Friday, February 13, 2009

Hillary to Indonesia, Decoded

In the old Cold War days, so-called Kremlinologists used to decipher the smallest signs from the Soviet Union's rulers, trying to gain a peek into constantly shifting allegiances and power centers.

In that spirit, let's decode what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's upcoming visit means for Indonesia. It's no small event: Rather than paying homage to the usual Asian destinations of China, Japan and Korea, the U.S. is making a point of adding an important new ingredient. The world's most populous Muslim country, and an inherently complicated one, full of political cross-currents and sticky religious issues.

I see a few fingerprints on this momentous addition, first of whose are Barack Obama's, who has a moving personal history in Indonesia. But the repowered State Department - whose staffers greeted Hillary with wild applause, almost as a liberator - is certainly behind this shift as well. It signals not only a new engagement and respect for the moderate Muslim world, but a willingness to wade into interesting geopolitical thickets.

Of course, Indonesia and its tricky issues (like its vocal cadres of Islamic militants) might demonstrate to American officials that lasting resolutions aren't so easy. But more power to them and to Hillary's imminent visit, for at least trying to change the game.

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Rob Baiton said...

Hey Chris...

I think, and I am no expert, it is a visit that reflects a desire to re-engage the Muslim world and to safeguard US interests by creating a moderate Muslim buffer.

Too cynical, perhaps.

On the Obama front. I do not necessarily see his fingerprints on this, and this is in spite of his personal history. If we are talking personal history then why not send Hillary off to Kenya?

More to the point, why not come yourself to this fine land if it was about personal history (although I guess Indonesia remains a possibility for an early Presidential visit.

My comments should not be misconstrued. I only think that the Obama angle is being beat up and over-played. That's just me.

I have linked you in my blog roll and have become a follower. No need to return the favour (unless you want to)...I will be back because I quite enjoy reading your entries :D

Rob Baiton said...

I should have looked first...I am already linked in your blog roll...I must be getting old ;)

Thanks a bunch!

Christopher Taylor said...

Yes indeed, I linked you long ago ...! :)

As for Obama, you may be right, but I'd bet on a visit from him fairly soon ... one's childhood exerts a very powerful influence ... and it's a key plank in his world view, to bring the Muslim world into a conversation. So, we'll see.

I like your site, keep in touch! :)

Akhyari said...

I am not too sure about the result of this visit, either for US or Indonesia. Indonesia, at this stage is no important player in the world, not even in muslim world. Even Malaysia plays bigger role in muslim world. Visiting Indonesia will not raise muslim nations'confidence in america's new foreign policy. As for Indonesia, this will not increase its image long as our local medias are always cynical almost about any issue. Not even a good credit for SBY's presidential bid!

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