Accession Number:



Reluctant Partner: Indonesia's Response to U.S. Security Policies

Descriptive Note:

Special assessment rept.

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Indonesia and Southeast Asia more generally has featured more prominently for Washington. The terrorist attack in Bali, on October 12, 2002, serves to confirm that the problem of terrorism has become serious within Indonesia. Unfortunately, just as Washingtons interest in Indonesia increases, U.S.-Indonesia relations grow more difficult, fuelled by negative perceptions within Indonesia of U.S. foreign policy. While the Indonesian government has become more cooperative with the United States in the war against terrorism, the Indonesian population is not generally supportive. These differences are also found in the political elite. Indonesias vice president and several cabinet ministers have taken a more negative attitude towards U.S. foreign policy than President Megawati and the majority of the executive. Intra-cabinet dissent and public opposition constrain President Megawatis support of U.S. policy. The upshot of this is that the Megawati government has been unwilling to go further in supporting U.S. policy, most notably refusing to back the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, or possible action in Iraq. Given the proximity of the Soeharto government to the United States at best a marriage of convenience for both partners, post-reform Indonesia has resumed, to some degree, the early independence bebas aktif free and active policy, resulting in a greater degree of distance from the United States. On many important current issues Indonesia is a critic of U.S. policy, including Iraq and preemption. Jakartas main objection to U.S. policy is that Washington will classify groups as terrorist only if they directly threaten U.S. interests. The Indonesian government, after September 11, has maintained that al Qaeda is worthy of condemnation, yet officials perceive Washington s refusal to list separatists in Aceh as terrorists as a double standard in U.S. foreign policy.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Defense Systems

Distribution Statement: