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September 10, 1999


Not since the crisis in Kosovo has a single issue--the situation in East Timor--provoked such a steady outpouring of editorials in papers from around the world. As it has since the results of the referendum on autonomy for East Timor were released just a week ago, commentary has remained heavy. The vast majority of writers continue to express extreme dismay over the world's "inaction" vis-a-vis the plight of the East Timorese, who are facing mass deportation, slaughter and widespread arson and looting at the hands of armed militias--reportedly acting with impunity despite Jakarta's imposition of martial law in the province earlier this week. While many analysts reiterated earlier criticism of the UN for its "impotence" in resolving the "problem" of East Timor, a far greater number aimed their sights at the U.S., charging that Washington was quick to intervene in Kosovo for humanitarian reasons--and without the blessing of a UN resolution--but not in East Timor. "The Clinton Doctrine, born less than six months ago, is dying in the streets of Dili, East Timor," proclaimed Rome's influential, left-leaning La Repubblica, echoing the sentiments of roughly one-third of the editorials filed for this report. "By promoting the war in Kosovo, America had proclaimed that human rights are more important than national sovereignty," that paper averred, " one is in a hurry to intervene in East Timor to stop the massacres." Some dailies in the region decried ASEAN's "immoral silence" on the issue, while others urged Indonesia to take appropriate action "for its own good," to avoid becoming a "pariah state" in the international arena. Following are highlights in the commentary:

'LESSONS MUST BE DRAWN FROM KOSOVO': The predominant theme among editorialists overseas was that the U.S.' "reluctance to commit to an intervention force" in East Timor was in direct contravention to its stated policy of "new internationalism"--according to which human rights would supersede sovereignty--used in connection with the air campaign against Serbia. Summing up the predominant view, London's independent weekly Economist argued that the "Western countries that could not tolerate mass murder in Kosovo...[but] so readily tolerate it in 'insignificant' East Timor" might be in for a rude awakening if the East Timor example causes the UN to "collapse in disrepute like the League of Nations."

AUSTRALIANS 'LET DOWN' BY U.S.: In Australia, papers saw the U.S. as "failing its ally [Australia] and the region" by not committing U.S. troops for a peacekeeping force in East Timor. Voicing a particular sense of betrayal, the liberal Sydney Morning Herald averred: "Recent events have reinforced the very obvious point that the relationship is not so 'special' to the Americans." The business-oriented Australian Financial Review suggested that Australia should begin to try to build a regional defense commitment "via ASEAN," because, should problems arise, "the U.S. ain't gonna be there."

INDONESIAN VIEWS: In contrast to most available commentary from Jakarta, independent Media Indonesia urged that "authority for East Timor be transferred to the UN." The government-oriented Indonesian Observer also took a unique view, asserting that there was no historical proof that East Timor "had ever been part of Indonesia."

EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 75 reports from 33 countries, September 7 - 10. The following editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.

To Go Directly To Quotes By Region, Click Below



INDONESIA: "Why Australia Insists Upon Deploying Troops To East Timor"

Leading, independent Kompas contended (9/10): "While Indonesian security forces attempt to bring order to East Timor, Australia impatiently continues pressuring the UN to dispatch peacekeeping troops to East Timor. Prime Minister Howard has stated his conviction that the United States will soon join any multinational force. Howard's certainty raises a question, since the United States has consistently displayed reluctance to respond to [Australia's] call. Howard stated that his belief is based upon a telephone conversation with President Clinton."

"Anticipating International Community Impatience"

Independent Suara Pembaruan held (9/9): "In the context of a loss of trust [in Indonesia] and a desire to protect the East Timorese who have voted for segregation from Indonesia, some friendly countries are insisting that the UN deploy peacekeeping forces in East Timor. It will be difficult to make that wish come true. Entering East Timor, which still belongs to Indonesia, will provoke controversy and charges of violations of Indonesian sovereignty. The United States, Britain--and even Australia--have signalled through diplomatic channels their hesitance to interfere by deploying troops to East Timor. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen has maintained that, while the United States does not yet find it necessary to send peacekeeping troops, it is monitoring the situation.... The important matter is not a competition for peacekeeping troops, but a cooperative restoration of peace in East Timor. This task is in the hands of the Indonesian security apparatus."

"Machiavelli Is Alive And Well"

According to the government-oriented, English-language Indonesian Observer (9/10): "It would have been expedient if the UN was in a position to take the necessary steps immediately for the implementation of the takeover of power by the winners of the referendum.... Can anyone imagine how much more blood will flow between now and the...general session of the People's Consultative Assembly?... There is not one single historical document available which attests the truth of the Indonesian claim that East Timor has ever been a part of Indonesia."

"Under Threat Of Foreign Pressure"

Independent Media Indonesia contended (9/9): "We must discern between true and rational nationalism and nationalism that is manipulated by a specific interest. Therefore, we continue to insist that Indonesia, and especially the military, cease its management of the East Timor issue. The imposition of martial law must end immediately, and authority for East Timor must be transferred to the UN as soon as possible. If necessary, it need not wait until the General Session of the People's Consultative Assembly."

