Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Of U.S.-Indonesia military ties

The military relationship between the U.S. and Indonesia has always been a bit of a head-scratcher. Under strongman Suharto, it was pretty tight, with joint exercises and copious supplies of military hardware. In recent years it's cooled off, just as a democratic government has taken hold.

Ironic, for a U.S. administration that famously wanted to spread democracy around the world ... especially in Muslim countries. It's as if they were taking revenge for human-rights slights like the East Timor debacle, but long after the fact. Go figure.

At any rate, the Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on U.S.-Indonesia relations as a crucial test of Barack Obama's leadership. Will he restore joint training between the Pentagon and the Indonesian military, and risk angering some in his own party (like Senators Pat Leahy and Russ Feingold)? Or will he hold off and risk angering Defense Secretary Bob Gates, said to be a fan of restoring ties, and who is being wooed to stay on in the new administration?

Between a rock and a hard place, as they say. Welcome to the presidency.

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1 comment:

John said...

Those interested in a different take on the U.S. Indonesia military ties and the Wall Street Journal editorial should see this link from the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN).