Rampart Vol. 9 No. 4. October 1970
Mafia and the Indonesian Massacre
By David Ransom
Indonesia, which in the past fired the imagination of fortune-hunters and adventures as the fabled East Indies,
was long regarded as "the richest colonial prize in the world." Harking back to such times, Richard Nixon
described in 1967 as "the greatest prize in the Southeast Asian area." Not too many years earlier, however,
the prize had been thought all but lost to the fiery nationalist Peking-oriented Sukarno and the three million-strong
Indonesian Communist Party waiting in the wings. Then in October 1965 an unsuccessful coup and a swift move by
Indonesia's generals immobilized the leader and the precipitated the largest massacre in modern history, in which
from 500,000 to a million unarmed communists and their peasant sympathizers were killed. When the bloodletting
was over, the immense nationalist spirit of a decade had vanished, and the Indies' vast natural treasures were
opened by the new regime to U.S. oil companies and corporations.
To cut the ribbon on the Indonesian side was an extraordinary team of economic ministers known to insiders as "the
Berkeley Mafia." Sporting PhDs from the University of California [at Berkeley] and acting as a closely-knit
clique in the councils of power, these men shaped the post-nationalist policies of the new regime. Behind their
rise to eminence and power lay a saga of international intellectual intrigue, of philanthropoids and university
projects, of student Generals and political Deans, and a sophisticated imperial design beyond Cecil Rhodes's wildest
Following Japan's defeat in World War II, wars of national liberation raged in China and Vietnam. Meanwhile, far
away in Washington offices and New York living rooms, Indonesian independence was being sensibly arranged. By 1949,
the Americans had persuaded the Dutch that if they took action before the Indonesian revolution went the way of
China, they could learn to live with nationalism and like it. And sure enough, in that year the Indonesians accepted
an independence agreement, drafted with the help of friendly American diplomats. It maintained the severely was-weakened
Dutch economic presence, while swinging wide the Open Door to U.S. cultural and economic influences as well.
Among those handled the diplomatic maneuvers in those years were two young Indonesian aristocrats: Soedjatmoko,*
called Koko by his American friends, and an economist and diplomat named Sumitro Djojohadikusumo. Both were members
of the upper-class, nominally socialist PSI (Partai Sosialis Indonesia), one of the smaller and more Western-oriented
of Indonesia's myriad political parties.
In New York the two were lionized by a group closely linked to the notorious Vietnam lobby which shortly thereafter
launched Ngo Dinh Diem on his meteoric career in U.S.-Vietnamese politics. The group, which included Norman Thomas,
was composed of members of the Committee for Independence of Vietnam and the India League. It occupied as something
of a vanguard position among socialist anti-communists. "We were concerned that the United States not be caught
flatfooted in the post-war necessity to create non-communist governments in Asia," explains League member,
Park Avenue attorney and legal counsel for Indonesian in the U.S., Robert Delson.
Delson squired Sumitro and "Koko" around town, introducing them to his friends in the American for Democratic
Action (ADA) and to top-communist labor leaders. They also circulated in Establishment circles, particularly among
the members of the foundation-funded Council on Foreign Relations, the most influential elite-policy formulating
group in the United States.
Distressed by Indonesia's peppery nationalist leader Sukarno and the strong left wing of the Independence forces,
the Americans found that, as with Diem in Vietnam, the rather bland nationalism of "Koko" and Sumitro
offered a most palatable alternative. In Council on Foreign Relations parlance, they were interested in "modernizing"
Indonesia, not revolutionizing it. At Ford-funded School of Advanced International Studies in Washington in early
1949, Sumitro explained that his kind of socialism included "free access" to Indonesian resources and
"sufficient" incentives for foreign corporate investment.
When independence came later that year, Sumitro returned to Jakarta to become Minister of Trade and Industry in
the coalition government and then, in two later cabinets, Minister of Finance. As the Minister through the early
'50s, Sumitro defended an economic "stability" that favored Dutch investments. Carefully eschewing radicalism,
he appointed as advisor the German Hjalmar Schact, economic architect of the Third Reich.
Sumitor was supposed by the PSI and their numerically stronger "modernist" ally, the Masjumi Party, a
vehicle of Indonesia's commercial and landowning santri Moslems. But he was clearly swimming against the tide.
The Communist PKI, Sukarno's PNI, the Army, the orthodox Moslem NU-everybody, in fact, but the PSI and Masjumi-were
riding the wave of post-war nationalism. In the 1955 national election-Indonesia's first and last-the PSI polled
a miniscule fifth place. It did worse in local balloting of 1957, in which the Communist PKI emerged the strongest
Nevertheless, when Sukarno started nationalizing Dutch holdings in 1957, Sumitro joined Masjumi leaders and dissident
Army commanders in the Outer Island Rebellion, supported briefly by the CIA. It was spectacularly unsuccessful.
From this failure in Sumatra and the Celebes, Sumitro fled to an exile career as government and business consultant
in Singapore. The PSI and the Masjumi were banned.
America's Indonesian allies had colluded with an imperialist power to overthrow a popularly elected nationalist
government, headed by a man regarded as the George Washington of his country-and they had lost. So ruinously were
they discredited that nothing short of miracle could ever restore them to power.
That miracle took a decade to perform, but now Sumitro has risen once again. He serves Minister of Trade in a new
Indonesian government. And he is no longer an odd man out: today he is regarded as the number two man in Indonesia,
and he and his comrades are firmly in control.
The "modernist" restoration was not imposed by American troops. The secular arm of American imperium
reached into Indonesian politics, often under the cloak of the CIA. But it was the hallowed private institutions
of academia and philanthropy that worked the greatest wonders. For Sumitro had not simply been a minority politician
and cabinet minister, but since 1951 Dean of the Faculty of Economics at the University in Jakarta. There he marshaled
the young men with whom he planned to implement his program for Indonesia; there the Ford Foundation made common
cause with him to do so.
