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Seluruh Korban Rejim Jendral Suharto

English Version
Dedicated to:
all the Victims of General Suharto´s Regime



Fifty-ninth sessions

Item 11 of the Provisional Agenda



Oral Statement

by Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women

Delivered by Ribka Tjiptaning MD

Distinguish chairperson,

My name is Ribka Tjiptaning. I speak on behalf of the Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women. I am a daughter of a human rights victim of the 1965 tragedy.

We all know, that military regime led by General Suharto, in the year 1965, seized power in Indonesia. This seized of power committed acts of severe violence towards certain parts of the civilian population. They were allegedly members of the Indonesian Communist Party or other organizations affiliated to this political party. To secure its power, the Suharto’s regime, furthermore detained hundred thousands of people without any judicial process, without clear charges, without time limit. In the year 1967 Attorney General admitted that some 200.000 people were put in the concentration camps. Not only were they detained, they also experienced torture.

Distinguish chairperson,

I would like to give testimony of the situation of torture and detention as experience by my father from 1968 until 1980.

My father, Mr. R.M. Suripto Tjondrosaputro, owned a factory producing nails, but he was also a member of the Executive Board of a progressive youth organization.

I was only 7 years old when my father was detained for over 12 years. He was detained without proper judicial  process. He imprisoned in several cities, in Jakarta, Semarang, Pekalongan, and Ambarawa. During his detainment, he experienced torture in the form of receiving electric shocks; hanged upside down until blood flowed from his ears, nose and mouth; burnt by hot iron on his back until he got a stroke. His physique was totally in a poor health condition when he came back to my family.

My father died in 1991 by heart attack as an effect of bad conditions during the detainment. What had happened with my father has influence me until now, because I believe this was also experienced by hundreds thousands of political prisoners and detainee of the 1965 victims.

Distinguish chairperson,

What make it even worse, since the 1965, the practice of torture continues until now in others human rights violation cases such as in Aceh and Papua. This is primarily due to the lack of proper response from the state to take the responsibility over human rights violations since 1965.

Concerning the tragedies that have affected the lives of the 1965 victims and their families, I herewith present you the following requests:

1.   I urge the commission to take notice of the crimes against humanity committed by the military       regime of General Suharto during their 32 years of reign since 1965.

2.   I ask the commission to urge the government of Indonesia to set up a national investigation team on the human rights violation, which occurred in 1965 and the impact.

3.   I ask the commission to urge the government of Indonesia to bring justice to the victim 1965 using the human rights standards.

4.   I ask the commission to urge the government of Indonesia to apply the recommendation of the Committee Against Torture in 2001.

5.   I ask the commission to urge the government of Indonesia to invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture.

I will end here. Thank you for this opportunity.




Fifty-ninth sessions

Item 11 of the Provisional Agenda


by Ir. Setiadi Reksoprodjo

+ Advisor to PAKORBA (Communion of victims of the New Order Regime Indonesia).

+ Former Minister for Electricity and Energy of the Republic of Indonesia.

+ Associate Member of the ALRC (Asian Legal Resource Centre)

+ Associate Member of the WPC (World Peace Council)

After the military regime led by general Suharto had seized power in the Republic of Indonesia in the year 1965, it perpetrated acts of severe violence towards certain parts of the civilian population. The acts amounted to gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity on an immense scale.

This regime orchestrated. Incited and in part carried out the killings of 500.000 to one million men and women, adults as well as younger people allegedly being members of the Indonesia Communist Party or their peasant, labour, women and youth community organizations and even innocent people accused of being their sympathizer because of some personal malice or because they cared about the orphaned children of the killed families. Those murdered were virtually all unarmed civilians. The late general Sarwo Edhi, personally involved in these “red drive” actions, even quoted the amount of slaughtered people as much as three million covering the isles of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Sulawesi, Borneo, the Mollucas and the Lesser Sunda Isles, all over the area of Indonesia territory.

During more than 30 years of the military rule of general Suharto the subject of the genocide crime, summary executions and enforced disappearances had been unspeakable in Indonesia and many of these massacres have not yet been sufficiently uncovered up till now. Yet no serious historian within Indonesia or abroad, such as Prof. Gunnar Myrdal from Sweden, Benedict Anderson of the USA, Herbert Feith and Richard Tanter from Australia, doubts that so many people were killed.

To secure its power, the Suharto regime detained furthermore many hundred-thousands of people without any judicial process, without any clear charges, without time limit. These people were kept in concentration camps mostly under in human conditions; many prisoners died as a result of absence of medical care, torture during interrogations, summary executions and of starvation. In the year 1967 the Attorney General admitted that some 200.000 people were in detention. The climate of fear, insecurity and mutual distrust that was created by the measures of the regime kept every body else silenced.

When the victims of massacre, enforced disappearances, detention were at least three million people, those who indirectly suffered from the despotic policies practiced by the Suharto military regime were another ten to fifteen million children and family (old fathers and mothers) of the killed, disappeared or detained persons. They were usually bereaved of every thing, yet were stigmatized as “politically unclean” and there fore subject to several discriminative regulations decreed by the regime.

We are raising these crimes against humanity and the gross violations of human rights committed and instigated by the military regime led by general Suharto in Indoneseia some forty years ago because:

1.   The criminal acts against humanity and human rights concerning some three million people murdered, hundreds of thousands arbitrary detained and another ten million children, women and elderly people suffering discrimination of their civil rights, seem to be overlooked and have not been investigated as it should be. These crimes which have brought suffering to millions of civilian people, for the sake of justice, should not pass away without being properly prosecuted.

2.   Children and innocent people still have to suffer from the stigmatization and discrimination originated by the Suharto military regime.

3.   Although general Suharto has stepped down as the President of the Indonesia Republic, he and his cronies have not been called to account for the crimes they have perpetrated.

I am one of those who experienced the arbitrariness of the military regime of general Suharto. I was Minister for Electricity and Energy with the legitimate government of President Sukarno when general Suharto started his coup. I escaped an attempt of kidnapping and murder by the cohorts that supported general Suharto. But I could not evade being put in detention without any judicial process and without clear charges for twelve years by the regime of general Suharto who came to power by coup d’etat. Even when we have been put out of the camps, because of international diplomatic intervention, and were formally given back our full freedom, former detainees (tapol) until recently were not allowed to move freely and up till now are subject to regulations restraining their human rights. The most recent (new) regulation deprives us from the right to be chosen for membership of the Parliament.

We there fore urge the UN-HCHR to take notice of the crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights in Indonesia which were committed by the military regime of general Suharto during their 32 years of reign since 1965.

We urge the UN-HCHR to decide on an investigation into this matter, since it has not been satisfactorily solved up till now. We urge the UN-HCHR for the sake of justice and humanity, to take appropriate steps on the basis of the results of the investigation to put the perpetrators responsible for their crimes.


House ratifies covenants ahead of recess

SOURCE: Jakarta Post - October 1, 2005

Tony Holland, Jakarta -- The elimination of all forms of  restrictions on freedom of expression, threats to  religious freedom, forced labour and discrimination in the workplace are new tasks for the government after the House of Representatives finally ratified on Friday two long-awaited United Nations  covenants.

The ratification of the UN 1969 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights wrapped up the House's first one-year sitting period. The lawmakers will now go into a three-week recess. Chairman of House Commission I on defence and foreign affairs Theo L. Sambuaga said ratifying the covenants would commit Indonesia to protecting the rights of its citizens to an international standard.

The covenants will also serve as an important main reference for national laws that have been or will be passed in the future, according to Theo, although some House members said that most of the covenants' articles were already recognized by the 1945 Constitution and other laws. The House also approved one major additional clause to Article 1 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding the right of self-determination.

"Self-determination does not apply to any parts of a united state, and there's no parts of the covenant that will go against the unitary state of Indonesia," Theo said. It took the lawmakers less than three weeks to ratify the two covenants, a process that also involved consultation with human rights activists and experts in international law. A bill's deliberation normally lasts more than a month.

Some observers believe that the ratification was simply aimed to facilitate the request from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) following the Aug. 18 signing of a peace accord to end almost 30 years of separatist fighting in the province.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said the ratification would mean the international community could hold Indonesia accountable for the implementation of the two covenants.

"We're now responsible to the international community for any violations of the covenants. We're also obliged to write a biennial report on our implementation of the covenants," he said. Human rights activists, however, called the ratification half-hearted.

Ifdhal Kasim, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), said the ratification had excluded two optional protocols, which were as important as other clauses in the covenant on civil and political rights.

The two excluded protocols were on the mechanism of victims of human rights violations to individually claim for rights restoration and the abolishment of capital punishment. "The House was so worried about the self-determination clause, that they didn't focus on these two protocols, which are more relevant to our situation now," said Ifdhal.

The two international covenants were the latest of only 12 bills the lawmakers managed to endorse since they took office in October last year. The House had set a target of passing 55 bills, in line with the National Legislation Program for 2005.

TITLE: What ratification of rights covenants implies

SOURCE: Jakarta Post - October 1, 2005

Implications of ratification of UN Conventions on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to states (selected). The state must:

1.   Ensure that all individuals can enjoy the rights recognized in the Covenant, regardless of their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status

2.   Protect the right to life; in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, the death sentence may be  imposed only for the most serious crimes.

3.   Prohibit slavery, slave trade in all their forms, and forced or compulsory labour.

4.   Ensure that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.

5.   Guarantee people's rights to liberty of movement and freedom to choose residence, freedom to leave and enter their country.

6.   Ensure equality before the courts and tribunals.

7.   Protect people's right to freedom of expression and ideas in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of their choice; the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions.

8.   Recognize the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family.

9.   Recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts.

10. Recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, fair and equal remuneration and opportunity of promotion to appropriate higher level, particularly for women.


Source :

Class Action Against Five Presidents By Victims of 1965

20 April 2005

(Tapol summary translation of main aspects of the legal action)

This Class Action (/SK/LBH/III/2005) has been filed by the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute on behalf of victims who were alleged to be involved in the G30S (30th September Movement) of 1965 consisting of twenty million people, three million of whom were officers or members of the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) who were murdered and seventeen million of whom consist of PKI sympathisers, admirers of Sukarno, and their descendants, and others who were not officers, members, sympathisers, children or grandchildren or otherwise associated with the above.

The appellants consist of seven groups as follows:

Group I Persons who were forced to resign or were dismissed from employ-ment without any formalities and thus received no wages or allowances.

Group II Persons who were deprived of their pension rights as civil servants or members of the armed forces or the police.

Group III Victims of special investigation who were said to have an unclean environment, being accused of being PKI, with the result that they were dismissed from their jobs and were unable to find work.

Group IV Persons whose allowances as veterans were withdrawn.

Group V Persons whose land, buildings or other possessions were seized, destroyed, burnt or commandeered .

Group VI Persons who were expelled from school and were unable to continue their education because they were accused of being involved in the G30S or of having an unclean environment.

Group VII Persons whose creative works were hindered and who were obstructed from publishing their works and staging performances.

By virtue of the similarity of the facts and the legal basis of these 20 million persons who were discriminated against, the case is presented as a Class Action, which has the advantage of being straightforward, speedy and less costly.

The Class Action states that since 1965 and up to the present day, the victims of accusations who bear the PKI stigma have not enjoyed fulfilment, protection and respect for their rights, including their rights to employment, to owning personal possessions, to education and their cultural rights.

The failure to provide the appellants with their rights since 1965 which has been maintained by all the defendants up to the present day is in direct contravention of the legal responsibilities of the defendants.

The five defendants are:

·     Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President.

·     Megawati Sukarnoputri, ex-President.

·     Abdurrahman Wahid, ex-President.

·     B.J. Habibie, ex-President.

·     Suharto, ex-President.

After explaining the legal justification for pursuing this action as a Class Action, the historical facts are presented, commencing with 28 - 30 September 1965 when troops of two Diponegoro battalions were instructed by the commander of Kostrad (Suharto) to move. On the following day, 1 October, several senior and middle-ranking officers were murdered by a group calling itself the G30S. Two senior officers escaped being murdered, Lt General Abdul Haris Nasution and Suharto.

While the motive for the murders was still unclear, President Sukarno issued an order to Suharto to instruct all troops to remain in their places while awaiting instructions from the President.

Suharto did not carry out the order of the President and compelled the President to grant him powers to restore law and order. Although this order was opposed by many, the powers were nevertheless granted to Suharto.

Special powers having been vested in Suharto, the rights of the appellants were thereupon eliminated.

Suharto became commander of Kopkamtib (Command for the Restoration of Law and Order) on 3 October by means of the powers vested in him by the President.

Once he became commander of Kopkamtib, the appellants lost their rights as citizens, as a result of accusations blaming the PKI for the G30S and orders were issued to all governmental departments to dismiss members of the PKI as well as their children and grandchildren.

The appellants represented by Group I had no legal status after being branded as being involved in the G30S, and having no document regarding their status, they were not able to get work

The appellants represented by Group II suffered damages by losing their jobs in government departments or state enterprises for alleged involvement in the G30S and lost their jobs as civil servants or members of the armed forces and the police. Appellants represented by Groups I and II suffered the consequences of the actions of Suharto not just in one province but in other provinces as well.

From the time that Suharto became commander of Kopkamtib, the appellants represented by Group V lost their possessions, their homes and the contents therein, which were deliberately destroyed and taken over by persons in army uniform. The seizure of land and buildings occurred not only in Jakarta but throughout Java.

The appellants were then imprisoned without any legal process.

The appellants represented by Group VI were unable to complete their education because they were imprisoned without due process.

The works and artistic creations of appellants represented by Group VI were banned by Suharto and were they imprisoned throughout Indonesia.

From 2 - 10 October, all publications were banned by Suharto with the exception of two newspapers published by the armed forces.

On 11 March 1966, Suharto received an order from the President of Indonesia to take such measures as necessary to preserve security and order and to safeguard the President. On the basis of this order, Suharto disbanded the PKI; the order was not signed by Sukarno but by Suharto on 12 March.

Using the apparatus now under his command, Suharto took increasingly discriminatory measures against persons represented by Group I who suffered immense damages as a result. Even those who were given written proof that they had not been involved in the G30S were unable to get work.

On 12 March 1966, President Sukarno corrected the 11 March order because he saw that Suharto was exceeding his powers, but this order was ignored by the latter. The appellants represented by Group I were imprisoned on the orders of Suharto without justification, explanation or evidence presented in a court of law. They were accused of involvement in the G30S and accused of endangered state security.

On 21 March 1967, Suharto was appointed Acting President without any election being held, alleging that President Sukarno has lost the confidence of the people. On 27 March 1968, he was confirmed as President, which meant that the failure of the G30S to take power had been overtaken by a seizure of power without a general election being held.

The Class Action then deals with further actions during the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, up until 21 May 1998 when Suharto was forced to resign as demanded by the students whereupon the Vice President (BJ Habibie) took over as president. After Habibie took over, he allowed the violation of the rights of the appellants to remain in force, ignoring their fundamental rights., which had not been protected during the rule of Suharto.

The first amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 1999 and on 23 September 1999, Habibie enacted Law No 39 on Basic Human Rights but the provisions of this law have never been applied to the appellants.

On 20 October, Habibie was replaced by Abdurrahman Wahid as President of Indonesia but as was the case with Habibie, Wahid did nothing to restore the rights of the appellants as provided for in the 1945 Constitution and in Law No 39, 1999 on Basic Human Rights.

A second amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 2000.

On 10 March 2000, Wahid issued a presidential decree revoking president instruction No 16, 1990 on special investigations for employees of the Republic of Indonesia. Even so, the basic rights of the appellants were not restored.

On 14 March 2000, Wahid, in his capacity as a member of the NU, publicly apologized to the nation for the murder of citizens who had been accused of involvement in the G30S.

In 2001, a further amendment of the Constitution was enacted and on 23 July 2001, Wahid was replaced by Megawati as President.

In 2002, the appellants submitted a request to Megawati for the restoration of their rights that had been eliminated by Suharto, but she, like the two presidents before her, took no action, with the result that the appellants continued to live without employment or their legitimate rights.

On 12 June 2003, the Supreme Court wrote to the President reminding her of the request for rehabilitation she had received from the appellants. On 25 July, 2003, the Indonesian Parliament (DPR) wrote to Megawati requesting her to act in response to the letter from the Supreme Court and on 25 August 2003, the National Human Rights Commission wrote to Megawati regarding rehabilitation for victims of the G30S/PKI, in view of the request for rehabilitation made earlier by the Supreme Court, but none of these requests received any response from Megawati.

On 24 February 2004, the Constitutional Court announced a decision to endorse the results of a Judicial Review regarding Article 60 (g) (which would now allow 1965 victims to stand for election for national and regional assemblies) and requested the government to revise and revoke various discriminatory regulations affecting the social, economic and cultural rights of persons bearing the G30S stigma.

On 14 September 2004, the appellants wrote to Megawati, Habibie and Wahid reminding them of their earlier request, but no answer has been received.

On 20 October, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) was sworn in as President of Indonesia.

On 21 October 2004, the appellants sent reminders to the five presidents . They did so again on 23 November. The only person to reply was Wahid.

On 10 January 2005, the appellants wrote to Wahid reminding him of his responsibilities regarding the denial of their rights.

On 8 February 2005, the National Human Rights Commission wrote to SBY regarding the restoration of the rights of the appellants.

However, despite the representations made by the Supreme Court, the Indonesian Parliament and the National Human Rights Commission, the five presidents have done nothing to fulfill the requests made by the appellants regarding the restoration of their rights.

They therefore conclude that the presidents have deliberately allowed the sufferings of the appellants to remain in force, year after year and up until the moment this Class Action was filed and the appellants continue to suffer the denial of their rights as citizens and continue to bear the G30S/PKI stigma.

After explaining at great length how the five presidents have acted in contravention of the law, the appellants state that the five presidents have failed to show any goodwill in applying the provisions of the Human Rights Law to the appellants.

They then state that each of the groups of appellants are entitled to material compensation and specify the amounts (calculated per day, for a period of 25 years) which each of the members of the groups of appellants should receive.

They request the court to order President SBY to set up a team to calculate the damages suffered by the appellants in accordance with the specifications as stated above and to calculate the precise number of persons represented by the appellants.

They furthermore state that considering that others in addition to the appellants are also likely to feel the consequences of the G30S/PKI stigma, they request SBY to immediately issue an instruction for the repeal of all discriminatory regulations and put an end to the G30S/PKI stigma at all levels of government, central and regional, which result in grave discrimination against Indonesian citizens and are in contravention of basic human rights.

[This document was submitted to the President of Indonesia on 17 December 2004 with a request for the repeal of all discriminatory regulations and special marks on identity cards indicating that the hold is not a former member of the banned PKI or any of its mass organizations or was not involved either directly or indirectly in the G30S/PKI or other banned organizations, for the restoration of their legitimate rights as citizens.

It was also submitted to the chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission meeting which was held in Geneva from March - April 2005 by the Central Council of Lembaga Perjuangan Rehabilitasi Korban Rezim Orde Baru (Institute to Struggle for Rehabilitation of Victims of the New Order Regime) and signed by Chairman Sumaun Utomo, Head of the Advocacy Team Mulyiono SH, and Secretary General Mudjayin.]

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* Source:  SiaR WEBSITE:

The United States and the Overthrow of Soekarno, 1965-1967

Peter Dale Scott

In this short paper on a huge and vexed subject, I discuss the U.S. involvement in the bloody overthrow of Indonesia's President Soekarno, 1965-67. The whole story of that ill-understood period would transcend even the fullest possible written analysis. Much of what happened can never be documented; and of the documentation that survives, much is both controversial and unverifiable. The slaughter of Soekarno's left-wing allies was a product of widespread paranoia as well as of conspiratorial policy, and represents a tragedy beyond the intentions of any single group or coalition. Nor is it suggested that in 1965 the only provocations and violence came from the right-wing Indonesian military, their contacts in the United States, or (also important, but barely touched on here) their mutual contacts in British, German and Japanese intelligence.

And yet, after all this has been said, the complex and ambiguous story of the Indonesian bloodbath is also in essence simpler and easier to believe than the public version inspired by President Soeharto and U.S. government sources. Their problematic claim is that in the so-called Gestapu (Gerakan September Tigahpuluh) coup attempt of September 30, 1965 (when six senior army generals were murdered), the left attacked the right, leading to a restoration of power, and punitive purge of the left, by the center.1 This article argues instead that, by inducing, or at a minimum helping to induce, the Gestapu "coup," the right in the Indonesian Army eliminated its rivals at the army's center, thus paving the way to a long-planned elimination of the civilian left, and eventually to the establishment of a military dictatorship.2 Gestapu, in other words, was only the first phase of a three-phase right-wing coup -- one which had been both publicly encouraged and secretly assisted by U.S. spokesmen and officials.3

Before turning to U.S. involvement in what the CIA itself has called "one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century,"4 let us recall what actually led up to it. According to the Australian scholar Harold Crouch, by 1965 the Indonesian Army General Staff was split into two camps. At the center were the general staff officers appointed with, and loyal to, the army commander General Yani, who in turn was reluctant to challenge President Soekarno's policy of national unity in alliance with the Indonesian Communist party, or PKI. The second group, including the right-wing generals Nasution and Soeharto, comprised those opposed to Yani and his Soekarnoist policies.5 All of these generals were anti-PKI, but by 1965 the divisive issue was Soekarno.

The simple (yet untold) story of Soekarno's overthrow is that in the fall of 1965 Yani and his inner circle of generals were murdered, paving the way for a seizure of power by right-wing anti-Yani forces allied to Soeharto. The key to this was the so-called Gestapu coup attempt which, in the name of supporting Soekarno, in fact targeted very precisely the leading members of the army's most loyal faction, the Yani group.6 An army unity meeting in January 1965, between "Yani's inner circle" and those (including Soeharto) who "had grievances of one sort or another against Yani," lined up the victims of September 30 against those who came to power after their murder.7

Not one anti-Soekarno general was targeted by Gestapu, with the obvious exception of General Nasution.8 But by 1961 the CIA operatives had become disillusioned with Nasution as a reliable asset, because of his "consistent record of yielding to Soekarno on several major counts."9 Relations between Soeharto and Nasution were also cool, since Nasution, after investigating Soeharto on corruption charges in 1959, had transferred him from his command.10

The duplicitous distortions of reality, first by Lt. Colonel Untung's statements for Gestapu, and then by Soeharto in "putting down" Gestapu, are mutually supporting lies.11 Untung, on October 1, announced ambiguously that Soekarno was under Gestapu's "protection" (he was not); also, that a CIA-backed Council of Generals had planned a coup for before October 5, and had for this purpose brought "troops from East, Central, and West Java" to Jakarta.12 Troops from these areas had indeed been brought to Jakarta for an Armed Forces Day parade on October 5th. Untung did not mention, however, that "he himself had been involved in the planning for the Armed Forces Day parade and in selecting the units to participate in it;"13 nor that these units (which included his own former battalion, the 454th) supplied most of the allies for his new battalion's Gestapu activities in Jakarta.

