September 24, 1999
EAST TIMOR: 'DAUNTING,' 'DANGEROUS' PERIOD AHEAD
The rapidly unfolding events in East Timor--with several shooting incidents reported yesterday involving armed pro-Jakarta militias and Australian peackeepers--and unrest in Jakarta, where crowds protested the passage of a new security bill giving broad powers to the military, continued to rivet the attention of editorialists around the world. Most commentators foresaw a "daunting" and "dangerous" period ahead for the Australia-led peacekeeping force, and viewed the death this past Wednesday of a Dutch journalist as an especially graphic "warning" from the militias that "they don't want anyone prying around." Several European observers emphasized that the fires set by departing Indonesian security forces in Dili, along with the sporadic gunfire, were proof that the "opponents" of an independent East Timor "are by no means about to capitulate." Those focusing on the new security bill concurred with Paris's right-of-center Le Figaro, which held that "it is as if the army were trying to take over before the presidential election [in Indonesia.]" Apart from the Indonesian media, most observers continued to voice steady support for the "moral impulse" to come to the rescue of the pro-independence East Timorese. Some, however, wondered whether the planned total size of the multinational force was adequate to the task. Recent events made Rome's pro-DS (leading government party) L'Unita, for example, opine that "8,000 [troops]" might not be "enough to stop the militias' violence." Following are additional themes in the commentary:
U.S.-AUSTRALIA TIES: In contrast to Australian editorials over the past two weeks, which were sharply critical of the U.S. for "abandoning" Australia in its efforts to take action on the East Timor case, more recent commentary began to assess what dailies termed the "blunders" of Prime Minister Howard's government. Liberal dailies, such as the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times, held that "there is no crisis in Australia-U.S. relations." The national, conservative Australian addressed Mr. Howard's recently announced "doctrine" on regional security, in which he proposed that Australia function as "deputy" peacekeeper to the U.S. Such an arrangement, that paper averred, "is about the most demeaning characterization of [Australia] that [one] could conjure up."
'ASEAN'S DILEMMA?': Pundits in Thailand and the Philippines debated ASEAN's role in the East Timor crisis. Manila's leading, financial Business World spoke of "ASEAN's dilemma," saying that ASEAN members risked a retaliation from their powerful neighbor should they choose to "pressure" Jakarta too forcefully over East Timor. Thai writers disagreed, and judged that it would be "unwise" for ASEAN "to slip back into the cozy world of non-interference."
INDONESIAN VIEWS: A number of Jakarta dailies continued to sound anti-Australian themes, with Muslim intellectual Republika resorting to derogatory puns on the name of Interfet commander, Major General Cosgrove. A minority, such as independent Suara Pembaruan, held that Indonesia "must not turn a blind eye to...human rights violations in East Timor" and must "have the courage to disclose how deep the relationship [is] between the militias and TNI [Indonesian army] operational units."
EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 60 reports from 24 countries, September 17-24. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
|  EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC  |    |  EUROPE  |    |  MIDDLE EAST  |    |  SOUTH ASIA  |    |  AFRICA  |
INDONESIA: "Australian Troops Fail To Complete Mission In East Timor"
Armed Forces' daily ABRI asserted (9/24): "The UN must realize that the Australian force has failed to carry out the peace mission in East Timor. Furthermore, the UN's face is now dirtied by the Australian troops' brutality. The Australians come across as a barbaric nation. If the UN has yet to open their eyes to this matter, it is difficult to foresee peace coming to East Timor. This is even more the case with the continuing presence of Australian troops."
"Diary Of The Cockroach General"
Muslim intellectual Republika contended (9/24): "The foreign media keep broadcasting the helplessness of pro-independence groups and the danger posed by pro-autonomy militias and the Indonesian Military (TNI). This foreign media campaign has been quite effective. In Sydney, Washington, Geneva and UN New York headquarters, politicians continue to cry out over brutality in East Timor. Criminals on display in this campaign are none other than the Indonesian military and government. They are even considering a human rights tribunal that would put Indonesia in the same position as the Rwandan government or Milosevic of Serbia, who took thousands of innocent lives. Ironically, much of the press in Indonesia is under the sway of foreign media.... Tonight, back in Dili, General Cockroach [a derogatory version of 'Cosgrove'], will conclude in his diary that conquering Indonesia is much easier than conquering the militias."
