ANOTHER SMALL BUT significant territory has the distinction of being
omitted -entirely omitted -from Henry Kissinger's memoirs. And since
East Timor is left out of the third and final volume (Years of Renewal)
cannot hope, like Cyprus, for a hasty later emendation. It has, in
airbrushed. And it is reasonably easy to see why Kissinger hopes to
discussion of a country whose destiny he so much affected.
Let me state matters briefly. After the collapse of the Portuguese
regime in Lisbon in April 197 4, that country's colonial empire
with extraordinary speed. The metropolitan power retained control only
the enclave of Macau, on the coast of China, and later remitted this
tory to Beijing under treaty in 2000. In Africa, after many
power was inherited by the socialist-leaning liberation movements which
had, by their tactic of guerrilla warfare, brought about the Portuguese
olution in the first place and established warm relations with its first
generation of activists.
In East Timor, situated in the Indonesian archipelago, the postcolonial
vacuum was at first also filled by a leftist movement, known as FRETILIN
or the Front for the Liberation of East Timor. The popular base of this
movement extended from the Catholic Church to the Westernized and
sometimes Leninized students who had brought back revolutionary
opinions from the "motherland." FRETlLIN and its allies were able to
a government but were at once subjected to exorbitant pressure from
gigantic Indonesian neighbor, then led by the dictator (since deposed
disgraced by his own people) General Suharto. Portugal, which had and
which retains legal responsibility, was too unstable and too distant to
vent the infiltration of Indonesian regular units into East Timor and
beginning of an obviously expansionist policy of attrition and
This tactic was pursued by the generals in Jakarta for a few months,
the transparent pretext of "aiding" anti-FRETlLIN forces which were, in
point of fact, deliberately inserted Indonesian ones. All pretense of
was abandoned on 7 December 1975, when the armed forces of Indonesia
crossed the border of East Timor in strength, eventually proclaiming it
an act no less lawless than Iraq's proclamation of Kuwait as "our nine-
teenth province") a full part of Indonesia proper.
Timorese resistance to this claim was so widespread, and the violence
required to impose it was so ruthless and generalized, that the figure
100,000 deaths in the first wave -perhaps one-sixth of the entire
tion -- is reckoned an understatement.
The date of the Indonesian invasion -7 December 1975 is of importance
and also of significance. On that date, President Gerald Ford and his
of state, Henry Kissinger, concluded an official visit to Jakarta and
Hawaii. Since they had come fresh from a meeting with Indonesia's
junta, and since the United States was Indonesia's principal supplier of
tary hardware (and since Portugal, a NATO ally, broke diplomatic
with Indonesia on the point), it seemed reasonable to inquire whether
leaders had given the invaders any impression amounting to a "green
Thus when Ford and Kissinger landed at Hawaii, reporters asked Mr Ford
comment on the invasion of Timor. The President was evasive.
He smiled and said: "We'll talk about that later." But press secretary
Nessen later gave reporters a statement saying: "The United States is
concerned about the use of violence. The President hopes it can be
The literal incoherence of this official utterance -the idea of a
olution to a unilateral use of violence -may perhaps have possessed an
inner coherence: the hope of a speedy victory for overwhelming force.
Kissinger moved this suspicion a shade nearer to actualization in his
more candid comment, which was offered while he was still on Indonesian
soil and "told newsmen in Jakarta that the United States would not
nize the FRETlLIN -- declared republic and that 'the United States
understands Indonesia's position on the question."'
So gruesome were the subsequent reports of mass slaughter, rape, and
deliberate use of starvation that such bluntness fell somewhat out of
ion. The killing of several Australian journalists who had witnessed
Indonesia's atrocities, the devastation in the capital city of Dili, and
stubbornness of FRETILIN's hugely outgunned rural resistance made East
Timor an embarrassment rather than an advertisement for Jakarta's new
order. Kissinger generally attempted to avoid any discussion of his
ment in the extirpation of the Timorese -- an ongoing involvement, since
authorized back-door shipments of weapons to those doing the extirpat-
ing -- and was ably seconded in this by his ambassador to the United
Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who later confided in his memoir A
Dangerous Place that, in relative terms, the death toll in East Timor
the initial days of the invasion was "almost the toll of casualties
by the Soviet Union during the Second World War." Moynihan continued:
The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to
bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United
prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task
given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.
