The Berkeley Mafia and the
By David Ransom
“Indonesia is the best thing
happened to Uncle Sam
World War ."
--a World Bank official
Indonesia, which in the past fired the imagination of
fortune-hunters and adventurers as the fabled East Indies, was long regarded as "the richest colonial prize in the
world." Harking back to such times, Richard Nixon described Indonesia 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 Indonesia 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 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 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 dreams.
[A Dean is Born]
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 war-weakened Dutch economic presence, while swinging wide the Open
Door to U.S. cultural and economic influences as well.
Among those who 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 there-after 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
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 Indonesia in the U.S.. Robert Delson.
Delson squired Sumitro and
"Koko" around town, introducing them to his friends in the Americans
for Democratic Action (ADA) and to top anti-communist labor leaders. They also
circulated in Establishment circles, particularly among members of the
foundation-funded Council on Foreign Relations, the most influential elite
policy-formulating group in the United States.
Distressed 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 the 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
When independence came later
that year, Sumitro returned to Djakarta to become Minister of Trade and Industry in the coalition government
and then, in two later cabinets, Minister of Finance, As Minister through the
early '50s, Sumitro defended an economic
"stability" that favored Dutch investments. Carefully eschewing
radicalism, he appointed as advisor the German Hjalmar
Schacht, economic architect of the Third Reich.
Sumitro was supported 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 elections - Indonesia's first and last - the PSI polled a miniscule fifth
place. It did worse in the local balloting of 1957, in which the Communist PKI
emerged the strongest party.
Nevertheless, when Sukarno
started nationalizing Dutch holdings in 1957, Sumitro
joined Masjumi leaders and dissident Army commanders
in the Outer Islands 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
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 a miracle could ever
restore them to power.
That miracle took a decade to
perform, but now Sumitro has risen once again. He
serves as Minister of Trade in a new Indonesian government. And he is no longer
odd man out: today he is regarded as the number two man in Indonesia, and he and his comrades are firmly in control.
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 Djakarta. There
he marshalled 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.
"One of Sukarno's few lasting achievements
the creation of a university system
(a rare instance in which foreign aid
put to good use)."
—Fortune, June 1, 1968
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 numbers 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 elite."
"You can't have a modernizing
country without a modernizing elite," explains
the deputy vice president of Ford's international division, Frank Sutton.
"That's one of the reasons 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
structures where prestige, leadership, and vested interests matter, as they
With the services it
purchased from America's top universities, Ford managed to create a tough,
sophisticated infrastructure that reached into every major power institution of
Indonesian society. Students selected and molded by the Americans, trained in
essential disciplines and skills, became in effect a para-government,
representing the old PSI-Masjumi parties, but in
reality far stronger than they.
Ford launched its efforts 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 frame-work of Pauker's
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,"
Pauper 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-intellectuals, particularly Sumitro and
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 of a well-to-do santri trader, with
whom Pauker became good friends. In Djakarta, Pauker had struck up friendships with
members of the 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 Miriam, "Koko's" sister.
Rumanian by birth, Pauker had helped found a group called "Friends of the
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
In 1954 Ford grubstaked a
Cornell Modern Indonesia Project with $224,000. With that money and subsequent
Ford funds, program chairman George 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 Selosoemardjan. 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 Djakarta. "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 well-meaning liberals out of their
depth, Kahin succeeded in prodding them to "get
their feet dirty" for three months in a village. Many were to spend four
years in the United
Together with Widjojo Nitisastro, Sumitro's leading protege, Kahin set up an Institute to publish the village studies.
It has never amounted to much, except that its American advisors helped Ford
maintain its 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
the funding than for the political cover it afforded. "AID funds are
relatively easy to get," he explains. "But certainly in Indonesia, any-body 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, Kahn's work was really not that much 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
contacts, collected data, built up expertise. It was left to Berkeley actually to train most of the key Indonesians who
would seize 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 professor 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 Djakarta in 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 protege Widjojo led the first
crew out to Berkeley.
While the Indonesian junior faculty learned American
economics in Berkeley classrooms, the professors from Berkeley set to turning the Faculty in Djakarta into an American-style school of economics, statistics and business
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
proteges 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 miniscule 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
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 Love-stone, kept in close contact and saw
that Sumitro's messages got through to his Indonesian
friends. No dean was appointed to replace him; he was the "chairman in
All of the unacademic intrigue caused hardly a ripple of disquiet
among the scrupulous professors. A notable exception was the essentially conservative
business professor, 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 Doyle.