Ford's interest in Indonesian education began in the early '50s, but it was the Rockefeller Foundation that had
pioneered the area. Just before he left the Far East section of the State Department in 1952 to become the Rockefeller
Foundation's president, Dean Rusk explained the purpose behind the program. "Communist aggression" required
not only that Americans be trained for work in the Far East, but that "we must open our training facilities
for increasing number of our friends from across the Pacific."
The head of the Ford Foundation, Paul Hoffman, who launched Ford's program in educational internationalism, was
no stranger to the Indonesia situation. As head of the Marshall Plan in Europe he had cut off Marshall Plan funds,
which were vital to the Dutch counter-insurgency effort, and thus assisted the birth of the first pro-U.S. Indonesian
government. The Dutch themselves had practiced "indirect rule" in the Indies by simply adding their own
administrators to the top of the existing aristocratic-administrative hierarchy (from which Sumitro's PSI was derived).
As America supplanted the Dutch, Hoffman's Ford team laid the basis of a post-independence national bureaucracy
trained to function under the "new indirect rule of America-in Ford's words, to train a "modernizing
"You can't have a modernizing country wihtout a modernizing elite," explains the deputy vice president
of Ford's international division, Frank Sutton. "That's one of the reason we've given a lot of attention to
university education."Sutton adds that there's no better place to find such an elite than among "those
who stand somewhere in social structure where prestige, leadership, and vested interests matter, as they always
With the services it purchased from America's top universities,, Ford manage to create a tough, sophisticated infrastructure
that reached into every major institution of Indonesian society. Students selected and molded by the Americans,
trained in essential disciplines and skills, became in effect a paragovernment, representing the old PSI-Masjumi
parties, but in reality far stronger than they.
Ford launched its effort to make Indonesia a "modernizing country" in 1954 with field projects out of
MIT and Cornell. The scholars produced by these two projects-one in economics, the other in political development-have
since effectively dominated the field of Indonesian studies in the United States. Compared to what they eventually
produced in Indonesia, however, this was a fairly modest achievement. Working through the Center for International
Studies (the CIA-sponsored brainchild of Max Millikan and Walt W. Rostow), Ford put together an MIT team to discover
"the causes of economic stagnation in Indonesia." An interesting example of the effort was Guy Pauker's
study of "political obstacles" to economic development, such as armed insurgency. Domination of natural
and cultural resources by foreign institutions like Ford would be somewhat outside the theoretical framework of
Pauker's Harvard training.
In the course of his field work, Pauker-an urbane and egocentric man-got to know the high-ranking officers of the
Indonesian Army rather well. He found them "much more impressive" than the politicians. "I was the
first who got interested in the role of the military in economic development," Pauker says. He also got to
know most of the key civilians: "With the exception of a very small group," Pauker says, they were almost
" totally oblivious" to what he called modern development. Not surprisingly, the "very small group"
was composed of PSI aristocrat-intellectual, particularly Sumitro and his students.
Sumitro, in fact, had participated in the MIT team's briefings in Cambridge. Some of Sumitro's students were also
known by the MIT team, having attended a CIA-funded annual seminar run each summer at Harvard by Henry Kissinger,
now President Nixon's top foreign policy strategist. One of them was Mohamed Sadli, son a well-t-do santri trader,
with whom Pauker became good friends. In Jakarta, Pauker had struck friendships with members of PSI clan and had
formed a political study group among them, whose members included the head of Indonesia's National Planning Bureau,
Ali Budiardjo, and his wife Mirriam, "Koko's" sister.
Rumanian by birth, Pauker had helped found a group called "Friends of the United States" in Bucharest
just after the Second World War. He then came to Harvard, where he got his degree. While many Indonesians have
charged the professor with having CIA connections, Pauker denies that he was intimate with the CIA until 1958,
after he joined the RAND Corporation. Since then, it is no secret that he briefs and is briefed by the CIA, the
Pentagon, and the State Department. Highly-placed Washington sources say he is "directly involved in decision
In 1954 Ford grubstaked a Cornell Modern Indonesia Project with $224,000. With that money, program chairman George
T. Kahin has built the social science wing of the Indonesian studies establishment in the United States. In Indonesia,
Cornell's elite-oriented studies are what the universities use to teach post-Independence politics and history.
Among the several Indonesians brought to Cornell on Ford and Rockefeller grants, perhaps the most influential,
is sociologist-politician Seloseomardjan. Selosoemardjan is right-hand man to the Sultan of Jogjakarta, one of
the strong men of the present Indonesian regime.
Kahin's political science group worked closely with Sumitro's Faculty of Economics in Jakarta. "Most of the
people at the university came from essentially bourgeois or bureaucratic families," recalls Kahin. "They
knew precious little of their society." In a "victory" which speaks poignantly of the illusions
of the well-meaning liberals out of their depth, Kahin succeeded on prodding them to get "their feet dirty"
for three months in a village. Many were to spend four years in the United States.
Together with Widjojo Nitisastro, Sumitro's leading protégé, Kahin set up an Institute to publish
the Village studies. It has never amounted to much, except that its American advisors helped Ford maintain in contact
in the most difficult of the Sukarno days.
Kahin still thinks Cornell's affair with Ford in Indonesia "was a fairly happy marriage"-less for funding
than for the political cover it afforded. "AID funds are relatively easy to get," he explains. "But
certainly in Indonesia, anybody working on political problems with [U.S.] government money during this period would
have found their problem much more difficult."
Kahin, one of the leading academic Vietnam doves, has irritated the State Department on occasion, and many of his
students are far more radical than he. Yet for most Indonesians, Kahin's work was really not that much of different
from Pauker's. One man went on to teach-ins, the other to RAND and the CIA. But the consequences of their nation
building efforts in Indonesia were much the same.
MIT and Cornell made contact, collected data, and built up expertise. It was left to Berkeley actually to train
most of the key Indonesians who would seize the government power to put their pro-American lessons into practice.
Dean Sumitro's Faculty of Economics provided a perfect academic boot camp for these political shock troops.
