INDONESIA: THE POSSIBLE DREAM by Howard Palfrey Jones

INDONESIA: THE POSSIBLE DREAM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Jones describes his exigent, extremely important assignment as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia from 1958 to 1965; he left in May before Sukarno was ousted. He had won a good deal of trust and cooperation from Sukarno, in a period of increasingly vexed relations, despite incredible stupidity in Washington. The State Department viewed the Sumatran power-play rebellion against the central government as a matter of Communist influence, while unbeknownst to Jones the CIA was helping the rebels; Eisenhower personally insulted Sukamo, and the U.S. refusal to take an anti-colonial stand on the Dutch-Indonesian dispute over West Irian unnecessarily lost points for the Americans. Sukarno's grand-scale exploitation of international tempests like Malaysia and West Irian is noted, and a picture gradually emerges of a country run de facto by the military until Sukarno's early-'60's effort to use the Communist Party as a counterweight. Sophisticated, especially by Eisenhower Administration standards, Jones nonetheless never lets on whether he considered the Communists any the less dangerous for the reformist policies he describes; he was fond of reminding Sukarno about the fate of Masaryk. He delves into the complex circumstances of the 1965 right-wing generals' coup without offering anything about the American embassy's activities and attitudes at the time. The style is Foreign Service understatement leavened with corn about ""teeming, steaming"" Djakarta and a big close of historical backgrounding. As a diplomatic memoir, the book is fascinating if neither brilliant nor dazzlingly candid; as a closeup of Sukarno it is superior to Adams' Sukarno: An Autobiography.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1971
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich