In This Review

Indonesia: Crisis And Transformation, 1965-1968
Indonesia: Crisis And Transformation, 1965-1968
By Marshall Green
Compass Press, 1991, 160 pp

This is a fascinating, albeit low-key, account by one of America's most able diplomats on one of the most significant turning points in postwar Asian history. Twenty-five years ago, as the United States became increasingly involved in Vietnam, a series of dramatic events in Indonesia led to the removal of the flamboyant President Sukarno, the collapse of Indonesia's Communist Party (then the world's third largest), and the triumph of the army. The author, who was the American ambassador in Jakarta during those crucial years, concludes that "we rather lucked out in Indonesia" and that events took a turn that "required no great wisdom or foresight on our part." This is a disarmingly honest judgment and certainly distinguishes the author from countless diplomats and politicians who claim to have altered history. Green concludes that his successful low-profile diplomacy suggests some lessons: keep diplomatic posts to a minimum; act in close consultation with friends and allies; extend assistance to developing countries through multilateral agencies; and don't take credit for the achievements of others or pretend to be wise after the fact.