To oversee the project, Ford President Paul Hoffman tapped his old friend Michael Harris, a one-time CIO organizer
who had headed Marshall Plan programs under him in France, Sweden, and Germany. In the words of one Berkeley professors
and close acquaintance, Harris was "a typical Lovestone kind of guy-the labor leader who makes a career out
of anti-communist activities working with the government." Harris had been on a Marshall Plan survey in Indonesia
in 1951, knew Sumitro, and before going out was extensively briefed by Sumitro's New York promoter, the Indonesian
counsel Delson. Harris reached Jakarta 1955 and set out to build Dean Sumitro a brand new Ford-funded graduate
program in economics.
This time the professional touch and academic respectability were to be provided by Berkeley. The Berkeley team's
first task was to replace the Dutch professors whom Sukarno was phasing out and to relieve Sumitro's Indonesian
junior faculty so that Ford could send them back to Berkeley for advanced credentials. Already at Berkeley was
Sadli, who shared a duplex with MIT's Pauker. Pauker had come to head the new center for South and Southeast Asian
Studies on his way to RAND and the CIA. Sumitro's protégé Widjojo led the first crew out to Berkeley.
While the Indonesian junior faculty learned Ameri can economics in Berkeley classrooms, the professor from Berkeley
set to turning the Faculty on Jakarta into an American-style school of economics, statistics, and business administration.
Sukarno objected. At an annual lecture to the Faculty, team member Bruce Glassburner recalls, Sukarno complained
that "all those men can say to me is 'Schumpeter and Keynes.' When I was young I read Marx." Sukarno
might grumble and complain, but if he wanted any education at all he would have to take what he got. "When
Sukarno threatened to put an end to Western economics," says John Howard, long-time director of Ford's international
Training and Research Program, "Ford threatened to cut off all programs, and that changed Sukarno's direction."
The Berkeley staff also joined Sumitro's protégés in the effort to prevent the faculty's being brought
more in line with Sukarno's "socialism" and Indonesian national policy. "We got a lot of pressure
through 1958-1959 for 'retooling' the curriculum," Glassburner recalls. "We did some dummying up, you
know-we put 'socialism' into as many course titles as we could-but really tried to preserve the academic integrity
of the place." A very academic integrity, indeed.
The project, which continued for six years at a cost of $2.5 million, had a clear, if not always stated, purpose.
John Howard explains the purpose quite simply: "Ford felt it was training the guys who would be leading the
country when Sukarno got out."
There was little chance, of course, that Sumitro's minuscule PSI would outdistance Sukarno at the polls. But "Sumitro
felt the PSI group could have influence far out of proportion to their voting strength by putting men in key positions
in government," recalls the first project chairman, a feisty Irish business prof named Len Doyle.
When Sumitro went into exile, his university carried on. His students visited him surreptitiously on their way
to and from the U.S. Powerful Americans like Harry Goldberg, a lieutenant of labor boss and CIA-coordinator Jay
Lovestone, kept in close contact and saw that Sumitro's message got through to his Indonesian friends. No dean
was appointed to replace him; he was the "chairman in absentia."
All of the unacademic intrigue caused hardly a ripple of disquiet among the scrupulous professors. A notable exception
was the essentially conservative business professors, Doyle.
"I feel that much of the trouble that I had probably stemmed from the fact that I was not as convinced of
Sumitro's position as the Ford Foundation representative was, and, in retrospect, probably the CIA," recalls
Harris tried to get Doyle to hire "two or three Americans who were close to Sumitro." One was Sumitro's
friend from the MIT team, William Hollinger. Doyle refused. "It was clear that Sumitro was going to continue
to run the Faculty from Singapore." But it was a game Doyle didn't want to play. "I felt," Doyle
explains, "that the University should not be involved in what essentially was becoming a rebellion against
the government-whatever sympathy you might have with the rebel cause and the rebel objectives."
Back home, Doyle's lonely defense of academic integrity against the political pressure exerted through Ford was
not appreciated. Sent there for two years, Berkeley recalled him after one. "We had no choice but to ship
him home." In fact, Harris had him bounced. "In my judgment," Harris recalls, "there was a
real problem between Doyle and the Faculty."
Ralph Anspach, a Berkeley team member now teaching at San Fransisco, got so fed up with what he saw in Jakarta
that he will no longer work in applied economics. "I had the feeling that in the last analysis I was supposed
to be a part of this American policy of empire," he says, "bringing in American science, and attitudes,
and culture…winning over countries-doing this with an awful lot of cocktails and high pay. I just got out of the
Doyle and Anspach were the exceptions. Most of the academic professionals found the project-as Ford meant it to
be-the beginning of a career. "This was a tremendous break for me," explains Glassburner. "Those
three years over there gave me an opportunity to become a certain kind of economist. I had a category-I became
a development economist-and I got to know Indonesia. This made a tremendous difference in my career."
Berkeley phased out its people out of Jakarta in 1961-62. The running battle between the Ford representative and
the Berkeley chairman as to who would run the project had some part in hastening its end. More important, the professors
were no longer necessary; in fact, they were probably an increasing political stability. Sumitro's first string
had returned with their degrees and resumed control of the school.
The Berkeley team had done its job, "kept the thing alive,"
Glassburner recalls proudly. "We plugged a hole…and with the Ford Foundation's money we trained them 40 or
so economists." What did the University get out of it? "Well, some overhead money, you know." And
the satisfaction of a job well done.
In 1959, Pauker set out the lessons of the PSI's electoral isolation and Sumitro's abortive Outer Islands Rebellion
in a widely read paper entitled "Southeast Asia as a Trouble Area in the Next Decade." Parties like the
PSI were "unfit for vigorous competition" with communism, he wrote, "Communism is bound to win in
Southeast Asia…unless effective countervailing power is found." The "best equipped" countervailing
forces, he wrote, were "members of national officers corps as individuals and the national armies as organizational
From his exile in Singapore, Sumitro concurred, arguing that his PSI na dMasjumi parties, which the Army had attacked,
were really the Army's "natural allies." Without the, the Army would find itself politically isolated,
he said. But to consummate their alliances "the Sukarno regime must be toppled." Until then, Sumitro
warned, the generals should keep a "close and continuous watch" on the growing and powerful communist
peasant organizations. Meanwhile, Sumitro's Ford scholar protégés in Jakarta began the necessary
steps toward rapprochement.