"Rejection Of Foreign Troops Understandable"

Ruling Golkar Party's Suara Karya noted (9/9): "The United States, Britain and Canada reacted cautiously to Australia and New Zealand's calls for military involvement. They have firmly refused to deploy any troops with peacekeeping forces. What about the UN itself? Its stance, reflected by the United Nations Security Council, is similarly prudent.... Currently, Indonesia seems to believe involving UN forces would only aggravate existing aggressions."

AUSTRALIA: "PM Cool As Emotions Flare"

The liberal Sydney Morning Herald's noted (9/10): "A lot of the old emotion has gone from the Australia-U.S. relationship.... Recent events have reinforced the very obvious point that the relationship is not so 'special' to the Americans when they are called on to deliver something they believe does not greatly serve their national interest."

"U.S. Alliance Raises Questions"

An editorial in the conservative Brisbane Courier Mail contended (9/10): "Australia...has always made it clear to the United States that so far as relations with Indonesia were concerned, we knew best. When earlier this year Americans suggested that they and we should jointly begin planning for a peace-keeping operation in East Timor, we snubbed them."

"Why U.S. Said No To Sending Any Ground Troops"

The national business Australian Financial Review (9/10) had this observation from its Washington correspondent, who opined: "The shock over U.S. troops should mean Australia becomes less sentimental about its relationship with the United States. Maybe Australia will waiver next time it is asked to join a far-flung international peacekeeping force. And if Australia wants to be an enforcer of human rights in the region it is going to have to put more resources into defense and try and build a regional commitment via ASEAN. Because the United States ain't gonna be there."

"The New Reality Of Our U.S. Ties"

An editorial in the national business Australian Financial Review judged (9/9): "The U.S. decision not to strongly back an Australian mission [in East Timor] should not come as a great surprise.... But after backing U.S. operations in other parts of the world in the past, Australians have every reason to feel let down. Comparisons with the solitary U.S. intervention in Haiti might provide a nice excuse on Capitol Hill. But they don't do justice to the reality that Australia is involved in a serious conflict with Indonesia which could have strategic implications for the U.S. global security framework."

"Danger Of Aiming Too High"

Sydney's tabloid Daily Telegraph pointed out in an editorial (9/9): "The Australian government has raised public expectations of a swift rescue of the East Timorese which it cannot deliver.... The danger for the government is that it will be seen to have exceeded its international leadership capacity.... Australia must now sit back and wait in undisguised impotence for others to decide what will happen in the agonized province. The United States, the United Nations and Indonesia itself will set the pace."

"Our Allies Ignoring The Call"

The populist Daily Telegraph carried this editorial (9/8): "The reluctance of the United States to commit to a force of willing countries under the banner of the United Nations to stop the bloodshed in East Timor points to a lack of interest in the region and a disregard for its long-standing relationship with Australia. If America decides not to participate, it would have failed its ally, the region and the cause of democracy, making the task of the group of willing nations more difficult."

NEW ZEALAND: "A Spoiler At The Party"

Christchurch's moderate Press emphasized (9/9): "The government's well laid plans for the APEC summit are in danger of being thrown awry. East Timor, whether on the official agenda or not, is threatening to dominate the gathering and skew its outcome.... New Zealand as the summit's host has good reasons for working hard to ensure that peace is restored promptly in East Timor. To allow the bloodshed to continue into next week would inflame public opinion against APEC. People worldwide would be dismissive of the region's leaders discoursing on the profitable advantages of free trade while seeming unable to stop the extermination of a race of people in their backyard.... The tangible expression of this urgency is the present meeting of foreign ministers in Auckland, [which] has the potential to put together the sort of force needed if peace is to be re-established in East Timor."

CHINA: "No Violence In East Timor"

Chen Yali commented in the official English-language China Daily, (9/10): "One more day of anarchy in East Timor, as we have witnessed, means more bloodshed.... The international community may help in stabilizing the situation in East Timor if the Indonesian government so demands. But before a request is made, any outside intervention should take caution so the infringement upon national sovereignty that was obvious in the Kosovo case is not repeated."

JAPAN: "U.S. Not Enthusiastic About Military Intervention In East Timor"

Liberal Asahi's Washington correspondent Nishimura observed (9/10): "[U.S.] officials are concerned that the U.S. military intervention in the East Timor crisis will not only draw strong nationalistic reactions from both the Indonesian military and people but also destabilize Indonesia's political and economic situation."

HONG KONG: "Timor's Sad Reality"

The independent South China Morning Post's editorial maintained (9/9): "The pending evacuation of the United Nations compound in Dili only highlights the impotence of the world body in resolving this conflict.... Nonetheless, the sad reality is that there probably are no better options which the world is prepared to pursue. The new international order has been of little help to the terrorized inhabitants of East Timor. And that leaves them at the mercy of the marauding militias."

MALAYSIA: "Where Has The 'International Policeman' Gone?"

