The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Military

September 16, 1999

EAST TIMOR: 'UNSC GIVES GREEN LIGHT FOR INTERVENTION'

Overseas commentary on East Timor remained heavy in the wake of the UN Security Council's unanimous authorization early yesterday of a UN peacekeeping mission to the violence-wracked province. The nature and role of the peacekeeping mission--and particularly Australia's role in it--were the primary preoccupations of Asian commentators. In Europe and elsewhere, observers focused on the UNSC vote--with almost all judging it to be a "welcome," albeit "belated" development-as well as on the broader issue of when and how the international community should undertake "humanitarian interventions." Following are regional views:

EAST ASIA: Most regional observers viewed the latest developments surrounding East Timor through the prism of their own countries' interests. Australian dailies, for example, continued to grouse about the U.S.' perceived lack of "engagement" in the early stages of the East Timor crisis, and maintained that, from now on, Australia could not take U.S. "involvement" in the region "for granted." In Jakarta, the majority of editorials expressed strong resentment of Australia's role in the peacekeeping initiative, complaining that "once again" the UN had "failed...to take into account Indonesian sensitivities." Notably, Armed Forces' daily ABRI contended that if the UN "wants peace in East Timor, [it] must exclude Australians from its peacekeepers." Opinionmakers in the Philippines and Thailand expressed less enthusiasm than in previous days for an ASEAN component to the force. A Manila writer called the idea "rubbish," while Bangkok papers foresaw difficulties should Thai soldiers find themselves having to confront "fellow-ASEAN Indonesian troops."

EUROPE AND ELSEWHERE: Nearly all media judged the UNSC action to be "a hopeful sign that the crimes committed there will not be rewarded." Nevertheless, papers in France, Germany and Italy continued to lament the international community's failure "to prevent the foreseeable terror" and, coming on the heels of Kosovo, saw the case of East Timor as further evidence that the West needs to better articulate standards of intervention "once atrocities are looming and not just once public opinion becomes intolerable." According to a leading Italian paper: "The time has come to irreversibly overcome the traditional concept of national sovereignty.... The international community can and must intervene to restore conditions of freedom and democracy" in certain situations. A Paris weekly judged East Timor to be "a shameful illustration" of the West's "diplomatic and ideological hypocrisy," whereby it "practices selective indignation" and makes the "notion of humanitarian intervention" a concept that "cannot be taken seriously." Lisbon's center-left Publico, by contrast, argued that "the UNSC vote...could mark the beginning of a new phase of international relations," adding that "in the end, the U.S. and its NATO Allies were true to the principles they enunciated [in Kosovo]" in "defense of humanitarian values." Pundits in France, Italy and India found it "significant" that China will reportedly contribute troops to the peacekeeping force, suggesting that Beijing might be on the path toward a "less brutal" approach toward its minorities and the problem of Taiwan.

EDITORS: Kathleen J. Brahney and Katherine Starr

EDITORS' NOTE: This survey is based on 55 reports from 22 countries, September 13 - 16. 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

|  EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC  |    |  EUROPE  |    |  SOUTH ASIA  |    |  WESTERN HEMISPHERE  |

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

INDONESIA: "Indications Of Lack Of Consideration In West's Policy"

Leading independent Kompas asserted (9/16): "The Security Council unanimously approved deployment of multinational forces to restore order in East Timor.... Many parties in Indonesia had put forward objections that Australia lead the forces.... However, just like the outcome of the August 30 poll which confounded our expectations, this time also we could not fulfil our hope of preventing Australia from taking the lead.... What the UN has decided [in allowing Australia to lead the peacekeeping effort] reflects a failure to take into account Indonesian sensitivities. Who knows whether, with such an approach, the West wants to apply a 'Balkanization policy' in Southeast Asia."

"Waiting For Proof Of Wisdom From Australia"

Independent Media Indonesia argued (9/16): "How would the Australian forces feel if they read the above poem [by an aboriginal poet who deplored the loss of land to white settlers in Australia]? Isn't the question of the land of the East Timorese, that the Australians are fighting for, also the question of land lost by the aborigines? Let us wait to see whether Australia becomes a messiah or another tyrant in East Timor."

