marxism-digest V1 #1312

R.J.G.Alves R.J.G.Alves at
Sat Sep 11 13:00:44 MDT 1999

> ------------------------------
> Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 01:56:01 +0100
> From: "João Paulo Monteiro" <jpmonteiro at>
> Subject: East Timor
> I don't mind that the contradictions of *humanitarian interventionism*
> be
> exposed. In fact, I'm delighted with it. But I still find intervention
> to
> be stupid. And that from a strictly human point of view. That is, from
> the point of view of the immediate result in human suffering of doing it
> or not. No politics. Politically, of course, I am against imperialist
> military interventions anywhere.

 Let me add that, in my view, the portuguese left has not been exploring
contradictions fully. It makes me wonder what is happening when I hear
nationalist right (Portas and his crew) suggesting that portuguese
troops should
withdrawn from Kosovo, and questioning the status of Portugal within
NATO (the
Lajes military base in the Azores has been important in the past for
many USA
interventions in the Middle East, including Iraq), while our supposedly
left maintains its anti-NATO stance very mild. I know both the PCP and
the BE are
in favour of our withdrawal from NATO, but they don't seem presently to
be droping
enough salt in the wound of the contradictions.

> As to the vote, you must be aware that the New York agreement recognizes
> Indonesia's sovereignty on the territory throughout this phase. At least
> until the results are homologated by the indonesian parliament. Anyway,
> these are all just legal niceties. There are 26.000 indonesian troops
> and
> police in East-Timor now. There may be different political currents
> among
> their commands, but they would surely react in a unified way to what
> they
> perceive as a foreign invasion. Do you share Guterres' and Freitas do
> Amaral's opinion that a mere 200-300 white soldiers would make them all
> run like rabbits?

 No, I don't. Perhaps something like 10.000 soldiers would be necessary.
 I don't see why Portugal should not send troops, as you seem to
It is not my understanding either that Indonesia's sovereignty over the
territory has been recognised. Indonesia has been charged with the
during the process (and that was predicted to be a mistake). Legally,
territory is probably still portuguese, even if that means next to
zero in practice.

> The "West" has supported genocidal regimes before, still does and will
> do
> so again and again, whenever it suits its interests. Take Rwanda,
> Turkey,
> Colombia or Guatemala. The *West* as a whole is in fact conducting
> genocide in Iraq right now.

 I believe that the "west" has had enough of the military clique in
Jakarta. They were helpful as a south-east Asian buffer against
communism, but now they look far too brutal and far too corrupt.
They are trying to find a more palatable puppet, and Megawati can still
be the obvious choice. The brutality of the regime has become an
embarassment, not because of the brutality itself but because it has
been exposed.
 My position is that the embargo on arms sales is more important as a
form of diplomatic pressure than any economical sanctions, which would
hurt the ordinary indonesian. I also think that intervention does not
have to depend in Jakarta's agreement, because there is no base for any
indonesian claim of sovereignty over the territory. I don't believe that
would necessarily be taken as a declaration of war. Timor is more of a
nuisance than anything else for the indonesian army right now. By
and looting the towns of Timor Loro Sae and by killing pro-independence
militants, the army is probably trying to give some sort of warning to
the other independentist movements elsewhere in the indonesian
(West Papua, Aceh).
 I agree with you that the indonesian army will eventually leave Timor
Loro Sae. My fear is that they will leave nothing but ruins behind them.

 Ricardo Alves

P.S. The situation has been changing at every hour. Wiranto himself is
coming close to demand a foreign intervention. Whatever happened to

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