The terms "United States" and "Department of State" are here foully
tituted, by this supposed prose-master, since they are used as synonyms
Twenty years later, on 11 August 1995, Kissinger was confronted with
direct questions on the subject. Publicizing and promoting his
book Diplomacy, at an event sponsored by the Learning Exchange at the
Park Central Hotel in New York, he perhaps (having omitted Timor from
his book and from his talk) did not anticipate the first line of
that arose from the floor. Constancio Pinto, a former resistance leader
Timor who had been captured and tortured and had escaped to the United
States, was first on his feet:
Pinto: I am Timorese. My name is Constancio Pinto. And I followed
your speech today and it's really interesting. One thing that I know you
didn't mention is this place invaded by Indonesia in 1975. It is in
Southeast Asia. As a result of the invasion 200,000 people of the
Timorese were killed. As far as I know Dr Kissinger was in Indonesia the
day before the invasion of East Timor. The United States actually sup-
ported Indonesia in East Timor. So I would like to know what you were
doing at that time.
Kissinger: What was I doing at that time? The whole time or just about
Timor? First of all, I want to thank the gentleman for asking the ques-
tion in a very polite way. The last time somebody from Timor came
after me was at the Oxford Union and they practically tore the place
apart before they asked the question.
What most people who deal with government don't understand is
one of the most overwhelming experiences of being in high office. That
there are always more problems than you can possibly address at any
one period. And when you're in global policy and you're a global power,
there are so many issues.
Now the Timor issue. First of all you have to understand what
Timor, what Timor, what the issue of Timor is. Every island that was
occupied by the Dutch in the colonial period was constituted as the
Republic of Indonesia. In the middle of their archipelago was an island
called Timor. Or is an island called Timor. Half of it was Indonesian
the other half of it was Portuguese. This was the situation.
Now I don't want to offend the gentleman who asked the question.
We had so many problems to deal with. We had at that time, there was
a war going on in Angola. We had just been driven out of Vietnam. We
were conducting negotiations in the Middle East, and Lebanon had
blown up. We were on a trip to China. Maybe regrettably we weren't
even thinking about Timor. I'm telling you what the truth of the matter
is. The reason we were in Indonesia was actually accidental. We had
originally intended to go to China, we meaning President Ford and
myself and some others. We had originally intended to go to China for
five days. This was the period when Mao was very sick and there had
been an upheaval in China. The so-called Gang of Four was becoming
dominant and we had a terrible time agreeing with the Chinese, where
to go, what to say. So we cut our trip to China short. We went for two
days to China and then we went for a day and a half to the Philippines
and a day and a half to Indonesia. That's how we got to Indonesia in the
first place. So this was really at that time to tell the Chinese we were
dependent on them. So that's how we got to Indonesia.
Timor was never discussed with us when we were in Indonesia. At
the airport as we were leaving, the Indonesians told us that they were
going to occupy the Portuguese colony of Timor. To us that did not look
like a very significant event because the Indians had occupied the
Portuguese colony of Goa ten years earlier and to us it looked like
another process of decolonization. Nobody had the foggiest idea of
what would happen afterwards, and nobody asked our opinion, and I
don't know what we could have said if someone had asked our opinion.
It was literally told to us as we were leaving.
Now there's been a terrible human tragedy in Timor afterwards. The
population of East Timor has resisted and I don't know whether the
casualty figures are correct. I just don't know, but they're certainly
nificant and there's no question that it's a huge tragedy. All I'm
you is what we knew in 1975. This was not a big thing on our radar
screen. Nobody has ever heard again of Goa after the Indians occupied
it. And to us, Timor, look at a map, it's a little speck of an island in
huge archipelago, half of which was Portuguese. We had no reason to
say the Portuguese should stay there. And so when the Indonesians
informed us, we neither said yes or no. We were literally at the
So that was our connection with it, but I grant the questioner the fact
that it's been a great tragedy.