"East Timor Heats Up Again"
Ruling Golkar Party's Suara Karya argued (9/24): "Australian troops seemingly hate pro-integration factions. Their actions toward those suspected of belonging to pro-integration groups are more like an expression of enmity.... It seems important to closely monitor Interfet's acts--especially those of the Australian forces--that violate UN neutrality and human rights."
Islamic-oriented newsweekly Panji Masyarakat stressed (9/24): "Perhaps Prime Minister John Howard likes to imitate President Bill Clinton.... After interfering in Russia and Kosovo, the U.S. government is now under heavy domestic criticism.... With various U.S. cases in mind, Australia's national interests in East Timor must be examined. If there is such an interest--either in political, economic or security terms--it must be pursued to secure bilateral relations with Indonesia, which is hundreds of times larger and richer than East Timor. We are very surprised by the substantial war preparations in Darwin designed to win influence in East Timor."
"Assessing The TNI's Role In East Timor"
Independent afternoon Suara Pembaruan (9/23): "We must not turn a blind eye to a number of human rights violations in East Timor. We must have the courage to disclose how deep the relationship between the militias and TNI operational units at the low and middle levels had become to determine to what extent TNI can be held responsible for human rights violations in East Timor. It is important to question as well how much the decision makers, both civilian and military, in Jakarta should be responsible for the violence and violations there."
"Interfet Creates More Tensions"
Ruling Golkar Party's Suara Karya maintained (9/23): "The Australian force in Interfet have committed the type of deeds that Cosgrove has charged the Indonesian military (TNI) of doing previously.... Such an attitude will surely...aggravate the hatred pro-autonomy groups already feel toward Australian troops. What is clear is that after 72 hours, the multinational forces--most of which are Australian--have yet to successfully secure Dili and have instead created more tension. Remember that Prime Minister Howard once threatened to invade East Timor if the [Indonesian army] was unable to restore security within 48 hours."
According to independent newsweekly Tempo (9/23): "Indonesia's image...is so tainted that the foreign media equates Indonesia with Serbia, and [media outlets] have suggested half jokingly that perhaps the United States should launch missiles in this direction.... The IMF and World Bank may eventually provide the funds, but only for humanitarian reasons. Given these signals, it is possible that Indonesia will be included in a group whose economies continue to plummet despite receiving IMF and World Bank loans."
"The House's Last Farce"
The leading, independent Jakarta Post held (9/23): "The [Indonesian parliament's] invitation to Habibie appears to have been for nought. Habibie's speech was criticized as being worth next to nothing because his explanation failed to answer questions concerning the East Timor debacle."
The government-oriented Indonesian Observer maintained (9/23): "We must learn to be objective, and not always act as if the whole world is conspiring against us. According to the conspiracy theories doing the rounds, Australia is the country that has been masterminding the present UN operation against Indonesia. This is simply not true. The conspiracy theories are also an expression of disrespect for other countries participating in this international force, implying that they play a secondary role to that of Australia. It may be a good thing to bear in mind what the international press has said about the East Timor massacre [for us to obtain] a more balanced view of the whole matter, and understand world opinion."
"Explanation That Raises Questions"
Independent afternoon Suara Pembaruan concluded (9/22): "Habibie's explanation to the parliament of the East Timor question...was really nothing special, even disappointing to some members."
"President's Clarification Encourages Us To Strengthen Ourselves"
Leading, independent Kompas argued (9/22): "There is no use crying over spilled milk. Offering the East Timorese a broad autonomy at an inappropriate time turned out to be counterproductive. We launched the option without a clear and comprehensive concept or strategic support. Even had such contingency plans existed, they would have been ineffective."
"Habibie At DPR On East Timor"
Ruling Golkar Party's Suara Karya judged (9/22): "In light of President Habibie's explanation...the most important thing to do now is to protect the East Timorese refugees, and assist them in improving their future prospects."
"Need To Look Outward"
Nationalistic tabloid Rakyat Merdeka stressed (9/22): "The argument that violence, and killing unarmed civilians, is justified only because they oppose the government is apparently a thing of the past. The Indonesian nation, and the world's nations, have opened their eyes and cannot be fooled by arguments of security, or political and economic stability. It is precisely governmental violence toward its people that has caused the economic and political crisis."
"Scenario To Destroy Indonesia"
Pro-government, Islamic-oriented Pelita contended (9/22): "Territorial Chief of Staff Bambang Yudhoyono stated that there has been an international conspiracy to corner Indonesia by blowing the issue of Indonesian 'war crimes' in East Timor out of proportion.... Apparently, the damage to our international image is inseparable from a domestic conspiracy initially designed to...destroy the New Order regime and President Habibie.... We predict that the conspiracy aimed at destroying our country will become more intense in the future, as the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) General Session approaches."
