A few days ago I was talking with a friend of mine who lives in Indonesia, and, as it turns out, in the capital of that nation, Jakarta. We occasionally talk about various matters of geopolitics and finance, that impact that region of the world. This time, however, as we were talking, the following event literally occurred:
There's a number of points one should note in this article, not the least of which is that the nation is (1) largely Suni, and (2) attempts to be a modern Islamic state. Or to put it country simple, Indonesia is not Saudi Arabia, it is not at the epicenter of the exportation of terrorism or terrorist proxy armies of fundamentalist jihadists. With that in mind, one reads this article with an uneasy feeling, for it contains certain statements that suggest that someone, somewhere, wants to expand this "war on terrorism" to encompass the entire Islamic world, whether or not any given component of that world is an epicenter for terrorism. Consider the following statements in this regard:
Indonesia was considered a central theater in the war on terrorism by many policymakers in the Bush administration. Since Indonesia has the largest Sunni Muslim population in the world, poverty and political instability, could fuel the growth of religious instability. The island of Bali was twice the scene of gruesome bombings targeting foreign nationals. The bombing in 2002 killed 202 people, while the October 2005 suicide attacks killed at least 20.
The US has been giving sufficient military support since the east Timor independence. The US has numerous military training programs with Indonesia. From 2002-04, Indonesia received $1.3 million from US-IMET (International Military Education and Training) program. The IMET program was suspended from 1999-2002 due to concerns about human rights abuses in East Timor by the Indonesian Military. Indonesia got 14.3 million dollar for the Bali Bomb attack in 2002 from US for Antiterrorism Assistance program.
In 2002-2004 The US Department of Defense funded 4.2 million dollars for the education in counterterrorism practices and strategies for Indonesian military and intelligence officials for Counterterrorism Fellowship Program. US also gave 6 million dollars in 2005 for the Indonesian navy for Maritime Security as foreign military financing.
One notes that Washington - as probably Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow and New Delhi, all view the nation as an important and "pivot" nation in the region. But in this respect, there appears to be some "balking" on Jakarta's part:
The US investment expects tougher stand from Indonesia for its role in the regional disputes with the neighboring countries like china. (sic) But Indonesia failed to meet such western expectation by considering that it could unleash a permanent domestic and regional instability. When a country has more than 6% annual growth rate, it will tend to avoid military engagements. But, as the largest country in Southeast Asia, and the largest Muslim-majority democracy in the world, Indonesia is of great strategic importance to the United States—particularly given the challenges posed by the rise of China in Asia. The US has paid special attention in the South East Asia to contain Chinese assertions. As a result it has also paid special attention to the Indonesia. Already Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Japan enrolled themselves in TPP. There is a clear western bloc visible in that region to contain China. But the US needs the full control over the water of the Malacca Strait to control the water navigation in and around South China Sea. It is clear that those TPP enlisted countries in that region will give full support to any western initiative of contain Chinese assertions. Since Indonesia wants to be in the western TPP club, it will also cooperate with the west depending on mutual benefits. (Emphases added)
What is being implied here is that the recent bombing in Indonesia may in fact be a "false flag", an event designed to pressure the nation into submission to western and American goals for the region, and to assume its Washington-projected role as the "pivot" able to interdict the Straits of Malacca, and this indeed appears to be the conclusion reached by Adhmed Rajeev, the author of the article:
From the above discussion we can summarize that the attack on Indonesia was just a beginning to open a new chapter of the wests(sic) war on terror in that region to exert western power influence in the South East Asia to halt Chinese activities in South China Sea when the west is retreating from the Middle east. The retreating West in the Middle East has updated a policy of Chaos and Rule which is being executed from a position behind the curtain. Since the world is more connected physically and through technological advancements, a power full(sic) economic system like the West can control and use regional and International clashes and disputes in favor of their interests. If West can create disruption, chaos and divisions into far away civilization or a society, the West will be the most beneficiary from every aspect for its long practice of imperialism. More divisions into a society will bring more chaos into the region. More regional chaos will lead the regional leaders towards the dependency on the West. More dependency on the West means more opportunity to exploit South East Asia from a position of behind the curtain. And very safely, an indirect but full control over South East Asia and its sea will not bring domestic rebellion into the Western world.
Whether or not this is true remains to be seen.
But one can concoct high octane speculations that would just as easily involve other actors "behind the curtain" than the West. As a "moderate" and "modernizing" Islamic state, one that moreover has been combatting its own form of extremism, one can just as easily envision that Indonesia, by its very existence, is a threat to the medievalism of Tehran or Riyadh, or the Ottomania of Ankara, and therefore, that other actors behind the curtain may be involved than just the West.
What is almost certain, however, is the conclusion one draws from all these presumptive "behind the curtain" actors, and that is that someone wants to expand the war on terror to Southeast Asia. One already knows of the struggle of the Philippine Republic with their own home-grown radical Islamicists, and as the history of Indonesia shows, it too has had to deal with extremists. I'm going to suggest, however, in my high octane speculation of the day, that it is precisely from countries like Indonesia, that a scholarly movement for the modernization of Islam, and the "reform" or - better - Enlightenment, might come. This will, of course, make it even more of a target over the short term for the irrationalism and barbarism one sees behind the fundamentalists. In this respect, Indonesia is almost perfectly positioned culturally, and historically, given its connection with the Dutch, for it was the Dutch, after all, who aided an abetted the early European Enlightenment by being tolerant enough to give a home to one Spinoza. TIme will tell, of course, if anything like that occurs, but ultimately I suspect something like it must occur, for it constitutes the best, and most formidible line of defense a nation like Indonesia has to articulate a cohesive culture vis a vis the extremities of Ankara or Riyadh, and to forms of fundamentalist practice of the religion and culture that will only guarantee it a place in the dustbin of history.
See you on the flip side....