U.S. Senate debate on bill which would require future US government arms sales to Indonesia not to be used in East Timor.
June 29, 1994
Note: Some strictly procedural discussions have also been omitted so as not to obscure the substance.
J. Bennett Johnston's initial speech and dialogue with Paul Simon. 9:00 pm June 29, 1994
(Transcribed from tape, not from the sanitized Congressional Record.)
Johnston: Mr. President, I rise to voice serious objection to language in this bill on page 34, which in effect, puts an embargo on foreign military sales to Indonesia. Mr. President, I think this is a very serious mistake for the United States to be doing this. The House had language continuing a ban on what we call IMET funds, that is the military training funds and this has, in effect, a sanction against Indonesia for the policy in East Timor. [Call for Senate to be in order]
Mr. President, what the Senate has done is to substitute for the ban on IMET in effect a ban on foreign military sales if those foreign military sales would be used in East Timor. Now the problem is, Mr. President, that any of these sales can be used anywhere in Indonesia. For example, the C-130, which is made in I think over 40 states in the United States, and sold in fairly large quantities to Indonesia, flies all over Indonesia. And if it can't fly to East Timor, then you probably will not be able to sell the C-130. Spare parts for the F-16; the F-16 lands all over Indonesia. There are all kinds of spare parts for all kinds of weapons, which are sold to Indonesia. So that we have in this language, Mr. President, the start of what is in effect an arms embargo on foreign military sales.
I can tell you Mr. President, the Indonesians are outraged about this language. It is much worse than the House language. Mr. President, we could debate here all night about East Timor, and about human rights in Indonesia, which I believe are greatly improving, it is an emerging country [request for order]. Mr. President, we could debate here for a long time, and I think we ought to, debate the question of Indonesia, their record on human rights, and the situation in East Timor. I believe Indonesia deserves the support of the United States. They are the fourth largest country in the world. They are the largest Muslim country in the world, and we keep poking them in the eye.
Mr. President, they are one of the world's leading emerging countries in terms of economy. They'll be buying $130 billion in infrastructure improvements over the next decade. They are a key player in ASEAN and in APEC. Indeed, the President is going to APEC this fall. And while he's doing that, we're putting, in effect, an embargo on foreign military sales.
Now, Mr. President, what is the policy of the State Department on this? I'll be frank and tell you I don't know. They tell me they are opposed to it, but a letter from them is not forthcoming, so I don't know what the policy is. I have a letter from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, John M. Deutsch, who says
"I am writing to express the views of the Defense Department on a matter of some concern. A provision in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, as reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee, would place significant restrictions on the use of defense equipment that Indonesia purchases from the United States. Specifically, this provision would bar Indonesia from using defense items purchased through the foreign military sales program in East Timor.
"We oppose this provision, and in coordination with the State Department are working with concerned Senators such as yourself to see if it can be revised. We are concerned that passage of this provision would disrupt our modest yet important security relationship with this strategic country and would drive the Indonesian defense establishment away from U.S. sources of equipment.
"As you certainly know, we have many important interests in Indonesia. Improved human rights, as well as solid defense ties are among the many objectives we pursue. We strongly believe that active engagement with the Indonesian military through training and FMS programs and other defense cooperation better positions us to positively influence the development of improved human rights conditions. Through our interaction with the Indonesian military at all levels, we play a role in the candid dialogue the Administration conducts on human rights and the issue of East Timor. "
"The Office of Management and Budget advises that, from the standpoint of the Administration's program, there is no objection to the presentation of this letter for the consideration of Congress. Signed, John M. Deutsch, Deputy Secretary of Defense."
I ask unanimous consent that this letter be placed in the Record.
Now, Mr. President, I would have had an amendment on this issue, but I was led to believe that the State Department would take a position and would give us a letter. They will not give us a letter. They say "We're opposed to it, we want you to work it out." What is our position from the State Department in East Timor and Indonesia? The fourth largest country in the world. We ought to have a position! And we don't!