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
Back home, Doyle's lonely
defense of academic integrity against the political pressures exerted through
Ford was not appreciated. Sent there for two years, Berkeley recalled him after one. "He tried to run
things," University officials say politely. "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."
a Berkeley team member now teaching at San Francisco State. got so fed up with what he
saw in Djakarta 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
Berkeley phased its people out of Djakarta 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 liability. Sumitro's first string had re-turned 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.
[School for Soldiers]
"The marvel is that the modernists have had so
much of a chance to steer events.
They got in because this military regime, unlike some
others in the world, chose
make an alliance with the intellectual and academic community."
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 South-east Asia . . . unless effective countervailing power is
found." The "best equipped" countervailing forces, he wrote,
were "members of the national officer corps as individuals and the
national armies as organizational structures."
From his exile in Singapore, Sumitro concurred, arguing
that his PSI and Masjumi parties, which the Army had
attacked, were really the Army's "natural allies." Without them, the
Army would find itself politically isolated, he said. But to consummate their
alliance "the Sukarno regime must be toppled first." 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 proteges in Djakarta began the necessary steps towards a rapprochement.
Fortunately for Ford and its
image, the Army had a school: SESKOAD (Army Staff and Command School). Situated 70 miles southeast of Djakarta in cosmopolitan Bandung,
SESKOAD was the Indonesian Army nerve center. There, generals decided
organizational and political matters; there, senior officers on regular rotation
were "upgraded" with manuals and methods picked up at the U.S. 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 Djakarta 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 as consultants,"
Pauker says. According to Pauker,
Suwarto had "a new idea" when he returned
to Bandung. `"The four or 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 Budiardjo 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
The economists were quickly
caught up in the generals' 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, U.S. defense attaché in Djakarta 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" the Army planners were worried 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 show-down came.
Other institutions joined the
Ford economists in preparing the military. High-ranking Indonesian officers had
begun U.S. 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 Brigades of the
Indonesian military's fourth arm, the police.
While the army developed
expertise and perspective (courtesy of the generous American aid program), 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 the 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 reaches of Sukarno's new "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'état." General Nasution
termed it the "Middle Way."
The Army also moved into the
economy, first taking "supervisory control," then key directorships
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 1965
monopolized government purchasing and had branched out into sugar milling,
shipping and distribution.
Those high-ranking officers
not born into the 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
"economic aspects of defense" thus became a wide-ranging 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 solutions have
By 1963, three million Indonesians,
most of them in heavily populated Java, were members of the 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 under-taken 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 the 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 its 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, saritri youth
groups began murderous attacks 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 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 the Djakarta 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 of forces, gave it
no support; on the other hand, the PKI had prepared no street demonstrations,
no strikes, no coordinated uprisings in the
countryside. For their part, the dissidents missed assassinating General Nasution and apparently left General Suharto off their
list; Suharto rallied the elite para-commandos and
units of the West Java division, the Siliwangi. against Untung's colonels. Untung's troops, 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.
The Army high command quickly
blamed the Communists for the coup. a line the Western
press has followed ever since. Yet the utter lack of activity in the streets
and the countryside makes PKI involvement unlikely, and many Indonesia
specialists believe, with Dutch scholar W. F. Wertheim, 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 Command of the Army in Djakarta . . .
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 then 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 attachés, who seem to have made Washing-ton's
chief contacts 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 ad-visors, it is clear that at this point
neither the CIA nor the Pentagon needed to play any more than a subordinate
The professors may have
helped lay out the Army's "contingency" plans, but no one was going
to ask them to take to 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 Djakarta, bringing with him the reputation of having masterminded the student
overthrow of Syngman Rhee in Korea and sparking rumors that his purpose in Djakarta was to do the same there. Manuals on student organizing in both Korean
and English were supplied by the embassy to KAMI's
top leadership soon after the coup.
most militant leadership came from Bandung, where the University of Kentucky had mounted a ten-year "institution-building" program at the
Bandung Institute of Technology, sending nearly 500 of their students to the U.S. for training. Students in all of 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 Harvard).
In Bandung, headquarters of the aristocratic Siliwangi division, student
paramilitary training was beefed up in the months preceding the coup, and santri student leaders were boasting to their
Kentucky friends that they were developing organizational
contacts with extremist Moslem youth groups in the villages. It was these
groups that spearheaded the massacres 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 student leaders to
"sweep." The message was "that they could go out and clean up
the Communists 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 Djakarta; cabinet members and parliamentarians were permanently "suspended";
and a purge of the ministries was begun.
