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« on: November 09, 2010, 11:17:54 AM »


The president of the United States arrived in Indonesia on Nov. 9 as interest in strengthening commercial and military ties is increasing in both Washington and Jakarta. Constraints on this emergent relationship remain, however, on issues such as economic protectionism and human rights. Still, the relationship is set to grow, leaving Indonesia with the task of carefully balancing between the United States and China as it attempts to capitalize on its economic and strategic advantages and relative political stability.

U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Indonesia on Nov. 9 after visiting India in a tour that will later take him to South Korea and Japan for the G-20 and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits. Obama has delayed his visit to Indonesia twice already, and volcanic ash in the air over Java from the recent eruptions of Mount Merapi may require him to cut this one short, but the trip was made as a sign of deepening interest in a relationship with bilateral, multilateral and strategic potential.

Washington wants to forge a closer relationship with Indonesia to boost bilateral trade and investment, use ties with Indonesia as a pathway to better relations with the region as a whole through multilateral groupings like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and generally maintain support for a Muslim ally in the conflict against radical jihadists. But the longer term and more important strategic goal is to develop Indonesia as one of several regional counterweights to China. Jakarta will welcome greater U.S. involvement, and ultimately may lean toward the United States and away from China. But it will try to avoid choosing sides and will seek to maintain good relations with China and the United States, and leverage its economic size and strategic location to its maximum advantage.

Toward a Comprehensive U.S.-Indonesian Partnership

On one level, Obama’s visit to Indonesia is about improving diplomatic relations to pave the way for more substantial economic, security and political agreements. Obama will emphasize that Indonesia is a model Muslim-majority country. He will highlight how its $631 billion economy, population of 237 million and fast economic growth (estimated at around 6 percent in 2010) hold promise for the U.S. economy, and that it has made strides in stabilizing its domestic political situation since the chaos of the late 1990s, when the Asian financial crisis struck and the collapse of the decades-old Suharto regime brought the country close to breaking apart. Obama will emphasize his willingness to engage the Muslim world, will call attention to his childhood years in Indonesia to show his connection to the country, and will express optimism about Indonesian and American relations going forward.

Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially will launch a Comprehensive Partnership Agreement between the two states, which will serve as a framework for expanding bilateral ties. This partnership, announced in June, included an agreement on closer defense ties and science and technology cooperation and American investment in Indonesia. The latter included a renewed agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (which has provided $2.1 billion since the 1960s but is only engaged in $94 million worth of projects at the moment) and a $1 billion credit facility from the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The two sides have established a joint commission that met in September and will meet annually and several working groups in trade and investment, security and energy, and education and democracy; these groups are expected to develop more initiatives going forward, ranging from U.S. investment in Indonesia’s infrastructure construction and energy sector to expanded educational exchanges.

Simultaneously, U.S. companies will promote their products in Indonesia, as Washington attempts to give more momentum to its national export initiative. For its part, Indonesia is looking for high-tech and high-value added goods, especially in infrastructure, energy and transportation, inherently capital-intensive sectors difficult to develop in a sprawling archipelago like Indonesia.

Washington and Jakarta also will reaffirm their security relationship. The United States has agreed to restart training and exchanges with Kopassus, the Indonesian military’s special operations unit. Though that cooperation has not yet begun, it is on track to do so, and is only one aspect of U.S.-Indonesian security cooperation. Washington will continue to support Indonesia’s police efforts to fight terrorism, including through the elite Special Detachment 88, which has racked up a string of successes over the past year. The United States also is looking to expand arms exports after having seen Indonesia’s willingness to turn elsewhere (for instance, to Russia) for its military needs.

Constraints on the U.S.-Indonesian Relationship

Of course, there are inherent constraints on their cooperation. Indonesia is highly protective about its economy, which is dominated by state-owned and state-affiliated companies and has high barriers to foreign competition that threatens privileged sectors. The United States repeatedly has run into trouble accessing Indonesian markets for farm goods and medicine, for instance, and has a number of outstanding disputes over import and investment regulations and concerns of inadequate intellectual property rights protection. In sectors where Jakarta has opened up the economy, it already has attracted a number of foreign investors to provide the higher-end goods and services, including huge infrastructure contracts, that it needs to continue developing — which means the United States faces stiff competition from far more established players like Singapore, Japan, and South Korea (not to mention Western competitors like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which in 2009 were also bigger investors in Indonesia than the United States).

On the security front, although Indonesia can be expected to maintain strong relations with the United States, it does not want to be overly dependent on Washington or to appear like a proxy state. The Indonesian government must tread carefully since the United States is unpopular among those Indonesians who see Obama’s overtures to the Muslim world as mere rhetoric and who resent U.S. support for Israel (some of whom will stage demonstrations during Obama’s visit). Moreover, military ties will face political obstacles on the American side. This is because the Indonesian military always will struggle to maintain control over far-flung islands, especially in places like Aceh and West Papua where ethnic minorities have a tendency toward unrest or separatism — fairly frequently resulting in heavy-handed security measures and human rights violations. Despite officially re-opening relations, U.S. cooperation with the Indonesian military’s special operations forces must be approved by the U.S. State Department, which will vet the Indonesians’ progress on human rights.

