A Cold War shadow: United States policy toward Indonesia, 1953--1963

F. X. Baskara T Wardaya, Marquette University


The relationship between the United States of America and the Republic of Indonesia following the end of the Second World War was a complex one. In an attempt to study the complexity, this dissertation surveys U.S. policies toward Indonesia from the administration of President Harry S Truman through that of President John F. Kennedy. The strongest emphasis is given to the two terms of the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the short-lived Kennedy administration. In surveying the policies this dissertation will argue that U.S. posture toward Indonesia during the period under study was greatly determined by Cold War considerations, in particular by fear of communist expansion. As the end of World War II was followed by the mounting Cold War tension between the "Communist bloc" led by the Soviet Union and the capitalist "Free World" led by the United States, the Truman administration launched a series of anti-communist foreign policies. The administration's Cold War-based policy toward Indonesia was continued by the Eisenhower administration. During its two terms the Eisenhower administration attempted to stem the country's growing communist following and its closer ties with the Communist bloc. In policy attitudes slightly different from those of the Eisenhower administration, the Kennedy administration presented itself to be more open to the neutralist aspiration of the Indonesian people. Continuing the previous two administrations' tradition of viewing Indonesia under the shadow of the Cold War, however, the Kennedy administration's policies were also motivated by fear of losing Indonesia to the communists. Clearly, U.S. policy toward Indonesia from the Truman to the Kennedy administration was greatly influenced by Cold War considerations. Indonesia's strategic location, its abundant natural resources, the socialist inclination of its political leaders, and the growing influence of its communist party led Washington's policymakers to believe that left alone Indonesia would fall into the Communist bloc and would deprive Free World nations of access to its economic potentials. Overt and covert actions were then taken by each of the administrations to keep this Southeast Asian nation non-communist and close to the U.S. and its Free World allies. This dissertation, in turn, is a case study of policies taken by the United States in addressing the larger question of post-war neo-colonialism.

Recommended Citation

Wardaya, F. X. Baskara T, "A Cold War shadow: United States policy toward Indonesia, 1953--1963" (2001). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3049945.