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Wow, I didn't realize that Australia was in so deep.

 
 
JTT
 
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2012 07:48 pm
East Timor: A Lesson in Why the Poorest Threaten the Powerful

by John Pilger

Global Research, April 5, 2012


Milan Kundera’s truism, "the struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting", described East Timor. The day before I set out to film clandestinely there in 1993, I went to Stanfords map shop in London’s Covent Garden. "Timor?" said a hesitant sales assistant. We stood staring at shelves marked South East Asia. "Forgive me, where exactly is it?"

After a search he came up with an old aeronautical map with blank areas stamped, "Relief Data Incomplete." He had never been asked for East Timor, which is just north of Australia. Such was the silence that enveloped the Portuguese colony following its invasion and occupation by Indonesia in 1975. Yet, not even Pol Pot succeeded in killing, proportionally, as many Cambodians as the Indonesian dictator Suharto killed or starved in East Timor.

In my film, Death of a Nation, there is a sequence shot on board an Australian aircraft flying over the island of Timor. A party is in progress, and two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. "This is an historically unique moment," babbles one of them, "that is truly uniquely historical." This is Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister. The other man is Ali Alatas, the principal mouthpiece of Suharto. It is 1989 and they are making a symbolic flight to celebrate the signing of a piratical treaty that allowed Australia and the international oil and gas companies to exploit the seabed off East Timor. Beneath them are valleys etched with black crosses where British and American-supplied fighter aircraft have blown people to bits. In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament reported that "at least 200,000", a third of the population, had perished under Suharto. Thanks largely to Evans, Australia was the only western country formally to recognise Suharto’s genocidal conquest. The murderous Indonesian special forces known as Kopassus were trained in Australia. The prize, said Evans, was "zillions" of dollars.

Unlike Muammar al-Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, Suharto died peacefully in 2008 surrounded by the best medical help his billions could buy. He was never at risk of prosecution by the "international community". Margaret Thatcher told him, "You are one of our very best and most valuable friends." The Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating regarded him as a father figure. A group of Australian newspaper editors, led by Rupert Murdoch’s veteran retainer, Paul Kelly, flew to Jakarta to pay their tribute to the dictator; there is a picture of one of them bowing.

In 1991, Evans described the massacre of more than 200 people by Indonesian troops in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor’s capital, as an "aberration". When protesters planted crosses outside the Indonesian embassy in Canberra, Evans ordered them torn up.

On 17 March, Evans was in Melbourne to address a seminar on the Middle East and the Arab Spring. Now immersed in the busy world of "think tanks", he expounds on great power strategies, notably the fashionable "Responsibility to Protect", which NATO uses to attack or threaten uppity or out-of-favour dictators on the false pretext of liberating their people. Libya is a recent example. Also attending the seminar was Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics at San Francisco University, who reminded the audience of Evans’s long and critical support for Suharto.

As the session ended, Evans, a man of limited fuse, stormed over to Zumes and yelled, "Who the **** are you? Where the **** are you from?" Zumes was told, Evans later confirmed, that such critical remarks deserved "a smack on the nose". The episode was timely. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of an independence Evans once denied, East Timor is in the throes of electing a new president; the second round of voting is on 21 April, followed by parliamentary elections.

For many Timorese, their children malnourished and stunted, the democracy is notional. Years of bloody occupation, backed by Australia, Britain and the US, were followed by a relentless campaign of bullying by the Australian government to manoeuvre the tiny new nation out of its proper share of the seabed’s oil and gas revenue. Having refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the Law of the Sea, Australia unilaterally changed the maritime boundary.

In 2006, a deal was finally signed, largely on Australia’s terms. Soon afterwards, Prime Minister Mari Alkitiri, a nationalist who had stood up to Canberra and opposed foreign interference and indebtedness to the World Bank, was effectively deposed in what he called an "attempted coup" by "outsiders". Australia has "peace-keeping" troops based in East Timor and had trained his opponents. According to a leaked Australian Defence Department document, Australia’s "first objective" in East Timor is for its military to "seek access" so that it can exercise "influence over East Timor’s decision-making". Of the two current presidential candidates is Taur Matan Rauk, a general and Canberra’s man who helped see off the troublesome Alkitiri.

One independent little country astride lucrative natural resources and strategic sea lanes is of serious concern to the United States and its "deputy sheriff" in Canberra. (President George W. Bush actually promoted Australia to full sheriff). That largely explains why the Suharto regime required such devotion from its western sponsors. Washington’s enduring obsession in Asia is China, which today offers developing countries investment, skills and infrastructure in return for resources.

Visiting Australia last November, President Barack Obama issued another of his veiled threats to China and announced the establishment of a US Marines’ base in Darwin, just across the water from East Timor. He understands that small, impoverished countries can often present the greatest threat to predatory power, because if they cannot be intimidated and controlled, who can?


http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=30154
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2012 07:58 pm
@JTT,
It's true.
I've railed against the Australian government's exploitation of East Timor (now The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) on other threads here in the past.
Truly shameful.