Despite these hindrances, both states’ interests overlap significantly enough to point them toward deeper cooperation. Washington wants to tap into this massive and young consumer market and wants to take advantage of Indonesia’s fast growth rates and relative political stability. Meanwhile, the United States offers a massive consumer pool for Indonesian exports. Moreover, no one can offer better security guarantees for the strategically situated island chain than the United States, the world’s supreme naval power.

The Balancing Act with China

Crucially, the United States sees Indonesia as a counterweight in Southeast Asia to the rising influence of China. In recent years, Washington’s relations with China have become more tense as Beijing’s economic might has increased and it has expanded its influence in its periphery. China has built up its military and naval capabilities and has become more strident regarding its territorial claims in the South China Sea, a crucial waterway for the United States and its allies Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The United States has sought to re-energize its alliances and partnerships in the region not only for the sake of its own regional relations, but also as a means of hedging against China. Indonesia is especially suitable for this purpose. It straddles the Strait of Malacca, a global shipping choke point, as well as the Sunda and Lombok straits, making it critical for sea-lanes between the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Pacific and Australia and China. These sea-lanes supply China with critical raw materials; any power controlling this area accordingly has enormous leverage over Beijing.

This process has alarmed Beijing, which views it as an encirclement policy. As Washington gradually extricates itself from conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia, Beijing fears U.S. attention will come to focus squarely on suppressing China’s rise. Indeed, the U.S. focus on Indonesia, a staunch Cold War ally under the U.S.-backed Suharto dictatorship, has reinforced this impression of an emerging Cold War-style containment policy.

In general, Indonesia’s trade relationships with the United States and China are comparable, though China has a slight edge. Indonesia exported $11.5 billion and imported $14 billion worth of goods from China in 2009, while the United States exported $5.1 billion worth of goods to Indonesia and imported $12.9 billion worth. Indonesian imports from China grew by nearly 56 percent in the first three quarters of 2010, as the China-ASEAN free trade agreement took full effect. Still, U.S. export growth to Indonesia was also strong, growing 37 percent during the first half of the year. The United States is a larger investor in Indonesia than China, but neither country has a very large role — the United States accounted for 1.6 percent of total foreign direct investment in Indonesia in 2009, as opposed to China’s 0.6 percent.

Of course, Beijing has a number of economic advantages at the moment, including its aggressive outward investment strategy. This is driven by state-owned enterprises and state banks with massive pools of cash that have been allowed to spread across the world looking to expand markets, employ their services and buy up resources, including in Indonesia. To emphasize its economic strength and cash reserves it is able to draw upon immediately, on Nov. 8, the day before Obama arrived in Indonesia, Beijing announced a $6.6 billion construction and trade deal with Jakarta.

But Beijing’s growing economic sway has little impact on the immense U.S. advantage in security matters. The U.S. re-engagement therefore leaves Jakarta in a tricky position not unlike that of its fellow ASEAN states. It stands to benefit from competition between the United States and China (as well as competition among Singapore, Japan, the European Union and others) as it seeks to attract the highest bidder and to draw in foreign investment, however if relations between the United States and China take a turn for the worse, Indonesia could find itself caught in the middle of a strategic confrontation.

But Indonesia is in a more advantageous position than its fellow ASEAN states in managing this tricky situation. With the largest economy and population in ASEAN, and a strategic location in the crossroads of global maritime trade, Jakarta has a unique ability to leverage its relationships with the United States, China and other players. Domestic stability and national unity — maintaining the stabilization over the past near-decade — remain at the top of its strategic priorities. This means that economic growth and foreign capital are necessary, but also that it must move carefully on domestic reforms allowing foreign competition. Hence Jakarta will seek a careful balance in its relations, and will avoid having to choose sides. It will welcome improved ties with Washington and U.S. re-engagement with the region, while allowing Beijing to gain further traction in the economic sphere. In the final analysis, however, Indonesia has far more to fear from a militarily ascendant China close to home than it does from an outside power like the United States, which shares Indonesia’s interest in stability in its surrounding waters.

Power User
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2010, 06:59:47 AM »

It looks to me like at least some people in the BO administration are beginning to get a clue (SecState Clinton?) that we need to pay attention in SE Asia and form alliances to deal with China's increasingly negative intentions.  Indonesia most certainly is relevant to that and people who will be there when Obama is gone are aware of this.
Obama to Visit Mosque Where Crowd Cheered Ahmadinejad
Terry Jeffrey
Obama to Visit Mosque Where Crowd Cheered Ahmadinejad

President Barack Obama was scheduled to spend his Wednesday in Indonesia visiting Jakarta's massive Istiqlal Mosque and then giving a speech on the "pluralism and tolerance" of his host country at the University of Indonesia.

It is both ironic and instructive that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not only made the same stops on a trip to Indonesia four years ago, but was greeted, according to press reports, as a "rock star."

At the university, Ahmadinejad gave a speech that cast doubt on the holocaust, predicted the destruction of Israel and yearned aloud for a day when the entire world would submit to Shariah law.

Later, he told a group of Indonesia's top clerics that every young Muslim man was an "atomic bomb." When Ahmadinejad attended the Friday prayer service at the Istiqlal Mosque, the congregation greeted him with a chant of "God is great" and a crowd gathered outside sent him off with a lusty cheer of "Fight America, fight Israel."