Soeharto's first two broadcasts reaffirmed the army's constant loyalty to "Bung Karno the Great Leader," and also blamed the deaths of six generals on PKI youth and women, plus "elements of the Air Force" -- on no other evidence than the site of the well where the corpses were found.14 At this time he knew very well that the killings had in fact been carried out by the very army elements Untung referred to, elements under Soeharto's own command.15

Thus, whatever the motivation of individuals such as Untung in the Gestapu putsch, Gestapu as such was duplicitous. Both its rhetoric and above all its actions were not simply inept; they were carefully designed to prepare for Soeharto's equally duplicitous response. For example, Gestapu's decision to guard all sides of the downtown Merdeka Square in Jakarta, except that on which Soeharto's KOSTRAD [Army Strategic Reserve Command] headquarters were situated, is consistent with Gestapu's decision to target the only army generals who might have challenged Soeharto's assumption of power. Again, Gestapu's announced transfer of power to a totally fictitious "Revolutionary Council," from which Soekarno had been excluded, allowed Soeharto in turn to masquerade as Soekarno's defender while in fact preventing him from resuming control. More importantly, Gestapu's gratuitous murder of the generals near the air force base where PKI youth had been trained allowed Soeharto, in a Goebbels-like manoeuvre, to transfer the blame for the killings from the troops under his own command (whom he knew had carried out the kidnappings) to air force and PKI personnel who where ignorant of them.16

From the pro-Soeharto sources -- notably the CIA study of Gestapu published in 1968 -- we learn how few troops were involved in the alleged Gestapu rebellion, and, more importantly, that in Jakarta as in Central Java the same battalions that supplied the "rebellious" companies were also used to "put the rebellion down." Two thirds of one paratroop brigade (which Soeharto had inspected the previous day) plus one company and one platoon constituted the whole of Gestapu forces in Jakarta; all but one of these units were commanded by present or former Diponegoro Division officers close to Soeharto; and the last was under an officer who obeyed Soeharto's close political ally, Basuki Rachmat.17

Two of these companies, from the 454th and 530th battalions, were elite raiders, and from 1962 these units had been among the main Indonesian recipients of U.S. assistance.18 This fact, which in itself proves nothing, increases our curiosity about the many Gestapu leaders who had been U.S.-trained. The Gestapu leader in Central Java, Saherman, had returned from training at Fort Leavenworth and Okinawa, shortly before meeting with Untung and Major Sukirno of the 454th Battalion in mid-August 1965.19 As Ruth McVey has observed, Saherman's acceptance for training at Fort Leavenworth "would mean that he had passed review by CIA observers."20

Thus there is continuity between the achievements of both Gestapu and the response to it by Soeharto, who in the name of defending Soekarno and attacking Gestapu continued its task of eliminating the pro-Yani members of the Army General Staff, along with such other residual elements of support for first Yani and then Soekarno as remained.21

The biggest part of this task was of course the elimination of the PKI and its supporters, in a bloodbath which, as some Soeharto allies now concede, may have taken more than a half-million lives. These three events -- Gestapu, Soeharto's response, and the bloodbath -- have nearly always been presented in this country as separately motivated: Gestapu being described as a plot by leftists, and the bloodbath as for the most part an irrational act of popular frenzy.

U.S. officials, journalists and scholars, some with rather prominent CIA connections, are perhaps principally responsible for the myth that the bloodbath was a spontaneous, popular revulsion to what U.S. Ambassador Jones later called PKI "carnage."22 Although the PKI certainly contributed its share to the political hysteria of 1965, Crouch has shown that subsequent claims of a PKI terror campaign were grossly exaggerated.23 In fact systematic killing occurred under army instigation in staggered stages, the worst occurring as Colonel Sarwo Edhie's RPKAD [Army Paracommando Regiment] moved from Jakarta to Central and East Java, and finally to Bali.24 Civilians involved in the massacre were either recruited and trained by the army on the spot, or were drawn from groups (such as the army- and CIA-sponsored SOKSI trade unions [Central Organization of Indonesian Socialist Employees], and allied student organizations) which had collaborated for years with the army on political matters. It is clear from Sundhaussen's account that in most of the first areas of organized massacre (North Sumatra, Aceh, Cirebon, the whole of Central and East Java), there were local army commanders with especially strong and proven anti-PKI sentiments. Many of these had for years cooperated with civilians, through so-called "civic action" programs sponsored by the United States, in operations directed against the PKI and sometimes Soekarno. Thus one can legitimately suspect conspiracy in the fact that anti-PKI "civilian responses" began on October 1, when the army began handing out arms to Muslim students and unionists, before there was any publicly available evidence linking Gestapu to the PKI.25

Even Sundhaussen, who downplays the army's role in arming and inciting the civilian murder bands, concludes that, whatever the strength of popular anti-PKI hatred and fear, "without the Army's anti-PKI propaganda the massacre might not have happened."26 The present article goes further and argues that Gestapu, Soeharto's response, and the bloodbath were part of a single coherent scenario for a military takeover, a scenario which was again followed closely in Chile in the years 1970-73 (and to some extent in Cambodia in 1970).

Soeharto, of course, would be a principal conspirator in this scenario: his duplicitous role of posing as a defender of the constitutional status quo, while in fact moving deliberately to overthrow it, is analogous to that of General Pinochet in Chile. But a more direct role in organizing the bloodbath was played by civilians and officers close to the cadres of the CIA's failed rebellion of 1958, now working in so-called "civic action" programs funded and trained by the United States. Necessary ingredients of the scenario had to be, and clearly were, supplied by other nations in support of Soeharto. Many such countries appear to have played such a supporting role: Japan, Britain, Germany,27 possibly Australia. But I wish to focus on the encouragement and support for military "putschism" and mass murder which came from the U.S., from the CIA, the military, RAND, the Ford Foundation, and individuals.28

The United States and the Indonesian Army's "Mission"

It seems clear that from as early as 1953 the U.S. was interested in helping to foment the regional crisis in Indonesia, usually recognized as the "immediate cause" that induced Soekarno, on March 14, 1957, to proclaim martial law, and bring "the officer corps legitimately into politics."29

By 1953 (if not earlier) the U.S. National Security Council had already adopted one of a series of policy documents calling for "appropriate action, in collaboration with other friendly countries, to prevent permanent communist control" of Indonesia.30 Already NSC 171/1 of that year envisaged military training as a means of increasing U.S. influence, even though the CIA's primary efforts were directed towards right-wing political parties ("moderates ... on the right," as NSC 171 called them): notably the Masjumi Muslim and the PSI "Socialist" parties. The millions of dollars which the CIA poured into the Masjumi and the PSI in the mid-1950s were a factor influencing the events of 1965, when a former PSI member -- Sjam -- was the alleged mastermind of Gestapu,31 and PSI-leaning officers -- notably Suwarto and Sarwo Edhie -- were prominent in planning and carrying out the anti-PKI response to Gestapu.32

In 1957-58, the CIA infiltrated arms and personnel in support of the regional rebellions against Soekarno. These operations were nominally covert, even though an American plane and pilot were captured, and the CIA efforts were accompanied by an offshore task force of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.33 In 1975 a Senate Select Committee studying the CIA discovered what it called "some evidence of CIA involvement in plans to assassinate President Soekarno"; but, after an initial investigation of the November 1957 assassination attempt in the Cikini district of Jakarta, the committee did not pursue the matter.34

On August 1, 1958, after the failure of the CIA-sponsored PRRI-Permesta regional rebellions against Soekarno, the U.S. began an upgraded military assistance program to Indonesia in the order of twenty million dollars a year.35 A U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff memo of 1958 makes it clear this aid was given to the Indonesian Army ("the only non-Communist force ... with the capability of obstructing the ... PKI") as "encouragement" to Nasution to "carry out his 'plan' for the control of Commu-nism."36

The JCS had no need to spell out Nasution's "plan," to which other documents at this time made reference.37 It could only imply the tactics for which Nasution had distinguished himself (in American eyes) during the crushing of the PKI in the Madiun Affair of 1948: mass murders and mass arrests, at a minimum of the party's cadres, possibly after an army provocation.38 Nasution confirmed this in November 1965, after the Gestapu slaughter, when he called for the total extinction of the PKI, "down to its very roots so there will be no third Madiun."39

By 1958, however, the PKI had emerged as the largest mass movement in the country. It is in this period that a small group of U.S. academic researchers in U.S. Air Force- and CIA-subsidized "think-tanks" began pressuring their contacts in the Indonesian military publicly, often through U.S. scholarly journals and presses, to seize power and liquidate the PKI opposition.40 The most prominent example is Guy Pauker, who in 1958 both taught at the University of California at Berkeley and served as a consultant at the RAND Corporation. In the latter capacity he maintained frequent contact with what he himself called "a very small group" of PSI intellectuals and their friends in the army.41

In a RAND Corporation book published by the Princeton University Press, Pauker urged his contacts in the Indonesian military to assume "full responsibility" for their nation's leadership, "fulfill a mission," and hence "to strike, sweep their house clean."42 Although Pauker may not have intended anything like the scale of bloodbath which eventually ensued, there is no escaping the fact that "mission" and "sweep clean" were buzz-words for counterinsurgency and massacre, and as such were used frequently before and during the coup. The first murder order, by military officers to Muslim students in early october, was the word sikat, meaning "sweep," "clean out," "wipe out," or "massacre."43

Pauker's closest friend in the Indonesian army was a U.S.-trained General Suwarto, who played an important part in the conversion of the army from a revolutionary to a counterinsurgency function. In the years after 1958, Suwarto built the Indonesian Army Staff and Command School in Bandung (SESKOAD) into a training-ground for the takeover of political power. SESKOAD in this period became a focal-point of attention from the Pentagon, the CIA, RAND, and (indirectly) the Ford Foundation.44

Under the guidance of Nasution and Suwarto, SESKOAD developed a new strategic doctrine, that of Territorial Warfare (in a document translated into English by Pauker), which gave priority to counterinsurgency as the army's role. Especially after 1962, when the Kennedy administration aided the Indonesian Army in developing Civic Mission or "civic action" programs, this meant the organization of its own political infrastructure, or "Territorial Organization," reaching in some cases down to the village level.45 As the result of an official U.S. State Department recommendation in 1962, which Pauker helped write, a special U.S. MILTAG (Military Training Advisory Group) was set up in Jakarta, to assist in the implementation of SESKOAD's Civic Mission programs.46

SESKOAD also trained the army officers in economics and administration, and thus to operate virtually as a para-state, independent of Soekarno's government. So the army began to collaborate, and even sign contracts, with U.S. and other foreign corporations in areas which were now under its control. This training program was entrusted to officers and civilians close to the PSI.47 U.S. officials have confirmed that the civilians, who themselves were in a training program funded by the Ford Foundation, became involved in what the (then) U.S. military attache called "contingency planning" to prevent a PKI takeover.48

But the most significant focus of U.S. training and aid was the Territorial Organi-zation's increasing liaison with "the civilian administration, religious and cultural organizations, youth groups, veterans, trade unions, peasant organizations, political parties and groups at regional and local levels."49 These political liaisons with civilian groups provided the structure for the ruthless suppression of the PKI in 1965, including the bloodbath.50

Soon these army and civilian cadres were together plotting disruptive activities, such as the Bandung anti-Chinese riots of May 1963, which embarrassed not just the PKI, but Soekarno himself. Chomsky and Herman report that "Army-inspired anti-Chinese programs that took place in West Java in 1959 were financed by U.S. contributions to the local army commander"; apparently CIA funds were used by the commander (Colonel Kosasih) to pay local thugs in what Mozingo calls "the army's (and probably the Americans') campaign to rupture relations with China."51 The 1963 riot, which took place in the very shadow of SESKOAD, is linked by Sundhaussen to an army "civic action" organization; and shows conspiratorial contact between elements (an underground PSI cell, PSI- and Masjumi-affiliated student groups, and General Ishak Djuarsa of the Siliwangi Division's "civic action" organization) that would all be prominent in the very first phase of Soeharto's so-called "response" to the Gestapu.52 The May 1963 student riots were repeated in October 1965 and (especially in Bandung) January 1966, at which time the liaison between students and the army was largely in the hands of PSI-leaning officers like Sarwo Edhie and Kemal Idris.53 The CIA Plans Directorate was sympathetic to the increasing deflection of a nominally anti-PKI operation into one embarrassing Soekarno. This turn would have come as no surprise: Suwarto, Kemal Idris and the PSI had been prominent in a near-coup (the so-called "Lubis affair") in 1956.54

But increasingly Suwarto cultivated a new student, Colonel Soeharto, who arrived at SESKOAD in October 1959. According to Sundhaussen, a relatively pro-Soeharto scholar: "In the early 1960s Soeharto was involved in the formation of the Doctrine of Territorial Warfare and the Army's policy on Civic Mission (that is, penetration of army officers into all fields of government activities and responsibilities).55 Central to the public image of Gestapu and Soeharto's response is the much-publicized fact that Soeharto, unlike his sometime teacher Suwarto, and his long-time chief of staff Achmad Wiranatakusuma, had never studied in the United States. But his involve-ment in Civic Mission (or what Americans called "civic action") programs located him along with PSI-leaning officers at the focal point of U.S. training activities in Indonesia, in a program which was nakedly political.56

The refinement of Territorial Warfare and Civic Mission Doctrine into a new strategic doctrine for army political intervention became by 1965 the ideological process consolidating the army for political takeover. After Gestapu, when Suwarto was an important political advisor to his former SESKOAD pupil Soeharto, his strategic doctrine was the justification for Soeharto's announcement on August 15, 1966, in fulfillment of Pauker's public and private urgings, that the army had to assume a leading role in all fields.57

Hence the army unity meeting of January 1965, arranged after Soeharto had duplicitously urged Nasution to take "a more accommodating line"58 towards Soekarno, was in fact a necessary step in the process whereby Soeharto effectively took over from his rivals Yani and Nasution. It led to the April 1965 seminar at SESKOAD for a compromise army strategic doctrine, the Tri Ubaya Cakti, which "reaffirmed the army's claim to an independent political role."59 On August 15, 1966, Soeharto, speaking to the nation, justified his increasing prominence in terms of the "Revolutionary Mission" of the Tri Ubaya Cakti doctrine. Two weeks later at SES-KOAD the doctrine was revised, at Soeharto's instigation but in a setting "carefully orchestrated by Brigadier Suwarto," to embody still more clearly Pauker's emphasis on the army's "Civic Mission" or counterrevolutionary role.60 This "Civic Mission," so important to Soeharto, was also the principal goal and fruit of U.S. military aid to Indonesia.

By August 1964, moreover, Soeharto had initiated political contacts with Malaysia, and hence eventually with Japan, Britain, and the United States.61 Although the initial purpose of these contacts may have been to head off war with Malaysia, Sundhaussen suggests that Soeharto's motive was his concern, buttressed in mid-1964 by a KOSTRAD intelligence report, about PKI political advances.62 Mrazek links the peace feelers to the withdrawal of "some of the best army units" back to Java in the summer of 1965.63 These movements, together with earlier deployment of a politically insecure Diponegoro battalion in the other direction, can also be seen as preparations for the seizure of power.64

In Nishihara's informed Japanese account, former PRRI / Permesta personnel with intelligence connections in Japan were prominent in these negotiations, along with Japanese officials.65 Nishihara also heard that an intimate ally of these personnel, Jan Walandouw, who may have acted as a CIA contact for the 1958 rebellion, later again "visited Washington and advocated Soeharto as a leader."66 I am reliably informed that Walandouw's visit to Washington on behalf of Soeharto was made some months before Gestapu.67

The U.S. Moves Against Soekarno

Many people in Washington, especially in the CIA Plans Directorate, had long desired the "removal" of Soekarno as well as of the PKI.68 By 1961 key policy hard-liners, notably Guy Pauker, had also turned against Nasution.69 Nevertheless, despite last-minute memoranda from the outgoing Eisenhower administration which would have opposed "whatever regime" in Indonesia was "increasingly friendly toward the Sino-Soviet bloc," the Kennedy administration stepped up aid to both Soekarno and the army.70

However, Lyndon Johnson's accession to the presidency was followed almost immediately by a shift to a more anti-Soekarno policy. This is clear from Johnson's decision in December 1963 to withhold economic aid which (according to Ambassador Jones) Kennedy would have supplied "almost as a matter of routine."71 This refusal suggests that the U.S. aggravation of Indonesia's economic woes in 1963-65 was a matter of policy rather than inadvertence. Indeed, if the CIA's overthrow of Allende is a relevant analogy, then one would expect someday to learn that the CIA, through currency speculations and other hostile acts, contributed actively to the radical destabilization of the Indonesian economy in the weeks just before the coup, when "the price of rice quadrupled between June 30 and October 1, and the black market price of the dollar skyrocketed, particularly in September."72

As was the case in Chile, the gradual cutoff of all economic aid to Indonesia in the years 1962-65 was accompanied by a shift in military aid to friendly elements in the Indonesian Army: U.S. military aid amounted to $39.5 million in the four years 1962-65 (with a peak of $16.3 million in 1962) as opposed to $28.3 million for the thirteen years 1949-61.73 After March 1964, when Soekarno told the U.S., "go to hell with your aid," it became increasingly difficult to extract any aid from the U.S. congress: those persons not aware of what was developing found it hard to understand why the U.S. should help arm a country which was nationalizing U.S. economic interests, and using immense aid subsidies from the Soviet Union to confront the British in Malaysia.

Thus a public image was created that under Johnson "all United States aid to Indonesia was stopped," a claim so buttressed by misleading documentation that competent scholars have repeated it.74 In fact, Congress had agreed to treat U.S. funding of the Indonesian military (unlike aid to any other country) as a covert matter, restricting congressional review of the president's determinations on Indonesian aid to two Senate committees, and the House Speaker, who were concurrently involved in oversight of the CIA.75

Ambassador Jones' more candid account admits that "suspension" meant "the U.S. government undertook no new commitments of assistance, although it continued with ongoing programs.... By maintaining our modest assistance to [the Indonesian Army and the police brigade], we fortified them for a virtually inevitable showdown with the burgeoning PKI."76

Only from recently released documents do we learn that new military aid was en route as late as July 1965, in the form of a secret contract to deliver two hundred Aero-Commanders to the Indonesian Army: these were light aircraft suitable for use in "civic action" or counterinsurgency operations, presumably by the Army Flying Corps whose senior officers were virtually all trained in the U.S.77 By this time, the publicly admitted U.S. aid was virtually limited to the completion of an army communications system and to "civic action" training. It was by using the army's new communications system, rather than the civilian system in the hands of Soekarno loyalists, that Soeharto on October 1, 1965 was able to implement his swift purge of Soekarno-Yani loyalists and leftists, while "civic action" officers formed the hard core of lower-level Gestapu officers in Central Java.78

Before turning to the more covert aspects of U.S. military aid to Indonesia in 1963-65, let us review the overall changes in U.S.-Indonesian relations. Economic aid was now in abeyance, and military aid tightly channeled so as to strengthen the army domestically. U.S. government funding had obviously shifted from the Indonesian state to one of its least loyal components. As a result of agreements beginning with martial law in 1957, but accelerated by the U.S.-negotiated oil agreement of 1963, we see exactly the same shift in the flow of payments from U.S. oil companies. Instead of token royalties to the Soekarno government, the two big U.S. oil companies in Indonesia, Stanvac and Caltex, now made much larger payments to the army's oil company, Permina, headed by an eventual political ally of Soeharto, General Ibnu Sutowo; and to a second company, Pertamin, headed by the anti-PKI and pro-U.S. politician, Chaerul Saleh.79 After Soeharto's overthrow of Soekarno, Fortune wrote that "Sutowo's still small company played a key part in bankrolling those crucial operations, and the army has never forgotten it."80

U.S. Support for the Soeharto Faction Before Gestapu

American officials commenting on the role of U.S. aid in this period have taken credit for assisting the anti-Communist seizure of power, without ever hinting at any degree of conspiratorial responsibility in the planning of the bloodbath. The impression created is that U.S. officials remained aloof from the actual planning of events, and we can see from recently declassified cable traffic how carefully the U.S. government fostered this image of detachment from what was happening in Indonesia.81

In fact, however, the U.S. government was lying about its involvement. In Fiscal Year 1965, a period when The New York Times claimed "all United States aid to Indonesia was stopped," the number of MAP (Military Assistance Program) personnel in Jakarta actually increased, beyond what had been projected, to an unprecedented high.82 According to figures released in 1966,83 from FY 1963 to FY 1965 the value of MAP deliveries fell from about fourteen million dollars to just over two million dollars. Despite this decline, the number of MAP military personnel remained almost unchanged, approximately thirty, while in FY 1965 civilian personnel (fifteen) were present for the first time. Whether or not one doubts that aid deliveries fell off as sharply as the figures would suggest, the MILTAG personnel figures indicate that their "civic action" program was being escalated, not decreased.84 We have seen that some months before Gestapu, a Soeharto emissary with past CIA connections (Colonel Jan Walandouw) made contact with the U.S. government. From as early as May 1965, U.S. military suppliers with CIA connections (principally Lockheed) were negotiating equipment sales with payoffs to middlemen, in such a way as to generate payoffs to backers of the hitherto little-known leader of a new third faction in the army, Major-General Soeharto -- rather than to those backing Nasution or Yani, the titular leaders of the armed forces. Only in the last year has it been confirmed that secret funds administered by the U.S. Air Force (possibly on behalf of the CIA) were laundered as "commissions" on sales of Lockheed equipment and services, in order to make political payoffs to the military personnel of foreign countries.85

A 1976 Senate investigation into these payoffs revealed, almost inadvertently, that in May 1965, over the legal objections of Lockheed's counsel, Lockheed commissions in Indonesia had been redirected to a new contract and company set up by the firm's long-time local agent or middleman.86 Its internal memos at the time show no reasons for the change, but in a later memo the economic counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta is reported as saying that there were "some political considerations behind it."87 If this is true, it would suggest that in May 1965, five months before the coup, Lockheed had redirected its payoffs to a new political eminence, at the risk (as its assistant chief counsel pointed out) of being sued for default on its former contractual obligations.

