September 12, 2004


Indonesia and Australia draw closer in terror fight: A string of bombings has led to greater police and military cooperation between the two neighbors. (Janaki Kremmer, 9/13/04, CS Monitor)

"There's been extraordinary cooperation between the Australian Federal Police and Indonesian police and wide-ranging cooperation on terrorism," Phillip Flood, a former ambassador to Indonesia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "But clearly there has to be much, much more and a more accelerated effort by Indonesia to tackle this [terror] problem at its source."

Prior to the 2002 Bali bombing, the two countries maintained a cool relationship. Australia led a UN peacekeeping force in East Timor during its quest for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

"There has been a long-simmering suspicion of Australia's motivations in getting involved in Indonesia, stemming from the fight for freedom in East Timor," says Aldo Borgu, program director of operations and capabilities at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank here. He says that there is a belief among Indonesian elites that Australia wants to keep Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, from becoming a strong force to Australia's north. Australia says its goal is simply to fight terror and help Indonesia in its transition to democracy.

Let us suppose for a moment that the goals of the jihadis who perpetrated 9-11 and other such acts are somewhat coherent and that in their broadest sense they aim for a clash of civilizations between a unified Islam and the rest of the world, but especially the Judeo-Christian West. Given the disunity within Islam, the imbalance of the military, economic and geo-political power between the Islamic world and the West, and the geographical positioning of the two sides, whereby Western or pro-Western states have Islam surrounded such a conflict was never winnable for the Islamicists. But things have only gotten worse for them in the years since, with the Axis of Good widening, becoming more unified and focussed, and its grip tightening. In particular, states like the Philippines, India, and Russia, with whom the United States has historically had uneven relationships, have become ever faster friends. Meanwhile, more moderate Islamic states--like Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, the Gulf States, Kurdistan, Yemen, Eritrea, Indonesia, the Saudis, etc.--have found common cause not with the radical Islamic cause but with the West. It's popular on the Left to claim that we're losing the war on terror because we haven't dug Osama's corpse out of Tora Bora yet, because Iraq's Ba'athist remnants are still fighting to maintain Sunni power, and because the Europeans generally don't want to help fight it, but if you look at the overall picture it's hard to see how the war could have gone any worse than it has so far for our enemies and it's impossible to see how they could ever hope to win it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 12, 2004 10:25 PM
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