AUSTRALIA: "Puppet Without A Master Spells Disaster"
The national, conservative Australian's foreign editor Greg Sheridan opined (9/24): "Under the unconsciously ironic label of 'The Howard Doctrine,' [our prime minister] envisions us becoming a 'deputy' peacekeeper for the region, with the United States, in a marvelous mixed metaphor, being the 'lender of last resort.'... The idea of us as deputy peace forces for the region to the United States presupposes that the United States is going to be the senior peacekeeper when required. But there is not the slightest indication that Washington is keen to deploy troops in myriad peacekeeping missions throughout the region. Casting us as the U.S. deputy in the region is about the most demeaning characterization of ourselves that you could conjure up."
"Time To Rebuild Foreign Policies"
The liberal Canberra Times argued (9/23): "As well as reassessing the priority of Indonesia in our foreign policy, we need to do the same for our relationship with the United States. In the case of the United States, we made similar mistakes to those we made with Indonesia. On the one hand, we expected too much of the United States and, on the other, we expected too little of ourselves. Fortunately for us, our mistakes with the United States have not turned into the disaster they have with Indonesia. Indeed, we should be extremely grateful that the U.S. refusal to come to our aid was in the context of East Timor, not in the context of a more significant crisis."
"Partnerships The Cornerstone Of Defense"
International editor, Paul Kelly, emphasized in the national, conservative Australian (9/22): "We need to realize there is no crisis in Australian-U.S. relations. This may have been the appearance, but it is not the reality.... The Howard government made a double blunder. It had a seriously mistaken assessment of the post-ballot violence in East Timor and the United States knows Australia made the wrong call; as a result Australia failed to alert the United States earlier to the possible need for an emergency UN operation.... U.S. diplomacy in putting pressure on President B.J. Habibie to approve the UN force and in giving support to Australian leadership of the force, was critical. The East Timor episode is more likely to be seen as an example of the success not failure of the alliance."
"How Australia Misread The Washington Ground Rules"
A former Washington correspondent for the liberal Sydney Morning Herald pointed out (7/22): "Now that the international force is doing its job in East Timor--backed by limited but useful U.S. logistical support on communication and supplies--the shrill Australian complaints about America's lack of 'boots on the ground' will fade.... The loud complaints from Canberra have...fed a broader public resentment within Australia about the relationship with the United States. As an exercise in political management this seems remarkably inept.... Canberra clearly needs to figure out a more sophisticated version of American reality. It's not the United States or the alliance that has changed--just Australia's understanding of it."
NEW ZEALAND: "New Zealand Involvement In Timor Will Be Long"
Wellington's moderate Evening Post predicted (9/23): "Nobody should pretend that the men and (increasingly) women of New Zealand's defense forces will be home soon from East Timor.... Even when peace is found, the task ahead is enormous.... Every aspect of life in East Timor will need to be resurrected [and] a democratic state will have to be formed.... Having helped establish peace, New Zealand and Australia can't then turn their backs.... Other massive and expensive support will be needed. So why did Indonesia allow peacekeepers into East Timor so quickly? The most logical answers are that Indonesia is heavily in debt and the United States of America made threatening noises about its International Monetary Fund loans and its continued access to U.S. military hardware. Money and guns talk."
"Jakarta Still Important"
Wellington's leading morning newspaper, the conservative Dominion, stated (9/23): "It would be a long-lasting tragedy with frightful consequences if the venting of spleen over the Indonesian army's role in East Timor, vile as it has been, stirred a reaction that set back progress toward a more open democracy and unnecessarily fouled relations with Indonesia.... The cultivation of good relations is not an optional extra, but an essential cornerstone of our contacts with the region."
PHILIPPINES: "ASEAN's Dilemma"
Singapore-based Al Dizon penned this view for the leading financial Business World (9/24): "What are ASEAN's choices? Nothing much, I'm afraid. Not a single ASEAN country in proximity to Jakarta's borders can exercise diplomatic or economic pressure on Indonesia.... Press Jakarta hard now on East Timor, and there could be a backlash from patriotic Indonesians that could see them attacking ASEAN embassies and burning flags in a way similar to actions already taken against the United States and Australian embassies there. Yet pressing Jakarta in a softer way...could be seen as a weakness. So ASEAN is in a bind. The last thing we'd like to see in Indonesia is a collapse of democracy, a military coup, further economic depression and/or secession by other rebellious provinces, since any and all of these outcomes would damage the stability and prosperity of Southeast Asia. And they would be unlikely to improve East Timor's lot. All things said, however, the ASEAN system, through ARF, should have initiated the resolution of the East Timor question, not an outside power like Australia."