Under the above headline, government-influenced, Chinese-language Sin Chew Jit Poh declared (9/9): "Not too long ago, the United States, as leader of NATO, played the role of 'international policeman' by bombing Kosovo under the flagship of protecting human rights. But in the case of East Timor, Indonesia has gone against the decision of the UN and occupied the place for more than 24 years. NATO countries are just not as concerned about East Timor.... In the past 30 years, Western countries have given the Soeharto government enormous military assistance.... Indonesia is... a rich energy resource for the West. With this background, it is understandable that these Western countries will not interfere deeply with the East Timor crisis."

PHILIPPINES: "Habibie/Wiranto Regime Is U.S.-Backed"

Teddy Casino asserted in the top-circulation financial Business World (9/10): It's the United States that gives the Indonesian military advice. Note that ever since [Indonesia's annexation], the United States has turned a blind eye towards East Timor and the excesses of the Soeharto fascist dictatorship."

"UN Intervention Needed"

The anti-administration, second leading Philippine Daily Inquirer (9/10): "The only way to stop the carnage and the reversal of the election process by Indonesia is for an international peacekeeping force, under UN auspices, to be deployed in East Timor."

"Stop The Slaughter"

Liberal Today's editorial averred (9/9): "It is time for international alliances and organization to cut the crap on allowing Indonesia some time to prove that its martial law can restore order in East Timor.... The deadline should not even have been 48 hours. An armed, international peacekeeping force should have been at the ready--and its presence visible to everyone--right before the referendum of August 30.... Remember that when it invaded East Timor in 1975, Jakarta used as a pretext the need to keep the peace because, it said, the non-stop battles between armed political groups had bred virtual anarchy in the place. Well, the policeman has failed to keep the peace despite occupying the island for 24 years. It has lost all moral authority to stay there."

"Time For ASEAN To Be Part Of The Solution"

Leading financial Business World front-paged this commentary (9/9) by Walden Bello: "It is imperative that the international community acts to prevent an act of cleansing on the scale of Bosnia and Kosovo.... ASEAN must call an emergency meeting of its foreign ministers to condemn the Indonesia government's abetting the massacre and offer police and troops from its member countries--with the exception of Indonesia--to serve as the core of the UN peace-keeping mission. This must be made even without the Indonesian government's approval.... ASEAN has long been part of the problem. It must now be part of the solution."

"ASEAN Should End Its Immoral Silence"

University of the Philippines Professor Alex Magno expressed this view in the independent Manila Standard (9/9): "[ASEAN's] immoral silence in the face of Jakarta's brutal machinations in East Timor cannot continue--or we lose the trust of the East Timorese people. The independence of East Timor is now an accomplished fact. All that Jakarta could do is to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible--or reduce East Timor into a howling wilderness."

"Don't Expect The U.S. To Get Involved"

Publisher Max Soliven told readers of the third leading Philippine Star (9/9): "Don't expect...America's president, Bill Clinton, to dispatch his forces (as he did in Kosovo) to save the despairing East Timorese.... American business has an immense investment of more than $7 billion in Indonesia, not counting their huge stake in the Indonesian oil and petroleum industry.... Of course...sometimes, Americans shock the world and surprise themselves by fits of real altruism, decency, and self-sacrifice. In many American hearts, despite the greed and shamelessness of nearby Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty still lifts her inspiring lamp in New York harbor beside the Golden Door."

SINGAPORE: "Timor And The Law"

The pro-government Straits Times said (9/10), "As with Kosovo, the humanitarian disaster shaping up in East Timor again dramatizes the legal and moral dilemma confronting nations which want to help end the massacre.... The UN does not recognize Indonesia's annexation of the former Portuguese colony, yet it insists on legal niceties before it will dispatch a force.

"Largely, this is because the world acknowledges that Indonesia has done more for the Timorese in 23 years than Portugal did in four centuries of indolence. Also, acting without a mandate sets a bad precedent for unwarranted interventions. This says something about the mixed feelings that East Timor inspires. It is not unalloyed repugnance, such as Kosovo was, yet the carnage cannot go on. Indonesia can do itself a favor by ending the insanity quickly, but the shadows are lengthening."

SOUTH KOREA: "America's Two Faces"

Business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo commented (9/10): "Last March, when leading the air campaign against the former Yugoslavia, the United States declared a so-called 'new internationalism,' under which America insisted human rights supersedes sovereignty. The same America and the UN, however, are just watching the bloodshed in East Timor.... The United States is taking a totally different position in just five months."

"Another Kosovo"

According to independent Dong-A Ilbo (9/9): "Directly and indirectly, Indonesia's military has begun an ethnic cleansing to get rid of pro-independence East Timorese.... Murders, lootings, arson and forced deportations are taking place there, repeating what Serbs did to Albanians during the Kosovo conflict.... Forced deportations are feared to be carried out more systematically now with martial law in effect. That is because foreign troops cannot intervene as long as martial law is in effect."

THAILAND: "Jakarta Must Do The Right Thing"

The lead editorial of the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post stated (9/10): "The (Indonesian) military will be making a serious error of judgment if it thinks it can engineer a genocide in East Timor and get away with it.... [Indonesia's] actions in East Timor can destroy her international credibility and relegate it to pariah state--Mr. Habibie, meet Mr. Milosevic of Yugoslavia. It is in (Indonesia's) best interest to stop the killing now, allow international peacekeepers in and keep to the agreement to give East Timor its independence."

