgovernment of Indonesia. The Communists themselves do not seem to share this view. As recently as last February, in an interview given to an Associated Press correspondent, party chairman D. N. Aidit asked for inclusion of P.K.I. members in the cabinet as "the only way to solve the country's important and basic problems." Nevertheless, the reorganized cabinet announced by President Sukarno on March 6 did not include Communists. Aidit and the Party's number-two man, M. H. Lukman, merely received ministerial status, as did all the other vice-chairmen of the Provisional People's Consultative Congress and the appointed Parliament- all this in conformity with President Sukarno's efforts to surround himself with symbols of national unity.
The real reason for Communist strength is that the Party is the only political group that understands the importance of organizing at the grassroots, and how to go about it. The exiled Socialist leader, Dr. Sumitro Djojhadikusumo, former Dean of the School of Economics in Djakarta, ex-Minister of Finance and a committed anti-Communist, claimed recently that the P.K.I. impresses the people as being the only group possessing courage, ability and willingness to stand up to the military, and that the P.K.I. knows how to pick as issues legitimate popular grievances. According to Dr. Sumitro, the Communists are, for the first time, making advances among university students and faculties. He could have added that the Communists enjoy a reputation for being honest and disinterested, in a society in which almost everybody else is accused of some form of corruption, and that they present the image of a unified nationalist party in a country deeply rent by factionalism and regionalism.
In actuality, unknown to the general public, a doctrinal battle may be raging within the top echelons of the Party. It reflects the Sino-Soviet rift on revolutionary tactics but also raises questions highly relevant to the present situation in Indonesia. Party chairman Aidit, whose tactics parallel but possibly preceded those adopted by Moscow, apparently favors continued support of the Sukarno régime and patient reliance on the legal means thereby available to the Party to secure participation in the cabinet. Aidit's soft line seems dictated by the logic of the situation. It is not obvious what a hard line would accomplish under present conditions, since the P.K.I. can resort neither to general strikes nor to violence without risking immediate repression and probable destruction by the army.
In December of 1961 Aidit made statements on the Albanian question and on de-Stalinization which political analysts, eager to trace all ramifications of the Sino-Soviet rift, interpreted as signs of a drift toward the Chinese position. Seen from Djakarta, these statements do not offer sufficient evidence that Aidit or a majority of the Central Committee of the P.K.I. have accepted that position. Other statements made by Aidit since the Twenty-second Party Congress in Moscow recognized the leadership of the Soviet Union, but stressed heavily the concept of freedom of national Parties to formulate their own positions, as proclaimed at earlier party congresses in 1957 and 1960.
It is possible to interpret Aidit's statements on the Albanian question from the point of view of internal political necessities. Political parties in Indonesia can have no foreign ties not expressly approved by the government. The P.K.I. is, of course, particularly vulnerable in this respect. Aidit may have felt that if he had accepted Khrushchev's position on Albania it could have been used as proof that the P.K.I. is controlled from Moscow.
As for the alleged split within the P.K.I. along the lines of the Sino- Soviet dispute, the positions publicly expressed are not clearly enough defined to permit conclusions. In Communist Parties the struggle for power usually takes the form of doctrinal debate. However, it is not necessary to be privy to P.K.I. secrets in order to be aware of the intense ambition of a man like Sudisman, who as chairman of the secretariat has excelled in manipulating the Party's affairs to serve his private ends.
According to Aidit and the party theoretician, Njoto, Indonesia today is not a "national-democratic state" as defined in the statement of November 1960 by Communist leaders of 81 countries, but a bourgeois state, albeit anti-imperialist. If President Sukarno's repeated attempts to include Communists in the cabinet cease to be opposed by the other parties and especially by the army, it can become a "national-democratic state" (in current Communist doctrine a stage preceding a People's Democracy); translated, this means a coalition government controlled by Communists. Even before November 1960, President Sukarno had coined the word NASAKOM, meaning a coalition of nationalist, religious and Communist political forces, but so far he has not been able to form a NASAKOM cabinet.