Allan Nairn: Mr Kissinger, my name is Allan Nairn. I'm a journalist in
the United States. I'm one of the Americans who survived the massacre
in East Timor on November 12, 1991, a massacre during which
Indonesian troops armed with American M-16s gunned down at least
271 Timorese civilians in front of the Santa Cruz Catholic cemetery as
they were gathered in the act of peaceful mourning and protest. Now
you just said that in your meeting with Suharto on the afternoon of
December 6, 1975, you did not discuss Timor, you did not discuss it
until you came to the airport. Well, I have here the official State
Department transcript of your and President Ford's conversation with
General Suharto, the dictator of Indonesia. It was obtained through
the Freedom of Information Act. It has been edited under the Freedom
of Information Act so the whole text isn't there. It's clear from the
tion of the text that is here, that in fact you did discuss the
invasion of Timor with Suharto, a fact which was confirmed to me by
President Ford himself in an interview I had with him. President Ford
told me that in fact you discussed the impending invasion of Timor
with Suharto and that you gave the US ...
Kissinger: Who? I or he?
Nairn: That you and President Ford together gave US approval for the
invasion of East Timor. There is another internal State Department
memo which is printed in an extensive excerpt here which I'll give to
anyone in your audience that's interested. This is a memo of a
December 18, 1975, meeting held at the State Department. This was
held right after your return from that trip and you were berating your
staff for having put on paper a finding by the State Department legal
advisor Mr Leigh that the Indonesian invasion was illegal, that it not
only violated international law, it violated a treaty with the US
US weapons were used and it's clear from this transcript which I invite
anyone in the audience to peruse that you were angry at them first
because you feared this memo would leak, and second because you
were supporting the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, and you did not
want it known that you were doing this contrary to the advice of your
own people in the State Department. If one looks at the public actions,
sixteen hours after you left that meeting with Suharto the Indonesian
troops began parachuting over Dili, the capital of East Timor. They
came ashore and began the massacres that culminated in a third of the
Timorese population. You announced an immediate doubling of US
military aid to Indonesia at the time, and in the meantime at the United
Nations, the instruction given to Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan,
as he wrote in his memoirs, was to, as he put it, see to it that the UN
highly ineffective in any actions it might undertake on East Timor ...
[shouts from the audience]
Kissinger: Look, I think we all got the point now ...
Nairn: My question, Mr Kissinger, my question, Dr Kissinger, is twofold.
First will you give a waiver under the Privacy Act to support full
sification of this memo so we can see exactly what you and President
Ford said to Suharto? Secondly, would you support the convening of an
international war crimes tribunal under UN supervision on the subject
of East Timor and would you agree to abide by its verdict in regard to
your own conduct?
Kissinger: I mean, uh, really, this sort of comment is one of the
why the conduct of foreign policy is becoming nearly impossible under
these conditions. Here is a fellow who's got one obsession, he's got one
problem, he collects a bunch of documents, you don't know what is in
these documents ...
Nairn: I invite your audience to read them.
Kissinger: Well, read them. Uh, the fact is essentially as I described
[thumps podium]. Timor was not a significant American policy
problem. If Suharto raised it, if Ford said something that sounded
encouraging, it was not a significant American foreign policy problem.
It seemed to us to be an anti-colonial problem in which the Indonesians
were taking over Timor and we had absolutely no reason at that time to
pay any huge attention to it.