Consequently I don't have an amendment. But I think this is a huge mistake. I think it ought to be looked at in the conference committee. I hope they will look at it in the conference committee, and I hope the State Department will tell us one way or the other. Do they want it? Do they want to go back to the IMET ban, do they want to have Foreign Military Sales bans, what do they want to do?
This is not beanbags, Mr. President, this is important foreign policy with the largest Muslim country in the world, and the fourth largest country in the world, and one of the fastest emerging countries, and a traditional friend of the United States. Stood by us all this while. In Vietnam and every place else. A demonstrated friend of the United States. And if we're going to poke them in the eye, it ought to be intentional, it ought to be the foreign policy of this country and not makeshift policy where nobody knows exactly what the policy of the country is. I hope that we will look at this issue in the conference committee.
[Larry Pressler made a speech on Haiti]
Paul Simon, D-IL: Mr. President, I wondered if I could have the attention of the Senator from Louisiana, Senator Johnston. I heard your remarks about Indonesia, and I am not an expert in this area. I know our colleague, Senator Feingold, has paid a great deal of attention to that. His concern about what Indonesia is doing in East Timor, and their pressure on the Philippines and on others, and then the recent crackdown on freedom of the press in Indonesia. I have to say the conduct of Indonesia just recently in this regard had not encouraged me, and again, I'm a non-expert in this field, but has not encouraged me to go along with the Senator from Louisiana's position. I would be curious as to your response on that.
Johnston: The Senator is correct that not everything that takes place in Indonesia is encouraging. They do not have freedom of press in Indonesia as we know it. And indeed, there have been some arrests or crackdown on some press who had been particularly critical of the government. No doubt about that. You know a lot of our friends around the world have adopted policies that are not consistent, do not comport, with our Bill of Rights government. And I think, we shouldn't retreat from doing what we can to be effective in trying to propagate democracy and freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. around the world.
My problem is that to put a ban on foreign military sales and to do so without having it a considered judgment, a foreign policy of the United States, with one of our best traditional friends, with one of the largest countries in the world, just to do it haphazardly I think is an awful way to make foreign policy.
We had debate earlier about whether the Congress should make it [on Haiti] or whatever. It seems to me that the President and the State Department ought to be at least the ones who initiate it, and should not be by-players, should not be wringing their hands on the sidelines while we make foreign policy here in the Senate. You know, a good indication of the kind of foreign policy we made was a couple of weeks ago when we adopted two Sense of the Senate amendments on Bosnia, about lifting the embargo. One said, by a 50- 49, we should not lift the embargo unless the United Nations says so. The other one said we ought to lift the embargo with or without the United Nations. Both resolutions adopted 50-49. I just don't think we ought to make foreign policy in this way.
And I would also say that if we're going to take sanctions against every country in the world who is criticized by Amnesty International or somebody else, the list of our friends will be short indeed. Short, indeed. In fact, the United States itself has been criticized by Amnesty International on the death penalty and other things.
Having said that, I would say that I share the Senator's concern about some of the policies in Indonesia, although I think that Indonesia has made huge steps forward in human rights, in labor relations, and I think the State Department would tell us that, if they would tell us something.
Simon: I would simply say to my colleague from Louisiana that I agree we can't expect carbon copies of the United States around the world, and I think we have to be careful in micro-managing foreign policy on the floor of the United States Senate. I think that's one of the dangers when people sense a little bit of a vacuum in the executive branch, that we move in, and move in sometimes when we shouldn't. I would hope that before the Senator would maybe offer an amendment that he might discuss this with our colleague, Senator Feingold, who has spent a considerable amount of time in this area, who knows much more about it, frankly, than I do.
Johnston: One of the problems -- it was offensive, I think, counterproductive, to have a ban on IMET funds, the military training funds, because the military training funds keep the kind of incident that you had in East Timor from occurring, by having better trained people. But the House had the ban on the IMET funds. But for that, we substituted something worse, which is the FMS ban.
