Monday, October 14, 2002

WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT INDONESIA?: By Justin Slotman, Age Ten. Not much, really; the bulk of my informed opinion (such as it is) comes from that Ralph Peters article we were all trading around and blabbering over a while back. Wherein Peters says:

Indonesia is the ultimate illogical state. Spread over thousands of islands and forcing together ethnically, culturally, and religiously different populations, this mini-empire almost certainly will continue to fragment, no matter the contours and composition of the Jakarta government. Inevitably, we will try to arrest the state's decomposition (as of this writing, we are rushing to renew our support of Indonesia's corrupt, abusive military). Just as inevitably, we will fail. If we and other interested states are not thinking about how to manage and facilitate Indonesia's breakup, we will find ourselves embarrassed by history again. Supporting what is essentially an ethnically based colonial regime against the will of powerful minorities on the periphery is bound to fail, first morally, then practically.

An argument like this probably doesn't make sense to Americans, or at least to me as an American; I think, like, we're a mini-empire spread over many islands--from Manhattan to Key West to the Aleutians to Hawaii--okay, so that's a reach. But we are a mini-empire encompassing ethnically, culturally, and religiously different populations, though the cultural parts tend to be Borged into the collective whole, that "cultural and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own" deal but in a good way. The key difference, I guess, would be "forced together;" Americans--most of the time--have not been forced into being Americans. Apparently the percentage of Indonesians forced into being Indonesians is a much larger number. Or so Peters suggests in the quote above.

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