Indonesia - imminent Bush visit sparks protests
Anti-Americanism is a high-tech industry
An excerpt from an article on the Bush visit in the Washington post. The whole story is worth reading, and a representative from the National Democratic Institute is quoted. The National Democratic Institute is meeantioned in my last post about the need for monitors for the Dec. 11th elections in Aceh
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- In the run-up to President Bush's visit to Indonesia this week, two dozen members of a fundamentalist Islamic group raided and occupied a historic botanical garden in the mountain town of Bogor, outside Jakarta. Their target was the site where a construction crew was building a landing pad for Bush's helicopter. Their message was simple: Bush was not welcome in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.
Within 30 minutes, hammers were pounding again and the cement mixer had resumed turning, but as a media event, the gimmick briefly worked. Other, little-known Muslim groups began protesting Bush's visit and were given blanket coverage by local news outlets. Senior members of Indonesia's parliament accused Bush of slaughtering Muslims worldwide and claimed his half-day visit to Bogor was part of a plot to control Indonesia's economy.
The Jakarta government barely responded to the protests, and didn't need to. Relations between Indonesia and the United States are their warmest in decades, evidenced by the growing friendship between Bush and his counterpart, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"These clowns are just making noises," Juwono Sudarsono, the Indonesian defense minister, said of the protesters. "Anti-Americanism is a high-tech industry."
Although the Indonesian government and most of the country's 230 million people are against the U.S. presence in Iraq, many are thrilled that Bush is coming to talk about American funding for education, anti-poverty and anti-corruption programs.
And in a marked turnaround in the relationship, the two countries have grown closer because of common military and security concerns, issues that Indonesian officials say are not on the official agenda for Bush's brief visit.
The Indonesian armed forces, known as the TNI, have long been seen as the only institution capable of preventing the country of 7,000 disparate islands from fragmenting along geographical and ethnic lines. But the United States had imposed sanctions on the military for most of the 1990s because of repeated reports of human rights violations, including rapes, kidnappings, murders of political activists and the widespread killing of civilians in such outlying provinces as Aceh and Papua.
The United States severed most ties with the Indonesian military after its rampage in the territory of East Timor in 1999. To date, no senior officer has been held accountable for any crimes. In 2002, East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent state.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, U.S. officials publicly criticized then-President Megawati Sukarnoputri for not doing enough to combat terrorism and for not arresting militants allegedly linked to al-Qaeda.
The Bush administration informed Congress early last year that it was fully restoring military training programs with Indonesia. Last November, the White House lifted a ban on selling military hardware to the TNI despite concerns from some lawmakers and outrage from Indonesian human rights activists and victim-advocacy groups. [Joe Cochrane, WaPost]
Protests Escalate Ahead of Bush's Visit
Here is another excerpt from a different article on the protests... The last line here is interesting...
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Thousands wound through the streets of Indonesia's capital and gathered at a grand mosque Sunday to protest President Bush's upcoming visit to the world's most populous Muslim nation, some chanting "War criminal" and "You are a terrorist!"
Bush's arrival Monday comes amid mounting anger over U.S. policy in the Middle East and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan _ seen by many here as attacks on their faith.
Talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a close ally in Washington's war on terror, are expected to touch on those issues and on ways the United States can help with poverty alleviation, education, health and investment.
Security will be tight amid warnings that the threat of an attack by al-Qaida-linked militants has "escalated sharply" in recent days, though it was not clear if a plot had been uncovered.
"The threat is higher," is all Maj. Gen. Adang Firman, Jakarta's police chief, would tell reporters.
Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation and has more Muslims than any other in the world, with some 190 million mostly moderate believers.
During Bush's last state visit in 2003, talks focussed largely on terrorism.
This time he is expected to solicit the government's advice about the Middle East crisis and the North Korean and Iranian nuclear disputes, something Jakarta is eager to offer after years on the diplomatic sidelines.
"Bush recognizes he has to change ... that in order to succeed he must cooperate with friends and allies abroad," said Jusuf Wanandi of the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"He sees now that unilateralism won't work." [Zakki Hakim, AP]
I think Bush has not discovered the magic of multi-lateral, constructive engagement. In fact, I suspect that he will offer a nuclear reactor and U.S. taxpayer financed weapons if Indonesia will cooperate in further isolating Iran, in preparation for another grab of oil reserves (whether by force or a soft kill - regime change in Iran is now our official policy with the Iran Freedom Suppoart Act). The Jakarta Lobby may also get a green light to take more from Aceh.
Indonesians who love their democracy, at what ever level they find themselves in the government of the Republic of Indonesia, should consider the recent sentiments of Condoleezza Rice in a speech I saw recently on C-SPAN, that Democracy and democratic states need not necessarily have direct and free elections, that while that maybe part of what constitute a Democracy, it is just one component, and not even an essential one. Other factors included free trade or open economies, and fredom of religious expression - probably mostly meaning openness to Western 'Christian' corporate evangelism.
Does Indonesia, its government and its people, desire a return to kleptocracy and the rule of former Suharto cronies? If the answer is no, then the Indonesian government must strive to do more business with and relate equally with members of America's Democratic Party as it does to Bush/Wolfowitz. The Democratic Party is the new power in the U.S. Congress and many state houses... In any case, Bush cannot deliver his promises to Indonesia alone... and most Democrats are sympathetic to the popular sentiment that Bush should be held accountable for his crimes, and must not be allowed to signal a green light for other world leaders like SBY to folow his lead in torture, illegal and immoral wars, and kleptocracy.
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