Introducing the expansion of American experience with Chiang and his Kuomintang fascists into U.S. Cold War policy in Asia, we present Sterling Seagrave’s rumination about Stanley Hornbeck, a State Department flack who became: “. . . . the doyen of State’s Far Eastern Division. . . .”
Hornbeck “ . . . . had only the most abbreviated and stilted knowledge of China, and had been out of touch personally for many years. . . . He withheld cables from the Secretary of State that were critical of Chiang, and once stated that ‘the United States Far Eastern policy is like a train running on a railroad track. It has been clearly laid out and where it is going is plain to all.’ It was in fact bound for Saigon in 1975, with whistle stops along the way at Peking, Quemoy, Matsu, and the Yalu River. . . .”
This program chronicles the U.S. coup in Indonesia. In our landmark series of interviews with Jim DiEugenio, we noted that President Kennedy’s assassination put the railway described by Stanley Hornbeck back on schedule in Indonesia, as it had been put back on schedule in Vietnam.
“ . . . . The United States was part and parcel of the operation at every stage, starting well before the killings started, until the last body dropped and the last political prisoner emerged from jail, decades later, tortured, scarred, and bewildered. . . . the U.S. government helped spread the propaganda that made the killing possible, and engaged in constant conversations with the Army to make sure the military officers had everything they needed, from weapons to kill lists. . . . knowing full well that the method being employed to make this possible was to round up hundreds of thousands of people around the country, stab or strangle them, and throw their corpses into rivers. . . . Up to a million Indonesians, maybe more, were killed as part of Washington’s global anticommunist crusade. The U. S. government expended significant resources over years engineering the conditions for a violent clash, and then, when the violence broke out, assisted and guided its longtime partners to carry out the mass murder of civilians as a means of achieving US geopolitical goals. . . .”
Key Points of Discussion and Analysis Include: The Johnson Administration’s determination to wage a “major war against Indonesia; the inability of U.S. strategic planners to comprehend Indonesia’s status of non-alignment in the Cold War outside of the “either with us or against us” operational paradigm that was institutionalized in U.S. foreign and national security under the Dulles brothers during the Eisenhower administration; Pakistan’s ambassador to Paris sent a letter to foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: “ . . . . Western intelligence agencies were organizing a ‘premature communist coup.’ Indonesia, the NATO officer told him, ‘was ready to fall into the Western lap like a rotten apple.’. . .” The enthusiastic coverage of the Indonesian slaughter in the Western press, exemplified by The New York Times’ C.L. Sulzberger, who penned the piece “When a Nation Runs Amok”; the cultural chauvinism tinged with racism of the Western press coverage, embodied by Sulzberger’s piece: “ . . . . the killings occurred in ‘violent Asia, where life is cheap . . . . hidden behind their [Indonesians] smile is that strange Malay streak, that inner, frenzied blood-lust which has given to other languages one of their few Malay words: amok . . . .”; The fact that the main point of irritation in the U.S. about the PKI (Indonesia’s Communist Party) was not that they were undemocratic or trying to seize power through subversion, but that they “were popular;” the role of U.S. plantation managers and corporate personnel in submitting names to the Indonesian army and its allies for liquidation; Historian John Roosa’s encapsulation of the results of the slaughter: “ . . . . Almost overnight the Indonesian government went from being a fierce voice for cold war neutrality and anti-imperialism to a quiet, compliant partner of the US world order. . . .”; New York Times columnist James Reston’s characterization of the coup and resulting slaughter as “A Gleam of Light in Asia” that outweighed U.S. setbacks in Vietnam; he—by now—longstanding and well-recognized American tactic of “making the economy scream;” Suharto’s deliberate engineering of hyperinflation in order to restrict the supply of fundamentals needed by people to sustain their lives; “The U.S. government was intentionally destabilizing the economy;” Robert Kennedy’s criticism of the Indonesian coup; U.S. corporations finding Indonesia “open for business”; a business conference sponsored by James Linen, President of Time-Life (it was Time-Life that was–to a considerable extent–the eyes and ears of the U.S. on both Chiang Kai-shek and the assassination of J.F.K.; The slaughter that took place on the island of Bali, something of an iconic tropical paradise; analysis of the significance of machetes being used in the slaughter of scores of thousands on the beautiful Bali beaches–the machete is not a blade used by the Balinese, who use a thinner, domestic cutting tool caused the klewang.
Epitomizing and encapsulating the coup was the butchery that transpired on the Island of Bali and its aftermath in the contemporary luxury resort economy that prevails there:
” . . . . Then he [Wayan Badra] heard what was happening on the beaches. They were bringing people from the city to the east to kill them on the sand. It was public property there, and empty at night. The bodies were abandoned there. . . . they found a field of bodies. . . .They began looking through bones, picking up skulls. . . . There were just ‘too many skulls, too many skeletons. . . . In total, at least 5 percent of the population of Bali was killed—that is, eighty thousand people . . . .”
” . . . . Wayan Bandra, the Hindu priest, lives on the street where he grew up, in Seminyak, Southwest Bali. But the neighborhood has changed drastically. The same beach he used to walk on for forty minutes every morning, as he headed to school down in Kuta, is certainly not empty. It’s packed wall to wall with luxury resorts and ‘beach clubs,’ a very common type of business on the island, where foreigners can sip cocktails all day, and take a dip in a pool, right on the sand. It’s the same sand, of course, where the military brought people from Kerobokan, a few miles east, to kill them at night. . . .”
” . . . . . . . . Over the years, Wayan Badra and his neighbors have found bones and skulls in the sand . . . . As the elder priest for this village, he takes it upon himself to give the bodies a proper Hindu funeral. . . .”