Secondly you have to understand these things in the context of the
period. Vietnam had just collapsed. Nobody yet knew what effect the
domino theory would have. Indonesia was. ..is a country of a popula-
tion of 160 million and the key, a key country in Southeast Asia. We
were not looking for trouble with Indonesia and the reason I objected
in the State Department to putting this thing on paper; it wasn't that
was put on paper. It was that it was circulated to embassies because it
was guaranteed to leak out. It was guaranteed then to lead to some
public confrontation and for better or worse our fundamental posi-
tion on these human rights issues was always to try to see if we could
discuss them first, quietly, before they turned into a public confronta-
tion. This was our policy with respect to emigration from Russia, in
which we turned out to be right, and this was the policy which we tried
to pursue in respect to Indonesia and anybody can go and find some
document and take out one sentence and try to prove something fun-
damental and now I think we've heard enough about Timor. Let's have
some questions on some other subject. [applause from audience]
Amy Goodman: Dr Kissinger, you said that the United States has won
everything it wanted in the Cold War up to this point. I wanted to go
back to the issue of Indonesia and before there's a booing in the audi-
ence, just to say as you talk about China and India, Indonesia is the
fourth largest country in the world. And so I wanted to ask the question
in a current way about East Timor. And that is, given what has hap-
pened in the twenty years, the 200,000 people who have been killed,
according to Amnesty, according to Asia Watch, even according to the
Indonesian military. ... Do you see that as a success of the United
Kissinger: No, but I don't think it's an American policy. We cannot be,
we're not responsible for everything that happens in every place in the
world. [applause from audience]
Goodman: Except that 90 percent of the weapons used during the inva-
sion were from the US and it continues to this day. So in that way we
intimately connected to Indonesia, unfortunately. Given that, I was
wondering if you think it's a success and whether too, with you on the
board of Freeport McMoRan, which has the largest gold-mining oper-
ation in the world in Indonesia, in Irian Jaya, are you putting
since Freeport is such a major lobbyist in Congress on behalf of
Indonesia, to change that policy and to support self-determination for
the people of East Timor?
Kissinger: The, uh, the United States as a general proposition cannot
every problem on the use of American weapons in purely civil conflicts.
We should do our best to prevent this. As a private American corporation
engaged in private business in an area far removed from Timor but in
Indonesia, I do not believe it is their job to get itself involved in
because if they do, then no American private enterprise will be welcome
Goodman: But they do every day, and lobby Congress.
It is interesting to notice, in that final answer, the final
Kissinger's normally efficient if robotic syntax. (For more material on
involvement with Freeport McMoRan, and his other holdings in a priva-
tized military-political-commercial complex, see Chapter 10.) It's also
fascinating to see, once again, the operations of his denial mechanism.
Kissinger and his patron Nixon were identified with anyone core belief,
was that the United States should never be, or even appear to be, a
helpless giant." Kissinger's own writings and speeches are heavily
with rhetoric about "credibility" and the need to impress friend and foe
with the mettle of American resolve. Yet, in response to any inquiry
might implicate him in crime and fiasco, he rushes to humiliate his own
country and its professional servants, suggesting that they know little,
less, are poorly informed and easily rattled by the pace of events. He
resorts to a demagogic isolationism. In "signaling" terms, this is as
to claim that the United States is a pushover for any ambitious or
tist banana republic.
This semi-conscious reversal of rhetoric also leads to renewed episodes
of hysterical and improvised lying. (Recall his claim to the Chinese
was the Soviet Union that had instigated the Turkish invasion of
The idea that Indonesia's annexation of Timor may be compared to India's
occupation of Goa is too absurd to have been cited in any apologia
or since. What Kissinger seems to like about the comparison is the
ity with which Goa was forgotten. What he overlooks is that it was
forgotten because (1) it was not a bloodbath and (2) it completed the
decolonization of India. The Timor bloodbath represented the cementing
colonization by Indonesia. And clearly, an Indonesian invasion that
a few hours after Kissinger had stepped off the tarmac at Jakarta
must have been planned and readied several days before he arrived. Such
plans would have been known by any embassy military attache worth the
name, and certainly by any visiting secretary of state. We have the word
C. Philip Liechty, a former CIA operations officer in Indonesia, that:
Suharto was given the green light to do what he did. There was
the Embassy and in traffic with the State Department about the problems
that would be created for us if the public and Congress became aware of
level and type of military assistance that was going to Indonesia at
Without continued heavy US military support the Indonesians might not
have been able to pull it off.