"Violence In Timor Must End"

The lead editorial of elite, business-oriented Krungthep Turakij commented (9/9): "We oppose President B.J. Habibie's staging of a political farce by announcing martial law, curfews and a release of pro-independence forces leader, Xanana Gusmao. They were only meant to deceive the world community and ease its pressure while Indonesia continues to deny international forces' intervention to help improve the situation there.... The UN must intervene before it is too late."

VIETNAM: "The Indonesian Government And 'International' Pressure"

An editorial in Thanh Nien (Young People), the forum of Vietnam's Union of Youth Societies, asked (9/10): "Can the [appointment of] General Kiki Syahnakri [to oversee] East Timor be viewed as an attempt being made by the Indonesian government to re-establish order there? It is reasonable to say that the upgrading of the East Timor governor is an effort of Indonesia's government to avoid granting an international 'peacekeeping' force the access to East Timor because such a move is no less than giving away part of it sovereignty."


PORTUGAL: "Dili Is Still Burning"

In another in a series of commentaries in center-left O Publico, Adeline Gomes stressed (9/10): "Dili is still burning. Thousands and thousands of Timorese have fled to the forests and mountains. Not one single militia leader has been detained.... Still, in the last few hours the Vatican is speaking for the first time of genocide... and appealing to the Security Council to approve the deployment of a peace-keeping force...[and] the United States is suspending military cooperation with Indonesia.... Seven days later, a faint ray of hope."

"Timor: Act While There Is Still Time"

Foreign policy analyst Alvaro Vasconcelos held in center-left O Publico (9/10): "The dispatch of an international force cannot wait for this political cleansing to be completed.... The lessons of Bosnia and Kosovo must be drawn on to pressure the international community to act while there is still time.... Continuing to rely only on Habibie or on General Wiranto would be to count on a weak and transitory authority."

"The Silence"

Jose Manuel Fernandes penned this editorial in center-left O Publico (9/9): "The silence descends on us.... And we are ashamed: of our impotence, of the hypocrisy of the powerful, of the inaction of this world we are part of, of the incompetence of the UN. We are ashamed to realize that we have arrived at the end of the 20th century without being able to prevent another genocide."

"Days Of Our Death"

Columnist August Santos Silva observed in center-left O Publico (9/9): "What hurts the most, during these days of horror, is the deference the so-called international community is showing to the Indonesian dictatorship. Actually, this is not a new situation: The passivity, the foot-dragging, and the timidity have been responsible or complicit in various massacres, in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America or the Balkans.... If we do not want to mobilize at the right time, which is now, the otherwise formidable weapons at our disposal to pressure Jakarta--political intimidation by the United States, economic sanctions and retention of funds by the IMF and World Bank, tough diplomacy by the UN, the EU and the Vatican, an international boycott--we will get around to Timor on Indonesia's terms and conditions."

"As Soon As Possible"

In center-left O Publico, Jose Ribeiro e Castro asked (9/9): "How long is 'as soon as possible'? This is the question being asked in Portugal and by the world in solidarity with Timor.... What is happening, before the eyes of the world, is a shocking, ignoble and cowardly act of piracy, conducted by the Indonesian soldiers against a homeland which is integral in its will and being.... How much more time, how much more blood, how much more suffering do the world powers require?"

"A Story Of Shame"

In centrist Diario de Noticias, former Foreign Minister Victor de Sa Machado opined (9/9): "What's left to us... in the face of the impossibility...of...[our] sending a rapid reaction force to Dili is to hope that the Australian people will do this for us."

BRITAIN: "Rein In The War Horses"

The conservative Times declared (9/10): "Jakarta is alive with rumors of army coups. Nor does General Wiranto, the defense minister, control all army factions; many in East Timor are loyal instead to the son-in-law of the deposed President Soeharto, during whose authoritarian reign East Timorese independence could never have been discussed. To stop Indonesia's fragile elite fragmenting now, it makes sense to let its leaders seek to preserve what unity they can, and to continue to pitch any intervention that may become necessary as an offer of assistance to the Jakarta leadership rather than as a threat."

"The Tragedy Of East Timor"

The independent weekly Economist's editorial argued (9/10): "In itself, East Timor does not amount to much...but even tiny places can become significant. If the world fails the East Timorese again, the consequences will be felt far beyond the fringes of South-East Asia. This is not just a little local matter, but a mess that could have far-reaching effects if it is not soon put right.... If the UN collapses in disrepute like the League of Nations, the prospects of finding international solutions for international problems--such as the spread of weapons of mass destruction--will simply vanish. Perhaps then those Western countries that could not tolerate mass murder in Kosovo will wonder why they could so readily tolerate it in 'insignificant' East Timor."

"Island Of Victims"

The conservative Daily Telegraph had this lead editorial (9/9): "Nearly a quarter of a century ago, East Timor was left in the lurch by its colonial master, Portugal. Tragically, history is now repeating itself, as the UN evacuates its foreign staff from the island, leaving the population once again to the mercies of the Indonesian army and its supporters.... Presented with the opportunity of doing something effective about the territory, the UN has been found sadly wanting."