In an Oct. 28 White House briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes set the stage for Obama's Indonesian trip by announcing that the president would first visit the Istiqlal Mosque and follow that visit with a speech to the Indonesian people that would "talk about some of the themes of democracy and development and our outreach to Muslim communities around the world, while also speaking of Indonesia's pluralism and tolerance, as well."

Pluralism and tolerance, to put it mildly, were not the themes Ahmadinejad developed in Indonesia. What Ahmadinejad did say -- and the wildly enthusiastic reception he received from at least some Indonesians -- ought to give prudential pause to those who believe the ultimate answer to Islamist terrorism is the sort Wilsonian foreign policy vision that has been embraced by both Obama and George W. Bush.

Ahamdinejad spent three days in and around Jakarta in May 2006. He first met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and then went on what amounted to an Islamist publicity tour in the capital environs of a country that with 240 million people -- 86 percent of whom are Muslims -- is the world's largest Islamic nation.

Ahmadinejad spoke not only at the University of Indonesia, but also at the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, with a group of local editors and with some of the nation's leading Muslim clerics. On his third day in town, he attended Friday prayers at Indonesia's largest mosque.

At the University of Indonesia, according to The Associated Press, Ahmadinejad called Israel a "regime based on evil" and declared that it "cannot continue and one day will vanish."

An Australian newspaper, the Melbourne Age, noted that Ahmadinejad "predicted liberal democracies would crumble and be replaced by Islamic law."

"Some superpower countries think they are better than other countries, they try to eradicate other countries' culture, economies and opinions," Ahmadinejad told the "cheering" audience of Indonesian college students, according to the Age. "How can they protect human rights when they violate human rights? Therefore, liberalism and democracy will disappear and the justice of the prophet Mohammad will be revived."

In his speech at the University of Indonesia, Ahmadinejad also questioned the historical fact of the Holocaust. "The West claims that more than 6 million Jews were killed in World War II and to compensate for that they established and support Israel," he said, according to UPI. "If it is true that the Jews were killed in Europe, why should Israel be established in the East, in Palestine?"

As reported by The Associated Press, one of student told Ahmadinejad, "I think you are the man of the year." Another said, "We will always be with you."

Two days later, when Ahmadinejad met with Indonesian clerics, The Associated Press reported that one person in the audience urged the Iranian president to move forward with building nuclear weapons because the "enemies of Islam" already have them.

Ahmadinejad responded that "every young man in the Islamic world is an atomic bomb because they have faith, God and love the character of the Prophet Mohammad."

Ahamadinejad then proceeded to the Istaqlal Mosque, where, according to Agence France Presse, "he was mobbed by a crowd of thousands eager to catch a glimpse of him and shake his hand. The congregation chanted 'God is great!' when he was introduced by Indonesia's religious affairs minister."

"'Fight America, fight Israel!' a crowd shouted after the Iranian leader offered prayers Friday at the main mosque in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta," The Associated Press reported.

Good things have certainly happened in Indonesia in the past decade. It has held a series of successful elections and established a democratic government.

The Congressional Research Service sees signs for optimism in what it deemed a small turnout for the Islamic parties in last year's Indonesian elections. "The Islamic vote," CRS reported, "declined from 38.1 percent of the vote in the 2004 election to 27.8 percent of the vote in 2009."

But last year in Jakarta, Islamist terrorists simultaneously bombed the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Indonesians may now have the right to vote, but their country remains a place where an Ahmadinejad can be cheered and an Islamist terrorist can find sanctuary.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2010, 07:44:46 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2011, 03:43:13 AM »

Associated Press
JAKARTA—Indonesia's best-known radical cleric went on trial Monday on fresh terrorism charges as the predominantly Muslim nation grappled with a jump in religious tensions and violence.

Abu Bakar Bashir, a spiritual leader of the al-Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, faces a maximum penalty of death if found guilty of helping fund a new terror cell in Aceh province and mobilizing foot soldiers.

The 72-year-old has denied all links to extremist activity, saying as he arrived at the tightly guarded South Jakarta District Court that charges filed against him were "fabricated."

"All I ever wanted to do was defend Islam," he said, as more than 100 supporters shouted "Allah Akbar."

The trial is expected to last one month.

Jemaah Islamiyah was blamed for a string of suicide bombings, including the 2002 attacks on Bali island that killed 202 people, most of them Western tourists. Authorities discovered the new cell in Aceh province a year ago.

Mr. Bashir, who has been arrested twice before in the past decade and spent 26 months in prison on terrorism charges, is known for his fiery sermons.

He is seen by many experts as a driving force behind the country's small but increasingly vocal hardline fringe.

In the last week, Islamic militants have carried out bloody attacks on Christians and members of a minority Islamic sect, raising concerns about escalating religious intolerance.

