Machiavellian treachery on Australia’s doorstep played a key role in the assassination of a US president, according to a new book by historian Dr Greg Poulgrain.
In JFK vs Allen Dulles: Battleground Indonesia, the USC adjunct academic looks at the conflict between US President John F Kennedy’s Southeast Asia policy and what he says was Central Intelligence Agency Director Allen Dulles’ plan for regime change in Indonesia.
Dr Poulgrain claims this conflict, which he describes as unscrupulous treachery by Dulles, was behind the assassination of Kennedy in late 1963 as well as the death of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammaskjold in a plane crash in 1961.
The book was launched at a public event on Tuesday 23 November at USC’s Sunshine Coast campus.
It is based on extensive archival research and interviews with people such as former NATO Secretary-General Joseph Luns, JFK’s Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Japanese spy Shigetada Nishijima.
Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone (JFK, Nixon, Platoon) wrote the introduction.
Dr Poulgrain, who specialises in Indonesian history, said from Kennedy faced two serious crises from first day as president in 1961 – Cuba and Indonesia. He argues the Indonesian crisis was deliberately prepared for him by Dulles.
“The dispute with Soviet-supported Indonesia over Netherlands New Guinea (NNG) – now the Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia – threatened nuclear conflict, just as Cuba did,” he said.
“Rockefeller oil interests wanted NNG to be part of Indonesia before the Indonesian president Sukarno was replaced with a military regime because it contained the world’s largest primary gold deposit.
“A review of Kennedy’s pro-Sukarno stance in 1963 shows how seriously he was in conflict with the covert plan for regime change.”
Dr Poulgrain said JFK unknowingly became involved by planning to visit Jakarta in early 1964. He argued this would have secured Sukarno’s position as Indonesian president for life.
“JFK’s proposed visit to Jakarta in early 1964 to stop konfrontasi (low-level warfare by Indonesia to destabilise the proposed Malaysian federation), threatened to undo years of Dulles’ planning for regime change,” he said.
Dr Poulgrain said Australian diplomat George Ivan Smith told him Hammaskjold intended to kick out the Dutch and Indonesians from NNG and grant Papuans independence and provide UN assistance for six years.
“Dulles intervened and there was an assassination of Dag Hammaskjold in the Congo,” he said.
The focus of Dr Poulgrain’s presentation at the book launch was the events of 1965 and how the murder of six generals in Jakarta led to mass killings and Suharto replacing Sukarno as president.