The Indonesian middleman, August Munir Dasaad, was "known to have assisted Soekarno financially since the 1930's."88 In 1965, however, Dasaad was building connections with the Soeharto forces, via a family relative, General Alamsjah, who had served briefly under Soeharto in 1960, after Soeharto completed his term at SESKOAD. Via the new contract, Lockheed, Dasaad and Alamsjah were apparently hitching their wagons to Soeharto's rising star:

When the coup was made during which Soeharto replaced Soekarno, Alamsjah, who controlled certain considerable funds, at once made these available to Soeharto, which obviously earned him the gratitude of the new President. In due course he was appointed to a position of trust and confidence and today Alamsjah is, one might say, the second important man after the President.89

Thus in 1966 the U.S. Embassy advised Lockheed it should "continue to use" the Dasaad-Alamsjah-Soeharto connection.90

In July 1965, at the alleged nadir of U.S.-Indonesian aid relations, Rockwell-Standard had a contractual agreement to deliver two hundred light aircraft (Aero-Commanders) to the Indonesian Army (not the Air Force) in the next two months.91 Once again the commission agent on the deal, Bob Hasan, was a political associate (and eventual business partner) of Soeharto.92 More specifically, Soeharto and Bob Hasan established two shipping companies to be operated by the Central Java army division, Diponegoro. This division, as has long been noticed, supplied the bulk of the personnel on both sides of the Gestapu coup drama -- both those staging the coup attempt, and those putting it down. And one of the three leaders in the Central Java Gestapu movement was Lt. Col. Usman Sastrodibroto, chief of the Diponegoro Division's "section dealing with extramilitary functions."93

Thus of the two known U.S. military sales contracts from the eve of the Gestapu Putsch, both involved political payoffs to persons who emerged after Gestapu as close Soeharto allies. The use of this traditional channel for CIA patronage suggests that the U.S. was not at arm's length from the ugly political developments of 1965, despite the public indications, from both government spokesmen and the U.S. business press, that Indonesia was now virtually lost to communism and nothing could be done about it.

The actions of some U.S. corporations, moreover, made it clear that by early 1965 they expected a significant boost to the U.S. standing in Indonesia. For example, a recently declassified cable reveals that Freeport Sulphur had by April 1965 reached a preliminary "arrangement" with Indonesian officials for what would become a $500 million investment in West Papua copper. This gives the lie to the public claim that the company did not initiate negotiations with Indonesians (the inevitable Ibnu Sutowo) until February 1966.94 And in September 1965, shortly after World Oil reported that "indonesia's gas and oil industry appeared to be slipping deeper into the political morass,"95 the president of a small oil company (Asamera) in a joint venture with Ibnu Sutowo's Permina purchased $50,000 worth of shares in his own ostensibly-threatened company. Ironically this double purchase (on September 9 and September 21) was reported in the Wall Street Journal of September 30, 1965, the day of Gestapu.

The CIA's "[One Word Deleted] Operation" in 1965

Less than a year after Gestapu and the bloodbath, James Reston wrote appreciatively about them as "A Gleam of Light in Asia":  Washington is being careful not to claim any credit for this change in the sixth most populous and one of the richest nations in the world, but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it. There was a great deal more contact between the anti-Communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized.96

As for the CIA in 1965, we have the testimony of former CIA officer Ralph McGehee, curiously corroborated by the selective censorship of his former CIA employers:

Where the necessary circumstances or proofs are lacking to support U.S. intervention, the C.I.A. creates the appropriate situations or else invents them and disseminates its distortions worldwide via its media operations. A prominent example would be Chile.... Disturbed at the Chilean military's unwillingness to take action against Allende, the C.I.A. forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders. The discovery of this "plot" was headlined in the media and Allende was deposed and murdered.

There is a similarity between events that precipitated the overthrow of Allende and what happened in Indonesia in 1965. Estimates of the number of deaths that occurred as a result of the latter C.I.A. [one word deleted] operation run from one-half million to more than one million people.97

McGehee claims to have once seen, while reviewing CIA documents in Washington, a highly classified report on the agency's role in provoking the destruction of the PKI after Gestapu. It seems appropriate to ask for congressional review and publication of any such report. If, as is alleged, it recommended such murderous techniques as a model for future operations, it would appear to document a major turning-point in the agency's operation history: towards the systematic exploitation of the death squad operations which, absent during the Brazilian coup of 1964, made the Vietnam Phoenix counterinsurgency program notorious after 1967, and after 1968 spread from Guatemala to the rest of Latin America.98

McGehee's claims of a CIA psychological warfare operation against Allende are corroborated by Tad Szulc:  CIA agents in Santiago assisted Chilean military intelli-gence in drafting bogus Z-plan documents alleging that Allende and his supporters were planning to behead Chilean military commanders. These were issued by the junta to justify the coup.99

Indeed the CIA deception operations against Allende appear to have gone even farther, terrifying both the left and the right with the fear of incipient slaughter by their enemies. Thus militant trade-unionists as well as conservative generals in Chile received small cards printed with the ominous words Djakarta se acerca (Jakarta is approaching).100

This is a model destabilization plan -- to persuade all concerned that they no longer can hope to be protected by the status quo, and hence weaken the center, while inducing both right and left towards more violent provocation of each other. Such a plan appears to have been followed in Laos in 1959-61, where a CIA officer explained to a reporter that the aim "was to polarize Laos."101 It appears to have been followed in Indonesia in 1965. Observers like Sundhaussen confirm that to understand the coup story of October 1965 we must look first of all at the "rumour market" which in 1965 ... turned out the wildest stories."102 On September 14, two weeks before the coup, the army was warned that there was a plot to assassinate army leaders four days later; a second such report was discussed at army headquarters on September 30.103 But a year earlier an alleged PKI document, which the PKI denounced as a forgery, had purported to describe a plan to overthrow "Nasutionists" through infiltration of the army. This "document," which was reported in a Malaysian newspaper after being publicized by the pro-U.S. politician Chaerul Saleh104 in mid-December 1964, must have lent credence to Soeharto's call for an army unity meeting the next month.105

The army's anxiety was increased by rumors, throughout 1965, that mainland China was smuggling arms to the PKI for an imminent revolt. Two weeks before Gestapu, a story to this effect also appeared in a Malaysian newspaper, citing Bangkok sources which relied in turn on Hong Kong sources.106 Such international untraceability is the stylistic hallmark of stories emanating in this period from what CIA insiders called their "mighty Wurlitzer," the world-wide network of press "assets" through which the CIA, or sister agencies such as Britain's MI-6, could plant unattributable disinformation.107 PKI demands for a popular militia or "fifth force," and the training of PKI youth at Lubang Buaja, seemed much more sinister to the Indonesian army in the light of the Chinese arms stories.

But for months before the coup, the paranoia of the PKI had also been played on, by recurring reports that a CIA-backed "Council of Generals" was plotting to suppress the PKI. It was this mythical council, of course, that Untung announced as the target of his allegedly anti-CIA Gestapu coup. But such rumors did not just originate from anti-American sources; on the contrary, the first authoritative published reference to such a council was in a column of the Washington journalists Evans and Novak:

As far back as March, General Ibrahim Adjie, commander of the Siliwangi Division, had been quoted by two American journalists as saying of the Communists: "we knocked them out before [at Madiun]. We check them and check them again." The same journalists claimed to have information that "...the Army has quietly established an advisory commission of five general officers to report to General Jani ... and General Nasution ... on PKI activities."108

Mortimer sees the coincidence that five generals besides Yani were killed by Gestapu as possibly significant.

But we should also be struck by the revival in the United States of the image of Yani and Nasution as anti-PKI planners, long after the CIA and U.S. press stories had in fact written them off as unwilling to act against Soekarno.109 If the elimination by Gestapu of Soeharto's political competitors in the army was to be blamed on the left, then the scenario required just such a revival of the generals' forgotten anti-Communist image in opposition to Soekarno. An anomalous unsigned August 1965 profile of Nasution in The New York Times, based on an 1963 interview but published only after a verbal attack by Nasution on British bases in Singapore, does just this: it claims (quite incongruously, given the context) that Nasution is "considered the strongest opponent of Communism in Indonesia"; and adds that Soekarno, backed by the PKI, "has been pursuing a campaign to neutralize the ... army as an anti-Communist force."110

In the same month of August 1965, fear of an imminent showdown between "the PKI and the Nasution group" was fomented in Indonesia by an underground pamphlet; this was distributed by the CIA's long-time asset, the PSI, whose cadres were by now deeply involved:

The PKI is combat ready. The Nasution group hope the PKI will be the first to draw the trigger, but this the PKI will not do. The PKI will not allow itself to be provoked as in the Madiun Incident. In the end, however, there will be only two forces left: the PKI and the Nasution group. The middle will have no alternative but to choose and get protection from the stronger force.111

One could hardly hope to find a better epitome of the propaganda necessary for the CIA's program of engineering paranoia. McGehee's article, after censorship by the CIA, focuses more narrowly on the CIA's role in anti-PKI propaganda alone:

The Agency seized upon this opportunity [Soeharto's response to Gestapu] and set out to destroy the P.K.I.... [eight sentences deleted].... Media fabrications played a key role in stirring up popular resentment against the P.K.I. Photographs of the bodies of the dead generals -- badly decomposed -- were featured in all the newspapers and on television. Stories accompanying the pictures falsely claimed that the generals had been castrated and their eyes gouged out by Communist women. This cynically manufactured campaign was designed to foment public anger against the Communists and set the stage for a massacre.112

McGehee might have added that the propaganda stories of torture by hysterical women with razor blades, which serious scholars dismiss as groundless, were revived in a more sophisticated version by a U.S. journalist, John Hughes, who is now the chief spokesman for the State Department.113

Soeharto's forces, particularly Col. Sarwo Edhie of the RPKAD commandos, were overtly involved in the cynical exploitation of the victims' bodies.114 But some aspects of the massive propaganda campaign appear to have been orchestrated by non-Indonesians. A case in point is the disputed editorial in support of Gestapu which appeared in the October 2 issue of the PKI newspaper Harian Rakjat. Professors Benedict Anderson and Ruth McVey, who have questioned the authenticity of this issue, have also ruled out the possibility that the newspaper was "an Army falsification," on the grounds that the army's "competence ... at falsifying party documents has always been abysmally low."115

The questions raised by Anderson and McVey have not yet been adequately answered. Why did the PKI show no support for the Gestapu coup while it was in progress, then rashly editorialize in support of Gestapu after it had been crushed? Why did the PKI, whose editorial gave support to Gestapu, fail to mobilize its followers to act on Gestapu's behalf? Why did Soeharto, by then in control of Jakarta, close down all newspapers except this one, and one other left-leaning newspaper which also served his propaganda ends?116 Why, in other words, did Soeharto on October 2 allow the publication of only two Jakarta newspapers, two which were on the point of being closed down forever?

As was stated at the outset, it would be foolish to suggest that in 1965 the only violence came from the U.S. government, the Indonesian military, and their mutual contacts in British and Japanese intelligence. A longer paper could also discuss the provocative actions of the PKI, and of Soekarno himself, in this tragedy of social breakdown. Assuredly, from one point of view, no one was securely in control of events in this troubled period.117 And yet for two reasons such a fashionably objective summation of events seems inappropriate. In the first place, as the CIA's own study concedes, we are talking about "one of the ghastliest and most concentrated bloodlettings of current times," one whose scale of violence seems out of all proportion to such well-publicized left-wing acts as the murder of an army lieutenant at the Bandar Betsy plantation in May 1965,118 And, in the second place, the scenario described by McGehee for 1965 can be seen as not merely responding to the provocations, paranoia, and sheer noise of events in that year, but as actively encouraging and channeling them.

It should be noted that former CIA Director William Colby has repeatedly denied that there was CIA or other U.S. involvement in the massacre of 1965. (In the absence of a special CIA Task Force, Colby, as head of the CIA's Far Eastern Division from 1962-66, would normally have been responsible for the CIA's operations in Indonesia.) Colby's denial is however linked to the discredited story of a PKI plot to seize political power, a story that he revived in 1978:

Indonesia exploded, with a bid for power by the largest Communist Party in the world outside the curtain, which killed the leadership of the army with Soekarno's tacit approval and then was decimated in reprisal. CIA provided a steady flow of reports on the process in Indonesia, although it did not have any role in the course of events themselves.119

It is important to resolve the issue of U.S. involvement in this systematic murder operation, and particularly to learn more about the CIA account of this which McGehee claims to have seen. McGehee tells us: "The Agency was extremely proud of its successful [one word deleted] and recommended it as a model for future operations [one-half sentence deleted]."120 Ambassador Green reports of an interview with Nixon in 1967:

The Indonesian experience had been one of particular interest to [Nixon] because things had gone well in Indonesia. I think he was very interested in that whole experience as pointing to the way we [!] should handle our relationships on a wider basis in Southeast Asia generally, and maybe in the world.121

Such unchallenged assessments help explain the role of Indonesians in the Nixon-sponsored overthrow of Sihanouk in Cambodia in 1970, the use of the Jakarta scenario for the overthrow of Allende in Chile in 1973, and the U.S. sponsorship today of the death squad regimes in Central America.122

University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A., December 1984


1.      The difficulties of this analysis, based chiefly on the so-called "evidence" presented at the Mahmilub trials, will be obvious to anyone who has tried to reconcile the conflicting accounts of Gestapu in, e.g., the official Soeharto account by Nugroho Notosusanto and Ismail Saleh, and the somewhat less fanciful CIA study of 1968, both referred to later. I shall draw only on those parts of the Mahmilub evidence which limit or discredit their anti-PKI thesis. For interpretation of the Mahmilub data, cf. especially Coen Holtzappel, "The 30 September Movement," Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 (1979), pp. 216-40. The case for general skepticism is argued by Rex Mortimer, Indonesian Communism Under Soekarno (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp. 421-3; and more forcefully, by Julie Southwood and Patrick Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, Propaganda, and Terror (London: Zed Press, 1983), pp. 126-34.

2.      At his long-delayed trial in 1978, Gestapu plotter Latief confirmed earlier revelations that he had visited his old commander Soeharto on the eve of the Gestapu kidnappings. He claimed that he raised with Soeharto the existence of an alleged right-wing "Council of Generals" plotting to seize power, and informed him "of a movement which was intended to thwart the plan of the generals' council for a coup d'etat" (Anon., "The Latief Case: Soeharto's Involvement Revealed," Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 [1979], pp. 248-50). For a more comprehensive view of Soeharto's involvement in Gestapu, cf. especially W.F. Wertheim, "Whose Plot? New Light on the 1965 Events," Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 (1979), pp. 197-215; Holtzappel, "The 30 September," in contrast, points more particularly to intelligence officers close to the banned Murba party of Chaerul Saleh and Adam Malik: cf. fn. 104.

3.      The three phases are: (1) "Gestapu," the induced left-wing "coup"; (2) "KAP-Gestapu," or the anti-Gestapu "response," massacring the PKI; (3) the progressive erosion of Soekarno's remaining power. This paper will chiefly discuss Gestapu / KAP-Gestapu, the first two phases. To call the first phase by itself a "coup" is in my view an abuse of terminology: there is no real evidence that in this phase political power changed hands or that this was the intention.

4.      U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Research Study: Indonesia -- The Coup that Backfired, 1968 (cited hereafter as CIA Study), p. 71n.

5.      Harold Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1978), pp. 79-81.

6.      In addition, one of the two Gestapu victims in Central Java (Colonel Katamso) was the only non-PKI official of rank to attend the PKI's nineteenth anniversary celebration in Jogjakarta in May 1964: Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 432. Ironically, the belated "discovery" of his corpse was used to trigger off the purge of his PKI contacts.

7.      Four of the six pro-Yani representatives in January were killed along with Yani on October 1. Of the five anti-Yani representatives in January, we shall see that at least three were prominent in "putting down" Gestapu and completing the elimination of the Yani-Soekarno loyalists (the three were Soeharto, Basuki Rachmat, and Sudirman of SESKOAD, the Indonesian Army Staff and Command School): Crouch, The Army, p. 81n.

8.      While Nasution's daughter and aide were murdered, he was able to escape without serious injury, and support the ensuing purge.

9.      Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 165 (CIA Memorandum of 22 March 1961 from Richard M. Bissell, Attachment B). By 1965 this disillusionment was heightened by Nasution's deep opposition to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

10.     Crouch, The Army, p. 40; Brian May, The Indonesian Tragedy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978), pp. 221-2.

11.     I shall assume for this condensed argument that Untung was the author, or at least approved, of the statements issued in his name. Scholars who see Untung as a dupe of Gestapu's controllers note that Untung was nowhere near the radio station broadcasting in his name, and that he appears to have had little or no influence over the task force which occupied it (under Captain Suradi of the intelligence service of Colonel Latief's Brigade): Holtzappel, pp. 218, 231-2, 236-7. I have no reason to contradict those careful analysts of Gestapu -- such as Wertheim, "Whose Plot?" p. 212, and Holtzappel, "The 30 September," p. 231 -- who conclude that Untung personally was sincere, and manipulated by other dalangs such as Sjam.

12.     Broadcast of 7:15 a.m. October 1; Indonesia 1 (April 1966), p. 134; Ulf Sundhaussen, The Road to Power: Indonesian Military Politics, 1945-1967 (Kuala Lumpur and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 196.

13.     Ibid., p. 201.

14.     Broadcasts of October 1 and 4, 1965; Indonesia 1 (April 1966), pp. 158-9.

15.     CIA Study, p. 2; O.G. Roeder, The Smiling General: President Soeharto of Indonesia (Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1970), p. 12, quoting Soeharto himself: "On my way to KOSTRAD HQ [Soeharto's HQ] I passed soldiers in green berets who were placed under KOSTRAD command but who did not salute me."

16.     Anderson and McVey concluded that Soekarno, Air Force Chief Omar Dhani, PKI Chairman Aidit (the three principal political targets of Soeharto's anti-Gestapu "response") were rounded up by the Gestapu plotters in the middle of the night, and taken to Halim air force base, about one mile from the well at Lubang Buaja where the generals' corpses were discovered. In 1966 they surmised that this was "to seal the conspirators' control of the bases," and to persuade Soekarno "to go along with" the conspirators' plans (Benedict Anderson and Ruth McVey, A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965, Coup in Indonesia [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1971], pp. 19-21). An alternative hypothesis of course is that Gestapu, by bringing these men together against their will, created the semblance of a PKI-air force-Soekarno conspiracy which would later be exploited by Soeharto. Soekarno's presence at Halim "was later to provide Soekarno's critics with some of their handiest ammunition" (John Hughes, The End of Soekarno [London: Angus and Robertson, 1978], p. 54).

17.     CIA Study, p. 2; cf. p. 65: "At the height of the coup ... the troops of the rebels [in Central Java] were estimated to have the strength of only one battalion; during the next two days, these forces gradually melted away."

18.     Rudolf Mrazek, The United States and the Indonesian Military, 1945-1966 (Prague: Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, 1978), vol. II, p. 172. These battalions, comprising the bulk of the 3rd Paratroop Brigade, also supplied the bulk of the troops used to put down Gestapu in Jakarta. The subordination of these two factions in this supposed civil war to a single close command structure under Soeharto is cited to explain how Soeharto was able to restore order in the city without gunfire. Meanwhile out at the Halim air force base an alleged gun battle between the 454th (Green Beret) and RPKAD (Red Beret) paratroops went off "without the loss of a single man" (CIA Study, p. 60). In Central Java, also, power "changed hands silently and peacefully," with "an astonishing lack of violence" (CIA Study, p. 66).

19.     Ibid., p. 60n; Arthur J. Dommen, "The Attempted Coup in Indonesia," China Quarterly, January-March 1966, p. 147. The first "get-acquainted" meeting of the Gestapu plotters is placed in the Indonesian chronology of events from "sometimes before August 17, 1965"; cf. Nugroho Notosusanto and Ismail Saleh, The Coup Attempt of the "September 30 Movement" in Indonesia (Jakarta: [Pembimbing Masa, 1968], p. 13); in the CIA Study, this meeting is dated September 6 (p. 112). Neither account allows more than a few weeks to plot a coup in the world's fifth most populous country.

20.     Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 429.

21.     Of the six General Staff officers appointed along with Yani, three (Suprapto, D.I. Pandjaitan, and S. Parman) were murdered. Of the three survivors, two (Mursjid and Pranoto) were removed by Soeharto in the next eight months. The last member of Yani's staff, Djamin Gintings, was used by Soeharto during the establishment of the New Order, and ignored thereafter.

22.     Howard Palfrey Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1971), p. 391; cf. Arnold Brackman, The Communist Collapse in Indonesia (New York: Norton, 1969), pp. 118-9.

23.     Crouch, The Army, p. 150n.

24.     Ibid., pp. 140-53; for the disputed case of Bali, even Robert Shaplen, a journalist close to U.S. official sources, concedes that "The Army began it" (Time Out of Hand [New York: Harper and Row, 1969], p. 125). The slaughter in East Java "also really got started when the RPKAD arrived, not just Central Java and Bali" (letter from Benedict Anderson).

25.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 171, 178-9, 210, 228; Donald Hindley, "Alirans and the Fall of the Older Order," Indonesia, 25 (April 1970), pp. 40-41.

26.     Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 219.

27.     "In 1965 it [the BND, or intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany] assisted Indonesia's military secret service to suppress a left-wing Putsch in Djakarta, delivering sub-machine guns, radio equipment and money to the value of 300,000 marks" (Heinz Hoehne and Hermann Zolling, The General Was a Spy [New York: Bantam, 1972], p. xxxiii).