"Restraint Urged On Part Of Australia Toward Indonesia"

Ruling Golkar Party's Suara Karya pointed out (9/16): "We hope that Australian Prime Minister Howard will exercise restraint in his public pronouncements to enable the international peacekeepers to ease tensions, instead of provoking them again only to escalate the number of victims in East Timor."

"UN Peacekeepers And Indonesian Values"

Armed Forces' ABRI insisted (9/16): "If the peacekeepers have a notion to become lords of the manor, then it's clear that they are not true peacekeepers but rather forces seeking control within Indonesia. In this case we should clearly resist their presence because it would represent a threat to our values.... We love peace, but we love freedom more!"

"Future Orientation Towards East Timor"

Independent Suara Bangsa noted (9/15): "We recognize that East Timor not only represents a security interest for Indonesia but also a concern for Australia that always worries about potential threats from the north, so we shouldn't be surprised that both countries are intent on maintaining influence in an area deemed a 'security interest' by each."

"We Hope UN Will Consider Indonesia's Dignity"

Leading, independent Kompas concluded (9/15): "We hope the UN and other countries will heed the dignity of the Indonesian people.... The composition of the peacekeeping force must be considered thoughtfully in terms of both psychological-political reactions and effectiveness in the field."

"UN Decision And Australia's Maneuver"

Muslim intellectual Republika intoned (9/15): "The UN would be fair and wise to note the hopes and solidarity of ASEAN countries, and the reasons for which Indonesians do not want to accept Australian forces. Minister Alatas indicated to the UN secretary general that Australia's involvement would cause a number of problems...but the UNSC seemingly has a different interest, and so supported Australia. Australians will not only join, but lead, the UN peacekeeping forces in East Timor."

"UN Peacekeepers In East Timor Should Be Minus Australia"

Armed Forces' daily ABRI insisted (9/15): "If it is peace they want in East Timor, the UN must exclude Australians from its peacekeepers. Furthermore, ASEAN and Asian countries should predominate in the force. If necessary, China should use its veto power to reject a deployment involving Australian peacekeepers. The presence of Australians will only be a nuisance to the forces."

"UNAMET Fraud"

Pro-government, Islamic-oriented Pelita contended (9/15): "There is not one person, particularly in the international community, paying attention to the fate of pro-integration groups. Herein lies the international community's injustice and frequent double standard. The tendency to forgive UNAMET for any fraud during the poll must be corrected. Saying that such fraud is meaningless without evidence is inappropriate.... If fraud--no matter how trivial--is discovered, it must be clarified. What is the value of consulting an international body such as the UN if it cannot neutrally manage issues in other countries? If [allegations of] fraud are true, the UN's credibility is in question."

"Enter Mary Robinson"

The government-oriented, English-language Indonesian Observer declared (9/15): "We warmly welcome the arrival of Mary Robinson.... A full investigation into this black page of Indonesia's history will bring this whole ghastly affair into the full glare of publicity...and will show how the army covertly used misguided sentiments among the East Timorese to physically liquidate their own brothers, just because they opted for independence."

"Bank Bali Scandal, East Timor Create Stifling Atmosphere"

Nationalistic tabloid Rakyat Merdeka's editorial pointed out (9/15): "Coupled with the East Timor issue, we have no word to better describe our condition than 'critical.' Everything makes it difficult for us to breathe. The international community watches us, waiting to see the fate of a nation. Will the story end with an emerging dawn in the east or a hurricane razing everything?"

"Australia Offering Confrontation"

Independent afternoon Berita Buana proclaimed (9/14): "Faced with the Australians' boorish manners, our national pride must awaken.... We must stand and face Australia together.... The attitude of the Australian people absolutely cannot be tolerated."

AUSTRALIA: "A Holocaust Of Canberra's Making"

The national, conservative Australian (9/16) had this assessment from foreign editor, Greg Sheridan: "It was the United States, not us, that turned Wiranto around on peacekeepers.... If the United States had been on board at a level beyond Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth, we might have convinced Jakarta to accept peacekeepers [earlier].

"Not getting the United States engaged at a really powerful level, which Canberra thought a good thing because it meant Washington was not interfering, was a fundamental failure of strategy."

"Defense Force Rethinking Is Now A Priority"

An editorial in the national daily Australian (9/16) stated, "We need a thorough reassessment of Australia's strategic thinking about the region.... China's transition remains unpredictable, as do the tense relations between mainland and Taiwan, and between the two Koreas. Australia's sense that it cannot take for granted a regional engagement by the United States has been confirmed in East Timor."

