East Timor

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Sat Mar 1 21:59:10 MST 2003

Clinton Fernandes marshalls an impressive array of facts, but they don't
prove what he claims them to.

If we skip to the end of his (factually certaily informative) post, we
find this:

> 14.  Finally, in an emergency debate in the UN Security Council on 12
> September 1999, US envoy Richard Holbrooke warned Indonesia that it faced
> 'the point of no return in international relations' if it did not accept an
> international peacekeeping force.
> 15.  Indonesia's resistance ended within hours.  On 12 September 1999,
> Habibie emerged from a special Cabinet meeting, stood alongside Wiranto and
> made a nationwide announcement of the decision to allow a UN force into East
> Timor.  Wiranto's presence beside Habibie sent a clear signal that the TNI
> was aligned with the decision.

Oddly, however, he then states in the next and concluding paragraph:

> That is how and why Howard sent troops in - the struggles of activists,
> haemorrhage inside the system, public outrage and a panicked government.
> Hardly the stuff of imperialism.

Actually, I would say that the two previous paragraphs are a much more
convincing explanation of how and why Howard sent the troops in.

Howard would not have risked a military tussle of just Australian forces
with Indonesia - least of all to protect the east Timorese.  Howard sent
the troops in knowing full well that Washington had already told the
Indonesians they were to accept an imperialist force landing in ET.
Behind the Australian and NZ forces was the full backing of the United States.

At the same time, by commmitting themselves to ET, the Australian and NZ
governments increased their importance as regional imperialist players,
recaptured the moral high ground they'd lost through decades of
collaboration with the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, justified
increased military spending and won more public support for military
activity abroad - providing they can masquerade it as peace-keeping.

It's no thanks to the intervention in East Timor, that they haven't been
able to pass off an invasion of Iraq under the same fig-leaf.

Philip Ferguson

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