February 18, 2009


Clinton Arrives in Indonesia (MARK LANDLER, 2/19/09, NY Times)

Mrs. Clinton was expected to announce that the United States will move toward signing a treaty with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, drawing it closer to the 10-member group, which includes Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines, among others.

She is also expected to thank the Indonesian government for its counterterrorism efforts, which have resulted in the arrests of radical Islamist terrorists who carried out the deadly bombing in Bali in 2002.

In his first annual threat assessment, submitted to the Senate last week, the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, praised Indonesia's counterterrorism efforts, which were aided by the United States, saying they had resulted in the arrests of hundreds of operatives of Jemaah Islamiya, the radical Islamist group responsible for the Bali attack.

While he said the group remained a threat, the Indonesian government's efforts had "degraded their attack capabilities."

Indonesia is, in many ways, a good-news story: an Islamic society that has made a transition to democracy and rebuilt its economy after a devastating collapse during the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s.

Bush seeks to heal long Indonesia rift: After 13 years, U.S. reaches out to army (Jane Perlez, FEBRUARY 8, 2005, NY Times)

After a 13-year break, the Bush administration is acting to mend relations with the Indonesian military, the largest in Southeast Asia and a potentially crucial player in the U.S. campaign against terror.

Washington is seizing on an opportunity that came with the tsunami, when Indonesia accepted the help of the U.S. military in distributing aid and had daily contacts with the Americans.

The U.S. Congress, concerned about Indonesia's human rights record, curbed military ties in 1992, and cut them back further five years ago after the Indonesian Army was involved in the killings of hundreds of civilians in East Timor, a province that has since gained independence.

Now, Bush administration officials said, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has moved to strengthen U.S. training of Indonesian officers considerably. Such training allows up-and-coming officers to learn modern warfare methods, the American system of civilian control over the military, accountability and rights issues. Armies in Asia that receive this international military education training program include those of Thailand, Malaysia, India and Pakistan.

In late January, Washington dispatched $1 million worth of spare parts for Indonesia's aged fleet of military transport planes. For the moment, the administration is not planning to push for the removal of the ban on the sale of weapons to Indonesia, although that might come later, a Pentagon official said.
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The Bush administration tried once before to draw closer to Indonesia's military, but the effort failed in 2002 after two American schoolteachers were killed in Papua Province because, U.S. officials say, the Indonesian Army blocked U.S. investigators.

Rice now plans to certify to Congress that Indonesia is cooperating sufficiently in investigating the Americans' deaths, a step that would remove a major stumbling block to ties, according to an aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

Leahy and others in Congress assert that the Indonesians first need to "fully cooperate" with an FBI investigation into the Americans' deaths and in other cases of rights abuse before full training of Indonesian soldiers in the United States can resume. Congressional approval is necessary for a resumption of the military training.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 18, 2009 7:30 AM
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