How and why oppose Australian military ties with Indonesia

Nick Fredman nfredman at
Mon Jul 7 01:10:49 MDT 2003

Fred has clarified that he does not at all support military ties with
Indonesia, but is concerned about how the campaign is being promoted
(in the GLW article which is the Action in Solidarity with Asia and
the Pacific (ASAP) statement on the issue, which is more recent
and more general than the statement on Aceh that Tom O'Lincoln
mentioned in a recent post). I.e. not with a clear "anti-imperialist
axis" but with a "democratic and human rights axis" that concedes too
much to liberalism and sounds very similar to groups like the US
Human Rights Watch who apparently support some "democratic"
imperialist interventions. I think he has a bit of a point, though
greatly exaggerates the case, e.g.

"The call to end Australian military ties with Indonesia is motivated
not on the imperialist character of the Australian government and the
threat it represents to the oppressed peoples of the region, but on
the character of the Indonesian government and the need for Australia
to take action to assure human rights standards are met".

The statement doesn't call on the Australian state to *do* anything,
rather not do something, i.e. not train and aid the TNI. It doesn't
mention sanctions of any kind. It goes into a fair bit of detail on
the military aid given by various imperialist states to the TNI,
(which has been pretty much a direct tool of imperialism since the
CIA gave Suharto lists of Communists to kill during his coup in
1965-66). It would be inappropriate for socialists active in ASAP, a
campaigning solidarity group, to insist that a campaign seeking to
win broad support against military ties with Indonesia propagate a
detailed marxist analysis of imperialism.

*However*, in relation to this issue, Australian socialists should
aim to both campaign against the specific plans of Australian
imperialism (e.g. strengthening the TNI) with all those who agree
with such a campaign, and to educate people about imperialism. E.g.
statements by Socialist Alliance, and the articles in the press
supporting SA such as GLW, should say (and have said) more than an
ASAP statement per se. Also though, a statement by a group such as
ASAP on an issue such as this could say a bit more, e.g. as well as
describing the various military ties it could point out in a general
way that the reason imperialists ("rich countries" or whatever) want
to strengthen the TNI is to support unjust and exploitative economic
relations, and that the longer term answer to violence and lack of
democracy in Indo must include more just economic relations by the
"rich countries". I think such formulations would be very broadly
acceptable by activists and those supportive of this campaign, and
would be a bit more educative for people coming across the campaign.

I don't mean to preach to the comrades working hard in the important
task in Australia of getting ASAP going, as I've done bugger all in
the area for several years, but there's some important tactical
considerations here and this is the rational kernel of what Fred is
getting at.

More information about the Marxism mailing list