Fortunately for Ford and its image, the Army had a school: SESKOAD (Army Staff and Command School). Situated 70
miles southeast of Jakarta in cosmopolitan Bandung, SESKOAD was the Indonesian Army nerve center. There, generals
decided organizational and political matters, senior officers on regular rotation were "upgraded" with
manuals and methods picked up at the US Command school back in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
When the Berkeley team phased itself out in 1962, Sadli, Widjojo, and others from the Faculty began regular trips
to Bandung to teach at SESKOAD. Ford's Frank Miller-who replaced Harris in Jakarta and who, like Harris, had worked
under Ford President Hoffman in Germany-says that they "taught economic aspects of defense."
Pauker tells a different story. Since the mid '50s, he had come to know the Army General Staff rather well, first
on the MIT team, then on trips for RAND. One good friend was Colonel Suwarto (not to be confused with General Suharto),
the deputy commander of SESKOAD and a 1959 Fort Leavenworth graduate. In 1962, Pauker brought him to RAND.
Besides learning "all sorts of things about international affairs" while at RAND, Suwarto also saw how
RAND "organizes the academic resources of the country was consultants," Pauker says. According to Pauker,
Suwarto had "a new idea" when he returned to Bandung. "The four of five top economists became 'cleared'
social scientists lecturing and studying the future political problems of Indonesia in SESKOAD."
In effect, this group became the Army's high-level civilian advisors. They were joined at SESKOAD by other PSI
and Masjumi alumni of the university programs-Miriam Budihardjo from Pauker's MIT study group, and Selosoemardjan
from Kahin's program at Cornell, as well as senior faculty from the nearby Bandung Institute of Technology, where
the University of Kentucky had been "institution-building" for AID since 1957.
These economists were quickly caught up in the general's anti-communist conspiracy. Lieutenant General Achmad Yani,
Army commander-in-chief had drawn around him a "brain trust" of generals. It was an "open secret,"
says Pauker, that Yani and his brain trust were discussing "contingency plans" which were to "prevent
chaos should Sukarno die suddenly." The contribution of Suwarto's mini-RAND, according to Colonel Willis G.
Ethel, US defense attache in Jakarta at the time, was that the professors "would run a course in this contingency
planning." Col. Ethel was a close confidant of Commander-in-chief Yani and others of the Army high command.
He even introduced them to golf.
Of course, it wasn't "chaos" of the Army planners were worry about, but the PKI. "They weren't about
to let the Communists take over the country," Col. Ethel says. Moreover, any but the most dense officer or
advisor knew that since there was immense popular support for Sukarno and the PKI, a lot of blood would flow when
the showdown came.
Other institutions joined the Ford economists in preparing the military. High-ranking Indonesian officers had begun
US training programs in the mid '50s. By 1965 some 4000 officers had been taught big-scale army command at Fort
Leavenworth and counter-insurgency at Fort Bragg. Beginning in 1962, hundreds of visiting officers at Harvard and
Syracuse were provided with the skills for maintaining a huge economic, as well as military, establishment, with
training in everything from business administration and personnel management to air photography and shipping. AID's
"Public Safety Program" in the Philippines and Malaya trained and equipped the Mobile Brigade of Indonesian
military's fourth arm, the police.
While the Army developed expertise and perspective (courtesy of the generous American aid), it also increased its
political and economic influence. Under the martial law declared by Sukarno at the time of the Outer Islands Rebellion,
the Army had become the predominant power in Indonesia. Regional commanders took over provincial governments-depriving
the Communist PKI of its plurality victories in 1957 local elections. Fearful of a PKI sweep in the planned 1959
national elections, the generals prevailed on Sukarno to cancel them for six years. Then they moved quickly into
the upper reach of Sukarno's "guided democracy," increasing the number of ministries under their control
right up to the time of the coup. Puzzled by the Army's reluctance to take complete power, journalists called it
a 'creeping coup d'etat." General Nasution termed it the "Middle Way."
The Army also moved into the economy, first taking "supervisory control," then key directorship of the
Dutch properties that the PKI unionists had seized "for the people" during the confrontation over West
Irian in late 1957. As a result, the generals controlled plantations, small industry, state-owned oil and tin,
and the state-run export-import companies, which by 965 monopolized government purchasing and had branched out
into sugar milling, shipping and distribution.
Those high-ranking officers not born into Indonesian aristocracy quickly married in, and in the countryside they
firmed up alliances-often through family ties-with the santri Moslem landowners who were the backbone of the Masjumi
Party. "The Army and the civil police," wrote Robert Shaplen of the New York Times, "virtually controlled
the whole state apparatus." American University's Willard Hanna called it "a new form of government-military-private
The economists "economic aspects of defense" thus became a wide-rangin subject. To make it even broader,
the professors undertook preparing post-Sukarno economic policy at SESKOAD, too.
Deprived of their victory at the polls and unwilling to break with Sukarno, the Communist PKI tried to make a poor
best of this "guided democracy," participating with the Army in coalition cabinets. Pauker has described
the PKI strategy as "attempting to keep the parliamentary road open," while seeking to come to power
by "acclamation." That meant building up PKI prestige as "the only solid, purposeful, disciplined,
well-organized, capable political force in the country," to which Indonesians would turn "when all other
possible have failed."
By 1963, three million Indonesians, most of them in heavily populated Java, were members of PKI, and an estimated
17 million were members of its associated organizations in 1963-making it the world's largest Communist Party outside
Russia and China. At Independence the party had numbered only 8000.
In December 1963, PKI Chairman D.N. Aidit gave official sanction to "unilateral action" which had been
undertaken by the peasants to put into effect a land reform and crop-sharing law already on the books. Though landlords'
holdings were not large, less than half of Indonesian farmers owned the land they worked, and of these, the majority
had less than an acre. As the peasants' "unilateral action" gathered momentum, Sukarno, seeing his coalition
endangered, tried to check his force by establishing land reform courts which included peasant representatives.
