Indonesia: Vengeance with a Smile

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Me Bow? And what did Indonesia's first and only President think of it all? "I have no desire to be a king, a king of kings, a shah-in-shah," he told the Congress. "I want to participate in the leadership." Fortunately, the Congress had agreed to let him help Suharto select a new Cabinet. It was "help" that Suharto was not likely to make much use of, but still it gave the participation the Bung needed to save face. "When I heard this, my heart felt like going 'plong-plong,' " he said.

Thus spoke the man who less than a year ago was a snarling, swaggering demagogue whose hatred for the West made the Kremlin seem a neutralist. True enough, the Bung himself was not a Red ("Me bow down to Moscow? Anybody who ever came near Sukarno knows he has too much ego to be a slave to anybody"). Nor was Indonesia a member of the Communist bloc. Sukarno had his own ideas. His government, he constantly proclaimed, was based on the principle of NASAKOM—the happy union of Nationalism, Religion and Communism. The world was divided into NEKOLIM (neocolonialist imperialist powers) and NEFOS (the Newly Emerging Forces that would destroy imperialism). To speed the destruction, Sukarno was building a costly headquarters for a new "U.N." to be known as CONEFO (Conference of Newly Emerging Forces). To promote the general cause, the Bung last year proposed a new Asian power bloc, a Djakarta-Peking axis, which he said was just the thing "to meet the demands of history."

False Hopes. Everything, in fact, seemed to be going the Reds' way. Under the skilled hand of Secretary-General Dipa Nusantara Aidit, the P.K.I, had risen from virtual oblivion after a 1948 coup attempt to a membership of 3,000,000—not including the 14 million members of its labor and youth fronts. At the suggestion of Chou Enlai, Sukarno had given the green light for a massive People's Militia, which the Communists intended to use to contain the army—their only possible rival in any struggle for power. In addition, they were infiltrating the army. On the teeming island of Java, home of 65% of the population, the military was estimated to be 40% proCommunist.

What happened?

From the Communists' point of view, just about everything went wrong. It turned out that the great majority of their card carriers were simple peasants who had joined the party because it promised them land. Moreover, Indonesia's Moslems, 90% of the population, were becoming increasingly resentful of the cavalier treatment they were getting at the hands of the confident Reds. Finally, the party ignored its basic tactical doctrine: that it would never try to seize power so long as Sukarno was alive.

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