East Timor, no surprise

John Edmundson jwe21 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Mar 2 16:17:30 MST 2003


Néstor Wrote:

>The problem lies with the assessment of the whole East Timor movement
>as such. No matter how monstrous the Indonesian pro-imperialist rule
>could be, a radicalized movement aimed at independence of a province
>of Indonesia could not end but the way it has ended.

Your interpretation of the  East Timor situation was always a third position, in
which the main arguments were between a) the Aust/NZ troop deployment was an act
of imperialism and not supportable, and b), that the deployment was defensible in
order to prevent a massacre and a reasonable demand given those countries' past
inaction.

While settling the issue of whether East Timor should ever have been independent
of Indonesia in the first place may be important, it certainly did not exercise
the minds of the NZ and Australian governments in the way it might a Marxist's.
They opposed independence for 25 years because ET might have represented an
example of anti-imperialist independence (and possibly further radicalism - a
Cuba in the South Pacific) to other Pacific nations. When the left was
sufficiently weakened, independence could be sanctioned.

>Same would have happenned if the Indian ruling classes had stormed
>Goa and Goans had found Western support for their "independence",
>etc.

I don't know enough about the process there to comment; only that Goa is
evidently a beautiful place :-)

>Hope that now, when the bitter fruits are beginning to ripen, many
>who were against me and others by the time of Australian occupation
>of Far Eastern Indonesia ("humanitarian intervention in East Timor")
>begin to think again.

Well, the bitter fruits are the more bitter for their being delivered directly by
the NZ and Australian military. Whether East Timor should be independent or a
part of Indonesia, either way the Australian and NZ troops should not have been
there. As I (and Phil F) have mentioned earlier, NZers have major illusions in
the UN. These have been heightened by the NZ role in East Timor.
Cheers,
John


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