But in the countryside, police continued to clash with peasants and made mass arrests. In some areas, santri youth
groups began murderous attack on peasants.
Since the Army held state power in most areas, the peasants' "unilateral action" was directed against
its authority. Pauker calls it "class struggle in the countryside" and suggests that the PKI had put
itself "on a collision course with the Army." But unlike Mao's Communists in pre-revolutionary China,
the PKI had no Red Army. Having chosen the parliamentary road, the PKI was stuck with it. In early 1965, PKI leaders
demanded that the Sukarno government (in which they were cabinet ministers) create a people's militia-five million
armed workers, ten million armed peasants. But Sukarno's power was hollow. The Army had become a state within a
state. It was they-and not Sukarno or the PKI-who held the guns.
The test of the strength came in September 1965. On the night of the 30th, troops under the command of dissident
lower-level Army officers, in alliance with officers of the small Indonesian Air Force, assassinated General Yani
and five members of his SESKOAD "brain trust." Led by Lt. Colonel Untung, the rebels seized Jakarta radio
station and next morning broadcast that their September 30th Movement was directed against the "Council of
Generals," which they declared was CIA-sponsored and had itself planned a coup d'etat for Armed Forces Day,
four days later.
Untung's preventive coup quickly collapsed. Though he did not denounce it, Sukarno, hoping to restore the pre-coup
balance forces, gave it no support; on the other hand, the PKI had prepared no street demonstration, no strikes,
no coordinated uprising in the countryside. For their part, their dissidents missed assassinating General Nasution
and apparently left General Suharto off their list; Suharto rallied the elite paracommandos and units of the West
Java division, the Siliwangi, against Untung's colonels. Untung's trrops unsure of themselves, their mission and
their loyalties, made no stand as Suharto drove them from their strong-points. It was all over in a day.
They Army high command quickly blamed the Communist for the coup, a line the Western press had followed ever since.
Yet the utter lack of activity in the street and the countryside makes PKI involvement unlikely, and many Indonesia
specialists believe, with Dutch scholar W. F. Wirtheim, that "the Untung coup was what its leader…claimed
it to be-an internal army affair reflecting serious tensions between officers of the Central Java Diponegoro Division,
and the Supreme Commander of the Army in Jakarta…"
Leftists, on the other hand, assumed after the ensuing massacres and Sukarno's overthrow that the CIA had a heavy
hand in the affair. Indeed, embassy officials had long wined and dined the student apparatchiks who rose to lead
the demonstrations that brought Sukarno down. And old Indonesia hands casually mention the CIA's connections with
the Army, especially with Intelligence Chief Achmed Sukendro, who retrained his agents after 1958 with U.S. help
and studied at the University of Pittsburgh in the early '60s. But Sukendro and most other members of the Indonesian
high command were equally close to the embassy's military attaches, who seem to have made Washington's chief contracts
with the Army both before and after the attempted coup. And considering the make-up and history of the generals
and their "modernist" allies and advisors, it is clear that at this point neither the CIA nor the Pentagon
needed to play any more than a subordinate role.
The professors may have helped lay out the Army's contingency plans, but no one was going to ask them to take the
streets and make the generals' "revolution". Fortunately, they could leave that to their students. Lacking
a mass organization, the Army depended on the students to give authenticity and "popular" leadership
in the events that followed. It was the students who demanded-and got-Sukarno's head; and it was the students-as
propagandists-who carried the cry of jihad (religious war) to the villages.
In late October, Brigadier General Sjarif Thajeb-the Harvard-trained Minister of Higher Education-brought student
leaders together in his living room to create the Indonesian Student Action Command (KAMI). Many of the KAMI leaders
were the older student apparatchiks who had been courted by the U.S. Embassy. Some had traveled to the U.S. as
American Field Service exchange students, or on year-long jaunts in a "Foreign Student Leadership Project"
sponsored by the U.S. National Student Association in its CIA-fed salad years.
Only months before the coup, U.S. Ambassador Marshall Green had arrived in Jakarta, bringing with him the reputation
of having masterminded the student overthrow over Syngman Rhee in Korea and sparking rumors that his purpose in
Jakarta was to do the same there. Manuals on student organizing in Korean and English were supplied by the embassy
to KAMI's top leadership soon after the coup.
But KAMI's most militant leadership came from Bandung, where the University of Kentucky had mounted ten-year "institution-building"
program at Bandung Institute of Technology, sending nearly 500 hundred of their students to the U.S. for training.
Students in all Indonesia's elite universities had been given paramilitary training by the Army in a program for
a time advised by an ROTC colonel on leave from Berkeley. Their training was "in anticipation of a Communist
attempt to seize the government,": writes Harsja Bachtiar, an Indonesian sociologist (alumnus of Cornell and
In Bandung, headquarters of the aristocratic Siliwangin Division, student paramilitary training was beefed up in
the months preceding the coup, and santri student leaders were boasting to the Kentucky friends that they were
developing organization contacts with extremist Moslem youth groups in villages. It was this group that spearheaded
the massacre of PKI followers and peasants.
At the funeral of General Nasution's daughter, mistakenly slain in the Untung coup, Navy chief Eddy Martadinata
told santri students to "sweep." This message was "that they could go out and clean up the Communist
without any hindrance from the military," wrote Christian Science Monitor Asian Correspondent John Hughes.
"With relish they called out their followers, stuck their knives and pistols in their waistbands, swung their
clubs over their shoulders, and embarked on the assignment for which they had long been hoping." For starters,
they burnt the PKI headquarters. Thousands of PKI and Sukarno supporters were arrested and imprisoned in Jakarta;
cabinet members and parliamentarians were permanently "suspended"; and a purge of the ministries was
On October 17, Col. Sarwo Edhy took his elite paratroops (known as the "red berets") into the PKI's Central
Java stronghold in Bojolali-Klaten-Solo triangle. His assignment, Hushes says, was "the extermination by whatever
means might be necessary, of the core of the Communist Party there." He found he had too few troops. "We
decided to encourage the anti-communist civilians to help with the job," he told Monitor correspondent Hughes.