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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2011, 09:24:08 AM »

How could it be possible that an imam could not know that islam is a religion of peace?
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 05:39:24 AM »

August 2, 2011


By George Friedman

I am writing this from Indonesia. Actually, that is not altogether a fair statement.
I am at the moment in Bali and just came from Jakarta. The two together do not come
close to being Indonesia. Jakarta, the capital, is a vast city that is striking to
me for its traffic. It takes an enormous amount of time to get anywhere in Jakarta.
Like most cities, it was not built to accommodate cars, and the mix of cars with
motor scooters results in perpetual gridlock. It is also a city of extraordinary
dynamism. There is something happening on almost every street. And in the traffic
jams, you have time to contemplate those streets in detail.

Bali is an island of great beauty, complete with mountains, white beaches, blue
waters and throngs of tourists. Since I am one of those tourists, I will not trouble
you with the usual tourist nonsense of wanting to be in a place where there are no
tourists. The hypocrisy of tourists decrying commercialization is tedious. I am here
for the beaches, and they are expensive. The locals with whom tourists claim to want
to mingle can't come into the resort, and tourists leaving the resort will have
trouble finding locals who are not making a living off the tourists. As always, the
chance of meeting "locals" as tourists usually define them -- people making little
money in picturesque ways -- is not easy.

What is clear in both Jakarta and Bali is that the locals are tired of picturesque
poverty, however much that disappoints the tourists. They want to live better and,
in particular, they want their children to live better. We were driven by a tour
guide to places where we bought what my wife assures me is art (my own taste in art
runs to things in museums and tigers made of velvet). We spent the requisite money
on art at places our guide delivered us to, I assume for suitable compensation.

The guide was interesting. His father was a rice farmer who owned some land, and now
he is a tour guide, which in Bali, I gather, is not a bad job by any means if you
have deals with the hotel (which he undoubtedly has). But it was his children who
fascinated me. He had three sons, two of whom were in universities. The movement
from rice farmer to university student in three generations is not trivial. That it
happened with the leaders Indonesia had during that time is particularly striking,
since by all reasonable measures these leaders have been, until recently, either
rigidly ideological (Sukarno) or breathtakingly self-serving (Sukarno's daughter,

When I looked at some of Indonesia's economic statistics, the underlying reason for
this emerged. Since 1998, when Indonesia had its meltdown, the country's gross
domestic product (GDP) has grown at roughly 5 percent per year, an amount
substantial, consistent and above all sustainable, unlike the 8 and 9 percent growth
rates before the collapse. Indonesia is now the 18th largest economy in the world,
ranking just behind Turkey.

All of that is nice, but for this: Indonesia ranks 109th in per capita GDP.
Indonesia's population is about 237 million. Its fertility rate is only 2.15 births
per woman, just above a stable population -- though being just above stable still
means substantial growth. Indonesia is a poor country, albeit not as poor as it was,
and its GDP continues to rise. Given its stable government and serious efforts to
control corruption, which systemically diverts wealth away from the general
population, this growth can continue. But whether the stability and anti-corruption
efforts of the past six years can continue is an open question, as is the prosperity
in Jakarta, the tourism in Bali (recall the jihadist attacks there in 2002 and 2005)
and whether our guide's third son will receive a college education.

I saw three Indonesias (and I can assure you there are hundreds more). One was the
Indonesia of Jakarta's elite, Westernized and part of the global elite found in most
capitals that is critical for managing any country's rise to some degree of
prosperity. Jakarta's elite will do well from that prosperity, make no mistake, but
they are also indispensable to it. Another Indonesia was the changing one that our
upwardly mobile tour guide saw through his children's eyes. The third was the one in
which a little girl, perhaps four, begged in traffic on the road from the airport in
Bali. I have seen these things in many countries and it is difficult to know what to
make of them yet. For me, going to Indonesia is not the same as going to Eastern
Europe. I know what is lurking under the current there. Indonesia is new for me, and
I will be back. For now, let me describe to you not so much the country of Indonesia
but how I try to learn about a place I know only from books (and even then
relatively little).

Strategic Positions

Nietzsche once said that modern man eats knowledge without hunger. What he meant by
that is that modern man learns without passion and without necessity. I didn't go to
Indonesia without either. What interests me most about Indonesia is not its economy
or its people -- although that might change as I learn more. What interests me now
is Indonesia's strategic position in the world at this point in time.

To determine that position, we must first look at China.  China is building an
aircraft carrier. Now, one aircraft carrier without cruisers, destroyers,
submarines, anti-missile systems, satellite-targeting capabilities, mid-ocean
refueling capabilities and a thousand other things is simply a ship waiting to be
sunk. Nevertheless, it could be the nucleus of something more substantial in the
coming decades (not years).

When I look at a map of China's coast I am constantly struck by how contained China
is. In the north, where the Yellow and East China seas provide access to Shanghai
and Qingdao (the home of China's northern naval fleet), access to the Pacific is
blocked by the line of Japan-Okinawa-Taiwan and the islands between Okinawa and
Japan. Bases there are not the important point. The important point is that the
Chinese naval -- or merchant -- fleet must pass through choke points that can be
controlled by the United States, hundreds of miles to the east. The situation is
even worse for China in the South China Sea, which is completely boxed in by the
line of Taiwan-Philippines-Indonesia-Singapore, and worse still when you consider
the emerging naval cooperation between the United States and Vietnam, which has no
love for the Chinese.

