10 September 1999
September 9 Congressional hearing on East Timor Crisis
(Lawmakers cautious about sending U.S. troops to Timor) (510) By Matt Hashimoto USIA Staff Writer Washington -- "Extremely premature," and "no need to add East Timor" to the list of U.S. peacekeeping operations around the globe, said U.S. lawmakers while they listened to calls for a multinational peacekeeping force with "significant" U.S. contributions to halt the spiraling carnage in East Timor. Responding to escalating mayhem in East Timor following the August 30 vote for independence, the House subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and the Senate subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs held a rare joint hearing September 9 to discuss U.S. policy toward Indonesia and East Timor. Representative Doug Bereuter (Republican of Nebraska), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, in his opening statement, stressed that the idea of sending U.S. ground forces to East Timor is "extremely premature." Bereuter, returning from his recent trip to Australia, however, urged the Clinton Administration to "work closely" with Australia and other allies in the region. Senator Craig Thomas (Republican of Wyoming), who co-chaired the hearing, warned that he saw "no need to add East Timor" to the list of U.S. peacekeeping operations around the globe, suggesting instead that any international peacekeeping force on the island "should be predominantly made up of countries from the region." Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, in his testimony to the panel, stressed that since Indonesia "is resource rich, spans some of the most strategic waterways in the world, and plays a key role in the political and economic stability of Southeast Asia," the United States should "call for an immediate stop to the killing and destruction in East Timor." If Indonesia cannot "right this wrong," the State Department official continued, "let a multinational force assist." The events in East Timor, former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Wolfowitz said, are "appalling (in) character, (in) scale, and (in) level of involvement of Indonesian military." The Indonesian military, not just the local units but also their superiors in Jakarta, who have either encouraged or tolerated "the present frenzy of destruction," are ultimately responsible for the conditions in the island, charged Dr. Donald Emmerson, Senior Fellow of Asia/Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. Sidney Jones, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch of Asia Division, blamed the Timor carnage on "an Indonesian military plan to thwart independence." According to Jones, "the martial law only ensures that the army's work takes place out of public view." "Without (a multinational force)," the human rights advocate said, "East Timorese will be left at the mercy of the Indonesian army." Wolfowitz urged the United States to continue economic assistance "to relieve suffering of many Indonesians" hit by Asian financial crisis, saying that the United States, should "distinguish Indonesian people from Indonesian authority." In contrast, Bereuter suggested that the United States use loans and aids as a bargaining chip. "The leadership in Indonesia needs to look at what the world markets are saying," cautioned Bereuter.
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