"East Timor And America"
Greg Macabenta's column in the leading financial Business World (9/22) drew parallels between the colonization of the Philippines by the United States and East Timor by Indonesia, saying: "Life is full of ironies.... Cold-blooded as it may seem, the United States did what it did to the Philippines in the context of what it saw as its 'manifest destiny': to be a great superpower, alongside England, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal....
"Never mind that the Philippines had just declared independence from Spain--the Anglo conquerors couldn't take seriously the aspirations of self-government and sovereignty of a people who, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, were 'the white man's burden.'"
THAILAND: "Thailand Gives ASEAN New Meaning"
Sunai Phasuk maintained in the independent Nation (9/24): "Although the peacekeeping mission in East Timor is likely to be there for a long time, Thailand and other ASEAN members must continue to be committed to their initial decision that participation in Interfet is not only the right thing to do but also serves the long-term interests of all countries in Southeast Asia.... It would be unwise for Thailand and ASEAN to step away and slip back into the cozy world of non-interference."
The lead editorial in the top-circulation, moderately conservative Bangkok Post emphasized (9/24): "If the image of Caucasian troops imposing peace on Asia creates discomfort for ASEAN, because most of the members were at one time colonized by the West, then the regional grouping must redefine the role that it should play in these internal matters.... The mechanisms and willingness must be found to allow members to address issues that could blow up in their faces. Countries must be prepared to have their affairs examined and their people must understand the need to sometimes send soldiers overseas for peacekeeping duties."
"Settling The Bloody Timor Accounts"
Bavorn Tohsrikaew said this in top-circulation, nationalist Thai Rath (9/22): "In addition to lowly troublemakers, a serious (international tribunal's) probe will implicate Indonesian politicians and ranking military officials, including perhaps ex-President Soeharto, President Habibie and General Wiranto, in the 24 years of atrocities."
PORTUGAL: "Timor, Courage, And Shame"
In today's center-left O Publico, commentator Miguel Sousa Tavares asked (9/24): "Who doesn't think the Indonesians have acted like a band of marauders in Timor? Who doesn't want to see the assassins put on trial?... Who doesn't want to see Interfet advance into West Timor to save the refugees, with or without Indonesia's consent? But may God save Timor from the avenging fury of distant conquerers.... It was exactly like this in 1975. The same read-to-wear voluntarism, the same courage without risks, the same irresponsible geopolitical ignorance. We [Portuguese]...caused the debacle in 1975. We were the ones who lit a fire where none existed and stoked the flames. We were the ones who pushed the Timorese into the fire and then left them to their fate, while our army fled in panic to the island of Ataura. And now we have spent 24 years singing 'Ai, Timor!' A little more memory. A little more shame."
"Does The Empire Have A Heart?"
Editor-in-chief M. Bettencourt Resendes penned this lead editorial in centrist Diario de Noticias (9/23): "It was [President Bill Clinton] who...raised his voice in favor of the Timorese and gave a decisive push to the process which permitted the entry of a multinational force into Timor. Let there be no illusions: Without the words of the of the 'father of the world'...the Indonesians would still, even today, be carrying out their massacre of the martyrized Timorese people. So, does the empire have a heart? One can always find arguments of global strategy or short-term political motivations to explain the initiatives of a great power.
"But let us remain, at least this once, with the sweet conviction that there are men who are genuinely concerned with the fate of other men, women and children, and who did what they could--which is a lot...to end the killing in Timor. Let us believe, if just for one day, that a better world really is possible."
"Timor And Consensus"
In center-left O Publico, commentator Fernando Rosas aired this opinion (9/22): "[The Portuguese people and international public opinion] forced the external intervention that the United Nations and the great powers, namely the United States, were not willing to authorize.... In Timor...the United States and its allies held that it was necessary to hold long meetings of the Security Council, send a fact-finding mission to Jakarta (!) and condition the intervention on the prior approval of the Indonesian government.... During the long hours of affliction, it was understood in Timor, and here, that the United States preferred to sacrifice the Timorese people to the stability of Indonesia's political powers, essential to its strategic regional interests."
