Intercept: Obama relates, CIA orchestrated Indonesia's 1965 massacres
Declassified information reveals that the CIA has played a significant role in the Indonesia 1965 massacres and that former President Barack Obama has been influenced by the incident and has learned much from that experience.
“From our viewpoint, of course, an unsuccessful coup attempt by the PKI [Indonesian Communist Party] might be the most effective development to start a reversal of political trends in Indonesia,” explained Howard P. Jones, the American ambassador to Indonesia until April 1965 when discussing with the US State Department how to extract power from those refusing to put the Jakarta economy at the service of US multinationals.
On Wednesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo voiced his regret regarding a dozen instances of “gross human rights violations” that took place during Indonesia’s modern history.
One of these instances, Widodo explained, was the US-backed massacre executed by the Indonesian military during the 1965 coups and the era that followed.
The 1965 bloodbath was targeted against the Indonesian Communist party. It is worth noting that, according to The Intercept report, Indonesia was, at the time, the world’s sixth-largest population, and the PKI was the third-biggest Communist Party on Earth, preceded only by China and the Soviet Union.
President Sukarno, who governed over Indonesia from World War II until the successful CIA-backed coup, was not himself a communist. However, he was for a strong liberated Indonesia, which led him to shepherd the Indonesian resistance in the face of Dutch colonization and later helped create the Non-Aligned Movement of countries that wished to stay out of both the Soviet and US blocs.
Based on that, Sukarno, according to The Intercept, “did not leap to put the Indonesian economy at the service of U.S. multinationals.”
The abovementioned were reason enough, the report noted, for the US to seek to overturn Sukarno’s rule. Sukarno himself was not a communist, nor did the PKI have any intention of inciting violence, rather the main goal was to have a strong independent nation, both politically and economically.
The CIA was involved
The Intercept’s report noted that at least 500,000 Indonesians were slaughtered during the coup, many with machetes or knives. Shortly after the coup succeeded, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was crucial in assisting the massacre, referred to it as "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century."
Former US President Barack Obama described the Jakarta coup in his 1995 autobiography "Dreams From My Father," using analogous terminology. Obama said the 1965 Indonesia coup was "one of the more brutal and swift campaigns of suppression in modern times." A matter that will later prove to show that the US has continued to use The Jakarta Method to maintain and grow its influence.
The Jakarta Method is a book written by journalist Vincent Bevins, in which he showed how the 1965 Indonesia coup "was one of the most important turning points of the twentieth century, eliminating the largest communist party outside China and the Soviet Union and inspiring copycat terror programs in faraway countries like Brazil and Chile," adding "But these events remain widely overlooked, precisely because the CIA's secret interventions were so successful."
On this note, The Intercept report noted that "the US goal, then, was to extract Sukarno from power in favor of someone 'reliable' (from the American perspective), while creating a pretext for the Indonesian military to destroy the PKI."
According to the report, Howard said, to a meeting of State Department officials in 1965, “From our viewpoint, of course, an unsuccessful coup attempt by the PKI might be the most effective development to start a reversal of political trends in Indonesia.” Howard believed, at the time, that such a move give the Indonesian army a “clear-cut kind of challenge that would galvanize effective reaction.”
Significantly, as shown in the report there was a British Foreign Office official involved who added to Howard's approach and explained that “there might therefore be much to be said for encouraging a premature PKI coup during Sukarno’s lifetime.”
The plan: Make things up
The Intercept reported that during that the above-discussed premature PKI coup was triggered through a pre-planned narrative where "a group of young military officers kidnapped six Indonesian generals, claiming that they planned to overthrow Sukarno." Obviously, the kidnapped generals were later murdered.
The plan was not just to kill the generals but to ignite internal strife. As such Suharto, an Army general, stated together with his allies, according to Bevins' book as cited by The Intercept, that "the dead generals were castrated and tortured by female PKI members in a 'depraved, demonic ritual'."
This plan succeeded when Sukarno was driven out of leadership and Suharto took over. Later, however, it was revealed that none of this story was true. The six generals, Bevins noted, were all shot but one.
Under Suharto's rule, the killing began in an operation that was known to the Indonesian army Operasi Penumpasan [Operation Annihilation].
Discussed, Revealed, Declassified
The US was not only cognizant of what was going on, but was also a willing accomplice, supplying the Indonesian military with names of PKI members.
One US official, as cited by the report, revealed, “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad," adding "There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.”
James Reston, the New York Times columnist, has also written on the topic. He noted that US citizens must understand that “without the clandestine aid [Indonesia] has received indirectly from here [US],” the Indonesian massacre would have never happened.
Several recently declassified documents prove that the US was indeed not only complicit but rather also an innovator in the Jakarta Method.
For example, a recently declassified memorandum recounts a conversation between Second Secretary of the Embassy Robert Rich and Adnan Buyung Nasution, an assistant to the attorney general, where Nasution told Rich that they must "continue to crack down on the Communists in order to break the back of the PKI power," and that "the Army had already executed many communists but this fact must be very closely held."
In another memorandum, US Ambassador Green explained that he would request that the Johnson administration “explore [the] possibility of short-term one shot aid on covert, non-attributable basis” as a sign of "US support, precipitating an expansion of US covert support for the Army which would include money, communications equipment, and arms."
'Power' in US perception
In Obama's 1995 published autobiography, he spoke of his time in Indonesia, given that he and his mother lived there for some time with his Indonesian stepfather, an engineer named Lolo.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner wrote that his mother told him, given that at her job as an English teacher for Indonesians affiliated with US embassy in Jakarta, that several of her pupils, many of which were journalists and government officials, "explained how Sukarno had frayed badly the nerves of a U.S. government already obsessed with the march of communism through Indochina, what with his nationalist rhetoric and his politics of nonalignment — he was as bad as Lumumba or Nasser! — only worse, given Indonesia’s strategic importance."
The autobiography even went further to note that even back then, there was word that the "CIA had played a part in the coup."
His mother, he explained, was shocked at the idea. He explained in the book that "the notion that history could be swallowed up so completely, the same way the rich and loamy earth could soak up the rivers of blood that had once coursed through the streets; the way people could continue about their business beneath giant posters of the new president as if nothing had happened."
Later, the boy whose mother was terrified by the notion of massacres being covered up and life returning to normal following thousands of deaths, became President of the country that played an integral role in this specific massacre.
In an unintentionally revealing paragraph, Obama wrote "Power...In America, it had generally remained hidden from view until you dug beneath the surface of things; until you visited an Indian reservation or spoke to a black person whose trust you had earned. But here power was undisguised, indiscriminate, naked, always fresh in the memory."
Obama believed that masked aggression was more accepted than open aggression. In other words, systematic genocide is a more easily ignored problem than the shocking sight of blood, even if the crime is committed by the same people.
One thing remained clear, Obama's stepfather taught him a lesson he never forgot and it was not one of ethics and morality but rather one of power, superiority, and the rule of the jungle.
Lolo taught young Obama "Men take advantage of weakness in other men. They’re just like countries in that way. … Better to be strong. If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.”
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