PKI in 1965

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Sat Jul 11 09:39:56 PDT 1998


>Of course this doesn't mean I
>wouldn't be hard on the CIA agents who effectively passed death sentences on
>five thousand members of the Indonesian Communist Party, the PKI, by handing
>their names over to Suharto and the insurgent generals during the '65 coup.

I don't like Suharto, but when I think about what happens in the first generation or two after a Communist victory...

Total Killed/Average Rulers Population... ====== ============ USSR 25% China 9% North Korea 12% Vietnam 5% Cambodia 32% Laos 1% Cuba 0.4% Nicaragua 0.1% Chile 0.0%

It looks to me as though a successful PKI coup in 1965 would have been likely to lead to the violent deaths of 9% of Indonesia's population in the years since...

Suharto was no slouch at genocide: getting about 0.7% of Indonesia's population during his reign. But we would have had to have had a *very* good draw from the set of Communist regimes--the leaders of the PKI would have had to turn out to be like Castro rather than like Kim Il Sung--for a successful PKI coup in 1965 to have led to a better outcome than we actually got.

So I find it very difficult to condemn the CIA's actions in Indonesia in 1965. Eurasian Communists have been very bad news...

Brad DeLong

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