In the elections of September 1955 the P.K.I. received the fourth largest number of votes. On the basis of the local and provincial elections in the summer of 1957, it appeared to be moving into second place. Some observers claim that today it would win a general election. In consequence, the army commanders oppose the holding of elections for the time being, thus denying the P.K.I. the parliamentary road to power. As long as the leaders of the armed forces remain strong and united in their opposition to Communism-as the three Chiefs of Staff, General Nasution, Admiral Martadinata and Vice Air Marshal Dani seem to be-the road to power by violent means is also barred. This leaves the P.K.I. with one other avenue-namely, to create so compelling an image of strength, purposefulness and dedication to the national cause, under the protection of President Sukarno, that eventually all other political forces will be discredited and the P.K.I., standing as a tower of strength in the midst of chaos, will be brought to power by popular acclamation. Naturally, the more that Soviet military assistance weakens the military's will to resist Communism, the easier would be the takeover.
The Soviet challenge to the West in Indonesia is obvious. What can the West do about it? It is clear that the Netherlands Government is prepared to withdraw from West New Guinea, but it is far from established that the 16 vocal Papuan members of the West New Guinea Council, created by the Dutch in 1961, can make a valid case for the right of self-determination of 700,000 people, who are among the most primitive in the world. However chaotic conditions in Indonesia may be at present, in the long run it may be possible for the people of West New Guinea to move into the modern world under Indonesian auspices. The security of the Western Pacific has much to gain from a peaceful solution-acceptable to both Indonesia and the Netherlands-of the sort the United States seeks to facilitate. Indeed the problem should have been solved long ago, before it gave President Sukarno a reason to bring the Soviets into his country.
Once the problem of West New Guinea is settled, one may hope that the Indonesian Government will review its rearmament program, which it now claims is the direct result of the conflict with the Dutch. It is, of course, a matter of record that as early as 1945 some ultranationalists, such as Professor M. Yamin, Deputy First Minister in charge of information and chairman of the National Planning Council, had formulated visions of a Greater Indonesia which would eventually include Malaysia and perhaps more. It is also an open secret in Singapore that Foreign Minister Subandrio has warned the leaders of that city against joining a Malaysian Federation contrary to the wishes of the neighboring "great power," Indonesia. But most Indonesians, engaged in a daily struggle for survival, do not seem to share such grandiose visions. President Sukarno, who is a student of history, may be aware of the fact that Kemal Ataturk, in deciding against reviving Turkey's imperial ambitions and instead concentrating his efforts on the consolidation of a strong nation-state, achieved recognition as one of the great statesmen of the twentieth century.
Needless to say, the armed forces will want to continue to modernize and standardize their equipment. With the internal security problem approaching a solution, and once the West New Guinea issue is settled, it should be possible to do this without mortgaging Indonesia's future economic development. The Soviet Union may hope to create a Communist Indonesia, militarized under its auspices, which will act as a countervailing force against an increasingly intractable and expansionist Communist China. But Indonesia's best security will depend in the future, as it does today, on our interest in maintaining stability in the Western Pacific; a peace- loving Indonesia is not in danger of attack as long as the Seventh Fleet is present in the area.
Indonesians may want to reflect on the end results of President Sukarno's increasingly strident anti-Western statements, and on the consequences of the policies on which his régime has embarked. It is understandable that the political élites in Djakarta, by now accustomed to a heavily controlled press, are hurt by the indifference and hostility shown by part of the American press. It evidently does not occur to them to relate these to President Sukarno's statements at the Belgrade Conference of last autumn or to Indonesia's voting record in the United Nations.
The developments related above cannot fail to influence American public opinion and through it the Congress, which is being called upon to approve an aid program for Indonesia. Thus far the United States and the Communist bloc have each contributed (or pledged) between $600 and $700 million in economic assistance to Indonesia; but it urgently requires much larger amounts of aid before it can become capable of self-sustaining growth. Economic aid, to be sure, will not solve all of Indonesia's problems, but if competition between the United States and the Communist bloc takes the form of aid which assists in promoting the organic growth of a viable independent nation, much can be gained. President Sukarno wants his people to believe that the enormous Communist-bloc investment in Indonesia testifies to the benevolent concern which "newly emerging nations" feel toward each other. This analysis of Communist motivation cannot possibly bear up under serious scrutiny. In Indonesia, the Soviet Union has thrown down the gauntlet. Will the West take up the challenge?
[i] One rupiah equals 2½ cents, or about 44 rupiah to the dollar.
[ii] On the role of the military in Indonesia see my chapter in "The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries," edited by J. J. Johnson (Princeton University Press, 1962).