And one of the [reasons] that is so offensive to the Indonesians is, in mentioning East Timor, it suggests that we do not recognize East Timor as a part of Indonesia, that somehow we are tipping our hat or genuflecting in the direction of those who say East Timor ought to be an independent state. There are some people who legitimately and sincerely believe that. To say that as part of law adopted by this Senate is a very serious charge. It is as if the British Parliament adopted a resolution that said that Puerto Rico should not be part of the United States, and we have been criticized by the United Nations for that.
So I just say that this is a bad way to make foreign policy. I think it is a big mistake. And I hope the conferees will look at this when they get in the conference committee.
From Congressional Record:
Provided further, That any agreement for the sale or provision of any (lethal) equipment on the United States Munitions List (established pursuant to section 38 of the Arms Export Control Act) to Indonesia that is entered into by the United States during fiscal year 1995 shall expressly state the understanding that the equipment may not be used in East Timor;
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the Johnston amendment, which he has intro- duced, is now pending. I certainly do not want to cut him off or the Senator from Kentucky - if we could have order, Mr. President - because I think for some of those who may be planning to leave this may be of importance to them, because I suspect we are going to vote on this.
Mr. JOHNSTON. I ask unanimous consent that on the Johnston-McConnell-Nunn amendment there be a 30-minute time agreement equally divided with no sec- ond-degree amendment in order, the time to be under my control and that of the distinguished floor manager.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, this gets a little bit confusing. I realize we can do anything by unanimous consent. But is the Senator saying he wishes to move to amend an amendment that is not before us because It has not yet been adopted? Would it not be better to adopt the amendment that he wishes to amend?
Mr. JOHNSTON. Mr. President, if the Senator will yield, I am advised that the proper motion would be a motion to table the committee amendment which is contained on page 34, line 19, beginning with the word "provided" and ending with the word "Timor" on line 25. I ask unanimous consent that there be a 30-minute time agreement on the motion to table that amendment and that it be in order to consider it at this time.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I will not object provided I have the right to offer a perfecting amendment on line 21 between the words "any" and "equipment" to be able to offer the amendment to say "lethal."
Mr. JOHNSTON. Mr. President, I would restate my unanimous consent request. I ask unanimous-consent that it be in order to move to table the language on page 34, line 19, beginning with the word "provided" and ending with line 25 with the words "East Timor"; and further request that the amendment to be stricken be modified by adding the word "lethal" in front of the word "equipment" on line 21.
PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Hearing none, It is so ordered. The committee amendment is modified, as follows:
The amendment on page 34 beginning with "Provided" on line 19, is modified by inserting "lethal" before the word "equipment" on line 21."
Mr. JOHNSTON. Mr. President, since I made my statement on this matter, I am advised that the State Department has, in fact, as of 7:35 p.m. tonight, taken a position on this provision and that they do find this provision unnecessary and inconsistent with our policy. If I may now read the letter from Warren Christopher. It is a letter to Mr. LEAHY. It reads as follows:
=========== DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: As you work on the FY 1995 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, we would like to provide you with a clear statement of the Administration's policy towards Indonesia and reiterate our ob- jections to language which would place restrictions on arms sales or transfers to that country.
This Administration is steadfastly pursuing the objective, shared with Congress, of promoting an improved human rights environment in East Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia. We are trying to pursue our agenda aggressively, working with Indonesians both inside and outside the Government, using our assistance, information, and exchange programs to achieve results. At the same time, we have raised our human rights con- cerns at the highest levels in meetings with Indonesian officials. As a direct expression of our concerns, our current policy is to deny license requests for sales of small and light arms and lethal crowd control items to Indonesia. In accordance with U.S. law, we make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, applying this general guidance. East Timor remains a high priority for our human rights efforts in Indonesia. In l994, there was considerably greater access to East Timor on the part of international groups such as the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch, foreign and domestic journalists, parliamentarians, and diplomats. We understand that the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] is expanding its on-the-ground presence in East Timor and has, with the cooperation of government authorities, worked out satisfactory access arrangements for visits to detainees. The expanded USAID program includes projects designed to strengthen indigenous NGOs active in agriculture, health, vocational training, and microenterprise. On the security front, the Indonesian Government has reduced its troop levels in East Timor by two battalions. In East Timor, as well as elsewhere in Indonesia, we have seen evidence of improved military accountability and self-restraint under new military leadership.