The Chinese are trying to solve this problem by building ports in Pakistan and
Myanmar. They say these are for commercial use, and I believe them. Isolated ports
at such a distance, with tenuous infrastructure connecting them to China and with
sea-lane control not assured, are not very useful. They work in peacetime but not
during war, and it is war, however far-fetched, that navies are built for.

 China's biggest problem is not that it lacks aircraft carriers; it is that it lacks
an amphibious capability. Even if it could, for example, fight its way across the
Formosa Strait to Taiwan (a dubious proposition), it is in no position to supply
the multi-divisional force needed to conquer Taiwan. The Chinese could break the
blockade by seizing Japan, Okinawa or Taiwan, but that isn't going to happen.

What could happen is China working to gain an economic toehold in the Philippines or
Indonesia, and using that economic leverage to support political change in those
countries. A change in the political atmosphere would not by itself permit the
Chinese navy to break into the Pacific or eliminate the American ability to blockade
Chinese merchant ships. The United States doesn't need land bases to control the
passages through either of these countries from a distance.

Rather, what would change the game is if China, having reached an economic entente
with either country, was granted basing privileges there. That would permit the
Chinese to put aircraft and missiles on the islands, engage the U.S. Navy outside
the barrier formed by the archipelagos and force the U.S. Navy back, allowing free

Now, this becomes much more complicated when we consider U.S. countermeasures. China
already has massive anti-ship missiles on its east coast. The weakness of these
missiles is intelligence and reconnaissance. In order to use those missiles the
Chinese have to have a general idea of where their targets are, and ships move
around a lot. That reconnaissance must come from survivable aircraft (planes that
won't be destroyed when they approach the U.S. fleet) and space-based assets --
along with the sophisticated information architecture needed to combine the sensor
with the shooter.

The United States tends to exaggerate the strength of its enemies. This can be a
positive trait because it means extra exertion. In the Cold War, U.S. estimates of
Soviet capabilities outstripped Soviet realities. There are many nightmare scenarios
about China's capabilities circulating, but we suspect that most are overstated.
China's ambitions outstrip its capabilities. Still, you prepare for the worst and
hope for the best.

In this case, the primary battlefield is not yet the passages through the
archipelago. It is the future of our Indonesian driver's third child. If he gets to
go to college, the likelihood of Indonesia succumbing to Chinese deals is limited.
The history of Chinese-Indonesian relations is not particularly good, and little
short of desperation would force an alliance. American Pacific strategy should be
based on making certain that neither Indonesia nor the Philippines is desperate.

A Focus of History

Indonesia has another dimension, of course. It is the largest Muslim country in the
world, and one that has harbored and defeated a significant jihadist terrorist
group. As al Qaeda crumbles, the jihadist movement may endure. The United States has
an ongoing interest in this war and therefore has an interest in Indonesian
stability and its ability to suppress radical Islam inside its borders and, above
all, prevent the emergence of an Indonesian-based al Qaeda with an intercontinental

Thus, Indonesia becomes a geopolitical focus of three forces -- China, Islamists and
the United States. This isn't the first time Indonesia has been a focus of history.
In 1941, Japan launched the attack on Pearl Harbor to paralyze the American fleet
there and facilitate seizing what was then called the Netherlands East Indies for
its supplies of oil and other raw materials. In the first real resource war -- World
War II -- Indonesia was a pivot. Similarly, during the Cold War, the possibility of
a Communist Indonesia was frightening enough to the United States that it ultimately
supported the removal of Sukarno as president. Indonesia has mattered in the past,
and it matters now.

The issue is how to assure a stable Indonesia. If the threat -- however small --
rests in China, so does the solution. Chinese wage rates are surging and Chinese
products are becoming less competitive in the global marketplace. The Chinese have
wanted to move up the economic scale from being an exporter of low-cost industrial
products to being a producer of advanced technologies. As the recent crash of
China's high-speed train shows, China is a long way from achieving that goal.

There is no question that China is losing its export edge in low-grade industrial
products. One of the reasons Western investors liked China was that a single country
and a single set of relationships allowed them to develop production facilities that
could supply them with products. All the other options aside from India, which has
its own problems, can handle only a small fraction of China's output. Indonesia,
with nearly a quarter-billion people still in a low-wage state, can handle more.

The political risk has substantially declined in the last few years. If it continues
to drop, Indonesia will become an attractive alternative to China at a time when
Western companies are looking for alternatives. That would energize Indonesia's
economy and further stabilize the regime. A more stable Indonesian regime would
remove any attraction for an alignment with China and any opportunities for Chinese
or Islamist subversion -- even if, in the latter case, prosperity is not enough to
eliminate it.

When we look at a map, we see the importance of Indonesia. When we look at basic
economic statistics, we see the strength and weakness of Indonesia. When we consider
the role of China in the world economy and its current problems, we see Indonesia's
opportunities. But it comes down to this: If my guide's third son can go to college,
and little girls no longer have to dart into traffic and beg, Indonesia has a strong
future, and that future depends on it becoming the low-cost factory to the world.