"UN Goes AWOL"

The centrist tabloid Express said in its lead editorial (9/9): "First Kosovo, now East Timor. Just what is the UN doing and what is it for now? For those who argue that the UN is dead and that America is the new world policeman, yesterday's flat refusal by the United States to consider using its troops in the Far East should have put paid to that idea. The people of East Timor must be protected. But that protection must be based on international law. The United States, Britain and other countries who have bypassed the UN should put all their efforts into reviving it."

FRANCE: "World Strategy Vs. The Fate Of A People"

Dominique Bromberger told listeners of government funded France Inter radio (9/10): "Of course, the United States has no intention of risking the lives of its soldiers for a handful of Timorese... In fact, what the United States wants is Jakarta's agreement to an international intervention force, because Indonesia is the cornerstone of U.S. strategy in Southeast Asia.... Indonesia's disintegration or a reversal of the country's alliance would represent for the West, but mostly for the United States, a danger of such magnitude that the fate of East Timor's population in comparison is very secondary."


Bruno Frappat maintained in Catholic La Croix (9/9): "The UN is leaving East Timor, for Indonesia the road is clear.... The UN has once more proven its two-sided weakness.

"It has power only if the consensus of the Security Council grants that power; it has a generous heart but no means to act on that generosity.... Indonesia for its part has proven its duplicity. With its apparent approval for the elections and its systematic repression, cowardice and cynicism have reached a new high. As for the international community, the calls for appeasement to the Indonesian government are but a drop of rhetoric in a sea of interests and excuses."

"The UN Challenged"

Left-of-center Le Monde argued in its editorial (9/9): "The Indonesian army and its ways are well known.... It would be easy to say, we told you so, but what is happening today in East Timor was predictable. And should have been predicted. By organizing the elections, the UN was implicitly protecting the voters during the elections but also after. And this is where it failed.... The UN has come out of this affair humiliated and discredited.... And when the UN is incriminated, it is not so much Kofi Annan who is the target...but the Security Council. The UN was instrumental in its own failure because it accepted that the referendum would be tied to a promise of non-intervention.... The Security Council will not vote on one, we can count on a Chinese veto for that. Can the UN continue to function with this dichotomy: promoting human rights but not having the means to see that they are respected? The UN's future depends on the answer."

"The UN's Responsibility"

Alain Duhamel told listeners on privately run RTL radio (9/9): "The UN's responsibility in the tragedy of East Timor is monumental.... And that means the responsibility lies with the nations represented in the Security Council.... When the killings began, the UN's impotence became patent. But the UN has no excuse because it knew exactly who it was dealing with. It new perfectly well that the Indonesian army refused the notion of independence for East Timor. Yet, they let things happen.... Intervention is an exceptional procedure.... What has become the norm is what is happening in Southeast Asia today: It is the Chinese veto, in other words, the interests of military dictatorships."

GERMANY: "Escapism"

Werner Adam observed in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/10): "In Indonesia every passing day feeds suspicions that the military has effectively taken over from President Habibie. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that the orgy of violence...could continue if the military did not want it to. Once again, the UN is supposed to be responsible for everything, but the organization was only allowed to implement the referendum, not given the means to stop the terror."

"The Next Genocide"

Centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich carried the following lead editorial by Stefan Ulrich (9/9): "The international community must react to the orgy of violence in East Timor with rapid sanctions that extend to the threshold of military intervention. The United States should cancel its military assistance.... The World Bank and the IMF could put the loans that Indonesia wants so badly on ice, and UN members could draw down their diplomatic relations until Indonesia finally agrees to the deployment of an international force in East Timor. Sanctions don't work, you say? That may be true for autistic regimes like Saddam Hussein's and Milosevic's, but Indonesia and its president, Habibie, are very interested in economic cooperation with the West. So a tough embargo could force Jakarta to give in. The downside of sanctions is that they require time, so they would come too late for many Timorese."

"An Empty Promise?"

Centrist Recklinghaeuser Zeitung commented (9/9): "Once again, we see that human rights can be achieved only under certain circumstances, and only if the situation allows. If this is to be changed, the UN needs at last a well-equipped, effective intervention force legitimated by international law.... Only then will the promise that the United States and NATO made after their victory in Kosovo become reality: The world will not allow innocent civilians to be murdered. If something doesn't happen soon, that promise will prove empty."

"Is U.S. Being Cynical Or Realistic?"

Right-of-center Nuernberger Zeitung stressed (9/9): "Madeleine Albright made unmistakably clear that Indonesia is not Kosovo when she said that Washington is not considering intervening against the will of the Indonesian government. Depending on where you stand, this can be viewed as either a cynical or a realistic position."