28.     We should not be misled by the CIA's support of the 1958 rebellion into assuming that all U.S. Government plotting against Soekarno and the PKI must have been CIA-based (cf. fn. 122).

29.     Daniel Lev, The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University press, 1966), p. 12. For John Foster Dulles' hostility to Indonesian unity in 1953, cf. Leonard Mosley, Dulles (New York: The Dial Press / James Wade, 1978), p. 437.

30.     Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue (Woodbridge, Connecticut: Research Publications, 1982), 001191.

31.     As the head of the PKI's secret Special Bureau, responsible only to Aidit, Sjam by his own testimony provided leadership to the "progressive officers" of Gestapu. The issue of PKI involvement in Gestapu thus rests on the question of whether Sjam was manipulating the Gestapu leadership on behalf of the PKI, or the PKI leadership on behalf of the army. There seems to be no disagreement that Sjam was (according to the CIA Study, p. 107) a longtime "double agent" and professed "informer for the Djakarta Military Command." Wertheim (p. 203) notes that in the 1950s Sjam "was a cadre of the PSI," and "had also been in touch with Lt. Col. Soeharto, today's President, who often came to stay in his house in Jogja." This might help explain why in the 1970s, after having been sentenced to death, Sjam and his co-conspirator Supeno were reportedly "allowed out [of prison] from time to time and wrote reports for the army on the political situation" (May, The Indonesian, p. 114). Additionally, the "Sjam" who actually testified and was convicted, after being "captured" on March 9, 1967, was the third individual to be identified by the army as the "Sjam" of whom Untung had spoken: Declassified Documents Retrospective Collection (Washington, D.C.: Carrollton Press, 1976), 613C; Hughes, p. 25.

32.     Wertheim, "Whose Plot?" p. 203; Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 431 (Sjam); Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 228 (Suwarto and Sarwo Edhie).

33.     Joseph B. Smith, Portrait of a Cold Warrior (New York: Putnam, 1976), p. 205; cf. Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets (New York: Knopf, 1979), p. 89.

34.     U.S., Congress, Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. "Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders," 94th Cong., 1st Sess., 1975 (Senate Report No. 94-465), p. 4n; personal communications.

35.     Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 002386; 1981, 367A.

36.     Ibid., 1982, 002386 (JCS Memo for SecDef, 22 September 1958).

37.     Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 164 (CIA Memorandum of 22 March 1961, Attachment A, p. 6).

38.     Scholars are divided over interpretations of Madiun as they are over Gestapu. Few Americans have endorsed the conclusion of Wertheim that "the so-called communist revolt of Madiun ... was probably more or less provoked by anti-communist elements"; yet Kahin has suggested that the events leading to Madiun "may have been symptomatic of a general and widespread government drive aimed at cutting down the military strength of the PKI" (W.F. Wertheim, Indonesian Society in Transition [The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1956], p. 82; George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia [Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1970], p. 288). Cf. Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 26-30.

39.     Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 68; cf. Nasution's statement to students on November 12, 1965, reprinted in Indonesia, 1 (April 1966), p. 183: "We are obliged and dutybound to wipe them [the PKI] from the soil of Indonesia."

40.     Examples in Peter Dale Scott, "Exporting Military-Economic Development," in Malcolm Caldwell, ed., Ten Years' Military Terror in Indonesia (Nottingham, England: Spokesman Books, 1975), pp. 227-32.

41.     David Ransom, "Ford Country: Building an Elite for Indonesia," in Steve Weissman, ed., The Trojan Horse (San Francisco, California: Ramparts Press, 1974), p. 97; cf. p. 101. Pauker brought Suwarto to RAND in 1962.

42.     John H. Johnson, ed., The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1962), pp. 222-4. The foreword to the book is by Klaus Knorr, who worked for the CIA while teaching at Princeton.

43.     Shaplen, Time, p. 118; Hughes, The End, p. 119; Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 75-6; Scott, "Exporting," p. 231. William Kintner, a CIA (OPC) senior staff officer from 1950-52, and later Nixon's ambassador to Thailand, also wrote in favor of "liquidating" the PKI while working at a CIA-subsidized think-tank, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, on the University of Pennsylvania campus (William Kintner and Joseph Kornfeder, The New Frontier of War [London: Frederick Muller, 1963], pp. 233, 237-8): "If the PKI is able to maintain its legal existence and Soviet influence continues to grow, it is possible that Indonesia may be the first Southeast Asia country to be taken over by a popularly based, legally elected communist government.... In the meantime, with Western help, free Asian political leaders -- together with the military -- must not only hold on and manage, but reform and advance while liquidating the enemy's political and guerrilla armies."

44.     Ransom, "Ford Country," pp. 95-103; Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 34-6; Scott, "Exporting," pp. 227-35.

45.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 141, 175.

46.     Published U.S. accounts of the Civic Mission / "civic action" programs describe them as devoted to "civic projects -- rehabilitating canals, draining swampland to create new rice paddies, building bridges and roads, and so on (Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation [Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1967], p. 377). But a memo to President Johnson from Secretary of State Rusk, on July 17, 1964, makes it clear that at that time the chief importance of MILTAG was for its contact with anti-Communist elements in the Indonesian Army and its Territorial Organization: "Our aid to Indonesia ... we are satisfied ... is not helping Indonesia militarily. It is however, permitting us to maintain some contact with key elements in Indonesia which are interested in and capable of resisting Communist takeover. We think this is of vital importance to the entire Free World" (Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 001786 [DOS Memo for President of July 17, 1964; italics in original]).

47.     Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 35; Scott, "Exporting," p. 233.

48.     Ransom, "Ford Country," pp. 101-2, quoting Willis G. Ethel; cited in Scott, "Exporting," p. 235.

49.     Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 141. There was also the army's "own securely controlled paramilitary organization of students -- modelled on the U.S.R.O.T.C. and commanded by an army colonel [Djuhartono] fresh from the U.S. army intelligence course in Hawaii": Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, p. 139, citing interview of Nasution with George Kahin, July 8, 1963.

50.     Pauker, though modest in assessing his own political influence, does claim that a RAND paper he wrote on counterinsurgency and social justice, ignored by the U.S. military for whom it was intended, was influential in the development of his friend Suwarto's Civic Mission doctrine.

51.     Noam Chomsky and E.S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1979), p. 206; David Mozingo, Chinese Policy Toward Indonesia (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1976), p. 178.

52.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 178-9. The PSI of course was neither monolithic nor a simple instrument of U.S. policy. But the real point is that, in this 1963 incident as in others, we see conspiratorial activity relevant to the military takeover, involving PSI and other individuals who were at the focus of U.S. training programs, and who would play an important role in 1965.

53.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 228-33: in January 1966 the "PSI activists" in Bandung "knew exactly what they were aiming at, which was nothing less than the overthrow of Soekarno. Moreover, they had the protection of much of the Siliwangi officer corps" Once again, I use Sundhaussen's term "PSI-leaning" to denote a milieu, not to explain it. Sarwo Edhie was a long-time CIA contact, while Kemal Idris' role in 1965 may owe much to his former PETA commander the Japanese intelligence officer Yanagawa. Cf. Masashi Nishihara, The Japanese and Soekarno's Indonesia (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1976), pp. 138, 212.

54.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 99-101. Lubis was also a leader in the November 1957 assassination attempt against Soekarno, and the 1958 rebellion.

55.     Ibid., 188; cf. p. 159n.

56.     Soeharto's "student" status does not of course mean that he was a mere pawn in the hands of those with whom he established contact at SESKOAD. For example, Soeharto's independence from the PSI and those close to them became quite evident in January 1974, when he and Ali Murtopo cracked down on those responsible for army-tolerated student riots reminiscent of the one in May 1963. Cf. Crouch, The Army, pp. 309-17.

57.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 228, 241-43. In the same period SESKOAD was used for the political re-education of generals like Surjosumpeno, who, although anti-Communist, were guilty of loyalty to Soekarno (p. 238).

58.     Crouch, The Army, p. 80; at this time Soeharto was already unhappy with Soekarno's "rising pro-communist policy" (Roeder, The Smiling, p. 9).

59.     Crouch, The Army, p. 81; cf. Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, pp. 149-51.

60.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 241-3.

61.     Through his intelligence group OPSUS (headed by Ali Murtopo) Soeharto made contact with Malaysian leaders; in two accounts former PSI and PRRI / Permesta personnel in Malaysia played a role in setting up this sensitive political liaison: Crouch, The Army, p. 74; Nishihara, The Japanese, p. 149.

62.     Sundhaussen, The Road, pp. 188.

63.     Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, p. 152.

64.     Cf. Edward Luttwak, Coup D'Etat: A Practical Handbook (London: Allen Lane / Penguin Press, 1968), p. 61: "though Communist-infiltrated army units were very powerful they were in the wrong place; while they sat in the Borneo jungles the anti-Communist paratroops and marines took over Jakarta, and the country." What is most interesting in this informed account by Luttwak (who has worked for years with the CIA) is that "the anti-Communist paratroops" included not only the RPKAD but those who staged the Gestapu uprising in Jakarta, before putting it down.

65.     Nishihara, The Japanese, pp. 142, 149.

66.     Ibid., p. 202, cf. p. 207. The PRRI / Permesta veterans engaged in the OPSUS peace feelers, Daan Mogot and Willy Pesik, had with Jan Walandouw been part of a 1958 PRRI secret mission to Japan, a mission detailed in the inside account by former CIA officer Joseph B. Smith (Portrait of a Cold Warrior [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1976], p. 245), following which Walandouw flew on "to Taipeh, then Manila and New York."

67.     Personal communication. If the account of Neville Maxwell (senior research officer at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Oxford University) can be believed, then the planning of the Gestapu / anti-Gestapu scenario may well have begun in 1964 (Journal of Contemporary Asia, IX, 2 [1979], pp. 251-2; reprinted in Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 13): "A few years ago I was researching in Pakistan into the diplomatic background of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict, and in foreign ministry papers to which I had been given access came across a letter to the then foreign minister, Mr. Bhutto, from one of his ambassadors in Europe ... reporting a conversation with a Dutch intelligence officer with NATO. According to my note of that letter, the officer had remarked to the Pakistani diplomat that 'Indonesia was going to fall into the Western lap like a rotten apple.' Western intelligence agencies, he said, would organize a 'premature communist coup ... [which would be] foredoomed to fail, providing a legitimate and welcome opportunity to the army to crush the communists and make Soekarno a prisoner of the army's goodwill.' The ambassador's report was dated December 1964."

68.     Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 164 (CIA Memo of March 27, 1961, Appendix A, p. 8); cf. Powers, The Man, p. 89.

69.     Indonesia, 22 (October 1976), p. 165 (CIA Memo of March 27, 1961).

70.     The lame-duck Eisenhower NSC memo would have committed the U.S. to oppose not just the PKI in Indonesia, but "a policy increasingly friendly toward the Sino-Soviet bloc on the part of whatever regime is in power." "The size and importance of Indonesia," it concluded, "dictate [!] a vigorous U.S. effort to prevent these contingencies": Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 000592 (NSC 6023 of 19 December, 1960). For other U.S. intrigues at this time to induce a more vigorous U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia, cf. Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1983, 001285-86; Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy (New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1972), pp. 12-14, 17-20.

71.     Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream, p. 299.

72.     Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, pp. 385-6.

73.     U.S. Department of Defense, Military Assistance Facts, May 1, 1966. Before 1963 the existence as well as the amount of the MAP in Indonesia was withheld from the public; retroactively, figures were published. After 1962 the total deliveries of military aid declined dramatically, but were aimed more and more particularly at anti-PKI and anti-Soekarno plotters in the army; cf. fns. 46, 76 and 83.

74.     The New York Times, August 5, 1965, p. 3; cf. Nishihara, The Japanese, p. 149; Mrazek, vol. II, p. 121.

75.     A Senate amendment in 1964 to cut off all aid to Indonesia unconditionally was quietly killed in conference committee, on the misleading ground that the Foreign Assistance Act "requires the President to report fully and concurrently to both Houses of the Congress on any assistance furnished to Indonesia" (U.S. Cong., Senate, Report No. 88-1925, Foreign Assistance Act of 1964, p. 11). In fact the act's requirement that the president report "to Congress" applied to eighteen other countries, but in the case of Indonesia he was to report to two Senate Committees and the speaker of the House: Foreign Assistance Act, Section 620(j).

76.     Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream, p. 324.

77.     U.S., Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Multinational Corporations and United States Foreign Policy, Hearings (cited hereafter as Church Committee Hearings), 94th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1978, p. 941; Mrazek, The United States, vol. II, p. 22. Mrazek quotes Lt. Col. Juono of the corps as saying that "we are completely dependent on the assistance of the United States."

78.     Notosusanto and Saleh, The Coup, pp. 43, 46.

79.     ishihara, The Japanese (pp. 171, 194, 202), shows the role in the 1965-66 anti-Soekarno conspiracy of the small faction (including Ibnu Sutowo, Adam Malik, and the influential Japanese oilman Nishijima) who interposed themselves as negotiators between the 1958 PRRI Rebellion and the central government. Alamsjah, mentioned below, was another member of this group; he joined Soeharto's staff in 1960. For Murba and CIA, cf. fn. 104.

80.     Fortune, July 1973, p. 154, cf. Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1967; both in Scott, "Exporting," pp. 239, 258.

81.     Declassified Documents Retrospective Collection, 609A (Embassy Cable 1002 of October 14, 1965); 613A (Embassy Cable 1353 of November 7, 1965).

82.     The New York Times, August 5, 1965, p. 3.

83.     U.S. Department of Defense, Military Assistance Facts, May 1, 1966. The thirty-two military personnel in FY 1965 represent an increase over the projected figure in March 1964 of twenty-nine. Most of them were apparently Green Beret U.S. Special Forces, whose forward base on Okinawa was visited in August 1965 by Gestapu plotter Saherman. Cf. fn. 122.

84.     George Benson, an associate of Guy Pauker who headed the Military Training Advisory Group (MILTAG) in Jakarta, was later hired by Ibnu Sutowo to act as a lobbyist for the army's oil company (renamed Pertamina) in Washington: The New York Times, December 6, 1981, p. 1.

85.     San Francisco Chronicle, October 24, 1983, p. 22, describes one such USAF-Lockheed operation in Southeast Asia, "code-named 'Operation Buttercup' that operated out of Norton Air Force Base in California from 1965 to 1972." For the CIA's close involvement in Lockheed payoffs, cf. Anthony Sampson, The Arms Bazaar (New York: Viking, 1977), pp. 137, 227-8, 238.

86.     Church Committee Hearings, pp. 943-51.

87.     Ibid., p. 960.

88.     Nishihara, The Japanese, p. 153.

89.     Lockheed Aircraft International, memo of Fred C. Meuser to Erle M. Constable, 19 July 1968, in Church Committee Hearings, p. 962.

90.     Ibid., p. 954; cf. p. 957. In 1968, when Alamsjah suffered a decline in power, Lockheed did away with the middleman and paid its agents' fees directly to a group of military officers (pp. 342, 977).

91.     Church Committee Hearings, p. 941; cf. p. 955.

92.     Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, p. 59.

93.     Crouch, The Army, p. 114.

94.     Declassified Documents Quarterly Catalogue, 1982, 002507 (Cable of April 15, 1965, from U.S. Delegation to U.N.); cf. Forbes Wilson, The Conquest of Copper Mountain (New York: Atheneum, 1981), pp. 153-5.

95.     World Oil, August 15, 1965, p. 209.

96.     The New York Times, June 19, 1966, IV, 4.

97.     Ralph McGehee, "The C.I.A. and the White Paper on El Salvador," The Nation, April 11, 1981, p. 423. The deleted word would appear from its context to be "deception." Cf. Roger Morris and Richard Mauzy, "Following the Scenario," in Robert L. Borosage and John Marks, eds., The CIA File (New York: Grossman / Viking, 1976), p. 39: "Thus the fear of Communist subversion, which erupted to a frenzy of killing in 1965-1966, had been encouraged in the 'penetration' propaganda of the Agency in Indonesia.... 'All I know,' said one former intelligence officer of the Indonesia events, 'is that the Agency rolled in some of its top people and that things broke big and very favorable, as far as we were concerned.'" All references to deletions appear in the original text as printed in The Nation. These bracketed portions, shown in this article in bold-face type, reflect censorship by the CIA.

98.     Victor Marchetti and John Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (New York: Knopf, 1974), p. 245. For a list of twenty-five U.S. operatives transferred from Vietnam to Guatemala in the 1964-73 period, cf. Susanne Jonas and David Tobis, Guatemala (Berkeley, California, and New York: North American Congress on Latin America, 1974), p. 201.

99.     Tad Szulc, The Illusion of Peace (New York: Viking, 1978), p. 724. The top CIA operative in charge of the 1970 anti-Allende operation, Sam Halpern, had previously served as chief executive officer on the CIA's anti-Soekarno operation of 1957-58: Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power (New York: Summit Books, 1983), p. 277; Powers, The Man, p. 91.

100.   Donald Freed and Fred Simon Landis, Death in Washington (Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill, 1980), pp. 104-5.

101.   Time, March 17, 1961.

102.   Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 195.

103.   Jones, Indonesia: The Possible Dream, p. 374; Justus M. van der Kroef, "Origins of the 1965 Coup in Indonesia: Probabilities and Alternatives," Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, III, 2 (September 1972), p. 282. Three generals were alleged targeted in the first report (Soeharto, Mursjid, and Sukendro); all survived Gestapu.

104.   Chaerul Saleh's Murba Party, including the pro-U.S. Adam Malik, was also promoting the anti-Communist "Body to Support Soekarnoism" (BPS), which was banned by Soekarno on December 17, 1964. (Subandrio "is reported to have supplied Soekarno with information purporting to show U.S. Central Intelligence Agency influence behind the BPS" [Mortimer, p. 377]; it clearly did have support from the CIA- and army-backed labor organization SOKSI.) Shortly afterwards, Murba itself was banned, and promptly "became active as a disseminator of rumours and unrest" (Holtzappel, p. 238).

105.   Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 183; Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, pp. 376-77; Singapore Straits Times, December 24, 1964; quoted in Van der Kroef, "Origins," p. 283.

106.   Sabah Times, September 14, 1965; quoted in Van der Kroef, "Origins," p. 296. Mozingo, Chinese Policy (p. 242) dismisses charges such as these with a contemptuous footnote.

107.   Powers, The Man, p. 80; cf. Senate Report No. 94-755, Foreign and Military Intelligence, p. 192. CIA-sponsored channels also disseminated the Chinese arms story at this time inside the United States -- e.g., Brian Crozier, "Indonesia's Civil War," New Leader, November 1965, p. 4.

108.   Mortimer, Indonesian Communism, p. 386. The Evans and Novak column coincided with the surfacing of the so-called "Gilchrist letter," in which the British ambassador purportedly wrote about a U.S.-U.K. anti-Soekarno plot to be executed "together with local army friends." All accounts agree that the letter was a forgery. However it distracted attention from a more incriminating letter from Ambassador Gilchrist, which Soekarno had discussed with Lyndon Johnson's envoy Michael Forrestal in mid-February 1965, and whose authenticity Forrestal (who knew of the letter) did not deny (Declassified Documents Retrospective Collection, 594H [Embassy Cable 1583 of February 13, 1965]).

109.   Cf. Denis Warner, Reporter, March 28, 1963, pp. 62-63: "Yet with General A.H. Nasution, the defense minister, and General Jani, the army chief of staff, now out-Soekarnoing Soekarno in the dispute with Malaya over Malaysia ... Mr. Brackman and all other serious students of Indonesia must be troubled by the growing irresponsibility of the army leadership."

110.   The New York Times, August 12, 1965, p. 2.

111.   Brackman, The Communist, p. 40.

112.   McGehee, "The C.I.A.," p. 423.

113.   Hughes, The End, pp. 43-50; cf. Crouch, The Army, p. 140n: "No evidence supports these stories."

114.   Hughes, The End, p. 150, also tells how Sarwo Edhie exploited the corpse of Colonel Katamso as a pretext for provoking a massacre of the PKI in Central Java; cf. Crouch, p. 154n; also fn. 6.

115.   Anderson and McVey, A Preliminary, p. 133.

116.   Benedict Anderson and Ruth McVey, "What Happened in Indonesia?" New York Review of Books, June 1, 1978, p. 41; personal communication from Anderson. A second newspaper, Suluh Indonesia, told its PNI readers that the PNI did not support Gestapu, and thus served to neutralize potential opposition to Soeharto's seizure of power.

117.   Thus defenders of the U.S. role in this period might point out that where "civic action" had been most deeply implanted, in West Java, the number of civilians murdered was relatively (!) small; and that the most indiscriminate slaughter occurred where civic action programs had been only recently introduced. This does not, in my view, diminish the U.S. share of responsibility for the slaughter.

118.   CIA Study, p. 70; Sundhaussen, The Road, p. 185.

119.   William Colby, Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), p. 227. Crouch, The Army (p. 108), finds no suggestion in the Mahmilub evidence "that the PKI aimed at taking over the government," only that it hoped to protect itself from the Council of Generals.

120.   McGehee, "The C.I.A.," p. 424.

121.   Szulc, The Illusion, p. 16.

122.   Southwood and Flanagan, Indonesia: Law, pp. 38-9 (Cambodia). According to a former U.S. Navy intelligence specialist, the initial U.S. military plan to overthrow Sihanouk "included a request for authorization to insert a U.S.-trained assassination team disguised as Vietcong insurgents into Phnom Penh to kill Prince Sihanouk as a pretext for revolution" (Hersh, The Price, p. 179). As Hersh points out, Green Beret assassination teams that operated inside South Vietnam routinely dressed as Vietcong cadre while on missions. Thus the alleged U.S. plan of 1968, which was reportedly approved "shortly after Nixon's inauguration ... 'at the highest level of government,'" called for an assassination of a moderate at the center by apparent leftists, as a pretext for a right-wing seizure of power. This raises an interesting question, albeit outlandish: did the earlier anti-Soekarno operation call for foreign elements to be infiltrated into the Gestapu forces murdering the generals? Holtzappel ("The 30 September," p. 222) has suspected "the use of outsiders who are given suitable disguises to do a dirty job." He points to trial witnesses from Untung's battalion and the murder team who "declared under oath not to have known ... their battalion commander." Though these witnesses themselves would not have been foreigners, foreigners could have infiltrated more easily into their ranks than into a regular battalion.