Life is more complex than that, of course, but it is the beginning of understanding
the possibilities. In the end, few rational people looking at China in 1975 would
have anticipated China in 2011. That unexpected leap is what Indonesia needs and
what will determine its geopolitical role. But these are my first thoughts on
Indonesia. I will need to come back here many times for any conclusions.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
Power User
Posts: 155

« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2011, 04:30:18 AM »

Just finished Monsoon by Robert Kaplan which focused on the Indian Ocean as the next theater of competition in geopolitics. He has a good chapter on Indonesia and China's two ocean strategy. Worth the trip to the library.
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Posts: 42483

« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2011, 07:45:17 AM »

Who is Robert Kaplan?  When was the book written?
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2011, 07:46:54 AM »

An inveterate traveler and author, Kaplan recently toured the rim of the Indian Ocean to inspect its geopolitics. Perspectives on the balance of power vary from country to country and speaker to speaker, but most agree that India and China are the ascending powers in the region. As Kaplan’s passages about Indian Ocean history reflect, the two countries can refer to tradition (to the fifteenth-century fleets of Zheng He, in China’s case) for their contemporary activities in the Indian Ocean, but the plain fact is they are busy for one reason: access to resources. As Kaplan journeys from Oman to Pakistan to Burma and Indonesia, the specific raw material comes into focus, as does the geopolitical angle of safely shipping it to the interested country. Touching on what could threaten maritime traffic, such as piracy, ethnic conflicts, or hostile control of choke points like the Strait of Malacca, Kaplan is guardedly optimistic that interested powers, including the U.S., can benignly manage their Indian Ocean affairs. A better-informed world-affairs reader will be the result of Kaplan’s latest title. --Gilbert Taylor
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Posts: 9471

« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2011, 09:43:28 AM »

Oct, 2010.  Here is a Nov.11, 2010 NYT op-ed by Kaplan from that time:
"Indonesia’s Muslim democracy, a dozen years after the fall of Suharto, boasts vigor and moderation. And combined with Indonesia’s immense population, it augurs the emergence of a sort of “second India” in the Eurasian rimland, strategically located on the Strait of Malacca, the shipping superhighway between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Since the art of preparing for a multipolar world in military as well as economic terms is to gain the support of like-minded others, the Obama administration needs to use the energy generated by the president’s visit in order to adopt Indonesia as its new favorite country, just as India was adopted by the George W. Bush administration to substantial effect. "
"THE 20th century saw great, land-centric Army deployments to Europe. George W. Bush unwittingly continued this tendency with great, land-centric deployments to the Middle East, where we became ensnared in intra-Islamic conflict. As President Obama develops his grand strategy for Eurasia, the great step forward would be creating a smaller footprint on land and a bigger one at sea. Navies are very conducive to projecting soft power: they make port visits and guard the global commons, whereas armies invade. "
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2011, 03:10:52 AM »

Nice to know the question has been mostly answered. Robert Kaplan has been a journalist/writer for the Atlantic monthly and his books usually combine history, travel, and poilcy analysis. He's an American and served in the Israeli military IIRC. Many of his books give food for thought, and I find he's great for in depth area studies. He has good books on pakistan, horn of africa, and the US military.
I read most of his books, I think people here may enjoy

Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military

and food for thought:

Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos

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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2012, 10:32:04 AM »

IT is fashionable these days for Western leaders to praise Indonesia as a model Muslim democracy. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has declared, “If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia.” And last month Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, lauded Indonesia for showing that “religion and democracy need not be in conflict.”

Tell that to Asia Lumbantoruan, a Christian elder whose congregation outside Jakarta has recently had two of its partially built churches burned down by Islamist militants. He was stabbed by these extremists while defending a third site from attack in September 2010.

This week in Geneva, the United Nations is reviewing Indonesia’s human rights record. It should call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to crack down on extremists and protect minorities. While Indonesia has made great strides in consolidating a stable, democratic government after five decades of authoritarian rule, the country is by no means a bastion of tolerance. The rights of religious and ethnic minorities are routinely trampled. While Indonesia’s Constitution protects freedom of religion, regulations against blasphemy and proselytizing are routinely used to prosecute atheists, Bahais, Christians, Shiites, Sufis and members of the Ahmadiyya faith — a Muslim sect declared to be deviant in many Islamic countries. By 2010, Indonesia had over 150 religiously motivated regulations restricting minorities’ rights.

In 2006, Mr. Yudhoyono, in a new decree on “religious harmony,” tightened criteria for building a house of worship. The decree is enforced only on religious minorities — often when Islamists pressure local officials not to authorize the construction of Christian churches or to harass and intimidate those worshiping in “illegal” churches, which lack official registration. More than 400 such churches have been closed since Mr. Yudhoyono took office in 2004.

Although the government has cracked down on Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda affiliate that has bombed hotels, bars and embassies, it has not intervened to stop other Islamist militants who regularly commit less publicized crimes against religious minorities. Mr. Yudhoyono’s government is reluctant to take them on because it rules Indonesia in a coalition with intolerant Islamist political parties.

Mr. Yudhoyono is not simply turning a blind eye; he has actively courted conservative Islamist elements and relies on them to maintain his majority in Parliament, even granting them key cabinet positions. These appointments send a message to Indonesia’s population and embolden Islamist extremists to use violence against minorities.