"In Solo we gathered together the youth, the nationalist groups, the religious (Moslem) organizations. We
gave them two or three days training, then sent them to kill Communists."
The Bandung engineering students, who had learned from the Kentucky team how to build and operate radio transmitter
were tapped by Col. Edhy's elite corps to set up a multitude of small broadcasting units throughout strongly-PKI
East and Central Java, some of which exhorted local fanatics to rise up against the Communist in Jihad. Providing
necessary spare parts for these radios was one of the ways the U.S. Embassy found of helping the general's anti-communist
pogrom that followed.
Time magazine described the slaughter in Java in mid September 1965: "Communists, Red sympathizers and their
families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of
Communists after interrogation in remote rails…Armed with wide-blade knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept
at night into the home of Communists, killing the entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves…The
murder campaign became so brazen in pasts of rural East Java and Northern Sumatra, where the humid air bears the
reek of decaying flesh. Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged
with bodies; river transportation has at places been seriously impeded."
Graduate students from Bandung and Jakarta were dragooned by the Army to research the number dead. Their report,
never made public, but leaked by correspondent Frank Palmos-something of an insider-estimated a million victims.
"In the PKI 'triangle stronghold' of Bojolali, Klaten, and Solo," Palmos said they reported, "nearly
one third of the population is dead or missing." Most observers thinks their estimate high, positing a death
toll of 3-500,000.
The KAMI students' most important task was bringing life in Jakarta to a standstill with anti-communist, anti-Sukarno
demonstrations whenever necessary. By January, with Col. Edhy back in Jakarta addressing KAMI rallies, his elite
corps providing KAMI with trucks, loudspeakers, and protection, KAMI demonstrators could tie up the city at will.
"The ideas that Communism was public enemy number one, that Communist China was no longer a close friend but
a menace to the security of the state, and that there was corruption and inefficiency in the upper level of the
national government were introduced on the streets of Jakarta," says Bachtiar, whose scholarly output includes
recording these activities.
The old PSI and Masjumi leaders nurtured by Ford and its professors were at home at last. They gave the students
advice and money, while the PSI-oriented professors maintained "close advisory relationshi" with the
students, later forming their own Indonesian Scholars Action Command (KASI). One of the economists, Emil Salim,
recently returned with a Berkeley PhD, was counted among the KAMI leadership. Salim's father had purged the Communist
wing of the major pre-war nationalist organization, and then served in the pre-Independence Masjumi cabinets.
In January, the economists made Jakarta headlines with a week-long Economic and Financial Seminar at the Faculty.
"Principally…a demonstration of solidarity among the members of KAMI, the anti-communist intellectuals, and
the leadership of the Army," Bachtiar says, the seminar heard papers from General Nasution, Adam Malik, and
others who "presented themselves as a counter-elite challenging the competence and legitimacy of the elite
led by Presiden Sukarno."
It was Jakarta's post-coup introduction to Ford's economic policies.
In March Suharto stripped Sukarno of formal power and had himself named Acting President, tapping old political
warhorse Adam Malik and the Sultan of Jogjakarta to join him in a ruling triumvirate. The generals whom the economists
had known best at SESKOAD,--Yani and his brain trust-had all been killed. But with the help of Kahin's protégé,
Selosoemardjan, they first caught Sultan's and then Suharto's ears, persuading them that the Americans would demand
a strong attack on inflation and swift return to a "market economy." On April 12, the Sultan issued a
major policy statement outlining the economic program of the new regime-in effect announcing Indonesia's return
to the imperialist fold. It was written by Widjojo and Sadli.
In working out the subsequent details of the Sultans' program, the economists got aid from the expected source.
When Widjojo got stuck in drawing up a stabilization plan, AID brought in Harvard economist Dave Cole, fresh from
writing South Korea's banking regulations, to provide him with a draft. Sadli, too, required some post-doctoral
tutoring. According to an American official, Sadli "really didn't know how to write an investment law. He
had to have a lot of help from the embassy." It was a team effort. "We were all working together at the
time-the 'economists', the American economists, AID," remembers Calvin Cowles, the first AID man on the scene.
By early September the economists had their plans drafted and the generals convinced of their usefulness. After
a series of crash seminars at SESKOAD, Suharto named the Faculty's five top men (the "Berkeley Mafia")
his team of Experts for Economic and Financial Affairs, an idea Ford man Frank Miller claims as his own.
Armed with Sadli's January 10, 1967 investment law, the economists could put on their old school ties and play
host to the lords of the great American corporations. In August the Stanford Research Institute-a spin-off of the
university-military-industrial complex-brought 170 "senior executives" to Jakarta for a three-day parley
and look-see. "The Indonesians have cut out the cancer that were destroying their economy," an SRI executive
later reported approvingly. Then, urging that big business invest heavily in Suharto's future, he warned that "military
solutions are infinitely more costly."
In November, Malik, Sadli, Salim, Selosoemardjan, and the Sultan met in Geneva with a select list of American and
European businessmen flown in by Time-Life. Surrounded by his economic advisors, the Sultan ticked off the selling
point of the New Indonesia-"political stability…abundance of cheap labor…vast potential market…treasurehouse
of resources." The universities, he added, have produced a "large number of trained individuals who will
be happy to serve in new economic enterprises."
David Rockefeller, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, thanked Time-Life for the chance
to get acquainted with "Indonesia's top economic team." He was impressed, he said, by their "high
quality of education."