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The Indonesian Massacres and the CIA

by Ralph McGehee

Covert Action Quarterly, Fall 1990

In my original article ( The Nation, April 11, 1981) I tried to explain, through the constraints of the secrecy agreement and the deletions by the CIA's review board, one aspect of the Agency's successful effort to manipulate events in Indonesia in late 1965 and early 1966. The article was based on a classified CIA study of which I was custodian while working in the International Communism Branch of the CIA's Counterintelligence Staff. The Nation joined with me in an unsuccessful lawsuit by the ACLU to gain release of the deleted portions of the article. The Agency claims it cannot delete unclassified lies or speculations. By heavily censoring my article, it effectively admitted to an Agency role in the peration.

In a recent story in the San Francisco Examiner, researcher Kathy Kadane quotes CIA and State department officials who admit compiling lists of names of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), making those lists available to the Indonesian military, and checking names off as people were "eliminated.'' The killings were part of a massive bloodletting after an abortive coup attempt taking, according to various estimates, between 250,000 and 1,000,000 lives and ultimately led to the overthrow of President Sukarno's government.

Since then a debate has simmered over what happened. A recent study based on information from former Johnson ad ministration officials, asserted that for months the U.S. "did their damnedest" through public pressure and more discreet methods, to prod the Indonesian army to move against Sukarno without success.

Debate continues over the origins of the coup attempt called Gestapu. Was it the result of CIA machinations, a takeover maneuver by General Suharto, a revolt by leftist officers under the control of the PKI, a power play by the People's Republic of China, a pre-emptive strike by Sukarno loyalists to prevent a move by officers friendly to the CIA, some combination of these factors, or others as yet unknown? I confess to no inside knowledge of the Gestapu.

Historical Background

It is well known that the CIA had long sought to unseat Sukarno: by funding an opposition political party in the mid-1950s, sponsoring a massive military overthrow attempt in the mid-1958, planning his assassination in 1961, and by rigging intelligence to inflame official U.S. concerns in order to win approval for planned covert actions.

Before attempting to describe one aspect of the CIA's role, it is essential to provide background on the scope and nature of its worldwide operations. Between 1961 and 1975 the Agency conducted 900 major or sensitive operations, and thousands of lesser covert actions. The majority of its operations were propaganda, election or paramilitary. Countries of major concern, such as Indonesia in the early 1960s, were usually subjected to the CIA's most concerted attention.

Critics of the CIA have aptly described the mainstays of such attention: "discrediting political groups... by forged documents that may be attributed to them. . . ," faking "communist weapon shipments,'' capturing communist documents and then inserting forgeries prepared by the Agency's Technical Services Division. The CIA's "Mighty Wurlitzer" then emblazoned and disseminated the details of such "discoveries."

The Mighty Wurlitzer was a worldwide propaganda mechanism consisting of hundreds or even thousands of media representatives and officials including, over a period of years, approximately 400 members of the American media. The CIA has used the Wurlitzer and its successors to plant stories and to suppress expository or critical reporting in order to manipulate domestic and international perceptions. From the early 1980s, many media operations formerly the responsibility of the CIA have been funded somewhat overtly by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

From the earliest days, the Agency's International Organizations Division (IOD) implemented and coordinated its extensive covert operations. The division's activities created or assisted international organizations for youth, students, teachers, workers, veterans, journalists, and jurists. The CIA used, and continues to use, the various labor, student, and other suborned organizations not only for intelligence and propaganda purposes, but also to participate in elections and paramilitary operations and to assist in overthrowing governments. At the same time, the CIA manipulates their organizational publications for covert propaganda goals.

The labor unions the CIA creates and subsidizes, in their more virulent stages, provide strong-arm goon squads who burn buildings, threaten and beat up opponents, pose as groups of the opposition to discredit them, terrorize and control labor meetings, and participate in coups.

Use of "Subversive Control Watch Lists"

As a matter of course, the Agency develops close relationships with security services in friendly nations and exploits these in many ways-by recruiting unilateral sources to spy on the home government, by implementing pro-U.S. policies, and by gathering and exchanging intelligence. As one aspect of those liaisons, the CIA universally compiles local "Subversive Control Watch Lists" of leftists for attention by the local government. Frequently that attention is the charter of government death squads.

After the CIA's overthrow of Arbenz's government in Guatemala in 1954, the U.S. gave the new government lists of opponents to be eliminated. In Chile from 1971 through 1973, the CIA fomented a military coup through forgery and propaganda operations and compiled arrest lists of thousands, many of whom were later arrested and assassinated. In Bolivia in 1975, the CIA provided lists of progressive priests and nuns to the government which planned to harass, arrest and expel them. To curry the favor of Khomeini, in 1983 the CIA gave his government a list of KGB agents and collaborators operating in Iran. Khomeini then executed 200 suspects and closed down the communist Tudeh party. In Thailand, I provided the names of hundreds of leftists to Thai security services. The Phoenix program in Vietnam was a massive U.S.-backed program to compile arrest and assassination lists of the Viet Cong for action by CIA-created Provisional Reconnaissance Unit death squads. In fact, former Director of the CIA William Colby compared the Indonesian operation directly to the Vietnam Phoenix Program. Colby further admitted directing the CIA to concentrate on compiling lists of members of the PKI and other left groups.

In 1963, responding to Colby's direction, U.S.-trained Indonesian trade unionists began gathering the names of workers who were members or sympathizers of unions affiliated with the national labor federation, SOBSI. These trade unionist spies laid the groundwork for many of the massacres of 1965-1966. The CIA also used elements in the 105,000 strong Indonesian national police force to penetrate and gather information on the PKI.

Providing "Watch Lists" based on technical and human penetration of targeted groups is a continuing program of CIA covert operators. Today, U.S.-advised security services in El Salvador, using the techniques of the Phoenix program, operate throughout El Salvador and have taken a heavy toll on peasants, activists and labor leaders in that country. In the late 1980s, the CIA began assisting the Philippine government in the conduct of "low-intensity" operations by, among other things, computerizing security service records of leftists and assisting in the development of a national identity card program. Wherever the CIA cooperates with other national security services it is safe to assume that it also compiles and passes "Subversive Control Watch Lists."

Putting the Pieces Together

All of this is essential to understanding what happened in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966. In September and October of 1965, the murder of six top military officers during the Gestapu coup attempt provided a pretext for destroying the PKI and removing Sukarno. Surviving officers-principally General Suharto, who was not a target-rallied the army and defeated the coup, ultimately unseating Sukarno.

Two weeks before the coup, the army had been warned that the PKI was plotting to assassinate army leaders. The PKI, nominally backed by Sukarno, was a legal and formidable organization and was the third largest Communist Party in the world. It claimed three million members, and through affiliated organizations-such as labor and youth groups-it had the support of 17 million others. The Army's anxiety had been fed by rumors throughout 1965 that mainland China was smuggling arms to the PKI for an imminent revolt. Such a story appeared in a Malaysian newspaper, citing Bangkok sources which relied in turn on Hong Kong sources. Such untraceability is a telltale mark of the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Less subtle propaganda claimed that the PKI was a tool of the Red Chinese and planned to infiltrate and divide the armed forces. To bolster these allegations, "communist weapons" were discovered inside Chinese crates labeled as construction material. Far more inflammatory news reporting prior to October 1965 claimed the PKI had a secret list of civilian and military leaders marked for beheading.

After the coup attempt the Indonesian Army in the main left the PKI alone, as there was no credible evidence to substantiate the horror stories in the press. [Eight sentences censored.] As noted, a favorite tactic is to arrange for the capture of communist documents and then insert forgeries prepared by the Agency's Technical Services Division.

Suddenly documents were serendipitously discovered providing "proof" of PKI guilt. On October 23, 1965, the Suara Islam reported:

...millions of copies of the text of a proclamation of the counterrevolutionary Gestapu...have been recovered.... The text...was obviously printed in the CPR [People's Republic of China]. Steel helmets and a large quantity of military equipment have also been found.... There is in controvertible evidence of the CPR's involvement.... The arms sent by the CPR were shipped under cover of "diplomatic immunity." ...other important documents offer irrefutable evidence of the involvement of the CPR Embassy and the CPR ambassador....

On October 30,1965 Major General Suharto, in a speech before a military audience, angrily denounced the PKI saying that captured documents proved the PKI was behind Gestapu. Suharto demanded that the "Communists be completely uprooted."

On November 2, the Indonesian Armed Forces Bulletin asserted that the PKI had a plan for revolution, and published supposed PKI directives for the period following the October coup attempt. The document stated that the PKI "is only supporting the revolutionary council" that the coup tried to establish. It added that if the council were crushed the PKI would "directly confront" the generals whom the coup leaders accused of planning to overthrow President Sukarno. The document also said, "when the revolution is directly led by the PKI, we can achieve victory because the command will be under the PKI-our hidden strength is in the armed forces."

Military leaders [seven words censored] began a bloody extermination campaign. Civilians involved were either recruited and trained by the army on the spot, or were drawn from groups such as the army- and CIA-sponsored SOKSI trade unions [Central Organization of Indonesian Socialist Employees], and allied student organizations. Media fabrications had played a key role in preparing public opinion and mobilizing these groups for the massacre.

The documents, manufactured stories of communist plans and atrocities, and claims of communist arms shipments created an atmosphere of hysteria, resulting in the slaughter and the establishment of a dictatorship that still exists today.

The Agency wrote a secret study of what it did in Indonesia. [One sentence censored.] The CIA was extremely proud of its [one word censored] and recommended it as a model for future operations [one half sentence censored].

Yesterday's Fake News, Today's Fake History

The CIA desperately wants to conceal evidence of its role in the massacre, which it admits was one of the century's worst. The U.S. media seem equally determined to protect the American image from consequences of covert operations.

Reaction to Kadane's new revelations was swift. An Op-Ed by columnist Stephen S. Rosenfeld in the July 20, 1990 Washington Post, and an article by correspondent Michael Wines in the July 12, 1990 New York Times, each deny any CIA role in the massacre. Rosenfeld, reversing his conclusions of a week before, ignores the new evidence, cites one of many academic studies, and concludes with certainty: "For me, the question of the American role in Indonesia is closed."

Prior to his article, Wines interviewed me. His approach was to reject any information that might implicate the Agency. I told him virtually everything in this article and more. He dismissed the information and instead quoted John Hughes, an "observer removed from the controversy," citing him as formerly of the Christian Science Monitor but failing to mention that he was also State Department spokesman from 1982 to 1985. In an interview with Kadane, Hughes claimed that during the coup which brought Suharto to power, he functioned as the "eyes and ears of the embassy." Wines was uninterested.

Subversive control watch lists are an effective and deadly political tool long used by U.S. intelligence, so deadly that the Agency cannot allow them to become public knowledge. Keeping them secret depends on at least two things: Agency censorship of government employees, and self-censorship by the mainstream media.


Ralph McGehee worked for the CIA from 1952 until 1977 and now writes about intelligence matters, notably the book Deadly Deceits -- My 25 years in the CIA (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1983). He has compiled a computer data base on CIA activities. Persons interested may write to him at: 422 Arkansas Ave., Herndon, VA 22070.


Chapter One

The historical background

In October 1965 the international working class suffered one of its greatest defeats and betrayals in the post-World War II period.

Up to one million workers and peasants were slaughtered in a CIA-organised army coup led by General Suharto which swept aside the shaky bourgeois regime of President Sukarno, crushed the rising movement of the Indonesian masses, and established a brutal military dictatorship.

Retired US diplomats and CIA officers, including the former American ambassador to Indonesia and Australia, Marshall Green, have admitted working with Suharto's butchers to massacre hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants suspected of supporting the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). They personally provided the names of thousands of PKI members from the CIA's files for the armed forces death lists.

According to Howard Federspeil, who was an Indonesian expert working at the State Department at the time of the anti-communist program: "No one cared, so long as they were communists that they were being butchered."

The coup was the culmination of a prolonged operation by the CIA, with the help of agents of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, to build up and train the Indonesian armed forces in preparation for a military dictatorship to suppress the revolutionary strivings of the Indonesian masses.

At the time of the coup, the PKI was the largest Stalinist party in the world, outside China and the Soviet Union. It had 3.5 million members; its youth movement another 3 million. It controlled the trade union movement SOBSI which claimed 3.5 million members and the 9 million-strong peasants' movement BTI. Together with the women's movement, the writers' and artists' organisation and the scholars' movement, the PKI had more than 20 million members and active supporters.

During the independence struggle against the Dutch in the 1940s and throughout the 1950s and 1960s hundreds of thousands of class conscious workers joined the PKI, believing that it still represented the revolutionary socialist traditions of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Yet by the end of 1965, between 500,000 and a million PKI members and supporters had been slaughtered, and tens of thousands were detained in concentration camps, without any resistance being offered.

The killings were so widespread that the rivers were clogged with the corpses of workers and peasants. While the CIA-backed military death squads rounded up all known PKI members and sympathisers and carried out their grisly work, Time magazine reported:

The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travellers from these areas tell us small rivers and streams have been literally clogged with bodies. River transportation has become seriously impeded."

How was this historic defeat able to be inflicted? The answer requires an examination of the history of the struggle of the Indonesian masses, the treachery of the national bourgeoisie led by Sukarno, the counter-revolutionary role played by the PKI, and the crucial part played by the Pabloite opportunists of the "United Secretariat" of Ernest Mandel and Joseph Hansen in aiding the treachery of the Stalinists.

The 'Jewel of Asia'

The bloody coup in Indonesia was the outcome of the drive by US imperialism to gain unchallenged control of the immense natural wealth and strategic resources of the archipelago, often referred to as the "Jewel of Asia".

The importance that United States imperialism attached to Indonesia was emphasised by US President Eisenhower in 1953, when he told a state governors' conference that it was imperative for the US to finance the French colonial war in Vietnam as the "cheapest way" to keep control of Indonesia.

Eisenhower detailed: "Now let us assume that we lose Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malay peninsula, the last little bit of land hanging on down there, would be scarcely defencible. The tin and tungsten we so greatly value from that area would cease coming, and all India would be outflanked.

"Burma would be in no position for defence. All of that position around there is very ominous to the United States, because finally if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia?

"So you see, somewhere along the line, this must be blocked and it must be blocked now, and that is what we are trying to do.

"So when the US votes $400 million to help the war (in Indochina), we are not voting a giveaway program. We are voting for the cheapest way that we can prevent the occurrence of something that would be of a most terrible significance to the United States of America, our security, our power and ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indonesian territory and from South East Asia.

Indonesia is estimated to be the fifth richest country in the world in terms of natural resources. Besides being the fifth largest oil producer, it has enormous reserves of tin, bauxite, coal, gold, silver, diamonds, manganese, phosphates, nickel, copper, rubber, coffee, palm oil, tobacco, sugar, coconuts, spices, timber and cinchona (for quinine).

By 1939 the then Dutch East Indies supplied more than half the total US consumption of 15 key raw materials. Control over this vital region was central to the conflict in the Pacific between the US and Japan during World War II. In the post-war period the US ruling class was determined not to have the country's riches torn from their grasp by the Indonesian masses.

Following the defeat of the French in Vietnam in 1954 the US feared that the struggle of the Vietnamese masses would ignite revolutionary upheavals throughout the South East Asian region, threatening its grip over Indonesia.

In 1965, just prior to the Indonesian coup, Richard Nixon, soon to become US president, called for the saturation bombing of Vietnam to protect the "immense mineral potential" of Indonesia. Two years later he declared Indonesia to be the "greatest prize" of South East Asia.

After the coup, the value of Suharto's dictatorship to the interests of US imperialism was underlined in a 1975 US State Department report to Congress which referred to Indonesia as the "most strategically authoritative geographic location on earth":

·     "It has the largest population of any country in South East Asia.

·     "It is the principal supplier of raw materials from the region.

·     "Japan's continued economic prosperity depends heavily on oil and other raw materials supplied by Indonesia.

·     "Existing American investments in Indonesia are substantial, and our trading relationship is growing rapidly.

·     "Indonesia will probably become an increasingly important supplier of US energy needs.

·     "Indonesia is a member of OPEC, but assumed a moderate stance in its deliberations, and did not participate in the oil embargo.

·     "The Indonesian archipelago sits astride strategic waterways and the government of Indonesia is playing a vital role in the law-of-the-sea negotiations which are vital to our security and commercial interests."

Centuries of colonial plunder

The Dutch colonial powers mercilessly plundered Indonesia for 350 years, looting the natural resources, establishing vast agricultural estates, and ruthlessly exploiting its people.

In 1940 there was only one doctor per 60,000 people (compared to India, where the ratio was 1:6,000) and just 2,400 Indonesian graduates from high school. At the end of World war II, 93 percent of the population was illiterate.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the rising British bourgeoisie increasingly challenged the Dutch for domination over the region. In 1800 the Dutch East India company collapsed and the British occupied the region from 1811 to 1816. The Treaty of London of 1824 carved up the region between the two colonial powers: the British took control of the Malayan peninsula and the Dutch kept charge of the 13,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago.

By the turn of the 20th century, the emerging imperialist power, the United States, began challenging the old European colonial power, particularly after the American occupation of the Philippines in 1898.

The US was locked into a trade war with the Dutch over oil and rubber. The Standard Oil Company began to contest the monopoly on the Indonesian oil fields by the Royal Dutch company. In 1907, Royal Dutch and Shell merged to combat the American competitor. Taking advantage of World War I, Standard Oil commenced drilling in central Java in 1914, and in the same year US corporations also moved into the rubber plantations. Goodyear Tyre and Rubber opened estates and US Rubber brought the largest rubber estates in the world under single ownership.

US strategy in the region during this period was summed up by Senator William Beveridge:

"The Philippines are ours forever ... and beyond the Philippines are China's illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either. We will not repudiate our duty in the archipelago. We will not abandon our duty in the Orient. We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee under God, of the civilisation of the world ... We will move forward to our work ... with gratitude ... and thanksgiving to Almighty God that he has marked us as his chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world ... Our largest trade henceforth must be with Asia. The Pacific is our ocean ... and the Pacific is the ocean of the commerce of the future. The power that rules the Pacific, therefore, is the power that rules the world. And with the Philippines, that power is and will forever be the American Republic." (Emphasis in the original)

The rise of Japanese imperialism and its expansion into Korea, Manchuria and China led to increasing conflict with US imperialism over control over the region, culminating in World War II. The drive by the Japanese bourgeoisie to contest US, British, French and Dutch hegemony brought into sharp focus the value of Indonesia as the South East Asian gateway to the Indian Ocean and as a source of natural resources.

In 1942 the Dutch colonialists surrendered control of Indonesia to the Japanese rather than allow the Indonesian people to fight for their independence. All the imperialist powers had good reason to fear the oppressed Indonesian masses.

As early as 1914 the best representatives of the Indonesian toilers had turned to Marxism when the Indies Social Democratic Association was founded on the initiative of the Dutch communist Hendrik Sneevliet. In 1921 it had transformed itself into the Indonesian Communist Party in response to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

The PKI had won great authority among the masses by taking the lead of the struggle against Dutch colonialism, including the first major uprisings, in Java and Sumatra in 1926 and 1927.

While the Chinese masses were rising up in the second Chinese Revolution of 1926-27, the Indonesian workers and peasants also came forward in a rebellion, led by the PKI. However, the Dutch colonial authorities succeeded in quelling the revolts. They arrested 13,000 suspects, imprisoned 4,500 and interned 1,308 in a concentration camp in West Papua. The PKI was outlawed.

National liberation struggle betrayed

At the end of World War II the oppressed masses in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, China, throughout South East Asia and internationally came forward in revolutionary struggles to throw off the yoke of imperialism.

At the same time, the working class in Europe and the capitalist countries engaged in convulsive struggles. These were only contained through the treachery of the Soviet bureaucracy headed by Stalin and the Stalinist parties worldwide. The betrayal of the French, Italian and Greek workers in particular and the imposition of bureaucratically controlled regimes in Eastern Europe allowed imperialism to stabilise itself.

By the 1930s, the emergence of a privileged caste in the Soviet Union, which usurped political power from the Soviet proletariat, had destroyed the Communist Parties. From revolutionary internationalist parties they became transformed into counter-revolutionary organisations, suppressing the independent struggles of the working class.

In the colonial countries the Stalinised parties, including the PKI, systematically subordinated the masses to the national bourgeoisie led by figures such as Gandhi in India and Sukarno in Indonesia who sought to reach settlements with the colonial powers in order to maintain capitalist rule.

The post-war settlements did not achieve genuine national liberation from imperialism but imposed on the masses a new set of agents of imperialist rule. This was clearly the case in Indonesia where the national bourgeoisie, with Sukarno in the lead, entered into a series of reactionary deals with the Dutch.

Sukarno, the son of a Javanese school teacher of aristocratic family, was a young architecture graduate, part of a very thin layer of educated petty-bourgeois. He had been the founding chairman of the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI) in 1927 and had suffered imprisonment and exile at the hands of the Dutch for campaigning for national independence.

During World War II Sukarno and the national bourgeoisie worked with the occupying Japanese forces in the hope of achieving a degree of national self-government. In the dying days of the war Sukarno, with the reluctant support of the Japanese, declared the independent Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945.

The perspective of the national bourgeois leaders was not to lead a proletarian uprising against imperialism but to establish an administration and strengthen their hand for negotiations with the Dutch, who had no forces in the region.

But the response of the Dutch ruling class was to launch a brutal war to suppress the new regime. They ordered that Indonesia be kept under Japanese command until British troops could arrive. The British and the Dutch then used Japanese troops to attack the ferocious resistance of the Indonesian workers, youth and peasants. Thus all the imperialist powers united against the Indonesian masses.

As armed opposition erupted throughout Indonesia against the Dutch forces, Sukarno, backed by the PKI leadership, pursued a policy of compromise with the Dutch and signed the Linggadjati Agreement in March 1947. The Dutch nominally recognised Indonesian control over Java, Madura and Sumatra and agreed to evacuate their troops. But in fact the Dutch used this as a breathing space to build up their forces and prepare for a new attack of unsurpassed brutality in July and August 1947.