Given that legal and international responsibility for East Timor rested
Portugal, a long-term NATO ally of the United States, the decision to
regard this, and at the admitted minimum to say nothing to the
Indonesians about it, must have been deliberate. Given Kissinger's acute
preoccupation with the fate of the Portuguese empire -- as we will see -- it
may have been even more than that. It certainly cannot have been the
result of inattention, or of the pressure of other distracting world
(to take Kissinger's own cited instance) the other Portuguese colony of
The desire to appear to have been uninvolved may
-- if we are charita-
ble -- have arisen in part from the fact that even Indonesia's Foreign
Minister, Adam Malik, conceded in public a death tnl1 of between
and 80,000 Timorese civilians in the first eighteen months of
war of subjugation (in other words on Kissinger's watch) and inflicted
with weapons that he bent American laws to furnish to the killers. Now
a form of democracy has returned to Indonesia, which in its first post-
dictatorial act renounced the annexation and after a bloody last pogrom
by its auxiliaries -- withdrew from the territory, we may be able to learn
more exactly the extent of the genocide.
Kissinger's surreptitious conduct is made very plain by the State
Department cable of December 1975, and the subsequent memorandum
concerning it. In point of fact, the essential decisions about
colonies had been made during the preceding July, when Kissinger had
secured presidential permission for a covert program of military
tion, coordinated with the South Africans and General Mobutu, to impose
a tribalist regime upon Angola. The following month, as a matter of
he informed the Indonesian generals that he would not oppose their
vention in East Timor. The only bargaining in December involved a
that Indonesia delay the start of its own colonial adventure until after
Force One, carrying Ford and Kissinger, had left Indonesian airspace.
This "deniable" pattern did not dispose of two matters of legality, both
them in the province of the State Department. The first was the
international law by Indonesia, in a case where jurisdiction clearly
with a Portuguese and NATO government of which Kissinger (partly as a
result of its support for "decolonization") did not approve. The second
the violation of American law, which stipulated that weapons supplied to
Indonesia were to be employed only for self-defense. State Department
officials, bound by law, were likewise bound to conclude that United
aid to the generals in Jakarta would have to be cut off. Their memo sum-
marizing this case was the cause of the tremendous internal row that is
minuted below, in a declassified State Department transcript:
MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION
The Secretary [Henry Kissinger]
Deputy Secretary [Robert] Ingersoll
Under Secretary [for Political Affairs Joseph] Sisco
Under Secretary [ Carlyle] Maw
Deputy Under Secretary [Lawrence] Eagleburger
Assistant Secretary [Philip] Habib
Monroe Leigh, Legal Advisor
Jerry Bremer, Notetaker
December 18, 1975
The Secretary [Kissinger]: I want to raise a little bit of hell about
Department's conduct in my absence. Until last week I thought we had
a disciplined group; now we've gone to pieces completely. Take this
cable on [East] Timor. You know my mind and attitude and anyone who
knows my position as you do must know that I would not have approved
it. The only consequence is to put yourself on record. It is a disgrace
treat the Secretary of State this way. ...
What possible explanation is there for it? I had told you to stop it
quietly. What is your place doing, Phil, to let this happen? It is
prehensible. It is wrong in substance and procedure. It is a disgrace.
Were you here?
Habib: Our assessment was that if it was going to be trouble, it would
come up before your return. And I was told they decided it was desir
able to go ahead with the cable.
[Kissinger]: Nonsense. I said do it for a few weeks and then open up
Habib: The cable will not leak.
[Kissinger] : Yes it will and it will go to Congress too and then we
have hearings on it.
Habib: I was away. I was told by cable that it had come up.
[Kissinger): That means that there are two cables! And that means
twenty guys have seen it.
Habib: No, I got it back-channel it was just one paragraph double talk
and cryptic so I knew what it was talking about. I was told that Leigh
thought that there was a legal requirement to do it.
Leigh: No, I said it could be done administratively. It was not in our
interest to do it on legal grounds.
Sisco: We were told that you had decided we had to stop.
[Kissinger]: Just a minute, just a minute. You all know my view on
You must have an FSO-8 [Foreign Service Officer, Class Eight] who
knows it well. It will have a devastating impact on Indonesia. There's
this masochism in the extreme here. No one has complained that it
Leigh: The Indonesians were violating an agreement with us.