Bringing It All Back Home
"To some extent, we are witnessing the return of the pragmatic outlook which was characteristic of the
PSI-Masjumi coalition of the early fifties when Sumitro…dominated the scene," observed a well-placed insider
in 1966. That same year, Sumitro slipped quietly into Jakarta, opened a business consultancy and prepared himself
for high office. The prospect was not long in coming. Having received its bona fides from the lords of international
finance, the Indonesian generals regime was ready to names its "Development Cabinet." In June 1968, Suharto
organized an impromptu reunion for the class of Ford, known in Jakarta as the "Berkeley Mafia." As Minister
of Trade and Commerce he appointed Dean Sumitro (PhD, Rotterdam); as Chairman of the National Planning Board he
appointed Widjojo (PhD, Berkeley, 1961); as Vice Chairman, Emil Salim (PhD, Berkeley, 1964); as Secretary General
of Marketing and Trade Research, Subroto (Harvard, 1964); as Minister of Finance, Ali Wardhana (PhD, Berkeley,
1962); as Chairman of the Technical Team of Foreign Investment, Mohamed Sadli (MS, MIT, 1956); as Secretary General
of Industry, Barli Halim (MBA, Berkeley, 1959). "Koko" Soedjatmoko, who had been functioning as Malik's
advisor, became ambassador in Washington.
"We consider that we were training ourselves for this," Sadli told a reporter from Fortune-"a historic
opportunity to fix the course of events." To make the most of the opportunity, Ford provided the Indonesians
with a post-graduation present-a development team from Harvard.
Since 1954, Harvard's Development Advisory Service (DAS), the Ford-funded elite corps of international modernizers,
had brought Ford influence to the national planning agencies of Pakistan, Greece, Argentina, Liberia, Colombia,
Malaysia, and Ghana. Officially, the Harvard-DAS Indonesia project began July 1, 1968, but DAS head Gus Papanek
had people in the field well before that, joining with AID's Cal Cowles in bringing back the old Indonesia hands
of the '50s and '60s. Dave Cole returned to work with Widjojo on the Ford/Harvard payroll. Leon Mears, the agricultural
economist who had learned Indonesian rice marketing in the Berkeley project, came for AID and stayed on for Harvard.
Sumitro's buddy from MIT, Bill Hollinger, transferred from the DAS-Liberia project and now shares Sumitro's office
in the Ministry of Trade.
The Harvard people are "advisors," explains DAS Deputy Director Lest Gordon-"foreign advisor who
don't have to deal with all the paperwork and have time to come up with new ideas." They work " as employees
of the government would," he says, " but in such a way that it doesn't get out that the foreigners are
doing it." Indiscretion got them bounced from Pakistan. "We stay in the background."
They stayed in the background for the five-year plan. In the winter of 1967-68, a good harvest and a critical
infusion of U.S. "Food for Peace" rice had kept prices down, cooling the political situation for a time.
Hollinger, the DAS's first full-time man on the scene, arrived in March and helped the economists lay out the plan's
strategy. As the other DAS's technocrats arrived, they went to work on its planks. "Did we cause it, did the
Ford Foundation caused it, did the Indonesians cause it?" asks AID's Cal Cowles rhetorically. "I don't
The plan went into force without fanfare in January 1969. With its key elements being foreign investments and agricultural
self-sufficiency, it is a late-20th century American "development" plan that sounds suspiciously like
the mid-19th century Dutch colonial strategy. Then, Indonesian lands-often corvee-substituted for Dutch capital
in building the roads and digging the irrigation ditches necessary to create a plantation economy for Dutch capitalists,
while a "modern" agricultural technology increased the output of Javanese paddies to keep pace with the
expanding population. The plan brought an industrial renaissance to the Netherlands, but only an expanding misery
As in the Dutch strategy, the Ford scholars' five-year plan introduces a "modern" agricultural technology-the
so-called "green revolution" of high-yield hybrid rice-to keep pace with Indonesian rural population
growth and to avoid "explosive" change in Indonesian social-i.e., class-relationship.
Probably it will do neither, though AID is currently supporting a project at Berkeley's Center for South and Southeast
Asian Studies to give it the old college try. Negotiated with Harsja Bachtiar, the Harvard-trained sociologist
now heading the Faculty's Ford-funded research institute, the project is to train Indonesian sociologists to "modernize"
relations between the peasantry and the Army' state power.
The agricultural plan is being implemented by the central government's agricultural extension service, whose top
men were trained by a University of Kentucky program at the Bogor Agricultural Institute. In effect, the agricultural
agents have been given a monopoly in the sale of seed and the buying of rice, which puts them in a natural alliance
with the local military commanders-who often control the rice transport business-and the local santri landlords
whose higher returns are being used to quickly expand their holdings. The peasants find themselves on the short
end of the stick, but if they raise a ruckus, they are sabotaging a national program and must be PKI agents, and
the soldiers are called in.
The Indonesian ruling class, observes Dutch scholar Wertheim, is now "openly waging [its] own brand of
class struggle." It is a struggle the Harvard technocrats must "modernize." Economically, the issue
is the Indonesia's widespread unemployment; politically, it is Suharto's need to legitimate his power through elections.
"The government…will have to do better than just avoiding chaos if Suharto is going to be popularly elected,"
Papanek reported in October 1968: "A really widespread public works program, financed by increase imports
of PL480 ["Food for Peace"] commodities sold at lower prices could provide quick economic and political
benefits in the countryside."
Harvard is pushing its Indonesian New Deal with a "rural development" program that will further strengthen
the hand of the local Army commanders. Supplying funds meant for labor-intensive public works, the program is supposed
to increase local autonomy by working through local authorities. The money will merely line military pockets. DAS
Director Papanek admits that the program is "civilian only in a very broad sense, because many of the local
administrators are military people." And the military has two very large, and rather cheap labor forces, which
are already at work in "rural development."
One is the 300,000-man Army itself. The other is composed of the 120,000 political prisoners still being held after
the Army's 1965-66 anti-Communist sweeps. Some observers estimate there are twice as many prisoners, most of whom
the Army admits were not PKI members, though they fear they may have become Communists in the concentration camp.
Despite the abundance of "Food for Peace" rice of other purposes, there is none for the prisoners, for
whom the government's daily food expenditure is slightly more than a penny. At least two journalists have reported
on Sumatran prisoners quartered in the middle of a Goodyear rubber plantation where they had workers before the
massacres as members of a PKI union. Now, the correspondents report, they daily work its trees for the substandard
wages paid to their guards.
