Timor chickens home to roost

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Thu Feb 27 03:12:50 MST 2003

José Ramos Horta writes:

There is hardly a family in my country that has not lost a loved one. Many
families were wiped out during the decades of occupation by Indonesia and
the war of resistance against it. Western nations contributed to this
tragedy. Some bear a direct responsibility because they helped Indonesia by
providing military aid. Others were accomplices through indifference and
silence. But all redeemed themselves. In 1999, a global peacekeeping force
led by Australia helped East Timor secure its independence and protect its
people. It is now a free nation.


It's worth remembering the manner in which this "global" peacekeeping force
was assembled. It was only with the greatest reluctance that it was put
together at all, in stark contrast to the manic enthusiasm with which Blair
was advocating the NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo. Howard had to be dragged
kicking and screaming into agreeing the intervention, which threatened the
precious Timor Gap Treaty agreed by the Suharto regime and then-foreign
minister Gareth Evans in 1994, promising Australia a 50% share of the rights
to any oil found in Timorese waters. It was only when the IMF-induced
disintegration of order in Indonesia reached such a stage that the Timor
bloodbath reached an unprecedented crescendo, that the years of relentless
campaigning by people like John Pilger and Noam Chomsky finally paid off and
independence was restored to the people of East Timor.

In addition, the NATO campaign was in direct contravention of the UN and
international law, while the liberation of East Timor was in fact a
long-awaited enforcement of UN resolutions outstanding since the illegal
(but US-sanctioned) annexation of East Timor by Indonesia in 1975.

Ramos Horta's analysis is rubbish, and for us to give it credibility in
order to bash fellow Marxists is simply to use the same tricks as warmongers
use to bash opponents of the war. The western countries redeemed themselves?
Hardly. Only with the greatest reluctance did they lift a finger to stop the
slaughter; meanwhile, they, Britain foremost among them, continued to supply
the Indonesian regime with all the latest hardware including Hawk fighter
jets. All of this was in stark contrast to the situation in Kosovo, which
had the deep irony of running in parallel to that of Timor. Here we could
see exactly what were the limits of "humanitarian intervention", and it was
only because our "humanitarians" were hoisted on their own petard that they
were able, retrospectively, to claim a continuity in policy. That should
fool nobody. East Timor was an absolute disgrace from start to finish and
even now we do not find the "humanitarians" crowing about their success
there, as opposed to the supposed "success" of Kosovo. Milosevic sits in the
Hague in the middle of a kangaroo court, whilst Wiranto's recording career
is interrupted by an indictment which, based on the experience of previous
trials, will result in a reaffirmation of his "national hero" status and
pose no threat to his freedom. And how many of those kidnapped and removed
to detention camps in West Timor have been returned? Where has been the
international outcry over that example of ethnic cleansing? What is Ramos
Horta doing about this? What about his redeemed redeemers?

Meanwhile elsewhere Ramos Horta writes that "the age of globalisation has
meant that citizens have a greater say in almost every major issue" -- which
planet is he referring to? In other words, to endow this "analysis" with any
credibility whatsoever is to provide a completely unnecessary distraction to
the important business of opposing war in Iraq and the Bush administration's
globalist ambitions more generally.

That Ramos Horta chooses to bestow forgiveness upon those who had forsaken
his people in 1975 simply because they stopped genocide as part of a more
general effort to restore stability, assuage conscience, protect
investments, etc., in no way legitimises the pending invasion of Iraq or the
bombing of Kosovo, and any Marxist worth his or her salt would give such an
argument short shrift rather than use it to poke the eyes of other Marxists
who campaigned long and hard to end the illegal and genocidal occupation of
East Timor by a US Cold War client state.

Michael Keaney

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