[Kissinger]: The Israelis when they go into Lebanon -when was the
last time we protested that?
Leigh: That's a different situation.
Maw: It is self-defense.
[Kissinger]: And we can't construe a Communist government in the
middle of Indonesia as self-defense?
Leigh: Well ...
[Kissinger]: Then you're saying that arms can't be used for defense?
Habib: No, they can be used for the defense of Indonesia.
[Kissinger]: Now take a look at this basic theme that is coming out on
Angola. These SOBs are leaking all of this stuff to [New York Times
reporter] Les Gelb.
Sisco: I can tell you who.
Sisco: [National Security Council member William] Hyland spoke to
[Kissinger]: Wait a minute -- Hyland said ...
Sisco: He said he briefed Gelb.
[Kissinger]: I want these people to know that our concern in Angola is
not the economic wealth or a naval base. It has to do with the USSR
operating 8,000 miles from home when all the surrounding states are
asking for our help. This will affect the Europeans, the Soviets, and
On the Timor thing, that will leak in three months, and it will come
out that Kissinger overruled his pristine bureaucrats and violated the
How many people in L [the legal advisor's office] know about this?
Habib: There are at least two in my office.
[Kissinger]: Plus everybody in the meeting so you're talking about not
less than 15 or 20. You have a responsibility to recognize that we are
living in a revolutionary situation. Everything on paper will be used
Habib: We do that and take account of that all the time.
[Kissinger]: Every day some SOB in the Department is carrying on
about Angola but no one is defending Angola. Find me one quote in the
Gelb article defending our policy in Angola.
Habib: I think the leaks and dissent are the burden you have to bear.
[Kissinger]: But the people in charge of this Department could have
lacerated AF [Bureau for African Affairs] .
Ingersoll: I was told it came from up the river.
Eagleburger: No way.
[Kissinger]: Don't be ridiculous. It's quoted there. Read Gelb. Was
[Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs William] Schaufele
called in and told to get his house under control? This is not minor
league stuff. We are going to lose big. The President says to the
that we're going to stand firm in Angola and two weeks later we get out.
I go to a NATO meeting and meanwhile the Department leaks that
we're worried about a naval base and says it's an exaggeration or aber-
ration of Kissinger's. I don't care about the oil or the base but
I do care
about the African reaction when they see the Soviets pull it off and
don't do anything. If the Europeans then say to themselves if they can't
hold Luanda, how can the}' defend Europe? The Chinese will say we're
a country that was run out of Indochina for 50,000 men and is now
being run out of Angola for less than $50m. Where were the meetings
here yesterday. Were there any?
[Kissinger] : It cannot be that our agreement with Indonesia says that
arms are for internal purposes only. I think you will find that it says
they are legitimately used for self-defense.
There are two problems. The merits of the case which you had a duty
to raise with me. The second is how to put these to me. But to put it
a cable 30 hours before I return, knowing how cables are handled in this
building, guarantees that it will be a national disaster and that tran-
scends whatever [Deputy Legal Advisor George] Aldrich has in his
I took care of it with the administrative thing by ordering Carlyle
[Maw] not to make any new sales. How will the situation get better in
Habib: They may get it cleaned up by then.
[Kissinger]: The Department is falling apart and has reached the point
where it disobeys clear-cut orders.
Habib: We sent the cable because we thought it was needed and we
thought it needed your attention. This was ten days ago.
[Kissinger]: Nonsense. When did I get the cable, Jerry?
Bremer: Not before the weekend. I think perhaps on Sunday.
[Kissinger] : You had to know what my view on this was. No one who has
worked with me in the last two years could not know what my view would
be on Timor. [italics added]
Habib: Well, let us look at it -talk to Leigh. There are still some
requirements. I can't understand why it went out if it was not legally
[Kissinger]: Am I wrong in assuming that the Indonesians will go up in
smoke if they hear about this?
Habib: Well, it's better than a cutoff. It could be done at a low level.