BRITAIN: "A Very Personal Sense Of Loss"
The independent Financial Times told its readers in a commentary (9/23): "The violent death of a correspondent is the worst thing that can happen in the life of a newspaper. In a business that depends to a great extent for its success on teamwork and mutual support, such a tragedy represents a very personal loss for everyone...in the organization.... We thought the undoubted risks of covering this story were justified by the importance to the region of what is happening in East Timor.... But this time, things went tragically wrong. The hope that the arrival of the International Force for East Timor (Interfet) would put a swift end to the brutal killings of recent weeks turned out to be too optimistic. East Timor has yet to be freed from the terror of the pro-Indonesian militias. As a result we have lost a colleague of great flair and initiative, a clever and entertaining man with a future of real potential, and someone who had been providing outstanding coverage of the current crisis."
"Australia The Brave"
The conservative Daily Telegraph's editorialized indicated (9/23): "The murder of the Financial Times' Jakarta correspondent has brought home how brutal and dangerous East Timor remains. The main burden of pacifying East Timor falls on Australia.... Unlike Bill Clinton when preparing for the deployment of American troops in the Balkans, John Howard, the prime minister, has from the outset spoken honestly about the possibility of casualties. Australia's commitment to the future of East Timor is surely right.... And, who knows, the loss of half an island illegally annexed in 1976 may play a determining role in the direction which Indonesia takes. The world's fourth most populous country hangs shakily between the old, military-dominated Soeharto dictatorship and democracy."
William Keeling had this to say in the independent Financial Times (9/22): "Like abhorrent sibling twins, the civil strife in East Timor and economic catastrophe in Indonesia have a common parentage: the absence of the rule of law. Despots cannot abide independent legal systems, preferring methods of threat and extortion to control business activity. For Western banks, this should spell disaster. Without the rule of law, they cannot lay claim to collateral pledged against loans that have turned sour.... The danger of Indonesia breaking asunder is a real one. But 30 years of financial abuse by the Soeharto government have left the provinces demanding accountability. The West, with the financial muscle to make things happen, has responded with empty gestures. As if in mockery, the World Bank has adopted accountability and transparency as its catchwords.
"Yet without the rule of law, there is no accountability. Until this is taken on board, deepening instability in Indonesia and southeast Asia will be the only outcome."
THE NETHERLANDS: "The Price Of Peace"
Independent, influential NRC Handelsblad had this editorial (9/23) on the death of Dutch journalist, Sander Thoenes: "The murder of the Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes in East Timor once again shows the world the hard facts. Maintaining the peace is a serious enterprise which requires a great deal of preparation, knowledge of local circumstances, and especially of credibility. As the situation in East Timor demonstrates, guaranteeing the safety of persons in an area where violence is endemic is a virtually impossible task.... [Foreign] Minister van Aartsen has immediately urged his Indonesian counterpart to do all possible to search out the culprits and bring them to justice.... In the atmosphere of the UN General Assembly in New York, where diplomatic habits are observed, that sounds like a reasonable request. But how that will be carried out in East Timor is open to question."
"Journalist's Death, A Warning From Militias"
Influential, liberal-left De Volkskrant (9/23) featured this op-ed piece, which wondered whether the murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes was a random, rather than a planned, incident. After all, the paper said: "The pro-Indonesian militias that have put fire to Dili and violently driven away hundreds of thousands of East Timorese have said earlier they do not want anyone prying around. It also seems as if this murder was meant as a warning that armed, troublemaking opponents of an independent East Timor are by no means about to capitulate.... The murder of Thoenes and the ensuing unrest raise the question whether the UN presence is large enough."
FRANCE: "Indonesian Army's Loss Of Prestige"
Isabel Lasserre opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (9/24): "Humiliated by its loss of power in East Timor, the army is trying to recover some power in Jakarta.... The parliamentary decision to confer all powers to the army has the student movement that ousted Soeharto up in arms because the new measures are threatening Indonesia's fragile process of democratization.... It is as if the army were trying to take over before the presidential election.... Since Habibie's arrival, the army has been losing some of its prestige--something which it does not accept readily, just as it does not accept the loss of East Timor to the international force."
"A Military Obstacle In Indonesia"
Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa held in left-of-center Liberation (9/22): "Once again, we can observe in the tragedy of East Timor the sinister maneuverings of military institutions in Third World countries which block their democratization.... In these nations, the political institutions cannot function because they are a branch of the military power.... In Indonesia, the international community has an obligation to disarm that power."
