The Wimp's Father
MEXICO D.F. - Is it true that Pres. George W. Bush called President Megawati of Indonesia a wimp? According to news reports, he made that rude comment to Pres. Gloria Arroyo after he received her unconditional support for his "war against terror." With a father like Sukarno, how could anyone be a wimp?
Perhaps, in the eyes of crafty American policymakers, Sukarno was a tad more defiant than Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. After all, Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 13,000 islands, scattered across the strategic sea lanes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Though it is the world's largest Muslim nation, that was neither an asset nor a liability way back in 1945 when Indonesia became independent. Or ten years later, when it was expected to support US intervention in Vietnam. The unconditional imperative of America then was to keep as many countries in the "free world," away from "communist terror" safely ensconced in the Western "sphere of influence." However, Sukarno had his peculiar vision of Asia and Indonesia's role in a bipolar world where "balance of power" seemed crucial. He was not eager to toe the American line even if the USA was supportive of Indonesia's anti-colonial struggle, specially when this issue was presented before the United Nations, Surprisingly enough, the USA said it was a nationalist, anti-colonial struggle and went as far as threatening to exclude the Netherlands from the Marshall Plan if it did not respect Indonesia's independence. No wonder erstwhile US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, considered the Indonesian leader such an ungrateful, pain in the neck.
Sukarno described Indonesia's foreign policy as "independent and active," a principle found in the preamble of the 1945 Constitution. Indonesia championed the abolition of colonialism in all its forms and the creation of a new, independent world order based on peace and social justice. Through the years, Sukarno used the "independent and active" foreign policy to shepherd his country through the political pitfalls of the Cold War, avoiding alliances that compromised Indonesia's sovereignty and rejecting economic bounties that obviated independent decisions. Sukarno emphasized that the "active" element of the policy consisted in Indonesia's vigorous support for national liberation and self-determination movements, for its continued struggle against colonialism and its attempts to forge strong and lasting ties with Asian and African countries. Furthermore, Indonesia was committed to regional and world peace and global "distention" as a member of the DjakartaPhnompenh-Hanoi-PekingPyongyang axis of the New Emerging Forces (NEFOS). So, notwithstanding the 1952 Mutual Security Act with the USA, Indonesia refused to get involved in the Korean War and did not support American intervention in Vietnam. When the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) was formed, in 1954, at the behest of the USA and to justify its involvement in Vietnam, Indonesia refused to became a member. Perhaps, Sukarno saw through America's plans because the original roster of SEATO members included four non-Asian countries- England, France, Australia, New Zealand - and only three Asian ones-the Philippines, Pakistan and Thailand. Instead, Indonesia signed trade agreements with People's China, established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist states, gave Chinese dual citizenship and reneged on the obligations imposed by the USA and Netherlands at the time of independence. …