While visiting his former hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia,
President Obama focused his speech Wednesday on development,
democracy, and religious tolerance while sprinkling his delivery
with cultural references.
President Obama woke early on Wednesday to a clear Jakarta sky
and hundreds of onlookers straining to get a glimpse or a photo of
the man some consider an adopted son. Traffic backed up for miles
around him, as commuters waited for Mr. Obama to make his first stop
of the day at the expansive, white-domed Istiqlal Mosque, one of
Southeast Asia's largest.
The mosque, whose name means independence, sits next to a
Catholic church, a symbol of the diversity and religious pluralism
Muslim-majority Indonesia seeks to promote. The country's national
motto, "unity in diversity," is the foundation of its example to the
world, said Obama, speaking before a crowd of nearly 6,500 at
Jakarta's University of Indonesia.
Rather than label Indonesia a Muslim-majority democracy, as some
analysts feared, Obama focused his speech on development, democracy,
and religious tolerance. And to show his connection with his former
hometown, he sprinkled his delivery with cultural references.
IN PICTURES: Obama's Asia trip
He also used the speech as another opportunity build bridges with
the Muslim world.
"He reminded his audience of the importance of the cultural
approach in strengthening the relationship between the US and Muslim
world," says Aleksius Jemadu, a professor of international politics
at Universitas Pelita Harapan. "So it's clear there is a shift in
the foreign policy of the US from security to a more personal
Only briefly did Obama draw a connection between US involvement
abroad and his administration's efforts to improve the economy at
"America has a stake in an Indonesia that is growing," he said,
one that is "shaping the global economy." But more importantly,
"America has a stake in the success of the Indonesian people."
Those stakes will play out in a newly signed comprehensive
partnership that focuses on three key themes: security; economic
development; and sociocultural cooperation, such as support for
Obama said a US-Indonesia partnership was founded on shared
values, such as freedom, tolerance, and respect for human rights,
and would also include issues ranging from entrepreneurship to clean
energy to science and technology.
Some of those initiatives have already gone into action. In July,
visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the lifting of
a 12-year ban on funding for the Kopassus special forces, who were
accused of gross human rights abuses in the 1990s. …