"The Responsibility Of Western Governments"
Dominique Bromberger told listeners of government-run France Inter radio (9/23): "The scenario of the East Timor massacres look very much like what happened in Rwanda, except that in this case the refugees are in the hands of the militia. And everyone is making believe that the Indonesian army has had nothing to do with this tragedy.... There will be no crimes tribunal for Indonesia.... Western governments would never dare ask for those responsible to be tried because until now they have quietly accepted a regime which did not respect the rule of law....
"Australia...Great Britain...the IMF, with the United States' blessing, have all contributed to the situation.... Of course, we must help the people massacred. But it would be best to prevent this type of tragedy."
"The North-South Line Of Fracture"
Left-of-center Le Monde stressed (9/23): "Pro-sovereignty proponents are misguided in their criticism of the UN.... The right to intervene for humanitarian reasons benefits all civilian populations. It is one step toward resolving conflicts peacefully. There are no good arguments against this."
"American Advisers For The Assassins"
Rene Backman had this to say in left-of-center weekly Le Nouvel Observateur (9/23): "Washington, which today shares with the Western community its indignation for the killings and massive deportation perpetrated in East Timor by the Indonesian army, carries its own responsibility for the tragedy. After giving its approval twenty years ago for the invasion of East Timor by the Indonesian forces, Washington armed and trained the troops engaged in fighting against the proponents of independence."
GERMANY: "Habibie's Speech"
Andreas Baenziger penned this editorial in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/22): "The relaxed attitude with which Indonesia is now reacting to the loss of East Timor was so surprising. What the Indonesians watched on TV was not only a humiliating defeat for the army, but also a blow to the face for the political self-understanding of the country.... But the outcry of outrage which could have been expected in Jakarta and in Indonesia as a whole has failed to come. This is clear evidence of the fact that the fate of East Timor has never met with great interest in the rest of Indonesia.... In this atmosphere, it was easy for President Habibie to deliver a justification speech and call upon the future parliamentarians to allow East Timor to go its own way."
ITALY: "Terror In Timor"
Pietro Veronese filed from Dili for left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (9/24): "Three thousand soldiers are not enough to restore peace in East Timor. We cannot say that the situation is slipping out of the hands of General Cosgrove's men, because the truth is that they have not yet had it under control. In Dili, patrols or checkpoints of the international peacekeeping force remain at the mercy of a city which is out of control.... Yesterday, too, Jakarta's military leadership announced the immediate end of the state of emergency in East Timor--just another way of washing their hands of it and leaving the path free for the militias. Indeed, tensions in Dili are running very high."
"What Next In East Timor?"
Giandomenico Picco judged on the front page of pro-DS (leading government party) L'Unita (9/24): "Indeed, I fear that 8,000 men are not enough to stop the militias' violence, and it is the Indonesian government which must do so.... IMF loans remain the most important tool in the hands of the international community."
"Death Of A Journalist"
Pietro Veronese filed from Dili in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (9/23): "A reporter was murdered. He is the first European killed in this month of passion and death in East Timor. His end is a sign.
"Even though there are Australians in the peacekeeping force...Dili is still a jungle. A dead city...(although) the organizational machinery is perfect. But the effectiveness of all these soldiers is still very limited. At the moment it seems that they are very busy trying to defend themselves."
"Peacekeepers Not In Control"
Marco Lupis remarked from Dili in Rome's rightist Il Tempo (9/23): "As soon as we landed here it was dramatically clear that peacekeeping troops...did not and do not have any control over the situation.... The whole city is a no-man's land. These worrying signals seem to show that the UN peacekeeping mission is more dangerous than expected."
DENMARK: "East Timor In Flames"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende opined (9/24): "The tragedy [in East Timor] is yet another example of the UN being able to patch things up once the damage has been done, but unable to actually prevent the conflict itself from erupting.... Here and now the main objectives are threefold: to increase the UN force to the size necessary to re-establish law and order; to force Indonesia to disarm their militia groups, that are now escaping to West Timor; and finally, to establish a special UN court to investigate the many cases of brutal attacks and killings."
GREECE: "A Domination Over Nations That Is 'Made In The USA'"
Pro-government Exousia had this (9/23) by Elias Vergitsis: "The American hesitancy to intervene in Timor is explained by the fact that America's commercial interests lie with Indonesia. On the contrary, American enthusiasm to intervene in Kosovo was based on the need felt by the transatlantic power to be present in this sensitive corner of Europe. Yet intervention in Timor was much more necessary than it was in Kosovo. The UN secretary general has proposed institutionalizing military interventions around the world, something which would annul the concept of diplomatic activities [between states], as the states are considered incapable of using dialogue as a means to resolve disputes."