"Invisible Friends Are No Comfort"

The national, conservative Australian featured this opinion (9/15) by former diplomat and columnist, Duncan Campbell: "The great Australian expectation of U.S. combat commitment to us everywhere in the Malay world must be permanently purged. The United States dumped us over West New Guinea, refused to define ANZUS to include Borneo during Sukarno's confrontation of Malaysia, and insisted the Commonwealth alone make defense arrangements for Malaysia and Singapore. Nor is the United States a reliable peacekeeping partner. Its post-Cold War approach to international peacekeeping has been to sabotage the UN Security Council in favor of independence of American action.... Many months before the Timor crisis, we should have tackled the United States and Indonesia hard but indirectly through the Security Council for a peacekeeping force."

CHINA: "A Responsible Decision"

Xi Mi argued in official, English-language China Daily (9/15): "The outburst of violence in East Timor after its recent vote has somewhat tarnished Indonesia's image.... If it does not take prompt action, the next victim will not only be the East Timor people, but also Indonesia's own fundamental interests.... The Indonesian government's decision to invite international peacekeepers to East Timor, painful as it might be, is rational, respectable and responsible."

"What Made Indonesian Government Change Its Mind?"

Wang Peng said in official Central Legal and Political Commission Legal Daily (Fazhi Ribao, 9/15): "Mounting international pressure and domestic economic problems have forced the Indonesian government to invite UN peacekeeping troops to East Timor.... Hopefully, under the joint efforts of Indonesia and the UN, East Timor can realize a smooth transition and finally attain the objective which has been decided by the August referendum."

HONG KONG: "China Should Help Restore Timor Peace"

The independent Hong Kong Standard had this editorial (9/15): "So far, Beijing has said only that it is willing to help the UN restore stability but has not indicated just what it might do. China should be both constructive and active. It should facilitate a Security Council resolution and join the peacekeeping force."

PHILIPPINES: "Scoffing At Calls For An ASEAN Force"

Award-winning TV public affairs talk show host, Teodoro C. Benigno, told readers of the third-leading Philippine Star (9/15): "Virtually the whole world--except for the ASEAN nations--rose in outrage when Pope John Paul II called for an immediate end to the 'genocide' in East Timor. But having agreed to the introduction of an international peace- keeping force in East Timor, General Wiranto, in a wanton imitation of Nero, plays the violin....

"And ASEAN [is to] furnish the peace-keeping force? That's rubbish. So what happens now?... First, General Wiranto could stage a coup, and the line almost remains unbroken. General Sukarno, General Soeharto, General Wiranto.... The worst scenario...could engulf Indonesia in civil war."

SINGAPORE: "Passing The Buck On East Timor"

Jakarta correspondent Shoeb Kagda commented (9/16) in "The Bottom Line" column in the pro-government Business Times: "[Indonesia] is now being held together by the thinnest of fabric. The devastating economic crisis has highlighted the disparity between the far-flung provinces and Java. Given that Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, a balkanization of Indonesia would have broad ramifications for the region and the world. The international community should bear this in mind as it prepares to send peacekeeping troops into East Timor. Foreign governments must also face the harsh reality of a possible confrontation with the armed militia. Scenes of foreign soldiers shooting the perceived defenders of what is still legally sovereign Indonesian soil will surely stoke the fires of Indonesian nationalism."

"A Different Ball Game"

The editorial page of the pro-government Business Times (9/16) carried this piece by Washington correspondent Leon Hadar: "The main difference between Kosovo and East Timor is that, when push comes to shove, the United States was not willing to use its military power to shield the weaker side from the consequences of challenging the more powerful player. That may send the correct message from Washington to the other secessionist movements in Indonesia: We sympathize with your quest for independence, but don't expect us to come to your defense. You are on your own!"

THAILAND: "Timor, A Pathetic Chick"

The lead editorial of centrist Ban Muang commented (9/16), "Indonesia's wishes to have ASEAN troops constitute the majority of the UN peacekeeping forces is hard to effect, considering the dire consequences these countries are yet to overcome due to the financial and economic crisis brought on by Western nations and the United States. Moreover, to get in and babysit East Timor that is overshadowed by subversive influences of Western imperialists and the United States would not be an easy proposition."

