Maybe “bombshell revelations” isn’t the best choice of journalistic cliché to describe the Wikileaks files about the war in Afghanistan.
Be that as it may, the leaks will have done a great service if they focus US minds on America’s so-called ally Pakistan. It has been clear for years that the Pakistanis are supporting the Taliban, and these documents make it even harder for Islamabad to deny and Washington to downplay.
Closer to home, some other recent links worth noting include this one from a rather unimpressed Australian correspondent in Medan, and another by previously mentioned Tom Allard of the Sydney Morning Herald about the chilling official ambivalence toward Islamist extremists in Indonesia.
It’s the sort of “critical” coverage that some people would prefer not to read, but which others see as a valuable foil to the market-driven analysis of Indonesia as an “investment Shangri-La”. The fact is that attacks by Islamic radicals on minority groups are rising – and some observers are beginning to question whether Indonesia’s famous tolerance extends a little too far in favour of Muslim fanatics at the expense of civil society.
There’s also this good comparison of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the Lusi mudflow on Java. Fairfax reporter Eric Ellis looks at 2014 presidential contender Aburizal Bakrie’s record on this and many other issues and concludes: “For supporters of continued Indonesian reform and accountability, the current popular president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, could be as good as it gets.” Not a very upbeat thought for the day.
Meanwhile the Indonesian government – having done virtually nothing about the mud disaster allegedly triggered by a Bakrie-affiliated company – is threatening to sue a Thai company over environmental damage supposedly inflicted on its coastline by an oil leak off northwestern Australia earlier this year. As usual, the hypocrisy meter is off the scale.
Catching up on some other news I’ve missed lately, rights groups and victims are condemning the Obama administration’s decision to resume aid to the Indonesian special forces. These are the same “elite” troops accused of gross and ongoing human rights abuses in places like Papua. Nice one Obama. That’s called re-engagement with the Muslim world.
Contrast the US attitude with Vanuatu’s. The Pacific island state is pushing its neighbours to challenge Indonesia’s disputed sovereignty over West Papua. Vanuatu’s parliament has expressed solidarity with their ethnic Melanesian “brothers” who form the majority in the Indonesian-ruled western half of New Guinea island. They have sought a UN ruling on the process by which the vast, resource-rich territory was ceded to Indonesia by the Netherlands through a vote seen by many as a sham. Indonesia’s claims to sovereignty could end up before the International Court of Justice, a prospect that is making some people very nervous.