Throughout this period, hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants joined or supported the PKI because of their disillusionment with the bourgeois leaders and because they viewed the PKI as a revolutionary party. They were also greatly inspired by the advances of Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party in its war against Chiang Kai Shek. In the war against the Dutch, workers and peasants repeatedly seized property and mass unions were formed.

To head off this development, Sukarno's Republican government, led by the then Prime Minister Amir Sjarifuddin (a secret member of the PKI), signed the January 1948 Renville Agreement (so called because it was negotiated aboard the USS Renville in the harbour). This pact gave the Dutch control of half the sugar mills in Java, 75 percent of Indonesia's rubber, 65 percent of coffee, 95 percent of tea and control of Sumatran oil. Moreover, this US-imposed settlement provided for the withdrawal of guerrilla forces from Dutch-occupied territory and created the conditions for the liquidation of the PKI-led "people's armed units" in favour of the bourgeois "Indonesian National Armed Forces" controlled by Sukarno and his generals.

In 1948 a series of strikes erupted against the Republican government, now headed by right-wing Vice-President Hatta as Prime Minister, demanding a parliamentary government. These strikes were suppressed by Sukarno who appealed for "national unity".

At the same time, the exiled PKI leader Musso returned from the Soviet Union and a series of prominent leaders of the Indonesian Socialist and Labor parties announced that they had been secret PKI members for many years. The announcement revealed a far wider base of support for the PKI than previously realised by the imperialist powers.

In July 1948 the bourgeois leaders, including Sukarno and Hatta, held a secret meeting with US representatives at Sarangan where the US demanded, in return for assistance to the government, the launching of a purge of PKI members in the army and the public service. Hatta, who also held the post of Defence Minister, was given $10 million to carry out a "red purge".

Two months later, in an attempt to crush the PKI, the Maduin Affair was launched in Java. A number of army officers, members of the PKI, were murdered and others disappeared, after they opposed plans to demobilise the guerrilla units of the army that had been at the forefront of the fight against the Dutch.

The killings provoked an uprising at Maduin which was suppressed bloodily by the Sukarno regime. Prime Minister Hatta proclaimed martial law. Thousands of PKI members were killed, 36,000 were imprisoned and PKI leader Musso and 11 other prominent leaders were executed.

The US Consul General Livergood cabled his superiors in the US that he had informed Hatta that "the crisis gives the Republican government the opportunity (to) show its determination (to) suppress communism".

Encouraged by the anti-communist pogrom, the Dutch launched a new military attack in December 1948, arresting Sukarno. But widespread resistance forced the Dutch to capitulate within six months.

Even then, the 1949 Round Table conference at the Hague imposed a new betrayal on the Indonesian masses, involving still more concessions by the Indonesian bourgeoisie.

The Sukarno regime agreed to take over the debts of the former colony, and gave guarantees to protect Dutch investments. The Dutch were to keep control of West Papua and the Indonesian Republic was to continue to cooperate with the Dutch imperialists within the framework of a Netherlands-Indonesian Union. The Sukarno government kept all the colonial laws intact. A new army was formed by incorporating the former Dutch troops of Indonesian nationality into the "National Armed Forces". In other words, the old colonial state apparatus and laws were retained beneath the facade of parliamentary government in the new Republic.

The PKI leadership supported the betrayal of the national liberation struggle and determined to confine the working class and peasantry to "peaceful democratic" forms of struggle. This was a continuation of the PKI's position throughout World War II when the PKI leadership (as well as the Communist Party of the Netherlands) had followed Stalin's line of cooperating with the Dutch imperialist government against Japan, and called for an "independent Indonesia within the Commonwealth of the Dutch Empire". This call remained PKI policy even during the post-war fighting against the Dutch.

But for the Indonesian masses, the fraud of "national independence" under the continued domination of Dutch, American and world imperialism became ever more apparent. The natural resources, principal industries, agricultural estates and financial power remained in the hands of the foreign corporations.

For example, 70 percent of the inter-islands sea traffic was still controlled by the Dutch firm KPM and one of the big Dutch banks, the Nederlandche Handel Maatschappij, controlled 70 percent of all Indonesian financial transactions.

According to the Indonesian government calculations, in the mid-1950s, Dutch investments in the country were worth $US1.5 billion. The Sukarno government declared that even if it wanted to nationalise the Dutch possessions it did not have the money to indemnify the former colonial rulers. And to nationalise without compensation would be labelled "communism".

The growing disillusionment of the masses was reflected in the 1955 elections when the number of seats held by the PKI increased from 17 to 39.

Within two years the mass movement was to erupt in the seizure of Dutch, American and British factories, plantations, banks, shops and ships.

Chapter Two:

Stalinists betray the mass movement

In December 1957 the whole fabric of imperialist domination over the Indonesian economy was shaken by a massive eruption of the working class and peasantry. Factories, plantations, banks and ships were seized and occupied.

Sukarno's bourgeois nationalist regime was only able to survive because the Stalinist Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) leadership sabotaged the mass movement, insisting that the masses hand over the property they had seized to the US-backed army which was sent in by Sukarno to take control.

A dispatch in the New York Times of December 8, 1957 provided some idea of the scope and intensity of the upsurge: "The movement of the workers in Jakarta, to the extent we have been able to determine, took place without the government's sanction, and in opposition to the declarations of Prime Minister Djuanda, of the Army Chief-of-Staff, General Abdul Haris Nasution, and of other high governmental functionaries, according to whom such measures were inadmissible and rendered their participants liable to severe penalties...

"The three Dutch banks here, the Netherlands Trading Society, the Escompto and the Netherlands Commercial Bank, were seized by the delegates. They read a proclamation before their enthusiastic comrades and then before the Dutch administrators, stating that the seizure was made in the name of the Association of Indonesian Workers and that the banks would become the property of the Indonesian Republic."

The Dutch newspaper Volksrant reported with alarm on December 11, 1957: "In Jakarta the Communists continue to hoist red flags on the Dutch enterprises ... Today the main office of Philips in Jakarta and that of the Societe D'Assurances Nillmij have been 'expropriated' by the Indonesian personnel under the leadership of 'Communist' trade union functionaries."

The movement was not confined to Java. According to the New York Herald-Tribune of December 16: "Workers of SOBSI, central trade union organisation dominated by the Communists, seized Dutch bakeries and stores in Java and banks in Borneo." The New York Times of the same day reported that in Palembang, capital of South Sumatra, "security forces arrested a number of workers belonging to the central trade union organisation controlled by the Communists for having taken 'arbitrary action' against three Dutch proprietors. Thirty seven red flags hoisted by the workers before the houses occupied by the Dutch employees were confiscated".

Other bourgeois papers spoke of "a situation of anarchy in Bali" and a fleeing Dutch plantation owner was quoted as saying that in Atjeh and Deli, on the east coast of Sumatra, the mass actions were directed not only against the Dutch companies but also against the American and British. Similar reports came from North Sumatra, the Celebes and other islands.

There were reports too that the uprisings inspired resistance in Australian-occupied Papua New Guinea. At Karema 20 people were wounded when native people fought soldiers after a native nurse reported that she had been insulted.

The rebellion throughout Indonesia erupted in response to a call by Sukarno for a general strike against all Dutch enterprises. He had previously raised the question of nationalisation of Dutch industry at a mass rally. Sukarno's aim was to use the threat of nationalisation to pressure the Netherlands to withdraw from West Papua, which it retained under the 1949 Round Table Conference agreement, so that Indonesia could then take control.

Seeking to balance between the rapacious dictates of Dutch, US and British imperialism, the seething discontent of the oppressed masses and the growing strength of the US-backed military on which his regime relied, Sukarno sought to use the pressure of the masses to force the hand of Dutch imperialism.

Workers themselves began to occupy the Dutch companies. Sukarno was totally unprepared for such a response. He immediately authorised the military to move in to take control of the enterprises which had been seized by the masses.

The Political Bureau of the PKI rushed to Sukarno's assistance, issuing a resolution that urgently appealed to the people "to quickly resolve the differences of opinion on the methods of struggle against Dutch colonialism by negotiations, so that in this way unity in the people and between the people, the government and the army may be strengthened".

At the same time the PKI appealed to the workers, "not only to set going the occupied enterprises, but to make them function in a still more disciplined and better way and to increase production.

"The government must appoint a capable and patriotic direction for these enterprises and the workers must support this direction with all their strength."

In addition, the PKI insisted that the takeovers must be confined to the Dutch companies, seeking to reassure US and British imperialism that their interests would not be harmed: "All the actions of the workers, of the peasants and the organisations of youth are directed against the Dutch capitalists. The other capitalist countries did not take a hostile attitude in the conflict between Holland and Indonesia in West Irian. That is why no action will be engaged against the enterprise of the capitalists of other countries."

Recognising the efforts of the PKI to choke the movement of the masses, Tillman Durdin wrote in the New York Times of December 16: "Members of the National Consultative Council of Communist orientation are known to have actually pronounced forcibly against the seizures by workers and have called such movements undisciplined 'anarcho-syndicalism'. The Communists defend a program of seizure directed by the government such as it is now applied."

Sukarno himself was ready to flee the country for a "holiday" in India, but the handing over of the Dutch enterprises to the military, on the instructions of the PKI, rescued his bourgeois regime. The Stalinist leadership of the PKI not only saved the day for the Sukarno government. They created the conditions for the military generals and their US backers to prepare for their bloody counter-revolution eight years later.

The perspective fought for by the PKI leadership was the Stalinist "two stage" theory that the struggle for socialism in Indonesia had to first pass through the stage of so-called "democratic" capitalism. The revolutionary strivings of the masses for socialist measures had to be suppressed and subordinated to a "united front" with the national bourgeoisie.

In line with this reactionary perspective, the Stalinist bureaucracies in the Soviet Union and China hailed Sukarno and his regime throughout this entire period. Krushchev, for example, visited Jakarta and said he would give Sukarno every assistance in "all eventualities". In fact most of the weapons that were to be used to massacre the Indonesian masses in 1965 were supplied by the Kremlin.

Military preparations begin

In 1956 the US-backed army had begun preparations for military dictatorship to crush the movement of the masses. In August the commander of the West Java military region ordered the arrest of Foreign Minister Roeslan Abdulgani on a charge of corruption. In November the army Deputy Chief of Staff, Colonel Zulkifli Lubis, attempted unsuccessfully to seize control of Jakarta and overthrow the Sukarno government. The next month there were regional military takeovers in Central and North Sumatra.

In October 1956 Sukarno moved to strengthen his hand against the masses and to appease the military by calling for political parties to disband themselves. This call was later extended to an attempt to form a National Council of all parties, including the PKI, to rule the country. When military commanders in East Indonesia, Kalimantan, Atjeh, and South Sumatra rejected the plan and took control of their provinces, Sukarno declared a state of emergency. Finally a new "non-party" cabinet was formed which included two PKI sympathisers.

In response to the mass upsurge of December 1957 the operations of United States imperialism were immediately stepped up. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been active since the 1940s, spending millions to subsidise pro-US elements within the national bourgeoisie, particularly the Socialist Party (PSI) of Sumiro, a colleague of Hatta, and its larger Moslem ally, the Masjumi party of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, with whom Hatta had also retained close links.

Throughout 1957 and 1958 a series of CIA-inspired secessionist and right-wing revolts were orchestrated in the oil-rich islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi, where the PSI and Masjumi dominated politically.

The first was the Permesta military revolt which began in March 1957 and continued into 1958, ending in a CIA-backed attempted coup in February 1958.

The United States government provided substantial financial support, military advisers, arms and a small airforce of B-26 bombers, piloted from bases in Taiwan and the Philippines. US Secretary of State Dulles even publicly expressed his support for the right-wing rebels.

An aircraft carrier of the US Seventh Fleet was sent to Singapore and for some time it appeared that the US might directly intervene in Sumatra under the guise of defending Caltex oil personnel and property.

The Indonesian military command finally decided that the rebellion, having failed to win any popular support at all, had to be ended. The Sukarno leadership survived.

But the role of the army had been enormously strengthened. Over the next six years the US poured huge resources into it, laying the basis for General Suharto to begin his climb to power after leading the military campaign to seize control of West Papua in 1962.

Between 1959 and 1965 the US supplied $64 million in military grant-aid to the Indonesian military generals. According to a report in Suara Pemuda Indonesia: "Before the end of 1960, the US had equipped 43 battalions of the army. Every year the US trained officers of the right-wing military clique. Between 1956 and 1959 more than 200 high-ranking officers were trained in the US, while low-ranking officers are trained by the hundreds every year. Once the head of the Agency for International Development in America said that US aid, of course, was not intended to support Sukarno and that the US had trained a great number of officers and ordinary people who would form a unit to make Indonesia a 'free country'."

At the same time, Sukarno instituted his system of "Guided Democracy". In July 1959 the parliament was dissolved and Sukarno imposed a presidential constitution by decree again with the full support of the PKI. He further boosted the hand of the military, appointing army generals to leading positions.

The PKI warmly embraced Sukarno's "Guided Democracy" and his supposed consensus or Konsepsi alliance between nationalism, Islam and communism called "NASAKOM".

In pursuit of their "national united front" with Sukarno and the national bourgeoisie, the PKI leaders promoted the most deadly illusions in the armed forces.

Only five years before the bloody defeat inflicted upon the Indonesian workers and peasants at the hands of the military, the PKI line was put most crudely in a statement by the leadership of SOBSI, the PKI-led trade union federation, on May Day 1960:

"The SOBSI maintains the viewpoint that the armed forces of the Republic are still the true son of the popular revolution ... and therefore from the officers down to the NCOs and soldiers ... they cannot be drawn into actions which are treacherous to the Republic. Besides, president Sukarno, who identifies himself with the people, possesses a strong influence over members of the armed forces and he refuses to be a military dictator."

A new upsurge

In 1962, Indonesia's military annexation of West Papua was fully backed by the PKI leadership, along with the suppression of the resistance of the West Papuan people to the occupation. In Indonesia itself, the underlying economic and class tensions, produced by the continued exploitation of the Indonesian masses by the imperialist corporations and their national bourgeois lackeys, re-emerged. The period of "Guided Democracy," that is, of the collaboration of the PKI leadership with the national bourgeoisie in suppressing the independent struggles of the worker and peasant masses, failed to resolve any of the pressing economic and political questions. Export income declined, foreign reserves fell, inflation continued to spiral, and bureaucratic and military corruption became endemic.

From 1963 onwards the PKI leadership increasingly sought to avoid the growing clashes between the party's mass activists and the police and military. PKI leaders stressed the "common interests" of the police and "the people". PKI leader D.N. Aidit inspired the slogan "For Civil Order Help the Police". In April, 1964, in an interview with S.M. Ali of the Far Eastern Economic Review Aidit set out for the international bourgeoisie the Stalinists' perspective of a peaceful and gradual "two stage" transformation to socialism in Indonesia.

"When we complete the first stage of our revolution which is now in progress, we can enter into friendly consultation with other progressive elements in our society, and without an armed struggle lead the country towards socialist revolution." He presented a scenario in which the masses would be confined to placing pressure on the national bourgeoisie: "The chastening effect of the present stage of the revolution will maintain a kind of revolutionary pressure on Indonesia's national capitalists. "There will be no armed struggle unless there is foreign armed intervention on the capitalists' behalf. And when we successfully complete our present national democratic revolution the chances of any foreign power interfering with Indonesia's international affairs will become extremely remote."

In August, 1964, Aidit urged all PKI members to rid themselves of "sectarian attitudes" toward the army, calling on all left-wing artists and writers to make the "soldier masses" the subject of art and literary works. In late 1964 and early 1965 hundreds of thousands of peasants took action to seize the land of the big landowners. Fierce clashes developed with landlords and police. To forestall the revolutionary confrontation which was rapidly developing, the PKI called on its supporters to prevent violent conflict with the landlords and to improve cooperation with other elements, including the armed forces.

At a meeting of the PKI central committee Aidit urged the suppression of peasants' actions and denounced party cadre who, "carried away by their desire to spread the peasant actions, immediately became impatient, indulged in individual heroism, were insufficiently concerned with developing the consciousness of the peasants and wanting a definite event, were not careful enough in differentiating and choosing their targets." PKI leaders justified halting the land takeovers and handing back the land to the landowners by referring to the "impending probable" formation of a "NASAKOM cabinet".

In early 1965 workers in the oil and rubber industries owned by US corporations began to seize control of them. The PKI leadership responded by formally joining the government. At the same time, leading generals were brought into the cabinet. The PKI ministers not only sat beside the military butchers in Sukarno's cabinet, but they continued to promote the deadly illusion that the armed forces were part of the "peoples' democratic revolution". Aidit delivered a lecture to army staff school trainees in which he referred to the "feeling of mutuality and unity that daily grows strong between all the armed forces of the Indonesian Republic and the various groups of Indonesian people, including the communists".

In this way, the Stalinists completely disarmed the most class conscious sections of the working class. The elementary Marxist understanding of the state as the "body of armed men" employed by the ruling class to maintain its rule was criminally denied. Aidit rushed to assure the bourgeoisie and the military that the PKI opposed the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses. "The important thing in Indonesia now is not how to smash the state power as is the case in many other states, but how to strengthen and consolidate the pro-people's aspect ... and to eliminate the anti-people's aspect".

The Sukarno regime moved against the working class by banning all strikes in industry. The PKI leadership raised no objections because industry was considered to belong to the NASAKOM government. Just before the coup, the PKI, well aware of preparations for military rule, called for the establishment of a "fifth force" within the armed forces, consisting of armed workers and peasants. Far from fighting for the independent mobilisation of the masses against the military threat, the PKI leadership sought to constrain the deepening mass movement within the bounds of the capitalist state.

They grovelled to the generals, seeking to assure them that the PKI's proposal would lead to the strengthening of the state. Aidit announced in a report to the PKI central committee that the "NASAKOMisation" of the armed forces could be achieved and that the fifth force could be established with the cooperation of the armed forces. Right up to the very end, the PKI leadership suppressed the revolutionary aspirations of the working class. As late as May 1965, the PKI Politburo sowed the illusion that the military and state apparatus was being modified to isolate the "anti-people's aspect" of state power:

"The strength of the pro-people's aspect (of state power) is already becoming steadily greater and holds the initiative and the offensive, while the anti-people's aspect, although moderately strong, is relentlessly pressed into a tight corner. The PKI is struggling so that the pro-people's aspect will become more powerful and finally dominate, and the anti-people's aspect will be driven out of the state power." The Indonesian and international working class paid a bitter and bloody price for this Stalinist perfidy when Suharto and the generals struck on September 30, 1965.

Chapter Three

1965 -- Stalinism's bloody legacy

The Indonesian military coup of October 1-2, 1965 was the outcome of a carefully-orchestrated and long-planned operation by the CIA and the US-trained and backed commanders of the Indonesian armed forces. Throughout 1965 class tensions mounted. The year began with peasants seizing the estates of large landowners and oil and rubber workers occupying US-owned enterprises. President Sukarno had brought the army commanders, led by General Nasution, and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) leadership into his cabinet to suppress the movement. The PKI leadership halted the takeovers but the mass movement was becoming increasingly difficult to control. There was growing discontent over the sentencing of 23 peasants to 15 to 20 years in prison for allegedly beating an army officer to death in the course of resisting military action to suppress land seizures in Sumatra.

On the evening of September 30, 1965, a CIA provocation was organised. A group of middle-ranking military officers, at least one of whom had close personal relations with General Suharto, arrested and executed the army chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Yani, and five other leading generals, and announced the establishment of a Revolutionary Council. The round up of the generals did not include two key figures. The first was Suharto, then the commander of the Strategic Reserve Forces (Kostrad), comprised of the military's crack troops. The mutineers led by Lieutenant-Colonel Untung made no attempt to arrest Suharto nor cut off his headquarters in Jakarta despite being in a position to do so. The Defence Minister, General Nasution, also escaped. He was supposedly on the plotters' death list but miraculously survived.

Untung's so-called coup bid was a charade. Within 24 hours Suharto routed the rebels, virtually without a shot being fired, and took control of the capital, backed by Nasution. By the end of the week, Suharto's reconstituted army command eliminated all pockets of resistance, and launched the greatest anti-communist pogrom in history, orchestrated by the US embassy and the CIA. The White House, Pentagon and CIA, already fighting an undeclared war in Vietnam, were determined to drown the Indonesian revolution in blood. US diplomats and CIA officers, led by the US ambassador to Indonesia, Marshall Green, worked hand in glove with Suharto's death squads to exterminate every known member and supporter of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

CIA-organised holocaust

In preparation for the coup, US officials had spent at least two years compiling death lists which were handed over to the military with a clear instruction: exterminate them all. Suharto's men were ordered to report back after each set of killings so the names could be checked off on the CIA's lists. Some of the American officers involved described what took place. "It really was a big help to the army," said a former political officer in the US embassy in Jakarta, Robert Martens. "They probably killed a lot of people and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad.

"There's a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment."

Martens headed an embassy group of State Department and CIA officers who, from 1962, compiled a detailed who's who of the leadership of the PKI. They included, he said, names of provincial, city and other local PKI committee members, and leaders of PKI-backed trade union, women's and youth groups. The operation was masterminded by former CIA director William Colby, who was then director of the CIA's Far East Division, and thus responsible for directing US covert strategy in Asia. Colby said the work to identify the PKI leadership was a forerunner to the CIA's Phoenix Program in Vietnam, which attempted to exterminate supporters of the National Liberation Front in the late 1960s.

Colby admitted that the work of checking off the death lists was regarded as so important that it was supervised at the CIA's intelligence directorate in Washington. "We came to the conclusion that with the sort of draconian way it was carried out, it really set them (the PKI) back for years." Deputy CIA station chief Joseph Lazarsky described with undisguised relish how Suharto's Jakarta headquarters provided the US embassy with running reports on the roundup and killing of PKI leaders. "We were getting a good account in Jakarta of who was being picked up. The army had a 'shooting list' of about 4,000 or 5,000 people. "They didn't have enough goon squads to zap them all, and some individuals were valuable for interrogation. The infrastructure was zapped almost immediately. We knew what they were doing. We knew they would keep a few and save them for the kangaroo courts, but Suharto and his advisers said, if you keep them alive, you have to feed them."