In August 2011, for example, Muslim militants burned down three Christian churches on Sumatra. No one was charged and officials have prevented the congregations from rebuilding their churches. And on the outskirts of Jakarta, two municipalities have refused to obey Supreme Court orders to reopen two sealed churches; Mr. Yudhoyono claimed he had no authority to intervene.

Christians are not the only targets. In June 2008, the Yudhoyono administration issued a decree requiring the Ahmadiyya sect to “stop spreading interpretations and activities that deviate from the principal teachings of Islam,” including its fundamental belief that there was a prophet after Muhammad. The government said the decree was necessary to prevent violence against the sect. But provincial and local governments used the decree to write even stricter regulations. Muslim militants, who consider the Ahmadiyya heretics, then forcibly shut down more than 30 Ahmadiyya mosques.

In the deadliest attack, in western Java in February 2011, three Ahmadiyya men were killed. A cameraman recorded the violence, and versions of it were posted on YouTube. An Indonesian court eventually prosecuted 12 militants for the crime, but handed down paltry sentences of only four to six months. Mr. Yudhoyono has also failed to protect ethnic minorities who have peacefully called for independence in the country’s eastern regions of Papua and the Molucca Islands. During demonstrations in Papua on May 1, one protester was killed and 13 were arrested. And last October, the government brutally suppressed the Papuan People’s Congress, beating dozens and killing three people. While protesters were jailed and charged with treason, the police chief in charge of security that day was promoted.

Almost 100 people remain in prison for peacefully protesting. Dozens are ill, but the government has denied them proper treatment, claiming it lacks the money. Even the Suharto dictatorship allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit political prisoners, yet the Yudhoyono government has banned the I.C.R.C. from working in Papua.

Instead of praising Indonesia, nations that support tolerance and free speech should publicly demand that Indonesia respect religious freedom, release political prisoners and lift restrictions on media and human rights groups in Papua.

Mr. Yudhoyono needs to take charge of this situation by revoking discriminatory regulations, demanding that his coalition partners respect the religious freedom of all minorities in word and in deed, and enforcing the constitutional protection of freedom of worship. He must also make it crystal clear that Islamist hard-liners who commit or incite violence and the police who fail to protect the victims will be punished. Only then will Indonesia be deserving of Mr. Cameron and Mrs. Clinton’s praise.

Andreas Harsono is a researcher for the Asia division at Human Rights Watch.

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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2012, 06:27:35 AM »

Indonesia Arrests 11 in Suspected Terror Plot .

JAKARTA—Indonesian police arrested 11 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks on targets across the country, including U.S. diplomatic missions, in the latest in a series of crackdowns on small suspected terrorist groups in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

Police spokesman Suhardi Alius said the country's special antiterror squad, Detachment 88, arrested the people Friday and Saturday in Jakarta and the cities of Bogor, Solo and Madiun, all on the main island of Java. He said the group was planning attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya, and a building near the Australian Embassy in Jakarta that is also an office of the Indonesian arm of U.S. mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. FCX -0.31%The terrorists were allegedly also targeting the Central Java headquarters of the police mobile brigade, police said.

"We discovered some explosive materials, a guidebook to assemble bombs, some ammunition and detonators" during the raids, Mr. Alius told reporters in a news conference Saturday.

Authorities also said they found a gas cylinder filled with explosive material and videos of attacks on Muslims in various parts of the world. The police didn't give details of how far the plans had advanced. The suspected terrorists were members of a new group called Haraqah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or Hasmi, Mr. Alius said.

The suspects and their lawyers couldn't be reached for comment.

The U.S. Embassy said it was talking with the police about the arrests.

"We have been in close touch with the police, and welcome their quick action to counter this threat," the embassy said Sunday in a statement on its website. "We recommend that American citizens in Indonesia maintain security situational awareness. As always, we advise American citizens to avoid large crowds and other gatherings that might turn violent. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and provide further updates, if needed."

More than 85% of Indonesia's population of close to 250 million is Muslim. While an overwhelming majority of the country's citizens are moderate and solidly support the country's secular government, some analysts warn the country is becoming increasingly intolerant of minority religious groups. Meanwhile, police say they are concerned about the proliferation of small terrorist groups that seem to keep popping up across the sprawling archipelago, though they haven't been able to mount major terror attacks.

While many of the groups that have been caught plotting recently have allegedly been targeting Christians and other religious minorities, Saturday's arrests show that at least one is reported to be thinking of returning to an earlier favorite target—the U.S. Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities themselves continue to be a target, said Al Chaidar, a terrorism researcher from Malikussaleh, a university in Banda Aceh.

"It seems that their leaders find it easier to [find support] if they target the U.S. and the police and government rather than other religions," Mr. Chaidar said.

Indonesian representatives for Freeport-McMoRan didn't respond to requests for comment over the weekend. The Australian Embassy declined to comment.

Indonesian authorities warned earlier this month that a group may have been planning an attack targeting dignitaries who were on the resort island of Bali on Oct. 12 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the deadly attacks there that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. The attack, which was carried out by the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, was the most deadly ever in the region.

At the time, Indonesian police raised the country's security alert to its highest level after they said they uncovered terrorist movements indicating someone might have been preparing to target visitors, such as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who visited Bali for a series of memorial events on the anniversary of the attack. There were no incidents during commemorations.

