Book Review: Greg Poulgrain. 2015. The Incubus of Intervention: Conflicting Indonesia Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles

AuthorBibhu Prasad Routray
Published date01 December 2015
Date01 December 2015
Subject MatterBook Reviews
AIA 2.3.indb Book Reviews
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
2(3) 338–356
2015 SAGE Publications India
Private Limited
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2347797015601918
Greg Poulgrain. 2015. The Incubus of Intervention: Conflicting Indonesia
Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles.
Selangor, Malaysia:
Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. 264 pp.
ISBN: 978-967-0630-50-2

The majority of historical accounts on Indonesia in the 1960s speak of a struggle
between two main forces. On one side was Sukarno’s central government, which
many capitalists feared was at risk of being dominated by communists, and on the
other were an array of regionally based rebels seeking autonomy. Behind this
simplistic reading of history, however, there is a complex narrative, which throws
light on a web of deceit, intrigue and capitalist ambitions. Greg Poulgrain’s The
Incubus of Intervention
addresses this less talked about history of Indonesia.
During the Cold War, Indonesia witnessed a battle between corporate interests
pursued by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Allen Dulles and contend-
ing world views of President John F. Kennedy and to an extent United Nations
Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold. An American diplomat and lawyer who
became the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence and its longest-serving
director to date, Allen Dulles became the quintessential formulator American
foreign policy in Indonesia in the 1950s. The early Cold War period allowed for
such an unconventional elevation. Between his stints of government service,
Dulles was a corporate lawyer and partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, an inter-
national law firm. Discovery of an enormous source of copper and gold in West
Papua and Papua provinces of Indonesia and the attempts to control those
resources constituted the crux of American foreign policy towards Indonesia
along with its attempts to prevent the country’s slide into...

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