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U.S. Covert Action in Indonesia in the 1960s: Assessing the Motives and Consequences

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Authors
Kim, Jaechun
Issue Date
2002-12
Publisher
서울대학교 국제학연구소
Citation
Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.9 No.2, pp. 63-85
Keywords
U.S. Foreign PolicyInternational Relations TheoryU.S. Intelligence PolicyU.S. Foreign RelationsSouth East AsiaCovert Action
Abstract
During the Cold War era, covert action served as an important foreign policy instrument of the U.S. in its struggle to prevail in the global ideological competition with the former Soviet Union. By analyzing the U.S. covert action in Indonesia in the months leading up to the 1965 coup that toppled Sukarno, this paper explores the motives of the U.S. decision making elites who adopted a series of low profile, covert policies – as opposed to an overt confrontationist track – against Sukarno. The article then assesses the way the U.S. policies hammered out the formation of Indonesia’s political landscape at this crucial point in Indonesian politics. The third part of the article seeks to contrast the long lasting imprint that the U.S. policies had left in Indonesia with the so-called democratic norm of Western democracies that Kennedy called for when instituting the Alliance for Progress. The case analysis suggests that the internal constraint, in the form of domestic political considerations, was one of the critical factors compelling the decision makers in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to resort to covert action. It also suggests that the U.S. played an instrumental role in the 1965 coup and the genocide that followed. Despite their impressive record of promoting civil liberties at home, the complicity of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in Indonesia calls into question the democratic norm and humanitarian concern espoused by both administrations.
ISSN
1226-8550
Language
English
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10371/96382
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Journal of International and Area StudiesJournal of International and Area Studies vol.09 (2002)
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