Case 286 - The United States and the 1958 Rebellion in Indonesia
Brichoux, David and Doborah J. Gerner
This case study examines U.S. Involvement, both covert and overt, in Indonesian politics during the 1950s, a pivotal period in the newly independent nation’s history. The United States encouraged dissident officers in their military campaign against the central government, hoping this would force Jakarta to prevent the Partai Kommunist Indonesia (PKI) from winning parliamentary elections. This policy had the unforeseen consequence of alienating the anti-communist Indonesian military leadership, thus threatening larger U.S. goals. The policy was eventually dropped in favor of a conciliatory approach toward the Indonesian government, averting a PKI victory. The study makes extensive use of declassified primary source materials to illustrate the evolving perspectives of U.S. policymakers. It is appropriate for graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses in U.S. foreign policy and comparative politics, especially those dealing with Asia.