All this was conducted with the approval of Green who was later appointed US ambassador to Australia, where he played a leading role in the preparations for the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975. At least one million people were slaughtered in the six month holocaust that followed the coup. This was the estimate of a team of  University of Indonesia graduates commissioned by the army itself to inquire into the extent of the killings.

Instigated and aided by the army, gangs of youth from right-wing Muslim organisations carried out mass killings, particularly in central and east Java. There were reports that at certain points the Brantas River near Surabaya was "choked with corpses". Another report from the east Javan hill town of Batu said there were so many killed within the narrow confines of a police courtyard that the bodies were simply covered over with layers of cement. On the island of Bali, formerly considered to be a PKI stronghold, at least 35,000 were killed by the beginning of 1966. There the Tamins, the storm-troopers of Sukarno's PNI (Indonesian National Party) performed the slaughter. A special correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung told of bodies lying along the roads, or heaped in pits, and of half-burned villages in which peasants dared not leave the charred shells of their huts. In other areas suspects were forced to kill their alleged comrades with their own hands to prove their loyalty. In the major cities anti-Chinese pogroms were conducted. Workers and public servants who went on strike in protest at the counter-revolutionary wave of terror were sacked.

At least 250,000 workers and peasants were thrown into concentration camps. An estimated 110,000 were still held as political prisoners at the end of 1969. Executions continue to this day, including several dozen since the early 1980s. Another four prisoners, Johannes Surono Hadiwiyono, Safar Suryanto, Simon Petrus Sulaeman and Norbertus Rohayan, were executed nearly 25 years after the coup, a clear sign that the Suharto regime still fears the resurgence of the Indonesian proletariat and poor peasantry.

Stalinist betrayal deepens

While hundreds of thousands of suspected PKI members and supporters were being hunted down and slaughtered, the PKI leadership and their Stalinist counterparts in the Kremlin, Beijing and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) urged PKI cadre and workers and peasants to offer no resistance, giving a green light for the generals to proceed with their mass executions. The Stalinists deepened their reactionary line of demanding that the masses subordinate themselves to the national bourgeoisie and Sukarno, who was maintained by Suharto as a puppet president, and to the armed forces themselves.

On October 1, 1965 both Sukarno and PKI secretary general Aidit responded to the formation of the so-called rebel Revolutionary Council by moving to the Halim Air Base in Jakarta to seek protection. On October 6 Sukarno called for "national unity," that is, "unity" between the military and its victims, and an end to violence. The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the PKI immediately urged all members and mass organisations to support the "leader of the Indonesian revolution" and offer no resistance to the military. Its statement was reprinted in the CPA's paper Tribune:

"Having studied the appeal by the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Indonesian Republic, by the leader of the Indonesian revolution, president Sukarno, the political bureau of the central committee of the Communist Party of Indonesia declares full support for the appeal and appeals to all party committees and party members and sympathisers, as well as revolutionary mass organisations led by the PKI members to facilitate the carrying out of this appeal."

Meanwhile, Sukarno, the "leader of the Indonesian revolution," was collaborating with the military repression in the hope of saving his own neck. He called for a thorough purge of those allegedly involved in the "September 30 affair," (the alleged coup bid led by Colonel Untung), and permitted PKI leaders to be arrested and murdered. On October 15 he appointed Suharto as army chief.

Five months later, on March 11, 1966, Sukarno handed Suharto unchallenged decree-making power. He "ordered" Suharto to "take all steps" to re-establish order and to safeguard Sukarno's "personal safety and authority". Suharto's first exercise of his new powers was to formally outlaw the PKI. In recognition of the value of his services, Sukarno was retained as the titular president of the military dictatorship until March 1967.

The PKI leadership continued to demand that the masses bow to the authority of the Sukarno-Suharto regime. Aidit, who had fled, was captured and executed by the army on November 24, 1965 but his line was maintained by the PKI's Second Secretary Njoto. In an interview given to a Japanese newspaper correspondent he emphasised:

"The PKI recognises only one head of state, one supreme commander, one great leader of the revolution President Sukarno... It is President Sukarno united with the forces of the people who will decide the destiny and future of Indonesia."

All party members, Njoto continued, should "fully support the directives of President Sukarno and pledge themselves to implement these without reserve... Our party is making every effort in its power to prevent a civil war." In other words, while the military butchers and their CIA mentors organised the systematic liquidation of not only the PKI leadership but the most class conscious sections of the Indonesian masses, the PKI ordered its cadre to ensure that no-one fought back.

The utter bankruptcy and treachery of the Stalinist "two-stage" theory of insisting that the masses tie their fate to Sukarno and the national bourgeoisie could not have been spelt out more graphically. The betrayal of the PKI was endorsed and reinforced by the Stalinist bureaucracies in Moscow and Beijing. The Kremlin blamed "putschist" and "adventuristic" elements in the PKI for the defeat and called repeatedly for the "unity" of the Indonesian "revolution" around Sukarno's NASAKOM (Nationalism, Islam and Communism).

On October 12, 1965 Soviet leaders Brezhnev, Mikoyan and Kosygin sent a special message to Sukarno: "We and our colleagues learned with great joy that your health has improved ... We have with interest heard about your radio appeal to the Indonesian people to remain calm and prevent disorders ... This appeal will meet with profound understanding." At a Tricontinental Conference in Havana in February, 1966, the Soviet delegation tried in every way to block a public condemnation of the counter-revolutionary terror raging against the Indonesian masses. Its stance won praise from the Suharto regime. The Indonesian parliament passed a resolution on February 11 expressing "full appreciation" for the "efforts of the delegations of Nepal, Mongolia, the Soviet Union and others at the Solidarity Conference of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, who successfully neutralised the efforts of the counter-revolutionists of the so-called September 30 movement, and their protectors and leaders, to intervene in the internal affairs of Indonesia".

Thus, the betrayal of the Stalinists was so brazen that the parliamentary lapdogs of the military junta were able to refer to the CIA's September 30 set-up as an attempted counter-revolution! The Beijing Stalinists similarly wiped their hands of the fate of the Indonesian masses. They even went ahead in Jakarta with a World Conference Against Foreign Bases and stood by without protest as their Indonesian comrades were arrested in the conference hall itself.

The legacy of the 'bloc of four classes'

The Stalinist betrayal in 1965 was the culmination of more than 20 years of treachery in which the PKI, working on the basis of the Stalinist "two-stage" theory and, in particular, the Maoist ideology of a "bloc of four classes," tied the working class and peasant masses to the bourgeois nationalist regime of Sukarno. Aidit spelt out the ideological framework of the bloody defeat of the Indonesian revolution shortly after returning from 18 months in China in July 1950 and wresting control of the PKI leadership: "The working class, the peasants, the petty-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie must unite in one national front."

Aidit slavishly followed the line of the Maoist regime in China which suppressed the independent struggle of the working class and attempted to establish a "New Democracy", a bourgeois state, in alliance with sections of the national bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie after the collapse of Chiang Kai Shek's dictatorship. Parroting Mao, he called for a "people's democracy" and a "united front of all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal forces in the country. That is to say, the working class, the peasantry, the petty-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie." In keeping with the counter-revolutionary "two-stage" theory of Stalinism, "The task of this alliance is to bring about not socialist but democratic reforms".

Aidit demanded that the workers and peasant masses support not only the national bourgeoisie but also "all other patriotic and anti-colonial forces including the left (rather progressive) landlord group". It was this line, which Aidit hammered out incessantly, which was used to suppress workers' and peasants' struggles, tie the working class to the Sukarno regime, and create the conditions for the US-backed military to strike. Time and again, PKI members and supporters were instructed to strangle the class struggle and the revolutionary strivings of the oppressed masses in order to preserve the "national united front": "The basic principle we must adhere to in the conduct of the national struggle is to subordinate the class struggle to the national struggle."

The "two stage" theory of Stalinism insists that in the colonial and semi-colonial countries such as Indonesia, the oppressed masses must not engage in struggles that threaten the national bourgeoisie nor raise the program of socialist revolution. The class struggle has to be stifled to prop up the national bourgeoisie and establish a national capitalist democracy.

The bloody counter-revolutionary consequences of this Stalinist line were first demonstrated in China in 1926-27 when the butcher Chiang Kai Shek inflicted a crushing defeat on the Chinese working class after the Communist Party had been instructed by the Kremlin leadership to join his bourgeois nationalist Koumintang. The massacres carried out by Chiang confirmed Leon Trotsky's warnings that the weak and belated bourgeoisies of the oppressed nations are organically incapable of conducting any consistent struggle against imperialism and feudalism. That is because, to do so requires the mobilisation of the masses in revolutionary struggle and such a struggle immediately comes into conflict with the class position of the national bourgeoisie as exploiters of their "own" working class and peasantry. As Trotsky explained in his writings on the betrayal of the Chinese Revolution:

"To really arouse the workers and peasants against imperialism is possible only by connecting their basic and most profound life interest with the cause of the country's liberation. A workers' strike small or large an agrarian rebellion, an uprising of the oppressed sections in city and country against the usurer, against the bureaucracy, against the local military satraps, all that arouses the multitudes, that welds them together, that educates, steels, is a real step forward on the road to the revolutionary and social liberation of the Chinese people... But everything that brings the oppressed and exploited masses of the toilers to their feet inevitably pushes the national bourgeoisie into an open bloc with the imperialists. The class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the masses of workers and peasants is not weakened, but, on the contrary, is sharpened by imperialist oppression, to the point of bloody civil war at every serious conflict." (Trotsky, Problems of the Chinese Revolution, New Park 1969, p.5) The criminal role played by the PKI in tying the Indonesian masses to Sukarno's national bourgeois regime made Trotsky's analysis tragically prophetic.

The unresolved tasks of genuine national liberation, land redistribution, democracy and economic development in Indonesia and all historically-oppressed countries can be achieved only by the working class leading the peasant masses in the socialist revolution. That is, national self-determination can only arise as a by-product of the socialist revolution led by the proletariat. The victory of this struggle is bound up with the development of the world socialist revolution to overthrow imperialism on a world scale. This is the kernel of the Marxist theory of Permanent Revolution developed by Leon Trotsky and vindicated by the victory of the October 1917 Russian Revolution.

Chapter Four

Pabloite accomplices of counter-revolution

In the months following the bloody CIA-organised military coup of October 1-2, 1965, every known member and supporter of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and all working class parties, and hundreds of thousands of other Indonesian workers and peasants, were massacred or thrown into concentration camps for torture and inter-rogation. The systematic extermination and ruthless suppression of working class opposition intensified after March 11, 1966 when Sukarno, the bourgeois nationalist leader retained by the military as President, granted unfettered decree-making power to the coup leader and army chief, General Suharto.

The betrayal of the tumultuous revolutionary movement of the Indonesian masses by the Stalinist leadership of the PKI was a profound defeat with enormous implications for the international working class. The PKI blocked the repeated attempts of the workers and peasants to seize the factories and plantations. It tied the masses to the bourgeois nationalist regime of Sukarno and ultimately joined the US-backed military leaders, the future butchers of the masses, in the Sukarno cabinet. After the coup the Stalinists ordered their cadre to enforce Sukarno's appeal for "unity" with the military and to prevent any resistance to the holocaust that was being unleashed. The blow struck to the Indonesian revolution reverberated throughout Asia and around the world. In particular it encouraged and enabled the massive escalation of the US invasion of Vietnam, it crushed the hopes and revolutionary striving of the masses in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, and it strengthened the hand of the unstable bourgeois regimes in the Indian sub-continent.

Mandel and Hansen whitewash Stalinist treachery

But the response of the Pabloite revisionists of the "United Secretariat," led by Ernest Mandel and Joseph Hansen, was to minimise the magnitude of the great Indonesian betrayal, to whitewash the counter-revolutionary role of the Stalinists, and, above all, to cover up their own responsibility for the bloodbath. While the Indonesian masses were being slaughtered, Professor Mandel attempted to paint the most reassuring picture of the future prospects of the Indonesian revolution, in order to dull the consciousness of the international working class. "Naturally the struggle has not ended in Indonesia," he wrote from the comfort of his Belgian university chair in an article published in the Pabloite journal World Outlook on March 11, 1966.

"A part of the Communist cadres have been able to go underground," he went on. "The discontent of the hungry masses is increasing from day to day; the empty stomachs of the workers and peasants are not filled through massacres. The revolt will widen against the corrupt regime. Sukarno understands this and will resume his eternal balancing act; he has just eliminated the most ferocious of the generals from his cabinet. The people will again have their turn." This whitewash of the immense betrayal of the Indonesian masses demonstrates the counter-revolutionary consequences of Pabloite opportunism, which emerged in the Trotskyist movement from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Led by Michel Pablo, elements such as Mandel adapted to the post-World War II stabilisation of capitalism and the seeming strengthening of the Stalinist bureaucracies which suppressed the revolutionary upsurge of the international working class in the immediate post-war period. They abandoned Trotsky's struggle for the construction of the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolu-tion and claimed that the Moscow and Beijing-line Stalinist bureaucracies and parties would be pressured by the masses into playing a progressive role. On this basis, they set out to liquidate the Fourth International into whatever Stalinist or social democratic formation then dominated the labour movement in each country, declaring that the road to socialism consisted of centuries of horribly deformed workers' states of the type established in Eastern Europe and China.

In 1953 this liquidationism was combatted by the formation of the International Committee of the Fourth International in response to an Open Letter issued by American Socialist Workers Party leader James P. Cannon calling for the defence of "orthodox Trotskyism". However, by the early 1960s the SWP leaders themselves had increasingly adapted to the prolonged post-war boom. They hailed the apparent successes of national bourgeoisie and petty bourgeois elements, such as Castro in Cuba, as a substitute for the seizure of power by the working class led by revolutionary Marxist parties, proclaiming that socialism could be achieved through such "blunted instruments". This was the perspective on which they reunified with the Pabloites in 1963 to form the United Secretariat.

Central to the Pabloite renunciation of proletarian revolution was the reactionary objectivist method which presented the struggle for socialism as a quasi-automatic "historical process" achieved through the spontaneous movement of the masses led by whatever political tendencies were at hand, regardless of their class composition and program. Thus the Indonesian "people" would prevail regardless of the terrible crisis of leadership produced by the perfidy of the mass Stalinist party. Sukarno, by now the willing tool of General Suharto, was supposedly muzzling the most ferocious generals. And, even after its unspeakable betrayal, Mandel referred to the PKI as a "Communist" party.

Mandel's snow job was ratified by the "United Secretariat" in a statement issued on March 20, 1966. Its conclusion was that the emergence of General Suharto as the "strong man" of the counter-revolution was of little consequence, because "It is extremely unlikely that the counter-revolutionists now in power in Jakarta will be able to stabilise the situation for any length of time." Today, with Suharto's military junta still riding ruthlessly on the back of Indonesia's oppressed millions, it is crucial to study how the Pabloite opportunists provided the essential political cover for the PKI and the Sukarno regime itself.

The "United Secretariat" statement sowed the most deadly illusion that even General Suharto's American-trained killers would be compelled to act in the interests of the Indonesian masses against imperialism as part of Sukarno's phoney "confrontation" with the newly-formed state of Malaysia: "The army leaders themselves will not readily give up their nationalist, anti-imperialist verbiage which reflects real conflicts of interest with British imperialism and the ruling comprador bourgeoisie and semi-feudal landowners of Malaysia."

While the Indonesian masses were left leaderless in the face of Suharto's horrific slaughter, the Pabloites loftily declared their confidence that somehow the masses would be victorious. "The masses, though leaderless and deeply shaken, have not lost all fighting potential, particularly in the countryside. It will prove impossible to get the thousands of squatters to evacuate the imperialist-owned or 'nationalised' plantations managed by corrupt army officers, or to compel the thousands of planta-tion and oil workers to revert to the 'normal' working conditions of colonial times."

Above all, the Pabloites continued to insist that the masses place their trust in the Stalinist leaders of the PKI, arguing that they could be convinced to play a revolutionary role, even after they had strangled every mass movement against the Sukarno regime. "If they succeed in regrouping and in regaining a mass following in some regions of the countryside by calling on the peasants to immediately take over the land held by the landlords, the plantations and army administration, they could gain on a progressive scale due to the inability of the Indonesian reaction to solve the country's basic economic plight and due to the divisions in the ranks of the army which that inability will undoubtedly provoke."

In 1957, and again in 1964-65, the PKI had directed workers and peasants to surrender the factories, banks, oil installations, plantations and other enterprises they had occupied, saving the day for Sukarno and the Indonesian bourgeoisie. Now, the Pabloites claimed, they could play a progressive role. Mandel's article and the "United Secretariat" statement were published, together with an article by a Pabloite member of the PKI, by the US Socialist Workers Party in a pamphlet called "The Catastrophe in Indonesia" dated December 1966. It was complete with an introduction by Joseph Hansen, an SWP leader who had played a poisonous role in the 1963 reunification with the Pabloites. Hansen, subsequently exposed as a Stalinist agent who became an FBI plant in the SWP, was a central instigator in the SWP's 1963 break from the ICFI. Hansen sought to reassure the pamphlet's readers that "one of the new features of world politics today" was "the quickness with which the masses recover from defeats that formerly would have left them prostrate for decades".

The stunning indifference of the Pabloites to the fate of the Indonesian masses was not simply the product of the callousness and contempt for the working class which characterises their fetid petty-bourgeois milieu but was also a bid to cover-up the critical factor in the Indonesian betrayal the role played by the Pabloites themselves and their Indonesian representatives. It is a measure of the cynicism of the Pabloites and their subservience to the Stalinists and the national bourgeoisie that none of the articles and statements published in the 1966 pamphlet so much as mentioned the existence of a section of the "United Secretariat" in Indonesia, let alone explained the part it played in the events leading up to the coup. There was just one brief appeal for the legalisation of and release of all members of the PKI, the Partai Murbah (a social democratic formation) and the Partai Acoma, even though the Acoma party had relations with the Pabloites at least as early as 1953 and was admitted as a section of the "United Secretariat" in 1960, just as the American SWP was intensifying its unprincipled reunification manoeuvres with the Pabloites.

This fleeting reference to their own members was a guilty attempt by the Pabloites to hide the part that they and their Indonesian proteges played in providing the PKI Stalinists with much-needed credibility throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

How Pabloism emerged in Indonesia

The Partai Acoma originated as a breakaway from the PKI in 1948. By falsely claiming to be Trotskyist, it served to divert and trap working class and peasant opposition to the support of the PKI for the national bourgeois regime of Sukarno. Led by an MP, Ibnu Parna, its programmatic documents presented the PKI as a "Marxist-Leninist party like us." As we shall show, this was a fraud in relation to both the PKI and the Partai Acoma. The need for such a fake "Trotskyist" safety valve was demonstrated by the explosive events of 1948. The collaboration of the PKI leadership in the post-war administrations headed by Sukarno and their acceptance of the Indonesian bourgeoisie's rotten agreements with the Dutch colonialists aroused intense working class opposition.

From July 5, 1947 to January 23, 1948 President Sukarno's Republican adminis-tration was headed by Amir Sjarifuddin who was both Prime Minister and Defence Minister. Sjarifuddin was a secret member of the PKI, as was the Deputy Prime Minister and a Minister of State. In addition, two Ministers of State were open members of the PKI. This administration signed the Renville Agreement with the Netherlands which maintained Dutch control of the lion's share of the sugar, rubber, coffee, tea and oil industries, required the withdrawal of guerrilla forces from Dutch-occupied territory and provided for the liquidation of the PKI-led "people's armed units" into the bourgeois "Indonesian National Armed Forces" controlled by Sukarno and his generals. Such was the popular opposition to the acceptance of the US-imposed pact with the Dutch that the government was brought down and replaced by one headed by right-wing Vice-President Hatta as Prime Minister.

Strikes then erupted, demanding a parliamentary government. The PKI leadership supported the suppression of this movement by Sukarno who appealed for "national unity". When this betrayal was opposed by a section of the PKI, the PKI leadership responded savagely, executing the leaders of the opposition faction. Partai Acoma emerged from this dissenting group. While it opposed the PKI leadership, the Acoma party maintained that the Indonesian revolution had to be carried out by the PKI as a "Marxist-Leninist party". Subsequently the Acoma leaders established contact with the "United Secretariat" which encouraged their pro-Stalinist positions and illusions in Maoism.

It is apparent that the Partai Acoma diverted wide layers of workers and peasants looking for an alternative to the class collaborationist program of the PKI. From 1953 to 1955, for example, the Acoma's strength in the 200,000-strong Indonesian Peasants Association (SAKTI) delayed for two years plans by the PKI leadership to merge SAKTI with two PKI-controlled peasants' organisations, the RTI and the BTI.

Pabloites prepare betrayal

An article published in February 1958 in the Pabloite journal Quatrieme International provides a graphic indictment of the role played by Pabloism in opposing the fight for revolutionary Marxist leadership in the working class. The article, "The Indonesian Revolution on the March," by Sal Santen, a close associate of Pablo, was written at the height of the revolutionary convulsions of December 1957, when workers and peasants seized control of Dutch and other imperialist-owned plantations and enterprises.

The article provided a criminal cover for the counter-revolutionary role of the PKI, which ordered the masses to hand over their conquests to the military in order to shore up the Sukarno administration.According to Santen: "It must be added that the Communist militants, the basic and average cadres of the PKI and of the SOBSI, the big Indonesian workers' union organisation, have nothing of the bureaucratic character of Aidit (Communist Party leader) and Co. They are in front; they are the ones who took over the initiative in occupying the factories, the plantations, the banks and the ships. There is no doubt that the most conscious of them are inflamed by the revolutionary audacity of Tan Malakka, by Leon Trotsky's ideas of the permanent revolution."

Acting on this perspective, the Indonesian Pabloites politically disarmed the tens of thousands of workers and peasants who came forward into struggle only to find their way blocked by the PKI. Just at the point when the decisive task was to educate the most class conscious elements in the necessity for an uncompromising struggle against the Stalinist "two-stage" and "bloc of four classes" line of the PKI, and the need for a thorough arming with the program of Permanent Revolution, the Pabloites worked for the opposite.