"What Thailand Should Do"

The lead editorial of popular Siam Rath commented (9/16), "To avoid the embarrassment of possible confrontation with fellow-ASEAN Indonesian troops, Thailand is best advised to send in troops tasked only with humanitarian or peacekeeping role, not peacemaking."

"ASEAN--Too Little, Too Late, As Usual"

Kajana Spindler asked in the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post (9/15): "Are Thai, Malaysian or Singaporean troops really going to confront the Indonesian military, their frequent golfing partners...(and) pursue the collection of evidence against the Indonesian military so that prosecution of crimes against humanity can take place? I very much doubt it.... Perhaps it might be better to limit ASEAN's contribution to the humanitarian level...leaving the hard edge of the peacekeeping operations to the militaries of those countries with more stomach, and experience, for such operations. This would not be shirking our responsibilities. It would simply be more honest and more consistent with our lack of moral purpose over the last couple of weeks....

"Only when the Indonesian military had effectively depopulated East Timor did the international community's rhetoric step up the requisite couple of notches to pressure Jakarta to start talking. Unfortunately, East Timor will probably only turn out to be a sideshow. The real battle in Indonesia, which has just begun, revolves around the Indonesian people's tentative attempts to free themselves from military control of their destiny."

VIETNAM: "East Timor: Independence Full Of Challenges"

The lead editorial of Ha Noi Moi (New Hanoi), the newspaper of Hanoi's municipal Communist Party Committee, commented (9/16): "The only right medicine for East Timor at this time is national reconciliation, without it, the start of the independence for East Timor will be the flashpoint of new conflicts and violence in the territory. The second challenge is that Indonesia is being pushed to accept an international intervention into East Timor at a time when the country's political and socio-economic life is suffering from severe difficulties... That East Timor is drifting away from Indonesia may be a factor which encourages the striving for independence in other parts of the country, the most visible one is the separatist movement in Aceh province."

EUROPE

PORTUGAL: "UN's Regeneration; U.S., Allies True To Their Principles"

In an editorial in center-left Publico, Jose Manuel Fernandes held (9/16): "The UNSC vote...could mark the beginning of a new phase in international relations. The UN redeemed itself from the errors of the past and hesitations of the present and...acted quickly. At least much more quickly than in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda or Haiti. What's more the chosen formula--creation of a force to impose peace--creates conditions for the intervention in Timor to be effective and not just rhetorical. We will not have ineffectual blue helmets, but soldiers with orders to fire when necessary.... The cynics...never foresaw the possibility that East Timor would find a place on the international agenda...later they didn't believe it had a chance for independence; finally, when the drama unfolded, they predicted that the greater interests of the United States would never allow for a solution that was undesirable for Indonesia.... They didn't believe that the United States (and its NATO Allies) were speaking sincerely when they said, regarding the intervention in Kosovo, that there could be a foreign policy based on principles which rested on the defense of humanitarian values. In the end, [the United States and its Allies] were true to the principles they enunciated then--and the 'ruler of the world' imposed its will on Jakarta."

"The Criminals Must Be Tried"

In centrist Diario de Noticias (9/15), regular columnist Luis Delgado emphasized: "Some militia leaders, who have not yet grasped what is happening to them, are continuing to threaten civil war in Timor, despite the entry of UN forces, or are threatening to conduct a guerrilla campaign from the mountains. Nonsense.... Let the UN forces come and occupy the terrain and we will soon see the courage and power of this band of assassins that only takes up arms against defenseles persons.... One of the first missions of the UN force should be the detention of the criminals pending their future trial in an independent Timor or an international tribunal."

"People Die, Ideas Are Immortal"

Under the above headline, Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins judged in centrist Diario de Noticias (9/15): "Given the fragmentation of power in Indonesia and Habibie's ambivalence, this was definitely the right time to act. Despite the risks, there may not have been another opportunity."