[Kissinger]: We have four weeks before Congress comes back. That's
plenty of time.
Leigh: The way to handle the administrative cutoff would be that we are
studying the situation.
[Kissinger]: And 36 hours was going to be a major problem?
Leigh: We had a meeting in Sisco's office and decided to send the mes-
[Kissinger] : I know what the law is but how can it be in the US
interest for us to give up on Angola and kick the Indonesians in the
teeth? Once it is on paper, there will be a lot of FSO-6s who can make
themselves feel good who can write for the Open Forum Panel on the
thing even though I will turn out to be right in the end.
Habib: The second problem on leaking of cables is different.
[Kissinger]: No it's an empirical fact.
Eagleburger: Phil, it's a fact. You can't say that any NODIS ["No
Distribution": most restricted level of classification] cable will leak
you can't count on three to six months later someone asking for it [sic]
in Congress. If it's part of the written record, it will be dragged out
[Kissinger]: You have an obligation to the national interest. I don't
if we sell equipment to Indonesia or not. I get nothing from it, I get
rakeoff. But you have an obligation to figure out how to serve your
country. The Foreign Service is not to serve itself. The Service stands
service to the United States and not service to the Foreign Service.
Habib: I understand that that's what this cable would do.
[Kissinger] : The minute you put this into the system you cannot resolve
it without a finding.
Leigh: There's only one question. What do we say to Congress if we're
[Kissinger]: We cut it off while we are studying it. We intend to start
again in January.
The delivery of heavy weapons for use against civilian objectives did
resume in January 1976, after a short interval in which Congress was
as advertised. Nobody, it must be said, comes especially well out of
meeting; the Secretary's civil servants were anything but "pristine."
can be noted of Kissinger that, in complete contrast to his public
1. Forebore from any mention of Goa.
2. Did not trouble to conceal his long-held views on the matter, berat-
ing his underlings for being so dense as not to know them.
3. Did not affect to be taken by surprise by events in East Timor.
4. Admitted that he was breaking the law.
5. Felt it necessary to deny that he could profit personally from the
arms shipments, a denial for which nobody had asked him.
Evidently, there was a dialectic in Kissinger's mind between Angola and
East Timor, both of them many miles from US or Russian borders but
both seen as tests of his own dignity. (The "surrounding states" to which
alludes in the Angolan case were apartheid South Africa and General
Mobutu's Zaire: the majority of African states, as a matter of record,
opposed his intervention on the side of the tribalist and pro-South
militias in Angola. His favored regimes have long since collapsed in
ignominy; the United States now recognizes the MPLA, with all its defor-
mities, as the legitimate government of Angola. And of course, no
European ever felt that the fate of the West hinged on Kissinger's
That Kissinger understood Portugal's continuing legal sovereignty in
East Timor is shown by a NODIS memorandum of a Camp David meeting
between himself, General Suharto and President Ford on the preceding 5
July 1975. Almost every line of the text has been deleted by official
tion, and much of the discussion is unilluminating except about the
eagerness of the administration to supply naval, air and military
to the junta, but at one point, just before Kissinger makes his
President Ford asks his guest, "Have the Portuguese set a date yet for
ing the Timor people to make their choice?" The entire answer is
obliterated by deletion, but let it never be said that Kissinger's State
Department did not know that Portugal was entitled, indeed mandated, to
hold a free election for the Timorese. It is improbable that Suharto, in
excised answer, was assuring his hosts that such an open election would
won by candidates favoring annexation by Indonesia.
On 9 November 1979, Jack Anderson's column in the Washington Post
published an interview on East Timor with ex-President Ford, and a
number of classified US intelligence documents relating to the 1975
sion. One of the latter papers describes how Indonesia's generals were
pressing Suharto "to authorize direct military intervention," while
informs Messrs Ford and Kissinger that Suharto would raise the East
issue at their December 1975 meeting and would "try and elicit a sympa-
thetic attitude." The relatively guileless Ford was happy to tell
that the United States national interest "had to be on the side of
He mayor may not have been aware that he was thereby giving the lie to
everything ever said by Kissinger on the subject.
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