Ben's Reviews > Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement and Suharto's Coup d'Etat in Indonesia

Pretext for Mass Murder by John Roosa
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's review
Mar 24, 08

it was amazing

“Pretext for Mass Murder” is an impressive overview of the complicated events behind the 1965-1966 coup in which pro-U.S. General Suharto seized power and began a three decade reign of terror. Roosa worked with a group of Indonesian scholars on interviews and other historical research which produced core material for this book. Though in the end Roosa concludes that a few members of the Indonesian communist party (PKI), by launching an ill-conceived anti-military action, did provide the provocation which rightist military forces and the U.S. had been waiting for in 1965, the foolhardy actions of those individual PKI members do not in any way absolve Suharto and his western backers for what consequently happened (an epic campaign of bloodletting which eviscerated the PKI and killed up to a million Indonesians).

choice quotes:
p.178 “In the months before October, the United States and the army wanted an incident like the movement to occur[…] Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers – Allen at the head of the CIA and John Foster at the head of the State Department – viewed all nationalist Third World leaders who wished to remain neutral in the cold war as Communist stooges. In full confidence of their right to handpick the leaders of foreign countries, Eisenhower and the Dulleses repeatedly used CIA covert operations to overthrow such leaders: Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, and Souvanna Phouma in Laos in 1960. The Dulles brothers viewed Sukarno as yet another irritating character who needed to be removed from the world stage.”

p.182 “The consistent U.S. strategy from 1959 to 1965 was to help the army officers prepare themselves for a violent attack upon the PKI.”
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