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Thursday, October 13, 2005

The ties that bind

Dateline is Australian television's finest current affairs show. It's curious, investigative, questioning and challenging. Last night, reporter David O'Shea uncovered the murky world of Indonesian politics, where the military and police are disturbingly connected to Islamic militants. The West - including Australia and America - continue to provide untold millions to the Indonesians in its "war on terror."

But what if that money is being used to fund terrorist attacks against Indonesians and Westerners?

As ever, friends and enemies are not what they seem.

15 Comments:

Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Its all a policy of appeasement by the Indonesian government.

To keep the disparate ethnic, religeous and geographical entity of Indonesia tegether the government tolerates radical Islam and the military.

To take either on may cause Indonesia to unravel.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 11:10:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

That may be so, but it's an unholy alliance that should be openly debated in Australia and within Indo itself.
Not unlike Timor, where Australia has not pressured Jakarta to prosecute the killers behind the '99 atrocities, our government never seems to learn...

Thursday, October 13, 2005 11:20:00 am  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Yes (can I call you "Lowy"?) I think constant signals to the Indonesian military that the West is watching them may be one solution.

Basically that the military's human rights abuses and links to Islamic terrorism are being recorded - one way or another.

The Indonesia military puts up straw men (in 1965 it was the "Communists') to cement western support. The risk the military may actually be bombing to win this Western support is a factor that Western government must constantly consider.

I think, in the end, the growth of the Indonesian economy is the main path to democratic and national stability. The West can contribute to this by not allowing oil prices to get out of hand.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 11:39:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Lowy? Ha, I was called that at school, so I'd prefer not. Sure you understand.
Indo is certainly a complex case, to be sure, but simply hoping that Western aid will be used appropriately is misguided and typical of the West's newfound 'belief' in the 'war on terror.'
Blowback rules.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 11:45:00 am  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

"AL?"

Year well try bringing the real culprits of East Timor (eg. General Waranto - who was the Army Chief) before a World Court and u will get a nationalist reaction in Indonesia that will attract moderate Indonesian to nasty nationalist institutions.

One such institution is the Indons brand of radical Islam. Another is the military ethos.

Between my moderate pressure and your idealism there's gotta be a better path.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 11:57:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

AL suits just fine.
A middle path? There certainly should be. Radical Islam in Indo needs to be tackled, but solely through funding corrupt military and police? I think not.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 12:03:00 pm  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Covertly financing moderate Muslim political/religious movements may also be useful.

While this smells of corruption at least some money will buy support from those potentially drawn to the radicals. Noting that the radicals are partially funded by the Saudi's.

All this, of course, is a dirty game.

I can see your point about human rights abusers and hope, one day, a Labor government (not Rudd, as he hasn't got the guts) will "out" some of these Indonesian army animals. Some type of court should give them the "Corby treatment" or even worse.

Pete

Thursday, October 13, 2005 12:26:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Everybody's hands are dirty.
The Labor party outing anybody? I think not. They're as complicit, if not more so than Howard and co. Let's not forget their years of supporting Soeharto.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 12:33:00 pm  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Yes AL thats the problem.

Keating calling Suharto "father" ("pak" or "pater" or something like that).

Not much hope. Only that principled leaders put themselves up for election and people vote for them.. putting human rights over hip pockets.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 12:44:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Pete, well said, mate.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 3:09:00 pm  
Blogger Ian Westmore said...

A couple of months before the brown stuff hit the fan in Timor the Yanks were going to send Madeline Albright to Jakarta to read the generals the riot act over their plans to destroy the country if the independence vote went against them.

Howard and Downer weren't going to have that, insisted that we could 'police' our part of the planet without American help, thank you very much.

So they sent then Vice-CDF AM Doug Riding to warn the generals we had the evidence to convict them if a blood bath ensued. Trouble was that Riding couldn't directly threaten Wiranto and the other TNI top brass so the "riot act" reading ended up being a lot tamer than it should have been, and as we know ineffective.

Wiranto and most of the other brass just listened politely, occasionally disputing a point, but one general got extremely angry about our interference in their affairs - Lt General Bambang Yudhoyono, then the Indonesian Chief of Security, now Canberra's favourite "democrat"

That is the "constant signal" we are sending to the Indonesian military!

But I guess its understandable. War criminals have to stick together. :(

Thursday, October 13, 2005 6:39:00 pm  
Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Ian

Looks like one of your areas of expertise.

Yes unfortunately it seems it takes the Yanks to take the initiative - and the world (or some occasionally criminal element in Indonesia) to take notice. Of course initiative often goes the wrong way, but anyway.

All part of carrying a big stick. Something Australia doesn't think it has - maybe we do - depends on the scenerio.

Further to Ian's well described example.

When Australia with Cosgrove etc was almost too late saving the East Timorese, what went largely unnoticed (except by the Indonesians) was the buildup of US forces to add pressure to the Indonesian backdown.

Hence "East Timor required the unplanned deployment of the Kitty Hawk battle group and the Belleau Wood ARG." offshore to keep the Indons honest. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/timor-orbat.htm

So the moral of the story (I reckon) is that while the US more often than not sins, in East Timor (and Kosovo) they've done it right.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 8:57:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

"So the moral of the story (I reckon) is that while the US more often than not sins, in East Timor (and Kosovo) they've done it right."

The jury is til out on that one.

Soeharto went into East Tomor only after the US (via Kissinger) pretty much gave him the nod. For how many years was the policy of Austalia and the US that East Timor was the territory of Indonesia? For how long was Indonesia supplied arms by the US and the UK?

I suppose we're supposed to forget all that and pretend we had no complicity.

Saturday, October 15, 2005 5:46:00 am  
Blogger Ian Westmore said...

gigolo pete said...

what went largely unnoticed (except by the Indonesians) was the buildup of US forces to add pressure to the Indonesian backdown.

Hence "East Timor required the unplanned deployment of the Kitty Hawk battle group and the Belleau Wood ARG." offshore to keep the Indons honest. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/timor-orbat.htm


Well rumour has it that at the time Howard wasn't overwhelmed by the support he got from the US.

He may have a point, though I suspect
a) he was really angling for the Yanks to do most of the work and

b) more than a bit of their reluctance had to do with teaching him a lesson about keeping things from Uncle Sam - we refused to pass on intelligence that may have made a difference for example. Plus the Yanks must also have been than a little P..... Offed by Downers antics in the months leading up to the independence vote.

So the moral of the story (I reckon) is that while the US more often than not sins, in East Timor (and Kosovo) they've done it right.

True. But the thing to keep in mind about American politicians is that they will always do what they perceive is America's best interest. If that means they help you, then good for you, but if they decide the other guy is a better bet then you're toast. The degree of your friendship won't matter.

BTW-that isn't necessarily a criticism. We'd be a lot better off if our pollies did the same!

Saturday, October 15, 2005 6:15:00 pm  
Blogger Ian Westmore said...

Addamo_01 said...

For how many years was the policy of Austalia and the US that East Timor was the territory of Indonesia?

I'm fairly sure than the US, unlike us, never formally recognised Indonesian sovereignty over ET. OTOH, as you point out they didn't do anything to kick them out either until 1999.

My big regret is that the trauma of ET's liberation has probably killed off any chance West Papua had of freedom from Jakata's yoke. In some respects they are more deserving than the Timorese.

Saturday, October 15, 2005 6:23:00 pm  

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