FRANCE: "Fighting For Human Rights"

Denis Jeambart asserted in right-of-center weekly L'Express (9/16): "The West, which invented the notion of humanitarian intervention, practices selective indignation and makes this a concept of international relations which cannot be taken seriously. Western nations go where their economic and strategic interests lead them. For the rest, they are guilty of incredible nonchalance. Ethnic and religious cleansing in East Timor are a shameful illustration of this diplomatic and ideological hypocrisy.... What was a strategic emergency for the Balkans became uncertainty for the distant archipelago.... After much public pressure, the West finally decided to react.... The fight for human rights cannot be based on selective criteria."

"East Timor: They Want To Empty Out Everything"

Arnaud Dubus judged in left-of-center Liberation (9/15): "The situation of refugees is desperate.... According to several non-governmental international organizations, the human situation in East Timor is far more serious than all evaluations made during the past few days, and is reminiscent of the Khmer Rouge regime in the mid-70s.... Only massive food assistance could avoid a human catastrophe. But the air drops of food, which had been accepted in principle last Monday by the Indonesian authorities, could not start because the military leaders have not given their final green light."

"Timor: Australia On The Front Line"

Right-of-center Les Echos maintained (9/15): "The East Timor crisis puts Australia on the front line and may endanger its relationships with Southeast Asian countries.... But it is inconceivable to let ASEAN intervene, when Indonesia is the most important member by its surface, population and economic power."

"The Indonesian Bonfire"

Arnaud Rodier observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (9/15): "The threat of economic sanctions weighed more than the diplomatic pressures. Indonesia had to accept the deployment of blue helmets in East Timor. But it is resentful. And the international financial community must be very careful not to cut the grass under its feet.... Today, if the international financial community does not want to draw a line in Asia, it must avoid the blunders. The IMF and the World Bank are aware of this. Indonesia is more than ever an economic bonfire."

GERMANY: "Bad Conscience"

Erik-Michael Bader opined in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/16): "The deployment of an international peacekeeping force for East Timor comes late, too late for thousands of people who were killed.... Measured against the tolerated genocide in Rwanda a few years ago, measured against the oppression of the East Timorese' will for independence...and measured against the shortcoming of the international community to prevent the foreseeable terror of the...militia groups, the decision of the UNSC...must be welcomed. Maybe the bad conscience of the international community in the case of East Timor can be useful on the long path to reforms that will lay down the rules for a standard allowing intervention once atrocities are looming and not just once public opinion has become intolerable."

"Uncertain Mission"

Peter Muench stressed in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/16): "It is a venture without alternative. The international community is sending a peacekeeping force to East Timor, and nobody can predict what the soldiers will find. But everybody knows that the people in East Timor will be lost without this protective force.

"It is idle to complain about the fact that the peacekeeping force is the result of a failure to offer a preventive policy. The only thing that is now important is that the mission of the peacekeeping force is based on a robust mandate (of the UNSC).... However, even such a mandate does not guarantee the success of such a mission, since it will be the long-term task of this peacekeeping force to implement this vote of independence.... Now everything will depend on the Indonesian army...which must prove that it wants to serve peace as it has now announced."

"Tough Mission"

Right-of-center Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin commented (9/16): "Unfortunately, we must expect the soldiers who are to bring peace to East Timor next week, to use their guns since the pro-Indonesian militia groups announced that they want to fight.... An Australian four-star general, who fought in Vietnam, will have the command over the force. He will certainly need his experience for a jungle war. East Timor has a chance, no more."

"The Timorese Starve, The UN Hesitates"

Andreas Baenziger emphasized in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/15): "This is a scandal: Instead of the UN Security Council giving a clear and courageous mandate for sending a peacekeeping force to East Timor, the United Nations sees itself forced to close its existing representation in East Timor and to fly out its staff and the refugees, who have entrusted themselves to the UN's custody.... This does not bode well for the mission of the UN force. Officially, Indonesia said that it is not setting any conditions, but in Jakarta, high-ranking Indonesian officials are threatening a war of pro-Indonesian forces against UN forces if they are commanded by Australia.... In New York, the UN is stalling, and Jakarta is reluctant, while the people who were forced to flee the pro-Indonesian killer gangs are starving."

