Martin Storey writes: US Secretary of State Condi Rice signalled a few days ago that the US was "ready to restore military training ties with Indonesia" (they were downgraded 13 years ago), and that she was in the( "final stages" of consultation with the US Congress on certifying Indonesia as eligible to benefit from the International Military Education and Training Programme.

The reasons?  Ms. Rice says they are:
. Indonesia's "successful presidential election" last year
. Indonesia's cooperation in the investigation of the 2002 murder of two Americans in the country.

Some reasons.

In spite of several government changes, this is still the Indonesia that did you-know-what in East Timor.  Today, the country is mass murdering with impunity entire populations of natives in West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), which it invaded a few hours after Papua was granted independence by the Netherlands, and has occupied ever since, in connivance with natural resources robbers (mining / oil and gas: mainly US and Australian; timber: mainly Asians).  In Borneo, where I lived for seven years until fairly recently, natives frequently clash with the numerous "transmigrated" people, who were given the better lands but do not know how to exploit them sustainably.  In Aceh (even since the tsunami), in Madura, and probably in numerous smaller places, different situations are treated with the same manu militari.  It is not possible for Westerners to go to most of these places and witness these abuses; for most Westerners, Bali is the frontispiece of Indonesia, as happy as a Potemkin village.

Indonesians deserve more international support, but assistance to the country's ruthless military should not qualify.  The US government is repeating in Asia what it did in Latin America, the communist threat having been replaced by the Islamist threat.  Local governments know it, use it, and it works.  Shame, shame, shame.

RH: One could make the same argument about Pakistan. It seems obvious that, rightly or wrongly, the Pentagon controls US foreign policy.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 28, 2005