The Bali attack triggered a nationwide crackdown in Indonesia. Western countries helped it respond to the terrorist threat by putting in place the terrorist-investigation police squad known as Detachment 88 and modernizing its legal code to better target terrorist groups.

Since then, most of the people involved in the 2002 attack have been arrested or killed, and most large, organized terrorist groups—including Jemaah Islamiyah—are now considered neutralized in the country, analysts say.

While there have been no major attacks in Indonesia since 2009, there have been regular arrests of those accused to be members of smaller groups planning and carrying out smaller attacks. In March, members of Detachment 88 shot dead five men they said were planning to attack a bar in Bali frequented by foreigners as well as other targets.

The splinter groups have so far failed to pull off any major attacks. However, the fact that there seems to be a growing number of them in different spots is something authorities should be worried about, said Umar Juoro, senior economist at the Center for Information and Development Studies, a research center in Jakarta.

"These groups are not really as organized as before, but they are showing real determination to carry out terrorist acts," Mr. Juoro said. "So far, they have not been capable of carrying out attacks as big as before, but if they are not prevented, they could do significant damage."

The police's ability to catch many of the groups before they are even able to launch an attack suggests the would-be terrorists don't have the organization to do anything as large as the Bali attack, said Ken Conboy, a Jakarta-based security consultant for RMA Indonesia.

"All these other small, amateurish groups were able to spring up [using information off] the Internet, without going overseas for training," so they don't have the capabilities of the older established groups, Mr. Conboy said. "What the police found with Hasmi were small explosives; the things used in [Bali in] 2002 were works of art by comparison."
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2014, 08:27:46 AM »

Indonesia's Political Leap Forward
A peaceful transfer of power in the young Muslim-majority democracy.
Updated Aug. 22, 2014 6:45 p.m. ET

Indonesia's Constitutional Court confirmed Thursday that Joko Widodo won the July 9 presidential election. Although no concession seems forthcoming from losing candidate Prabowo Subianto, a Suharto -era general and critic of democracy, this summer's peaceful balloting and generally peaceful appeals process are good news for the world's most populous young democracy.

Nearly 75% of Indonesia's 190 million eligible voters turned out last month, with Mr. Widodo's humble background and clean-government message pitted against Mr. Subianto's strongman persona and promises of firm central leadership. Journalists and officials praised the vote as the most free, fair and transparent since the 1998 transition to democracy, and on July 22 officials announced that Mr. Widodo had won by a wide margin of 8.5 million votes. Mr. Subianto denounced the result, citing abnormalities at many polling places, but the Constitutional Court dismissed his objections.

The court decision will allow Mr. Widodo to resign as Jakarta Governor and expand cooperation with the outgoing administration in advance of his swearing-in on October 20. But Mr. Subianto and his supporters, including thuggish elements such as the Islamic Defenders Front, may yet cause trouble.

"If official institutions can't deliver justice," Mr. Subianto said Wednesday, "I know the people will seek their own justice." Some Subianto supporters have threatened violence against election officials and Widodo supporters, and top advisers to Mr. Subianto promise never to reconcile with the Widodo camp.

Fifty thousand security personnel deployed around Jakarta Thursday, some firing tear gas and water cannons at angry Subianto supporters who charged police lines as the court read its verdict. But the situation didn't escalate, and most Subianto backers have shown little appetite for continued protest, let alone violence. Large numbers of Mr. Subianto's voters have told pollsters they are satisfied with the conduct of the election.

So in October the world's most populous Muslim-majority country will for the first time see one elected president peacefully hand power to another. With much of the Muslim world under dictatorship or in turmoil—and with nearby Thailand rolling back democracy in favor of military rule—Indonesia's achievement is worth celebrating.
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2017, 12:27:02 AM »
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2018, 09:52:55 AM »

Indonesia: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is in Indonesia, where he will meet with high-ranking officials to discuss issues such as terrorism and the South China Sea. What’s the status of U.S.-Indonesian relations? Where do their interests align?

•   Finding: U.S.-Indonesian relations have been gradually warming due to a strategic convergence between the two countries, rooted in Indonesia’s strategically invaluable location astride critical sea lanes. The U.S. is keen to help Indonesia become the “maritime fulcrum” of the region and to secure its waters from Chinese assertiveness and terrorist threats. However, beyond arms sales, the two countries do not yet have deep military ties, owing primarily to a U.S. ban on some forms of military contact implemented in the 1990s over human rights abuses during East Timor’s independence push. Unlike other U.S. allies and partners in Southeast Asia, the generation of Indonesian military officers currently in charge did not receive regular training in the U.S. Other forms of cooperation such as joint exercises have also been limited. The biggest constraint on Indonesia becoming a major player in the South China Sea or Indian Ocean basin, though, remains its internal chaos and general reluctance to pressure China on behalf of other countries. Another problem is Indonesia’s deep and abiding suspicion of Australia’s strategic intentions and penchant for meddling in internal Indonesian affairs, limiting the U.S. ability to incorporate Indonesia into the regional security framework it is attempting to build.
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« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2018, 11:32:40 AM »

Good to see this sign of Rule of Law
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