"Contradictory Signals From Indonesia"

Right-of-center Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten averred (9/15): "The signals from Indonesia can hardly be more contradictory. While President Habibie approves the deployment of peacekeeping forces and wants to give the UN a free hand concerning the composition of this force, the militia forces are threatening to shoot every UN soldier. Although Habibie's words reveal that he has returned to reason, we cannot rely on them. The international community cannot afford a second Rwanda where the UN idly watched the genocide. In the interest of its own credibility and in the interest of the people who have trust in the UN, the UN must take action. The peacekeeping force that will now be set up much too late will have a dangerous mission. Much would be gained if it could stop the killing and make possible humanitarian assistance. But in order to prompt the Jakarta government to accept East Timor's independence, global pressure continues to remain necessary."

"The Case For UN Reform"

In an editorial in right-of-center Berliner Morgenpost (9/15), Olaf Jahn used the crisis in East Timor as a reason to advocate UN reform, saying: "Dead bodies must be piled up, wave of refugees that reach the size of an exodus must be in motion and cameras must broadcast such misery to the whole world. Only then will the UN intervene, if at all. This fatal impression seems to be the dominating view of a global organization whose charter calls the preservation of peace and security its prime objective. The case of East Timor has now shown how ineffective the UN is when it comes to implementing these goals. It supported the principle of self-determination and backed the referendum on independence. But, although the following wave of violence was foreseeable, it missed the opportunity to prepare for an emergency.... The UN must get clear guidelines for peace initiatives. And it should follow the German proposals, which have been much lauded, to lay down in writing every veto in the UNSC.

"A more predictable, more effective UN is in the interest of all nations, even in the interest of the major powers which do not want any unrest in their neighborhoods. UN reform would be the right step in the direction of a better world. The suffering in East Timor shows how urgent this reform is."

ITALY: "National Sovereignty Not A License To Carry Out Genocide"

A commentary by Luigi Negri in leading, rightist opposition Il Giornale held (9/16): "As Pope John Paul II and other authoritative representatives of the social and civil conscience have repeatedly pointed out, it seems that the time has come to irreversibly overcome the traditional concept of national sovereignty.... The international community can and must intervene to restore the conditions of freedom and democracy that are denied in a particular situation. Under which conditions does international intervention become legitimate? It is certainly necessary to have a leading nation that has maximum authoritativeness and ability to intervene (as does United States), but this is not sufficient. It is necessary for the strong nation to be able to stimulate the involvement of others."

"China Joins The Peace Club"

From Beijing, centrist, influential La Stampa observed (9/16): "China has officially been promoted to the role of strategic superpower. For the first time, in fact, Beijing has accepted contributing troops to a UN peacekeeping mission.... China's contribution--sending police troops--is of enormous political significance, both at home and abroad. Abroad, it means first of all a reconciliation with the United States, the main supporter of the international intervention. In other words, the United States is taking action to increasingly involve China in strategic regional processes. In Indonesia, China's intervention is very important, since China is the most influential nation in the archipelago.... Domestically, the consequences are similarly important. If China admits the principle of external intervention to resolve national problems, then it has to resolve in a more effective and less brutal way its minorities issues, mainly Taiwan."

"A Turning Point"

New York correspondent Arturo Zampaglione wrote in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (9/16): "After an initial hesitation which prompted criticism from all corners of the world, the UN has made a point of restoring its role and its dignity.... The green light to the international intervention is undoubtedly a turning point in the crisis. But nobody at the UN underestimates the risks involved in the mission."

"Obstacles In The Path Of The Blue Helmets"

Stefano Trincia filed from New York for Rome's centrist Il Messaggero (9/15): "The United States and Kofi Annan have confirmed their confidence in Australia [for the leading role in the UN peacekeeping contingent.]... The Jakarta government has apparently given up imposing its veto...[but] the WHite House does not trust the soldiers and has assigned the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shelton, to exert pressure on Wiranto, the head of the Indonesian army."

POLAND: "It Requires Rambo, Not Bambi"

Anna Husarska concluded in Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny (9/15): "The Indonesian government's consent on UN troops in East Timor could be called a success. But nothing will bring back to life thousands of people killed because of the international community's belated interest in the issue of Timor....

"As early as February...it was clear what needed to be done after the Indonesian government had agreed on a referendum in the disputed region on its independence: assure security throughout the voting process until the results were implemented.... Several months ago, one glance at the situation in Dili was sufficient to see that the developments there called not for Bambi (UN verifiers) but Rambo (soldiers). The lesson of Pristina went to waste. How many sorrowful events does the UN need to become wise?"

