A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s

A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s

A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s

A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s


"Spanning a wide variety of contemporary issues, this unique volume offers a detailed and thought-provoking view of one of the world's most populous yet least-understood nations. Chronicling the impressive economic development Indonesia has enjoyed under the 27-year leadership of President Soeharto, Adam Schwarz explores the difficult challenges that lie ahead. Using a wealth of first-hand information, he brings to life the heated debates over economic policy and corruption, as well as considering the controversial role of ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs. He analyzes the political demands of Indonesia's Muslim community, the mishandled incorporation of East Timor, the emerging debate on human rights, and the thorny problem of arranging a smooth transition of power while addressing the growing disparity between the nation's increasingly modernized economy and its rigid political system." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


One of the things that everyone knows but no one can quite think how to demonstrate is that a country's politics reflect the design of its culture. At one level, the proposition is indubitable—where else could French politics exist but France? Yet, merely to state it is to raise doubts. Since 1945, Indonesia has seen revolution, parliamentary democracy, civil war, presidential autocracy, mass murder, and military rule. Where is the design on that?

Clifford Geertz

Among the nations at the top of the world's population tables, few can rival Indonesia in its unfamiliarity to the international community. With over 180 million inhabitants, Indonesia's population trails only China, India and the United States. And yet, relative to this select group, Indonesia is all but invisible to most of the West and only scarcely better understood in Asia.

There are several reasons why this is so. Indonesia is a young country, having achieved independence after centuries of colonial rule only in the wake of World War II; unlike colonised India, however, it did not spawn a canon of romantic literature by its subjugators. Perhaps more importantly, for most of its national life Indonesia has managed to sidestep the great conflicts of the industrialised world.

The staunchly anti-communist General (ret.) Soeharto, Indonesia's ruler since 1966, has kept his gaze inward-directed, his government focused on developing a new Indonesian order, not a new world order. Cautious, deliberate, and publicity-shy, Soeharto has carved out a very different profile from his flamboyant predecessor Sukarno, Indonesia's founding father and only other post-independence leader. He is a conservative, not a revolutionary, and conservatives don't get headlines.

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