Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Whose war on terror is it, anyway?

TODAY

Straight Talk

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Jakarta, Washington's ally, is getting a one-sided deal

Thang D Nguyen

US-INDONESIA relations have had their ups and downs, but the two countries seem to be closer than ever before. In March, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Indonesia. And last week, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did the same.

During a one-day visit to Jakarta, Mr Rumsfeld discussed issues such as bilateral military cooperation, the fight against terrorism, and the threat of piracy in the Strait of Malacca with his Indonesian counterpart Juwono Sudarsono.

The visits by Mr Rumsfeld and Dr Rice came on the heels of Washington's decision last November to lift its arms embargo on Indonesia, imposed because of the atrocities committed by the Indonesian military (TNI) in 1999 in Timor Leste, then East Timor.

One wonders what really lies behind Washington's recent gestures towards Jakarta. The Bush administration tells us that it wants to support Indonesia because the world's largest Muslim-majority nation is a democracy.

"One of the things that they have said is that they want to be a voice for moderate forms of Islam that understand that democracy … and Islam are by no means enemies of one another, and that people of all ethnic groups and all heritages can live together," Dr Rice said last year.

But is this the only reason why Washington is befriending Jakarta?

For one thing, Washington needs to protect US businesses in Indonesia. Being a resource-rich country, Indonesia is a land of opportunities for many US mining and energy companies, as well as those in other sectors. Good relations with Jakarta are a good thing for US businesses in Indonesia, as they enable US diplomats and policy-makers to help these firms in their operations, vis-à-vis Jakarta.

More importantly, by being close to Jakarta, Washington finds an agent through whom it can fend off China. It is no surprise that the US is concerned about the rise of China, both economically and politically, given its size.

And, given Indonesia's strategic and geopolitical position in South-east Asia, Jakarta is Washington's first choice as an ally in building a security ring to keep China at bay. Besides Indonesia, the US is also courting Vietnam — which was an enemy for several decades — for this purpose.

And, when the US approaches security "partners" like Indonesia, it tells these countries that it wants to help them enhance their defence systems. In other words, by buying US weapons, they would bolster their defence. So, the more weapons they buy from the US, the more secure they become, goes the US pitch.

However, there are no perceived threats within the region for South-east Asian countries, including Indonesia, to defend themselves against.

And, a growing China is a good thing for South-east Asia economically.

Therefore, there is no need for countries in the region to enter an arms race and thereby, benefit the US defence industry.

Most importantly, we are told, the US wants to help Indonesia in the global war on terror. For the US, the second front in the fight against terrorism is Indonesia — home to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) network — which has experienced a series of major terrorist attacks in recent years.

But, whose war on terror is Indonesia fighting, really?

The major terrorist attacks in Indonesia — the two Bali bombings, the Marriott Jakarta blast and the bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta — were assaults that represented backlash against America's backing of Israel in its conflict with Palestine, the US invasion of Iraq, and Australia's strong support of US foreign policy.

And most of the victims of the terrorist attacks were Indonesians, although foreigners were also among the victims.

Simply put, terrorism in Indonesia is nothing but a proxy war against the US. Enough Indonesian blood has been shed, and there is no need for Indonesia to go on fighting it and fattening the pockets of US defence companies.

The writer is a Jakarta-based columnist. His writings can be read at www.thangthecolumnist.blogspot.com

What's your view?

Email us at news@newstoday.com.sg

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

have you look at the defense minister blog? (juwonosudarsono.com)

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And most of the victims of the terrorist attacks were Indonesians, although foreigners were also among the victims.

Simply put, terrorism in Indonesia is nothing but a proxy war against the US. Enough Indonesian blood has been shed, and there is no need for Indonesia to go on fighting it..

ITS INDONESIANS THESE COWARDS ARE BLOWING UP YOU TWIT

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop recycling these toilet worthy ideas on indonesia. none of the issues you pointed out is anything new or insightful. in fact, the strait time must be desperate to put up this type of poorly written work and of mediocre value. i read a few of your work before in jakarta post and what not. and it seems like you are just writing for the sake of writing without offer much for average readers. keep on writing but please do more research and put some thinking into it.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Thang D. Nguyen said...

You all can't handle the truth, can you?

And if you say my writing is so bad, what have you written?

Can you write? If so, please email me some of your writing, and I will tell you if it is good or not.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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7:44 PM  

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