BELGIUM: "Good, But Belated UN Resolution"

Asian affairs writer Philippe Paquet editorialized in conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (9/16): "It thus took ten days of violence...for the international community to take up its responsibilities. Wouldn't it have been wiser, or even easier, to vote Resolution 1264 before the August 30 referendum, since all observers were predicting a bloodbath, the militias in Timor were promising it, and an Indonesian army plan was specifying the details of it? From Jakarta to New York, from Lisbon to Canberra, all those who blindly and hurriedly prepared the referendum--be it with the best intentions--are now sharing a heavy responsibility."

"Economic Interests Block Intervention But Provide Leverage"

Agnes Gorissen asked in independent Le Soir (9/15): "Why doesn't the United States intervene in East Timor, although it usually is so quick to act as the 'world policeman?' The question, these last days, is on the lips of a public opinion which is shocked by the atrocities being committed in the former Portuguese colony. One of the elements of the answer lies in economic interests. Of course, East Timor has oil, but it is Australia which is on the front line to exploit it, while the Americans have ties with Jakarta. An example: the Irian Jaya region. This territory, located on the Western part of New Guinea, was annexed by Indonesia in 1963. Since then, Indonesia has been exploiting as much as it could this very rich province. Jakarta even joined with partners. This is how Freeport Indonesia was born, a joint venture between American business Freeport McMoran, the Indonesian government, and a company belonging to former President Soeharto's family. Freeport Indonesia exploits a huge copper mine in Irian Jaya, and, first and foremost, the largest gold mine in the world....

"Given the profits which the mine is bringing, it is understandable that Freeport puts up with the violence against the Papuans who populate Irian Jaya.... It is also logical that, to protect its businesses' interests, Washington is reluctant to intervene against Indonesia. But these interests are also good leverage. If the Americans were to withdraw, the consequences would be devastating for the Indonesian economy, which is already living through difficult times. It is perhaps no coincidence that Jakarta accepted an international force when the United States began to show a real irritation and to take sanctions."

NORWAY: "Time Is Running Out For East Timor"

Conservative Aftenposten stressed (9/15): "Indonesia and the UN have agreed that the world organization will be able to drop food from planes to thousands of people who have sought refuge in the mountains of East Timor. The help is urgently necessary.... While the UN now pulls out its last observers and takes with it a number of refugees along the way, time is running out on putting foreign soldiers in place. The world cannot react calmly to a new humanitarian catastrophe. The pressure on Indonesia must be maintained."

SPAIN: "Intervention In East Timor"

Barcelona's centrist La Vanguardia observed (9/16): "The UNSC has approved the deployment of an international intervention force in East Timor...a hopeful sign that the crimes committed there will not be rewarded.

"But the most important thing now is to save lives, and for this reason the UN should accelerate its determination of the intervention force's composition and the date of its arrival. Any time lost will only be taken advantage of by the butchers to finish their work."

"Indonesian Army Should Not Pacify Timor"

Independent El Mundo reasoned (9/15): "Given that an international force cannot be sent to East Timor without Indonesia's prior approval, it is not possible to demand that its troops immediately abandon the area. But they must be quickly sidelined during the first days of the international intervention if calm is to be definitively restored, the massacres halted, and the refugees encouraged to return in security."

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA: "UN, Indonesia Move To Restore Peace To Timor"

Hong Kong correspondent Harvey Stockwin outlined these views in the centrist Times of India (9/14): "While Indonesia's decision to admit UN peacekeepers appeared to come in the nick of time for Indonesia and the UN, it remains uncertain that the horrific tragedy that has overtaken the people of East Timor will end any time soon.... It seems unlikely that even UN peacekeepers can be deployed fast enough to stem violence in the former Portuguese colony.... The escalating foreign criticism of Indonesia, and the expanding imposition of sanctions, played a key role in forcing Jakarta to accept the UN force it first resisted. After a typically hapless start, during which Clinton administration officials indicated that Timor mattered less because, unlike Kosovo, it was in Asia, President Clinton himself belatedly began to intensify his criticism.... Critically, Habibie placed his policy switch in the context of Indonesia's move towards democracy.... If Habibie's political days are numbered, then at least, belatedly he chose to go out in style. But whether the UN and the Indonesian leadership can now save the day for the still suffering East Timorese remains in doubt.... Significantly, China has left open the possibility that its army would make a contribution to the Timor peacekeepers once the UN approves the mission."

