INDONESIA: Suharto



Miles Seeley said:To blame us for supporting Suharno and selling arms to his military, instead of building a tsunami warning system for Indonesia, stretches credibility to the breaking point. To me, it is simply a ridiculous accusation.  Christopher Jones replies: Not quite so ridiculous.  In 1997, the World Bank revealed that the Suharto regime embezzled between 20 and 30% of its development budget -- every year.  Maybe Miles Seeley thinks its unpatriotic or anti-American, but the US establishment bears a very unique responsibility for the coup that brought General Suharto to power in 1965, and the repression that followed. Nobody (outside of WAIS) disputes the fact that the CIA engineered Sukarno's overthrow and helped keep the Suharto dictatorship in power until 1998.  During this period, the agency's collaboration with Suharto's two main secret police forces the BAKIN and KOPKAMTIB led to the execution of nearly 2 million people.  Today the Suharto family fortune is estimated at 15 billion USD thanks to US support for his government over 33 years. RH: How much money did the Suharto family give to the victims of the seaquake?

Retired CIA officer Miles Seeley writes: I guess that the US is to blame for every bad thing that happens anywhere, according to Christopher Jones' postings. I won't try for a rebuttal to each accusation, but this tendency to oversimplify world affairs bothers me. Life, including international relations and foreign policy, is vastly more complicated.

I am not, repeat not, defending or glorifying everything the US has done internationally- quite the contrary. But I might ask Mr. Jones if he would have preferred that Sukarno stayed in power. The recent history of Indonesia is a twisted tale, and involves the Dutch, the end of the occupation, the Cold War, and dictators who most assuredly did not put the welfare of their people first. Without doubt the CIA played a role in carrying out US policy, but the whys and wherefores of that policy, and the reasons the CIA did or did not do something, are not on the public record, except articles and books written by outsiders.

What I am asking for is a more balanced and nuanced view of the world and our part in events. I won't, of course, get it.


Ronald Hilton 2004

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last updated: February 28, 2005