"Return To Kosovo Via East Timor"
In pro-government Eleftherotypia, Giorgos Giannoulopoulos judged (9/22): "Like it or not, we are facing this thorny problem: How do you combine respect of human rights which are safeguarded by the UN charter, with respect for national sovereignty, which the charter also protects? To be a bit more blunt, what policy should one follow if a government decides to slaughter an ethnic, political, or religious minority, [especially if it has] secured the support of at least one Security Council member, thus preventing legal measures against the slaughterers?"
POLAND: "Loro Sae Or Free Timor"
Wojciech Pieciak wrote in Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny (9/22): "Timor Loro Sae [the name proposed for an independent East Timor] will be established because Indonesia--unlike Serbia, Rwanda or Iraq--wants to maintain relations and economic and military cooperation with the West.... Jakarta itself knows it would be unprofitable for it to stubbornly persist in the policy that Timor remain part of Indonesia--among other things, Jakarta would then lose Western credits...and U.S. military assistance. To build Loro Sae's state structures, however, may turn out to be a more difficult issue than to ensure Indonesia's withdrawal.... East Timor will be another country in the world which will be long dependent on the presence of the UN forces, and on elementary assistance from abroad."
SPAIN: "More Pressure Needed On Jakarta"
Independent El Mundo indicated (9/24): "The IMF shut off the spigot on new loan funds to Indonesia yesterday until such time as Jakarta normalizes the situation in East Timor and also clarified a corruption scandal involving the Bank of Bali and the party in power.... Thus has the international community bypassed an increasingly inoperative United Nations and begun to adopt economic sanctions against the Indonesian regime.... In a unanimous anti-colonialist reaction, Asian nations have come to Indonesia's support against the West's desire to open an investigation. How sad to see Japan and India take such a demagogic stance...and how difficult it is to act within the UN framework."
"The Lesson Of East Timor"
Prudencio Garcia emphasized in liberal El Pais (9/22): "Whatever the final outcome of the intervention in East Timor, it has once again made dramatically clear the pathetic lack of effective means to deal with such situations.... The first thing that is needed is a permanent, international, rapid-reaction intervention force under the authority of the UN secretary general...and the second, activation of the long-awaited International Criminal Court.... It will be said that both are expensive, complex and difficult to attain, and this is true. But without them, we will have to continue facing crises and putting up with genocidal criminals as we have been in the past."
KUWAIT: "Pressure On Indonesia"
Yousef Hashem Al-Rifai maintained in independent Al-Rai Al-Aam (9/20): "East Timor will receive moral and financial support from the West, so that it can become another Singapore, just as Malaysia allowed Singapore to separate so that it could become a military base for the West. Indonesia freely presented East Timor with independence. But the West is not satisfied, and rewards Indonesia with threats, pressure and a global propaganda campaign to distort Indonesia's reputation."
INDIA: "Peacekeeping In East Timor"
Freelance contributor P.K. Vasudeva held in the centrist Pioneer (9/23): While New Delhi is deeply distressed by the violence and loss of life in East Timor, it believes that the current crisis must be treated with sensitivity by the international community, as Indonesia is the world's biggest Islamic nation.... Indonesia is an important neighbor of India, and India has been maintaining friendly relations with it. India has the second-largest population of Muslims in the world. Pakistan has tried to equate East Timor with Kashmir. Even the Clinton administration has made it clear that 'Kashmir is not East Timor,' a former Portuguese colony.... The East Timor situation cannot be compared with Kashmir, because Pakistan has intruded into Indian territory in Kashmir since 1947 and is creating the insurgency."
"Task In East Timor"
According to an editorial in the right-of-center Pioneer (9/22): "Peacekeeping will not be easy.... There is little doubt that the UN forces will have to battle militias in East Timor to maintain peace.... Besides, the UN troops were invited there by the Indonesians themselves and have come under a UN flag. This signals a heartening departure from the unilateralism that the 'international community,' a euphemism for the powerful Western alliance led by the United States, has shown in recent years.
"Though many countries had their own specific reasons not to annoy Indonesia--the United States for example has had close links with Indonesia.... The peacekeeping forces are all set to settle down in East Timor for a long time. Their first task will be to restore peace and let displaced East Timorese come back to their devastated land. But their presence will be of no use if in the end the East Timorese are not given what they voted for."