ITALY: "We Should Feel Ashamed About Massacres In East Timor"

An editorial in provocative, classical liberal Il Foglio (9/10): "At the same time when the news was spreading about the massacre of the Caritas people in East Timor and the Vatican was issuing its desperate cry, the Americans indicated yesterday with brutal sincerity that they have no intention of jeopardizing the stability of an area which is economically and politically strategic for world peace and development with a unilateral military intervention. Two hundred million Indonesians, and the economic chain of which they are a part, do not allow us to consider East Timor as an Asian Kosovo, and different and clear geopolitical factors prevent a similar approach on the part of the main Western superpowers--a double standard which is natural in history and which is independent of any moral rules.... In any case, the point now is to understand whether either a limited intervention to provide humanitarian assistance or an initiative to exert political-diplomatic pressure on Indonesia are possible in order to stop the massacre at once. There is nothing else we can do for the time being."

"Retreat Of The UN"

Alberto Pasolini Zanelli made these points in leading, rightist opposition Il Giornale (9/10): "Very rarely has the legal, political and moral picture been as clear in the history of UN interventions.... The situation in Timor is by far simpler than in Kosovo.... But while the legal picture is clear, political doubts remain. Why has the UN failed to timely prevent the insurrection of armed gangs which was totally predictable? And what about the credibility of this organization, which obtains results only when it is supported by the military strength of America and the European allies?"

"Clinton Doctrine Dying In Streets Of East Timor"

Left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (9/9) carried this piece from Jakarta by Pietro Veronese: "The Clinton Doctrine, born less than six months ago, is dying in the streets of Dili, East Timor.

By promoting the war in Kosovo, America had proclaimed that human rights are more important than national sovereignty. But, notwithstanding these statements, nobody is in a hurry to intervene in East Timor to stop the massacres. The United Nations has decided to leave the island.... The United States issues warnings, the UNSG condemns (the violence), the UNSC holds emergency meetings.... APEC foreign ministers consult in New Zealand.... But the massacres continue."

"The U.S.: Never Under The UN Flag"

Cesare De Carlo noted from Washington in La Nazione/Il Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno conservative syndicate (9/9): "As everybody knows, the UN moves only if the United States moves, and the United States--as explicitly indicated by Defense Secretary Cohen--has no intention, whatsoever, of moving."

"Short Circuit Between Superpowers And UN"

An article in the news analysis section of provocative, classical liberal daily Il Foglio (9/9) held (9/9): "The short circuit between the diplomacies of the superpowers and the UN over East Timor is not new: Once again, what emerges is the hesitation of the Security Council, stemming both from Beijing's announced opposition (to the deployment of an international peacekeeping force) and, to an even larger extent, from the U.S. State Department's intention to stay out of UN initiatives."

"Sanctions Would Not Be Enough"

Ennio Caretto noted from Washington in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/9): "Australia and Portugal support the deployment of an international peacekeeping contingent.... Beijing and Moscow have distanced themselves from such a hypothesis.... The Clinton administration appears uncertain.... In the very short run, the most likely outcome is the adoption of political, economic and military sanctions against Jakarta.... But these measures would not be sufficient. And they would not be enough to avert an armed intervention in East Timor, unless Indonesia gives up repression."

RUSSIA: "UN's Prestige Is On The Line"

Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (9/9) ran this by Andrei Bychkov in Jakarta: "The UN is acting dubiously. Strangely, it believes that the Indonesian government can ensure security and order in East Timor. Jakarta's track record in that area doesn't exactly look good. Observers point out that the UN has its prestige on the line. So far, it has been unable to protect those whom it urged to take part in the referendum."

"All Eyes Are On U.S."

Aleksandr Timofeyev pointed out in reformist Vremya-MN (9/9): "The UN is ready to support sending a peacekeeping force to East Timor, but nobody wants to act contrary to Jakarta's will. All eyes are now on Washington. Without its approval, such an operation would be impossible politically and technically."

AUSTRIA: "Military Interests"

Gerhard Plott judged in liberal Der Standard (9/7): "Now the Indonesian government has to admit that it has lost control of the military and the police; even ministers are calling for UN troops. And the generals under army chief and Defense Minister Wiranto do not care what the government wants or says.... The military is afraid that in East Timor, the giant Indonesian regime might start to break apart: Now East Timor, followed by Western New Guinea, then Aceh, and eventually nothing will be left of the splendor and the glory of the formerly omnipotent army. What do human rights or democracy count compared with the power of the Indonesian military? Nothing. But the UN should have known this before the referendum and sent peace troops."

BELGIUM: "U.S., International Community Reluctant To Act"

Asian affairs writer Philippe Paquet opined in conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (9/10): "'We can do it now, we can do it tomorrow if necessary, elsewhere, in Africa, or in Central Europe.' Of course, last June 22, Bill Clinton was addressing NATO troops at Skopje airport, and it is a fact that East Timor is rather distant from the Atlantic Alliance's traditional theatre of operations. But we believed we understood that the American president was abolishing the borders of humanitarian diplomacy, that he was making the right to intervene universal. Yet, after one week of violence in East Timor, the United States and the international community are more than ever reluctant to make it end."

