chapter  Chapter Eight
30 Pages

Kennedy, Johnson, and Sukarno’s “Continuing Revolution”

WithPaul F. Gardner

The perceived European bias was important because the two issues that consecutively dominated US relations with Indonesia during the Kennedy era, West Irian and the Federation of Malaysia, deeply involved two European allies. Indonesia’s foreign policy also changed hands. The formation of Malaysia seemed to be much in Indonesia’s interest, being basically a British effort to decolonialize the area by federating the remaining colonies of Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo, and Brunei with independent Malaya. As Sukarno instituted guided democracy, foreign policy became the exclusive preserve of the president himself. Indonesian troops began to infiltrate West Irian but were unable to establish a foothold on the island. Sukarno repeatedly used three adjectives to describe Indonesia’s continuing revolution: “romantic,” “dynamic,” and “dialectical.” In a report prepared for President Lyndon B. Johnson, Ellsworth Bunker noted that the ostensible reasons advanced by Sukarno for deterioration in the relationship were US support for Malaysia and its intervention in Vietnam.