Opportunist to the core, they equated Trotsky with Tan Malakka, an early PKI leader who opposed the plans for a revolt in 1926 and split from the PKI to form his own organisation. They falsified the Marxist theory of Permanent Revolution, transforming it from a conscious strategy to guide the struggles for the dictatorship of the proletariat into a spontaneously generated perspective.

The central tenant of Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution is the perfidy of the national bourgeoisie and their incapacity to lead a real struggle against imperialism. Only the working class can free the masses from national and class oppression, by carrying the socialist revolution and uniting with their class brothers throughout the world in a common struggle to overthrow imperialism internationally.

Such a struggle can only be undertaken consciously under the banner of the Fourth International in an uncompromising struggle against the Stalinist and petty-bourgeois forces, such as the Pabloites, who attempt to disarm the working class and tie it to its own bourgeoisie. In the hands of the Pabloites, the program of Permanent Revolution became a justification for their own adaption to the national bourgeoisie and the Stalinists. The working class did not need its own revolutionary party to come to power because the PKI was the instrument through which the Permanent Revolution was being realised, albeit unconsciously.

Thus, Santen, speaking on behalf of Pablo and Mandel, declared:

"In any case it is clear that the whole of Indonesia is moving. The march of the masses has become irreversible although the process remains contradictory and has already reached the stage of dual power in a good part of Indonesia, and above all in Java. The occupation of enterprises, of plantations, of the fleet, and the banks by the masses has only one meaning: It is a question of the classical beginning of the proletarian revolution. The Indonesian revolution is in the act of breaking the limits of the national revolution under a bourgeois nationalist leadership. It develops according to the laws of the permanent revolution." (Emphasis in the original)

The Pabloites held out the prospect of a peaceful transition to "worker and peasant power":

"A speedy and almost 'peaceful' victory of the revolution up to worker and peasant power (above all in Java) was possible, if the PKI, at the first moment pushed by the spirit of the masses, had not done everything to castrate the action of the masses by subordinating it to the control of the government."

What the Pabloites meant by "worker and peasant power" was completely opposed to the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Pabloites lined up as cheer leaders for the counter-revolutionary Stalinist "two-stage" perspective of demanding that the proletariat give up the struggle for socialist revolution.

To sanctify their opposition to the independent mobilisation of the working class and to the forging of a revolutionary proletarian, that is, Trotskyist, party, the Pabloites insisted that the PKI, despite its betrayal of the December 1957 occupations, would be pressured to the left by the masses:

"At the same time, at each aggravation of the situation, the masses have the tendency to push the SOBSI and PKI further. A great deal will now depend on the boldness, on the revolutionary Marxist understanding of the militants, of the average Communist cadres. We feel completely solidarised with them, inspired and enthused by their initiatives, by their boldness which we passionately hope will not stop before the 'taboos' of the Aidits. We salute the Indonesian Trotskyist cadres who are integrated in the PKI with the correct revolutionary perspective that the radicalisation of the masses will be realised above all through the PKI and SOBSI."

This was the greatest crime of Pabloism the liquidation of Trotskyist cadre, and those who were attracted to Trotskyism, into the camp of Stalinism.

Santen added a footnote to emphasise that this treacherous line was advanced in direct opposition to the struggle waged by the International Committee of the Fourth International since its founding in 1953 to defend Trotskyism against Pabloite liquidationism. Santen specifically denounced the ICFI's fight for the construction of sections of the Fourth International to defeat counter-revolutionary Stalinism:

"In contradiction to some sectarian 'orthodox' people, the International does not let itself be fascinated by the reactionary Stalinist policy, but orients itself, above all, on the dynamism of the situation itself, a dynamism that pushes the masses, and through the masses the PKI itself into contradiction with the present order in Indonesia."

This passage should be burned into the consciousness of every worker as the summation of Pabloism's pro-Stalinist dirty work.

In direct struggle against the ICFI, the Pabloites consciously pushed fatal illusions in the PKI Stalinists, precisely at the point where the burning question of the hour was to expose the criminal role of the Stalinists and resolutely fight for a decisive break by the masses from the PKI to construct a revolutionary Trotskyist leadership.

The protracted and implacable struggle waged against the Pabloite opportunists by the ICFI, which appeared for many years to be a fight taken up by small isolated forces in the Fourth International, was a life and death question for millions of Indonesian workers and peasants.

Counter-revolutionary handmaidens

Within weeks of Santen's lines being penned, the rotten fruits of the PKI's betrayal of the December 1957 movement began to emerge. A counter-revolutionary government was formed in Central Sumatra in February 1958 by coup leader Colonel Achmed Hussein and headed by Dr Sjafruddin Prawiranegara. This CIA-backed operation, only possible because of the PKI's disarming of the December 1957 rebellion, was a test run for the bloody coup that was to take place seven years later.

Fully conscious that this was a dress rehearsal for counter-revolution, the response of the Pabloites was to intensify their wretched boosting of the PKI. Quatrieme International's editor added a footnote which climaxed with the following purple passage:

"Since the 'rebels' main aim is to do away with Sukarno's 'guided democracy' in which is included the PKI, then any compromise will be at the expense of the PKI. In this case, the immediate perspective is that the PKI, under mass pressure, will be obliged, willy nilly, to execute a major policy about-face as was performed by the Chinese Communist Party in a similar situation in 1949, and to go past the  bourgeois-nationalist stage of the revolution to the socialist stage of workers' power. Thus, in fact, but again without acknowledgement, operating on the basis of, and validifying the Trotskyist theory of permanent revolution."

Thus the PKI, the hangman of the Indonesian revolution, was depicted as the unwitting instrument of the Permanent Revolution!

Added to this was the lie that the Chinese Stalinists, the mentors of Aidit and the other PKI leaders, had carried through the "socialist stage of workers' power" in 1949. In fact, the peasant armies of the Maoists brutally suppressed the proletarian uprising in 1949, murdered the Trotskyist opposition, and established an extremely deformed workers' state based on the Stalinist perspective of a partnership with the national bourgeoisie, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the peasantry. This was indeed the model upon which the PKI leadership based itself.

Not content with glorifying the Stalinists, the editor's special footnote then promoted the prospects of the national bourgeoisie undertaking a progressive transformation as well. It suggested an alternative scenario premised on the Sukarno government leading a struggle against the CIA-organised "rebels":

"In the other event, that the Sukarno government takes a stronger line of opposition and resistance to the 'rebels,' a further polarisation of all the bourgeois and semi-feudal counter-revolutionary forces will be seen; confronting a shadow bourgeois-nationalist government and the masses. This confrontation of the masses against the new 'slaveholders' rebellion,' against the new 'Kornilov putsch,' will mean a new upsurge of the revolution, while the experience of this kind of revolutionary action by the masses will leave little chance of a relapse to the stability of a bourgeois nationalist regime."

The events of October 1965 were to prove the Sukarno regime to be no less accommodating to General Suharto's killers than the Kerensky government was to General Kornilov's coup bid in 1917. Sukarno displayed the essence of bourgeois nationalism by ending his political career as a puppet President for Suharto's military junta.

The conclusion of the editor's footnote should be inscribed on the tombstone of Pabloism: "In either case our optimistic perspective is justified. The Indonesian Revolution is on the march! Its victory as a socialist revolution is now in gene-ration. (Emphasis in original)

From 1957 to 1965 the Pabloites internationally perpetrated this objectivist cover-up of the grave dangers confronting the Indonesian revolution.

The work of the Pabloite section in Indonesia was central to the whole Pabloite world perspective. It was discussed intensively at the so-called Fifth World Congress of the "United Secretariat" in 1957.

"Our Fifth World Congress, in discussing the progress and the road of the world colonial revolution, gave serious attention to the developments in Indonesia. Recognising the Indonesian situation as pre-revolutionary, it expected a revolutionary explosion very soon," declared the article by Santen. The entire Pabloite "United Secretariat" has blood on its hands. They aided and abetted the Stalinist betrayal of the Indonesian workers and peasants.

Chapter Five

Pabloites cover up Stalinist treachery

The crisis of working class leadership was never posed so sharply as in Indonesia between 1963 and 1965. The fate of the Indonesian workers and peasants depended entirely on overcoming and defeating the counter-revolutionary line of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) which bound the working class hand and foot to the tottering bourgeois nationalist regime of Sukarno while the US-backed military prepared for a bloody coup. The PKI Stalinists, led by general secretary Aidit, repeatedly demanded that workers and peasants hand back factories and plantations which they had seized. They then joined the army generals in taking cabinet posts in the Suharto government and backed the outlawing of workers' strikes.

The more it became obvious that the generals were preparing for a bloody coup, the more the PKI leaders worked feverishly to assure the bourgeoisie and the military that the PKI opposed the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses.

Aidit repeatedly declared that the state power in Indonesia did not have to be smashed but could be reformed from within to "strengthen and consolidate the pro-people's aspect," which included President Sukarno. The PKI leader gave lectures at army colleges in which he heralded a "feeling of mutuality and unity that daily grows strong between all the armed forces of the Indonesian Republic and the various groups of Indonesian people, including the communists".

The PKI leadership could only advance these positions because the Indonesian Pabloites were working equally feverishly to prevent workers from breaking with the Stalinists. They vehemently opposed the construction of a new revolutionary leadership.

The responsibility for the bloody counter-revolutionary consequences of this line can be traced directly to the 1963 Pabloite Reunification Congress at which the American Socialist Workers Party consummated an unprincipled break from the International Committee of the Fourth International and joined the Pabloite "United Secretariat" of Ernest Mandel.

After leading the struggle against Pabloite liquidationism in 1953, the SWP leaders had in the late 1950s increasingly adapted to the pressure of the protracted post-war boom and the apparent quiescence of the working class. They abandoned the struggle for proletarian revolution led by a Bolshevik-type party and sought "regroup-ment" with petty bourgeois radicals and disaffected Stalinists. In 1963 they joined hands with the Pabloites in claiming that not only the Stalinist parties, such as the PKI, but also the bourgeois nationalist and petty-bourgeois nationalist forces in the backward countries, such as Castro in Cuba and Sukarno in Indonesia, could become vehicles for the establishment of socialism.

The reunification resolution declared that there was no crisis of revolutionary leadership in the oppressed countries: "In the colonial and semi-colonial countries ... the very weakness of capitalism, the whole peculiar socio-economic structure produced by imperialism, the permanent misery of the big majority of the population in the absence of a radical agrarian revolution, the stagnation and even reduction of living standards while industrialisation nevertheless proceeds relatively rapidly, creates situations in which the failure of one revolutionary wave does not lead automatically to relative or even temporary social or economic stabilisation. A seemingly inexhaustible succession of mass struggles continues, such as Bolivia has experienced for 10 years."

In other words, no matter how crushing were the defeats and betrayals inflicted on the masses, they would rise again. There was no need for a Trotskyist party. The criminal character of this opportunist complacency was soon to be spelt out in the blood of the Indonesian masses.

The 1963 conference was based on the rejection of the historical necessity of building sections of the Trotskyist movement in the backward countries. The Pabloite resolution declared: "The weakness of the enemy in the backward countries has opened the possibility of coming to power even with blunted instruments." In Indonesia, the "blunted instrument" was to be the PKI.

The great betrayal in Sri Lanka

The Pabloite treachery in Indonesia was intimately bound up with the great betrayal in Sri Lanka in 1964 when the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), the Pabloite organisation, joined the bourgeois coalition government of Mrs Bandaranaike, together with the Stalinist Communist Party of Sri Lanka, in order to behead the mass working class movement against capitalist rule.

The LSSP had opposed the formation of the International Committee in 1953 and subsequently played a central role in preparing the American SWP's reunification with the Pabloites. Its opposition to the struggle against opportunism in the Fourth International was rooted in its increasingly nationalist orientation and abandonment of Trotskyist program and principles in order to accommodate with the Stalinists and Bandaranaike's capitalist party, the SLFP, in Ceylon.

The Pabloite Reunification Congress of 1963 covered up the LSSP's national opportunism by claiming that "Our Ceylonese section has progressively corrected the wrong orientation adopted in 1960 of supporting the liberal-bourgeois government of the SLFP. Since the masses began to go into action, it has not hesitated to place itself at their head against its electoral allies of yesterday." Just one year later the fake "Trotskyist" credentials supplied by the Pabloites were used by the LSSP to join the capitalist government.

This betrayal by a party hailed by the Pabloites as the "largest Trotskyist party in the world" had disastrous implications internationally, first of all in Indonesia. It strengthened the hand of the Stalinist and Maoist parties, such as the PKI, whose capacity to suppress and disarm the working class would have been shattered had the LSSP upheld the program of permanent revolution and fought for the overthrow of bourgeois rule in Sri Lanka.

Pabloites boost PKI

After the entry of their Sri Lankan section into the capitalist government in Sri Lanka alongside the Stalinists, the Pabloites continued to pursue a very similar pro-Stalinist and pro-national bourgeois line in Indonesia. The Pabloites' pamphlet, The Catastrophe in Indonesia, not only covered up the part played by the Indonesian Pabloite section, the Partai Acoma, as we exposed in the previous chapter. Even after the bloody coup in Indonesia, the pamphlet continued to promote the prospect of the national bourgeoisie and the PKI playing a progressive role.

It included an article by T. Soedarso, described by US Socialist Workers Party leader Joseph Hansen in the pamphlet's introduction as a "young member of the Indonesian Communist party who succeeded in making his way into exile". Hansen enthusias-tically commended Soedarso's article as "an indication of the determination of an important sector of the Indonesian Communist Party to learn from what happened and to utilise the lessons in such a way as to ensure victory when the masses again surge forward, as they surely will".

Soedarso's article treated the counter-revolutionary program of the PKI leadership as a series of "mistakes", including the "errors" of "seeking to achieve socialism by peaceful means," and of pursuing a "policy" of a two-stage revolution and a united front with the national bourgeoisie.

Soedarso expressed no fundamental differences with the Stalinists, agreeing, for example, that "The revolutionary movement could and should support the progressive attitudes or actions of the national bourgeoisie". If ever proof was needed that the semi-colonial bourgeoisie, personified by Sukarno, was inherently incapable of a "progressive" program and would line up behind the slaughter of the working class, the Indonesian bloodbath provided it. For 18 months Sukarno served General Suharto's dictatorship as a puppet president, and even after that, from March 1967, he was retained as a token "president without powers".

The Pabloites likewise belittled the significance of the PKI's entry into the Sukarno NASAKOM coalition government with the military butchers. Soedarso implored the PKI to reverse this "line," as if it were a mere lapse.

Soedarso's virtual apology for this fundamental class treachery was no accident. The cardinal premise of Pabloism was the reversal of Trotsky's struggle against Stalinism. The evolution of Stalinism into a counter-revolutionary bureaucracy was established irrevocably in 1933 when the Stalinist Comintern, approved, without a single dissenting voice, the betrayal of the German Communist Party in handing over the German working class to Hitler without a shot being fired. From that point on Trotsky insisted that the Third International, following the Second, had passed definitely into the camp of the bourgeoisie, and that the Fourth International had to built as the world party of socialist revolution to ensure the continuity of Marxism.

Soedarso's article was a conscious cover-up, organised by Mandel and Hansen, for the reactionary role of Stalinism. The article deliberately did not use the word Stalinism, but fraudulently referred to the PKI as "Communist". And then to make his position crystal clear, Soedarso concluded: "The above criticism is not intended to undermine the role of the PKI nor to arouse distrust in Indonesian Communism."

Thus, a year after the military coup, by which time a million workers and peasants had perished, the Pabloites were whitewashing the lessons of 1965 and still urging the Indonesian workers and peasants to maintain their faith in the PKI.

The Pabloite 'lessons' of Indonesia

Soedarso's article was not an isolated instance. In fact the line advanced in the article provided the essential themes for the statement issued on March 20, 1966 by the Pabloite "United Secretariat". Entitled "The Lesson of Indonesia," it opposed any break from the PKI and issued no call for the building of a section of the Fourth International. On the contrary, it declared that the "Indonesian Communists" could "overcome the results of the present defeat" by assimilating certain lessons.

The first "lesson" was stated as follows: "While it is correct and necessary to support all anti-imperialist mass movements, and even to critically support all concrete anti-imperialist measures taken by representatives of the colonial bourgeoisie like Sukarno, for colonial revolution to be victorious it is absolutely essential to maintain the proletarian organisations strictly independent politically and organisationally from the 'national' bourgeoisie." Not only did the Pabloites continue to sow the most dangerous illusions in the "anti-imperialist" pretensions of the national bourgeoisie, their talk of "independent" proletarian organisations was an utter fraud. The political independence of the working class could only be forged by building a Trotskyist party in pitiless and audacious struggle against the Stalinists whom the Pabloites were trying to resuscitate.

The second Pabloite "lesson" claimed that "While it is correct and necessary during the first phases of the revolution in backward countries to place the main stress on the problems of winning national independence, unifying the country and solving the agrarian question (i.e., the historical tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution which constitute the most burning tasks in the eyes of 80 to 90 percent of the population), it is indispensable to understand that the solution of these tasks is only possible when the working class, in alliance with the poor peasantry, has conquered leadership of the revolution, establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat and the poor peasantry and pushes the revolution through to its socialist phase."

With this opportunist line of "two phases," the Pabloites were trying to breathe new life into the discredited "two stage" theory of the Stalinists, which demanded that the "socialist phase" of the revolution be delayed until the completion of the democratic and national revolution. The Pabloite position was the opposite of Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution which was based on the international character of the socialist revolution and the revolutionary role of the international proletariat. Trotsky emphasised the essential lesson of the Russian revolution that, in this epoch, the democratic and national tasks in the backward and oppressed countries could be achieved only through the proletarian revolution and its extension on the world scale.

The Pabloite call for the "dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasantry" sought to revive the "Old Bolshevik" formula of the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry" discarded by Lenin in 1917. Lenin adopted Trotsky's unequivocal position that the proletariat is the only consistently revolutionary class which can lead the peasants and carry through the democratic and socialist tasks of the oppressed nations as part of the struggle of the working class on a world scale.

The third "lesson" advanced by the Pabloites was: "While it is necessary to win the broadest possible mass base in the countryside, a revolutionary party capable of applying that policy must be based upon a hardened proletarian cadre thoroughly trained in Marxist theory and revolutionary practice." The duplicitous character of this "lesson" can be seen from the fact that it was oriented toward the Stalinists. The references to a "hardened proletarian cadre" and "Marxist theory" were a sham. In fact, the "United Secretariat" advised the survivors of the PKI leadership to take the road of rural guerrilla warfare.

Its statement expressed the hope that "what remains of that leadership along with the surviving party cadres especially the best educated, those steeled by the terrible experiences they went through in the past six months will have taken the road of guerrilla war, if only out of self-defence.

They urged the Stalinists to turn to a peasant-based guerrilla war, aping the Maoists in China. Maoism is a variant of Stalinism based on peasant hostility to the hegemony of the working class. Arising out the defeat of the 1926-27 Chinese revolution and the destruction of the Chinese Communist Party's working class membership, Mao's turn to the peasantry led to the abortion of the 1949 Chinese revolution. It produced a highly deformed workers' state based on Mao's "bloc of four classes" the national bourgeoisie, the urban petty-bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the working class.

It was this very doctrine which guided the determination of the Aidit leadership of the PKI to prevent a proletarian socialist revolution in Indonesia. In Aidit's words: "The working class, the peasants, the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie must unite in one national front."

The Pabloites' pamphlet was a cynical bid to divert class conscious workers from the most essential lesson of the Indonesian betrayal the necessity for a Trotskyist party to defeat the Stalinists and their Pabloite accomplices who function as counter-revolutionary petty-bourgeois agencies within the mass movement. There was and is only one revolutionary party which can avenge the betrayal of 1965 by leading the Indonesian workers to power an Indonesian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.


In 1951 the PKI leadership had set out clearly the path of betrayal it was to pursue. "In the struggle to realise their political convictions, the communists will not use force while the ruling class still leaves the peaceful, the parliamentary way open. If there is the use of force, the spilling of blood, a civil war, it will not be the communists who start it but the ruling class itself."

This counter-revolutionary perspective was only able to be inflicted on the Indonesian masses because the Pabloites tied the most class conscious sections of the working class to the banner and program of the PKI. The Pabloite betrayals in Sri Lanka and Indonesia demonstrated the counter-revolutionary character of Pabloism. As the International Committee of the Fourth International stated in its 1988 perspectives resolution, The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,:

"In the assistance it rendered to Stalinism, social democracy and bourgeois nationalism, the opportunism of the Pabloite centrists played a vital role in enabling imperialism to survive the crucial years between 1968 and 1975 when its world order was shaken by economic turmoil and an international upsurge of the working class and the oppressed masses in the backward countries. It verified Trotsky's assess-ment of centrism as a secondary agency of imperialism. The petty-bourgeois defeatists who pontificate on the doomed character of the proletariat while discover-ing new vistas for the bourgeoisie never bother to concretely analyse how decrepit capitalism survived into the 1980s. The Pabloites care least of all to examine the results of their own policies. Inasmuch as the entire petty-bourgeois fraternity of centrists, radicals and declassed intellectuals dismiss a priori the revolutionary capacities of the working class and accept its defeat as inevitable, they never even consider what the consequences of a correct Marxist policy would have been in Sri Lanka in 1964, in France in 1968, in Chile in 1973, and in Greece and Portugal in 1974.

"The International Committee, on the other hand, derives from the strategical experiences of the proletariat during the postwar period the crucial lesson upon which it bases its preparation for the coming revolutionary upheavals: that the building of the Fourth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution to ensure the victory of the international working class requires an uncompromising and unrelenting struggle against opportunism and centrism."

A new revolutionary leadership must be built to lead the Indonesian masses to smash the Suharto dictatorship, overthrow the bourgeoisie and throw off the yoke of imperialist exploitation in the fight for the world socialist revolution. Against the Stalinists and Pabloites who are preparing another bloody trap for the masses, an Indonesian section of the ICFI must be forged to lead this struggle.

(c) 1998 by World Socialist Web Site (TM)

All rights reserved

This article is from Pacific Affairs, 58, Summer 1985, pages 239-264. Peter Dale Scott is a professor of English at the University of California in Berkeley, and a member of the advisory board at Public Information Research.

See also: "CIA Compiled Indonesian Death Lists in 1965" at

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