"Intervening For Humanitarian Reasons"

Diplomatic correspondent Pierre Lefevre opined in independent Le Soir (9/9): "It is very unlikely that the UN would give its green light. China, which has a veto right at the UN Security Council, is, especially since Kosovo, fiercely opposed to any kind of Western military intervention, all the more so in its close neighborhood. Tibet and Taiwan should not be given ideas. The United States itself will hesitate before ruffling Beijing. It is at last beginning to see the end of the serious cooling of U.S.-Chinese relations following the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Under American business circles' pressure, the United States has just started the negotiations again with China which should soon lead to its joining the WTO.... An intervention in East Timor which China would not endorse would undoubtedly compromise this strategic evolution."

DENMARK: "Only UN Can Save East Timor"

Center-left Aktuelt concluded (9/9): "The best thing that could happen in East Timor is for the Indonesian regime to swallow its pride and request the deployment of UN peacekeepers. A strong UN presence, coupled with massive international aid, is the only way of giving East Timor a fair chance."

IRELAND: "Betrayal And Humiliation"

The moderately conservative Irish Times asserted (9/9): "Yesterday was one of the most humiliating and depressing days in the annals of the United Nations, when it announced the withdrawal of its mission to East Timor.... [Indonesia's leaders] are clearly vulnerable to economic sanctions but also adept at turning such threats back against international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank, the many banks and multinational companies with a stake in Indonesia and the governments that support them.... Those states which now refuse to act were the very ones that supported the act of self-determination.... The credulity of these states, and of the UN secretary general in allowing the Indonesian military take responsibility for security, has been starkly exposed by the careful long-term planning that has gone into this subversion of international law. Angry denunciation of the betrayal.... The maximum political, economic and moral pressure must now be directed at the indonesian goverment."

MALTA: "East Timor Tragedy"

Maltese-language, Catholic weekly Il-Gens observed (9/10): "We believe that the international community cannot just resort to words and take no serious or concrete action. The international community has guaranteed a referendum and now should also safeguard the result and ensure its implementation.... The international community has various means of putting pressure--i.e., diplomacy, the IMF, the World Bank--to avoid a genocide. There is a moral and grave obligation to use these methods in order to stop East Timorese people from being killed as they are being right now."

THE NETHERLANDS: "Non-Intervention Is Iron Law In Southeast Asia"

Influential NRC Handelsblad of Rotterdam held (9/9): "Whether it is forest fires, financial crises or violent repression of peoples, the Asian countries appear time after time unable or unwilling to intervene to restore order in their region. Strong regional organizations are lacking. Informal consultations without 'loss of face' are preferred.... The only real power in Asia is the United States. In the past it has demonstrated that it will intervene unilaterally (Korea, Vietnam). Even now the Asian nations like to take refuge under the defense umbrella of the United States...but it is Washington which determines whether intervention is of major American interest. In the case of East Timor, the answer is 'no.' 'We cannot and do not want to be the policeman of the world,' said Defense Secretary William Cohen yesterday."

NORWAY: "An Impotent UN"

Conservative Aftenposten (9/10) commented: "It is a nearly impotent UN the world is experiencing these days, while the violence and murders spread in East Timor--in the wake of the UN-observed referendum on independence for this region.... With its role during the referendum, the UN has contributed to expectations that now are turning out to be dangerous--because no one up to now has been prepared to help East Timor."

SPAIN: "International Pratfall"

Barcelona's centrist La Vanguardia observed (9/10): "It is true that one should not intervene in a country's internal affairs unless the affected country requests intervention. But it seems incongruous that the Western powers have not taken action for humanitarian reasons as was done in Kosovo, and without the UN's blessing.... And it seems highly irresponsible to invite a people to participate in a referendum, and then abandon them to face the results."

"An Unwillingness To Get Involved"

Conservative ABC commented (9/9): "What is really sad is not the UN's inoperativeness to which we have all grown accustomed, but rather the international community's unwillingness to involve itself in East Timor.... To trust Indonesia to maintain security and wait to see whether the imposition of martial law will restore order is to recast irony into sarcasm."

SWEDEN: "The East Timor Dilemma"

Independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter featured this commentary (9/9) by foreign editor Per Ahlin: "There is talk of a catastrophe, a fiasco for the UN in East Timor, a turnabout of the perspectives. Suddenly the UN holds the responsibility, not Indonesia.... The [UN's] handling of the matter, before, during, and after the Timor elections leaves a great deal to be desired.... The evacuations last Wednesday were a distressing event. Credibility now is at stake. The UN must have the preparedness to intervene; the organization must be able to uphold international peace and security. But the question is how. Today every alternative seems to be equally poor. The dilemma of the international community is painful and very apparent."

SWITZERLAND: "Who Is In Charge In Jakarta?"

Centrist regional Basler Zeitung carried this piece by its Hong Kong correspondent (9/10): "Does General Wiranto still have the military competence to bring peace and quiet to East Timor?... Many...suspect that the military is purposefully delaying taking charge in East Timor, until the expulsions have gone so far that the settling of loyal Indonesians will establish a new reality [on the ground.] The question who really holds the power in Jakarta becomes ever more pressing. The inability of President Habibie [to do anything about] the debacle in East Timor has weakened his political position irreparably....

"In [Jakarta's] conservative media, an anti-foreigner mood is definitely noticeable. The hurdles for a diplomatic intervention to help East Timor are being set higher and higher."