NEPAL: "Western Sympathy"
The centrist Kathmandu Post commented (9/24): "Watching Western media one feels that it is entirely Indonesia's fault. For the [past] two to three months, BBC has been feeding this story in its Asia/Pacific hour constantly. Where is the Indonesian side of the story? Where were all these Western sympathizers of independence fighters for last 20 years? The United States has decided to stop arms supplies to Indonesia now. Why not for the last 20 years?... The Indonesian dictatorship was backed by all Western powers until they had free access to its resources and market. Now the Indonesian economy has failed and so the East Timor referendum for independence acquires priority."
SRI LANKA: "UN Peacekeepers For East Timor"
An op-ed article by Stanley Kalpage in the opposition, English-language weekly Sunday Island concluded (9/19): "Part of the Indonesian problem was that independence in East Timor would give other restive provinces ideas.... The collapse of Indonesia's economy and the recent changes in government have given momentum to a number of secessionist movements. The next president to be elected by the National Consultative Assembly in November will have a difficult time keeping Indonesia together."
NIGERIA: "Focus On East Timor's Future"
The Lagos-based, independent Post Express opined (9/24): "As the peacekeepers move into East Timor to restore peace and security, the UN should continue to focus on the future of East Timor. There must be adequate guarantees from Indonesia that neither its militia nor its military will ever do anything to threaten the security of East Timor. Countries like Australia, Britain, Portugal, Thailand and the United States should be commended and supported in their effort to restore the right of the people of East Timor to control their future. There should be a clear time table for the total independence of East Timor. But for now, the humanitarian effort should move at full speed."
"The Rights Of The East Timorese"
In the view of Lagos's independent Comet (9/22): "At the end of the 20th century, force must be outlawed as a language of diplomacy and politics. A people, no matter how few they are, must have the inalienable right to decide their own future in a free and fair election.... No country, no matter how big and important, should deny the right of existence to an internationally recognized neighbor. If it is wrong in Kuwait and Bosnia, it is also certainly wrong in East Timor."
ARGENTINA: "UN Faces Problems In Controlling East Timor"
Julio Algañaraz, on special assignment in Darwin, Australia, for leading Clarin, held (9/24), "The UN international force has met several difficulties to consolidate the control of Dili.... These difficulties have considerably delayed its deployment in the interior of the territory.
"Yesterday, there was a confusing riot between Nepalese Gurkhas at the service of Great Britain and a group of Indonesian soldiers.... General Cosgrove did not hide his concern, because riots create a feeling of great insecurity.... Good news arrived from Jakarta.... Habibie's government announced that it decided to abolish the martial law proclaimed in East Timor and to leave Timorese domestic security in the hands of the UN military contingent.... Problems are still overwhelming, because in West Timor there are at least 150,000 refugees in hands of the army and militia, while another 300,000 people are still hidden in East Timor mountains."
MEXICO: "Occupied East Timor"
Carlos M. Urzua insisted in nationalist El Universal (9/17): "Genocide is genocide, just as a rose is a rose. And genocide is precisely what has been going on in East Timor for over a quarter of a century.... Why have the Western powers not acted to stop the genocide in East Timor as they did in the Balkans?... To begin with, Soeharto was a great ally of the United States. In addition, if there is something that could cause insomnia to those responsible for U.S. foreign policy, it is that Indonesia might cease being a loyal U.S. ally. Another reason to explain the silence of many industrialized nations is that Indonesia has oil, and East Timor does not."
ECUADOR: "A Peace Culture"
Leading, centrist El Comercio's lead editorial stated (9/21): "The moral impulse in favor of peace--under the auspices of various nobel prize winners and a variety of international figures--coincides with an era of violence. There is no longer one big war, as happened twice during this century, but small localized conflicts that endanger peace. What is happening in East Timor is just an example. There is an offensive in a small site in the middle of the ocean where a disproportionate force attacks a weak community. It is good that these kinds of abuses are not hidden as happened many times before. The media has disclosed them, and we all hope it will be possible to put an end to these barbaric actions."
HONDURAS: "War Begets War"
Antonio Martin remarked in pro-government La Tribuna (9/24): "The UN--that organization made up of the powerful who command and the weak who obey--has authorized the use of force to suffocate the aspirations of East Timor.... Instead of the UN sending armed soldiers to East Timor, why don't they send assistance for peace and offer the people of the island a frank dialogue so that they can make a democratic decision, find the way to independence and avoid further violence? Violence begets violence. War begets war. The UN should stop trying to be a entity of force at the service of the powerful and should align itself along the side of justice and peace so that the weak are able to breathe in true independence."
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