chapter  Chapter Nine
38 Pages

The Brink of Chaos

WithPaul F. Gardner

Americans had long viewed the Indonesian Army and its civilian allies as the principal obstruction to communism, but army leaders in early 1965 seemed to Americans to be completely unwilling to block a path that Sukarno himself was laying out. Former Dutch plantations, which were very large, had been seized much earlier by the Indonesian military and were being operated as state enterprises. Sukarno had propagated the union of nationalist, religious, and communist forces to the point that its Indonesian acronym, Nasakom, had become one of the revolution’s holiest mantras. Abdul Haris Nasution also took the occasion to offer some advice to the United States: Nasution reiterated to Colonel George Benson his view that Indonesia’s relations with the United States are bad and likely to get worse. The tense atmosphere was likened by some Indonesians to that of the nightlong wayang tragedies when they approached their awesome climax in the wee hours of the morning.