On October 17, Col. Sarwo Edhy took his elite
paratroops (known as the "red berets") into the PKI's
Central Java stronghold in the Bojolali-Klaten-Solo
triangle. His assignment, Hughes 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 out to kill Communists."
engineering students, who had learned from the Kentucky team how to build and
operate radio transmitters, 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 Communists in jihad. Providing necessary spare parts
for these radios was one of the ways the U.S. embassy found of helping the generals'
anti-communist pogrom that followed.
magazine described the slaughter in Java in mid-December 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 jails. . . . Armed with wide-blade
knives called parangs, Moslem bands
crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and
burying the bodies in shallow graves. . . . The murder campaign became so
brazen in parts of rural East
Java, that Moslem bands
placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The
killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created
a serious sanitation problem in 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
Graduate students from Bandung and Djakarta 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 think their estimate
high, positing a death toll of 3-500,000.
The KAMI students' most
important task was bringing life in Djakarta to a
standstill with anti-Communist, anti-Sukarno demonstrations whenever necessary.
By January, with Col. Edhy back in Djakarta 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 levels of the national government were
introduced on the streets of Djakarta," says Bachtiar, whose
scholarly output includes re-cording these activities.
The old PSI and Masjumi leaders nurtured by Ford and its professors were
home at last. They gave the students advice and money, while the PSI-oriented
professors maintained "close advisory relationships" 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
In January the economists
made Djakarta 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 Gen. Nasution, Adam Malik
and others who "presented themselves as a counter-elite challenging the
competence and legitimacy of the elite led by President Sukarno."
It was Djakarta'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 as SESKOAD - Yani and his
brain trust - had all been killed. But with the help of Kahin's
they first caught the Sultan's and then Suharto's ear, persuading them that the
Americans would demand a strong attack on inflation and a swift return to a
"market economy." On April 12, the Sultan issued a major policy
statement out-lining 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 Sultan's 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
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
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 Djakarta for a three-day parley and look-see. "The
Indonesians have cut out the cancer that was 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-points of the New Indonesia - "political stability ...
abundance of cheap labor . . . vast potential market .. .
treasure house 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."
[Harvard: Bringing it all back home]
"We couldn't have drawn up a more ideal scenario
than what happened.
All of those people simply moved into the government
and took over the
management of economic affairs, and then they asked us to continue working
– Gus Papanek, Chief of the Harvard
Development Advisory Service
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 Djakarta, 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 name its "Development Cabinet." In June 1968
Suharto organized an impromptu reunion for the class of Ford, known in Djakarta 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 old 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 Lester Gordon -
"foreign advisors 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." Indiscretions 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 technocrats arrived, they went to
work on its planks. "Did we cause it, did the Ford Foundation cause it,
did the Indonesians cause it?" asks AID's Cal
Cowles rhetorically. "I don't know."
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
labor - 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 to Indonesia.
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 - relationships.
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's 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 Indonesia's widespread unemployment; politically it is
Suharto's need to legitimize 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 increased
imports of PL480 ["Food for Peace"] commodities sold at
lower prices, could provide quick economic and political benefits in the
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 1965-1966 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 camps.
Despite the abundance of
"Food for Peace" rice for 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 worked 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 Feith
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 demobilize the
troops. "You can't add to the unemployment," explained an Indonesia desk man 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 roadbuilding
equipment and advisors.
But is it 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 American and Indonesian - are
paid to protect. The 19th century Colonial Dutch strategy built an agricultural
export economy. But the Americans are interested primarily in resources, mainly
will mine copper on West Irian.
Inter-national Nickel has got the Celebes' nickel.
Alcoa is negotiating for most of Indonesia's bauxite. Weyerhaeuser. Inter-national Paper. Boise-Cascade
and Japanese. Korean and Filipino lumber companies will cut down the
huge tropical forests of Sumatra, West
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.-Australian. 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
resource is Indonesia's 120 million inhabitants - half of the people in Southeast Asia. "Indonesia today," boasts a California electronics manufacturer now operating his assembly
lines in Djakarta, "has the world's largest untapped pool of
capable assembly labor at a modest cost." The cost is ten cents
But the real prize is oil.
During one week in 1969, 23 companies, 19 of them American, bid for the right
to explore and bring to 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 the Alaskan North Slope discoveries.
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
of 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 of 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, now landlords and officers
fear going out after dark. Those who do so are sometimes found in the morning
with their throats cut. The generals mutter about "night PKI."
David Ransom, a member of
the Pacific Studies Center, is currently at work on a book on Indonesia. His views do
not necessarily represent those of the Center