In Java the Army uses the prisoners in public works. Australian professor Herbert Faith was shown around one Javanese
town in 1968 where prisoners had built the prosecutor's house, the high school, the mosque, and (in process) the
Catholic church. "It is not really hard to get work out of them if you push them," he was told.
Just as they are afraid and unwilling to free the prisoners, so the generals are afraid to mobilize the troops.
"You can't add to the unemployment," explained an Indonesia deskman at the State Department, "especially
with people who know how to shoot a gun." Consequently, the troops are being worked more and more into the
infrastructure labor force-to which the Pentagon is providing road building equipment and advisors.
But it is the foreign investment plank of the five-year plan that is the pay-off of Ford's 20-year long strategy
in Indonesia and the pot of gold that the Ford modernizers-both Indonesians and Americans-are paid to protect.
The 19th century colonial Dutch strategy built an agricultural export economy. But the Americans are interested
primarily in resources, mainly mineral.
Freeport Sulphur will mine copper on West Irian. International Nickel has got the Celebes' nickel. Alcoa is negotiating
for most Indonesia's bauxite. Weyerhaeuser, International Paper, Boise Cascade and Japanese, Korean, and Filipino
lumber companies will cut down the huge tropical forests of Sumatra, West Irian, and Kalimantan (Borneo). A U.S.-European
consortium of mining giants, headed by U.S. Steel will mine West Irian's nickel. Two others, U.S.-British and U.S.-Australia,
will mine tin. A fourth, U.S.-New Zealander, is contemplating Indonesian caoline. The Japanese will take home the
archipelago's shrimp and tuna, and dive for her pearls.
Another unmined resource is Indonesia's 120 million inhabitants-half of the people in Southeast Asia. "Indonesia
today," boasts a California electronic manufacturer now operating his assembly line in Jakarta, "has
the world's largest untapped pool of capable assembly labor at a modest cost." The cost is ten cents a day.
But the real price is oil. During one week in 1969, 23 companies, 19 of them American, bid for the right to explore
and bring to the market the oil beneath the Java sea and Indonesia's other coastal waters. In one 21,000-square-mile
concession off Java 's northeast coast. Natomas and Atlantic-Richfield are already bringing in oil. Other companies
with contracts signed have watched their stocks soar in speculative orgies rivaling those following in the Alaskan
North Slope discoveries.
Ford, like an over-attentive mother, is sponsoring a new Berkeley project at the U.C. law school in "developing
human resources for the handling of negotiations with foreign investors in Indonesia."
Meanwhile in Indonesia, the "chaos" that Ford and its modernizers are forever preventing is once more
gathering force. Late last year, troops from West Java's crack Siliwangi division rounded up 5000 surprised and
sullen villagers in an odd military exercise that speaks more of Suharto's fears than Indonesia's political "stability."
Billed as a test in "area management," officers told reporters that it was an exercise in preventing
a "potential fifth column" in the once-heavily-PKI area from linking up with an imaginary invader. But
the Army got no cheers as it passed through the villages, an Australian reporter wrote. "To an innocent eye
from another planet it would have seemed that the Siliwangi division was an army occupation."
There is no more talk about land reform or arming the people in Indonesia now. But the silence is eloquent. In
the Javanese villages where the PKI was strong before the pogrom, and landlords and officers fear going out after
dark. Those who do so sometimes found in the morning with their throat cut. The generals mutters about "night
David Ransom, a member of the Pacific Studies Center, is currently at work on a book in Indonesia.
His views do not necessarily represent those of the center.
"The Berkeley Mafia and the Indonesian Massacre"
Author: David Ransom
Summary by: Kyle Howe
The Basic Point
The article shows how the Ford Foundation, the State Department,
CIA, and other U.S. institutions worked with American university diplomats to pursue U.S. interests in Indonesia
(primarily economic; oil, minerals, etc.). They funded the education of these diplomats and set up education institutions
in Indonesia to further spread American economics. Ultimately, the author blames the U.S. for the 300,000- 500,000
lives lost when anti-communists overran the government.
Summary of the Facts
The United States took interest in Southeast Asia at the end of WWII.
They wanted the available resources and they wanted to implement an anti-communist government. In the early 1950's,
Indonesia consisted of anti-communists and communists. Anti-communist Sumitro, along with the PSI and the small
Masjumi party, had some power in the early 50's.
However, large national support for communist Sukarmo and the PKI forced Sumitro out of power. In 1954, the U.S.
responded when the Ford Foundation launched field projects out of MIT and Cornell.
They set up camp and taught post independence politics and history to Indonesians that sided with Sumitro and who
had political influence. Amongst them was Sumitro and the Sultan of Jogjakarta's right hand man, Selosoemardjan.
By 1962, MIT and Cornell had created a stable foundation of contacts and expertise so they
passed the spotlight to Berkeley. Berkeley, aided by the CIA, trained and educated even more Indonesian students
in American economics and business.
Meanwhile, trained Indonesians (trained earlier at MIT facilities and U.S. army bases) began campaigning against
Communism and taught at the Indonesian Army base. (Not to be confused with the Communist PKI). Anti- communist
General Yani formed a "brain trust" of generals and they started making plans to keep the PKI and Sukarmo
from fully running the country.
While this was happening, the U.S. was training 4000 Indonesian officers, teaching them military strategies.
The army increased its economic power by controlling plantations, small industry and state owned business.
They also gained political power by taking over provincial governments and by increasing their control of ministries.
There was still large support for the PKI (3 million people in Java) but Sukarmo's attempt to expand the PKI militia
was paralyzed by the new spread of opposing power
On September 30th, 1965, General Yani and the five generals that composed the "brain
trust" were assassinated.
The PKI was blamed for the assassinations and ultimately, with the help of U.S. organized ROTC's of Indonesian
students, Sumitro and the anti- communists prevailed.
(There were rumors that the anti-communists had plans of taking military action on Oct. 4 regardless of the assassinations).
In the end, there were an estimated 300,000 - 500,000 Indonesians dead.
The U.S.'s payoff for all their energy was economic resources
and foreign investment.
The article ended by saying that there was still some political unrest.