"Continuing Crisis"

The centrist Pioneer featured this view (9/14) by senior editor Sidharth Bhatia: "Despite a long-standing involvement in UN peacekeeping efforts, India has been disturbed at the rising trend of multilateral military intervention in other countries' internal affairs. Iraq, Kosovo and now East Timor, the international community, with or without the fig leaf of UN sanction, has been a bit too quick in using force in the garb of humanitarian assistance and Indian policymakers have not failed to understand the wider implications.... It is not only India which has a dilemma on the subject of committing troops to police East Timor. The United States, which has been in the forefront of similar multinational forces, has been showing extreme reluctance to send its troops, barring promising logistical help.... U.S. companies, which invested billions of dollars in Indonesia when it was a prominent regional tiger, are strong lobbies which will not countenance any precipitous decision which upsets Indonesia.... How [the Indonesian military] reacts will go a long way in determining the country's immediate future. For Indonesia, which is at its most vulnerable, politically, socially and economically, the next few months could decide the country's own future. Most crucially, East Timor's action could send a strong message to some of its other far-flung provinces like Irian Jaya, Aceh and Ambon, which were rocked with violence after its economy took a nose dive."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA: "The Armorers"

Editorialist Guy Taillefer opined in Montreal's liberal, French-language Le Devoir (9/15): "An international peace force will shortly intervene in East Timor, and it is not too soon.... The harm has already been done, thanks to an Indonesian army supplied for decades by the Western armament industry.... The East Timor invasion in 1975, made possible by American weapons, had received the diplomatic blessing of the United States, Great Britain and Australia. In this story, there is no shortage of hypocrisy and reversals."

ARGENTINA: "UN Sends Troops Under The Order To Open Fire"

Marina Aizen, New York-based correspondent for leading Clarin, remarked (9/16) "Paradoxically, the multinational mission in East Timor will have to live in harmony with Indonesia's occupation army, which...was the one which 'backed and encouraged' the violence.... UN diplomats recognize that the situation may become explosive, because those who have violated human rights will be held responsible for their actions.... On the Indonesian troops, the UNSC is between the devil and the deep blue sea. It does not wish to hurt the sensitivity of Jakarta's government (which is) in a very weak condition, but...runs the risk that peace forces in East Timor will suffer casualties in a possible confrontation."

BRAZIL: "U.S. Damned Either Way"

Liberal Folha de S. Paulo maintained (9/16): "The persons who a few months ago protested against the U.S. intervention in Kosovo seem to be the very same who now say that there are principled reasons to intervene in East Timor. They also seem to be those who one year ago protested against the U.S. inaction vis-a-vis the tragedy in Kosovo and Bosnia. In the media, the same editorialists and columnists who call for U.S. intervention have already execrated the United States for its interventionism. It works like this: 'How can the Americans be so insensitive when they have all the means to act?' And immediately after: 'But who do the Americans think they are? The world's police?' The United States has no way of escaping a final judgment. If it does not intervene in East Timor it is because, for example, Indonesia is more important than Serbia, and it has geopolitical and trade interests there. Now, if the United States did intervene, it would not be due to humanitarian or principle reasons...but because it has trade and geopolitical interests in the region and must humiliate and, therefore, control Indonesia.... What is important is to criticize, to invalidate."

MEXICO: "Pressure Worked"

Eugenio Anguiano's column in nationalist El Universal claimed (915): "The most important outcome of the APEC meeting was that the United States exerted pressure on Indonesia and was able to get an at least apparent concession: Indonesia will welcome an international peace force. The rest of the APEC meeting was merely rhetoric about free trade."

PERU: "Intervention For East Timor"

Stongly-opposition La Republica asserted (9/13): "The international community is watching what is going on in East Timor with horror and incomprehensible inertia. The UN has a great responsibility for not having foreseen a transitional post-referendum regime, for trusting the Indonesian army to maintain order. There should be a vote in the UN to establish a peace force which could intervene and assure an orderly transition. Will that happen? We are not optimistic."

For more information, please contact:

U.S. Information Agency

Office of Public Liaison

Telephone: (202) 619-4355

9/16/99

# # #



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list