0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2012 08:22 pm
@JTT,
By "truly shameful", I mean this:

Quote:
...For many Timorese, their children malnourished and stunted, the democracy is notional. Years of bloody occupation, backed by Australia, Britain and the US, were followed by a relentless campaign of bullying by the Australian government to manoeuvre the tiny new nation out of its proper share of the seabed’s oil and gas revenue. Having refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the Law of the Sea, Australia unilaterally changed the maritime boundary.

In 2006, a deal was finally signed, largely on Australia’s terms. ....


There has been speculation here (in Oz) that Timor Leste's vast oil reserves is one of the reasons for the US's recent shift of focus to the SE Asian region.
I guess we'll see if there's any basis to that speculation, down the track.

JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2012 08:34 pm
@msolga,
Quote:
There has been speculation here (in Oz) that Timor Leste's vast oil reserves is one of the reasons for the US's recent shift of focus to the SE Asian region.


Surely you're not suggesting that the US, the white hat guys, are involved in something nefarious, Ms O.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2012 08:45 pm
@JTT,
I am merely repeating some theories I've heard on radio & read online, JTT.

But I'm hoping, so hoping that they are wrong.
Poor little embattled, impoverished Timore Leste!
Enough pain & misery & suffering already. More than enough.
The East Timorese need assistance from the international community to recover from the horrors of their recent history & to establish themselves as a viable new democracy ... not not yet more exploitation.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2012 09:17 pm
@msolga,
I was, of course, merely being facetitous, Ms O. And you are not wrong. The US has been exploiting and murdering the people of SE Asia for over a century.

Don't look for them to stop anytime soon.

Quote:

US Must Atone for Aiding Suharto
by Joseph Nevins

The death of Suharto, the strongman who ruled Indonesia for more than three decades, is cause for reflection in the United States, particularly as Americans choose our next president and wrestle with the question of our nation's proper role in the world.

Countless atrocities marked Suharto's rule, and his legacy scars Indonesia's politics as well as the social fabric of neighboring East Timor, which his regime violently annexed. But the United States backed those crimes and, like Indonesia, has never taken responsibility - which has made it that much easier for the Bush administration to strengthen ties with the country's brutal military under the guise of fighting terrorism.

In late 1965, as part of a power grab from his predecessor, Sukarno, Gen. Suharto and his army organized and carried out what the CIA described as "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century." Over several months, they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of members of the Indonesian Communist Party, a legal entity, and of loosely affiliated organizations such as women's groups and labor unions. A decade later, Suharto's military invaded neighboring East Timor. The ensuing war and almost 24-year occupation cost many tens of thousands East Timorese lives.

The U.S. embassy in Indonesia encouraged and lauded the military's actions in the 1965-66 killings' early stages. It supplied radio equipment and small arms, and gave the army thousands of names of Communist Party members. In the case of the Dec. 7, 1975, East Timor invasion, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger approved the aggression and the use of American weaponry while meeting with Suharto the previous day in Jakarta. About 14 hours after they left, Indonesian forces attacked.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/02/03/6814


Not only did they "encourage[d] and laud[ed] the military's actions in the 1965-66 killings' early stages", they kept a scorecard, ticking off the names as they were killed.

One of the most common defenses one hears from defenders of the US is the preemptive strike - "Oh sure, the US is the great evil".

It's beginning to sound awfully hollow.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Apr, 2012 09:32 pm


Quote:
A Quarter Century of U.S. Support for Occupation

East Timor Truth Commission report uses declassified U.S. documents to call for reparations from U.S. for its support of Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor from 1975 until U.N. sponsored vote in 1999

National Security Archive provides more than 1,000 documents to East Timor Truth Commission after Bush Administration refuses cooperation

Recently Declassified British Documents Reveal U.K. Support for Indonesian Invasion and Occupation of East Timor. 1975-1976

...

What the Documents Show

The Archive's postings reveal a consistent pattern by successive U.S. administrations - stretching over twenty-five years - of subordinating East Timor's right to self-determination to its relations with Indonesia. They also demonstrate that Washington realized Indonesia's intention of taking East Timor by force far earlier than previously recognized, was aware of - and discounted or suppressed - credible reports of ongoing Indonesian atrocities from 1975 to 1983, turned a blind eye to the extensive use of U.S. weapons in East Timor, and through 1999 viewed the crisis in East Timor primarily as a distraction from its priority of maintaining close relations with the Indonesian government and armed forces. (Since this briefing book overlaps with the Archive's previous document release on East Timor, readers are encouraged to consult that briefing book for more background on the Portuguese revolution, the decolonization of East Timor, the period immediately surrounding the invasion of East Timor and other essential material) Among the revelations in these documents:

Almost immediately after Portugal's so-called "Carnation Revolution" in 1974 U.S. officials, along with their British and Australian counterparts, became aware of Indonesia's intentions of incorporating the territory of Portuguese Timor, by force if necessary. As early as December, 1974, Document 2 demonstrates, Indonesian officials were sounding out the views of U.S. officials regarding a military takeover of Timor.