INDIA: "Time And The West"

The centrist Times of India opined (9/10), "There can be no two views on the question that law and order in East Timor has to be restored and that the militias be disarmed.... [But] the international community's response is still determined by the exigencies of policies of the major powers. Such rank opportunism in the application of human rights standards raises suspicions that intervention in the domestic affairs of nations in the name of humanitarianism--after having encouraged authoritarianism--is to legitimize something which is in contravention of the UN Charter."

"Indonesia On The Brink"

The right-of-center Indian Express stated this view (9/10): "The case for international intervention in East Timor on humanitarian grounds has grown with every day that Jakarta has failed to protect the people from the militias.... Paradoxically, the near-collapse of Indonesia politically and economically, makes international military intervention even more problematic. The job may no longer be only to protect the East Timorese but to hold Indonesia together. And is the UN prepared to do that?"

"Terror In Timor And The Interventionist Urge"

Senior assistant editor Siddharth Varadarajan opined in the centrist Times of India (9/9):

"As East Timor slips further into a chaos scripted by the Indonesian army, the international community must once again confront the troubling question of whether armed intervention is a valid response to the violation of human rights. After Iraq, Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, Bosnia and Yugoslavia, Indonesia is the seventh sovereign country in recent years to be told to allow foreign 'peace enforcement' troops onto its soil--or overflights in its airspace.... If the United States, which has propped up the Indonesian army all these years really wants to force Jakarta to curb the militias, it should suspend its links with the Indonesian army and announce an end to all arms exports to that country. This, however, it is unprepared to do as it will lose a lucrative market and push Indonesia and China closer together. And yet...after NATO's aggression in Yugoslavia, the Chinese are bound sharply to react to anything which smacks of the unilateral use of force by the West in their own 'backyard'. If anything, the world should have acted decisively when Indonesia invaded East Timor 24 years ago. Using force now will not make up for past wrongs. It will only compound the original sin."

"Stop The Violence"

An editorial the centrist Hindu argued (9/9): "The UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) needs a peacekeeping force to hold the island together. It must liaise with the Indonesian government to ensure that the new People's Consultative Assembly or parliament ratifies the independence vote and empowers East Timor.... Once a popular government is installed in due course in Dili, East Timor will have to integrate with ASEAN. Greater interaction with the region and massive doses of investment from not just East Asia, but Europe and the United States will be imperative to bring peace, employment, industrialization and human resource development to this new island-state. Until that is achieved, there is bound to be pain and tension in East Timor. More than anything else, the independence vote and the transition will be a model and trend-setter for many other territories."

PAKISTAN: "East Timorese Turbulence"

In the editorial view of Karachi's independent national Dawn (9/9): "If there is resistance [on the part of Indonesia] to a foreign presence in the troubled territory more problems can be anticipated. Many of Indonesia's neighbors are disturbed at the turn of events and might be inclined to send in their forces even without a UN sanction. But that would be setting a dangerous precedent which should be avoided. The UN involvement should continue, and Indonesia should find it in its own interest to resolve the problem as fast as it can."

BANGLADESH: "East Timorese Nightmare"

The independent, English-language Daily Star concluded (9/9): "The United States, Australia, Portugal, France and Britain have...voiced support for a UN peace-keeping force in the beleaguered island. However, we hope that...President Habibie's government would immediately take steps to rein in the militias, leading the way for the verdict of the referendum on East Timor's independence to be respected."

"Referendum Should Be Last Word For East Timor"

Pro-government, Bangla-language Banglar Bani's editorial pointed out (9/9): "There is a strong demand for sending an international force under the supervision of the UN to East Timor before it becomes a killing field like Bosnia or Kosovo.... Together with the international community, we also demand taking appropriate measures to end violence and killing, and restore order in the island."


CANADA: "Intervening In East Timor"

Editorialist Guy Taillerfer remarked in Montreal's liberal Le Devoir (9/9): "The UN...has made mistakes that are so grave [in East Timor] that they border on criminal irresponsibility.... An urgent peacekeeping force is called for, preferably with the approval of Jakarta, on which pressures...[such as] commercial sanctions if necessary...should be multiplied. The stakes are to defend a population punished for having freely taken the decision to make independence.... Western hesitations is worrisome at the very least...especially since Dili is slowly turning into a Pristina.... The West is acquiring a conscience but it is still possible to buy it off. The Indonesian regime had paid in advance."

ARGENTINA: "Two, Three, Several Kosovos"

Alfredo Grieco y Bavio drew these conclusions in leftist Pagina 12 (9/9): "It was easy to recognize an Indonesian version of Kosovo in this story.... The KLA looks like the Timorese guerrilla's distant brother. And Jakarta's methods aimed at favoring a pro-Indonesian minority anticipated those of Belgrade: organizing death squadrons."

BRAZIL: "The Poor, The Rich And The UN"

Readers of liberal Folha de Sao Paulo saw this editorial (9/9): "Timor's case demonstrates very well the UN's ineptitude in resolving international conflicts. The UN expects Indonesia to accept the presence of a peace force at a moment when it is already clear that its army acts deliberately in connection with the anti-independence militias in a scorched earth strategy."

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