Nearly ten months prior to Indonesia's invasion of East Timor, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the State Department were paying close attention to the Indonesian military buildup and propaganda campaign. By March, 1975, Document 4 shows, the National Security Council was recommending "a policy of silence" regarding Indonesia's intention to "incorporate Portuguese Timor by force."

As previously leaked CIA intelligence analyses show, the Ford Administration followed Indonesia's mounting invasion of East Timor on a nearly daily basis and at the highest levels. In Document 9, a transcript of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's October 8, 1975 staff meeting, the Secretary was told "It looks like the Indonesians have begun the attack on Timor." Kissinger's only response was to ask his staff "I'm assuming you're really going to keep your mouth shut on this subject?"
As Document 11 reveals, on the eve of President Ford and Secretary Kissinger's December 5, 1975 arrival in Jakarta, upon hearing that an Indonesian invasion of East Timor was imminent, the U.S. State Department explicitly suggested that U.S. Ambassador David Newsom request that Indonesia "take no military action until well after the President's departure from Jakarta."

Ford Administration officials knew from the start that Indonesia launched its invasion of East Timor almost entirely with U.S. equipment, and that the use of this equipment was illegal. A National Security Council report compiled less than a week after the invasion, Document 15 offers a weapon-by-weapon description of the U.S. arms used by invading Indonesian troops.
Anxious about a possible cutoff of U.S. military assistance to Indonesia in the wake of its invasion of East Timor, Document 16 records U.S. Ambassador Newsom recommending contingency plans for covertly circumventing any possible Congressional ban.

In mid-1977, Carter Administration officials, led by then National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, blocked attempts (Document 23) by a U.S. Congressman, Donald Fraser (MN) to obtain a copy of the explosive cable transcribing President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger's December 6, 1975 meeting with Indonesian President Suharto in which Ford and Kissinger "went out of their way on the eve of the GOI move on Timor to assure Suharto of an understanding attitude by the U.S." Twenty four years later, in December 2001, the National Security Archive published the full text of this cable.

In a May 10, 1978 meeting with President Suharto in Jakarta (Document 29), then Vice-President Walter Mondale discussed with the Indonesian President the Administration's desire for expanded arms sales to Jakarta and recommended "how to handle public relations aspects of the [Timor] problem" in ways that would "have a beneficial impact on U.S. public opinion."

Through the 1980s, U.S. officials continued to receive credible reports of Indonesian massacres of Timorese civilians. As these cables (Document 33 and Document 34) concerning Indonesian military massacres of hundreds of civilians in September 1983 demonstrate, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta generally dismissed such reports, even when they came from Indonesian sources.

By 1993, the U.S. Ambassador in Jakarta was suggesting (Document 36) that the Suharto regime's effort to integrate East Timor into Indonesia had failed, observing that "the repressive and pervasive Indonesian military presence is the main obstacle to the government's goal of integration," a goal which would "never be palatable as long as it is demanded at gunpoint."

In September 1999 the CIA reported (Document 38) on Indonesian military and militia violence following East Timor's vote for independence as a form of terrorism, reporting that "the military has supported or worked alongside the militias."

Even after Indonesia's wanton destruction of East Timor in September 1999, the murder of an estimated 1500 Timorese and the reluctant severing of U.S. military ties with Indonesia, U.S. Ambassador Jean Stapleton Roy told Indonesian military officials (Document 39) of the Clinton Administration's desire to not let East Timor "further damage ties between the two nations" and emphasized the need to "pay attention to Indonesian sensitivities" regarding the deaths of Indonesians in East Timor during the 24 year Indonesian occupation.


http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB174/index.htm
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Apr, 2012 07:51 am
@JTT,
Quote:
In late 1965, as part of a power grab from his predecessor, Sukarno, Gen. Suharto and his army organized and carried out what the CIA described as "one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century." Over several months, they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of members of the Indonesian Communist Party, a legal entity, and of loosely affiliated organizations such as women's groups and labor unions. ....

That period in Indonesia's history was called "the year of living dangerously".
You may know of Peter Weir's film of the same name, set in Jakarta, which covers events leading up to the massacres.
(Admittedly starring Mel Gibson .. rather a drawback, I guess, but before he became thoroughly awful Wink )
... The Year of Living Dangerously captures the climate of the time pretty well, I think. Christopher Koch's novel of the same name, on which the film is based, is an excellent read.



A bit more reading:

Quote:
The mass killings of 1965-66 in Indonesia were international, not just local, events - and the US played an important role

Accomplices in atrocity:
http://www.insideindonesia.org/edition-99-jan-mar-2010/accomplices-in-atrocity-24011274
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