We clearly recognize that more needs to be done. We continue to push for a full accounting for those missing from the 1991 shootings in East Timor and for reductions or commutations of sentences given to civilian demonstrators. We have also urged further reductions in troop levels and efforts at reconciliation which take into account East Timor's unique culture and history. But we do not see new restrictions on sales of defense equipment warranted by any deterioration in conditions; indeed, we believe efforts to support military reform and promote military professionalism, discipline and accountability should be encouraged.
IMET restoration would be an important tool to this end. We therefore welcome the fact that the Senate appropriations Committee language for the Foreign Operations Hill for FY 1995 would remove the existing legislative prohibition regarding IMET for Indonesia. The United States has important economic, commercial, security, human rights, and political interests in Indonesia. Our challenge is to develop a policy that advances all our interests, that obtains positive results and reduces, to the extent possible, unintended negative effects. In this regard, the provision restricting military sales or transfers to Indonesia in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill is unnecessary and inconsistent with our policy objectives in Indonesia.
Please be assured that we will continue to work aggressively to promote better human rights observance throughout Indonesia. We are committed to doing so in what we believe is a comprehensive, effective, and results- oriented manner, and will continue to keep in close contact with you and other Members interested in these matters. Sincerely, WARREN CHRISTOPHER.
Mr. President, in fairness to the chairman, neither of these letters, either from the Deputy Secretary of Defense or from the Secretary of State, were available to any of us on the Foreign Operations subcommittee at the time this amendment was adopted. I hope, therefore, that this language could be stricken, keeping in mind that the matter will be in conference as regards IMET.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent Senator DOLE be added as a cosponsor. I rise in support of the amendment by the Senator from Louisiana. Indonesia is a large, thriving market. In fact, it has been identified as one of the prime trade investment opportunities for U.S. companies. The language in the bill is sufficiently vague to cause both the United States and the Indonesian Government a considerable concern.
The language asks that we reach an agreement with Indonesia that equip- ment we sell may not be used in East Timor.
Frankly, I do not see how we could possibly monitor that. If we sell equipment to Indonesia to use with their armed forces, we do not sell it to a particular place in Indonesia. What happens, for example, if a unit is using United States equipment in one part of Indonesia and gets transferred to East Timor? There is no practical way to enforce this particular provision.
In effect, our inability to monitor the terms of any understanding could turn it into an embargo of all sales. I repeat, it could turn it into an embargo of all sales, and that is certainly not in our best interests.
This would be a serious mistake. Indonesia has been a valuable ally in regional politics and has provided support to our naval forces in the region over the years. The effect of the amendment would be damaging to our trade, political and security relationship with a country of over 190 million people. I think we can press the human rights case in a constructive fashion without damaging this important relationship.
So I commend the Senator from Louisiana for this proposal. We have been working with him to try to minimize the restrictions on Indonesia in this bill. We obviously did not get quite far enough to satisfy the Senator from Louisiana. I think his concerns are valid. I support them, and I hope the Senate will approve the Johnston amendment.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, basically my good friends from Louisiana and Kentucky are saying we should have no restrictions or no say at all on what the equipment we send to Indonesia is used for. I am not sure if there are other countries that we are willing to give that kind of carte blanche to. I know of none in this bill that we give that to. I know of no countries where we give them such an open-ended use of our equipment.
It is not a case where we have ignored Indonesia. We have given them $4 billion of taxpayer-paid-for economic and military aid over the past 30 years - $4 billion. We are going to give Indonesia another $60 million in aid next year. We have not turned our back on them.
In the committee amendments we have removed the prohibitions on IMET placed in the other body. We have tried to do things to show Indonesia our continuing support. After all, $4 billion, and $60 million next. year, is more than just a Valentine card.
The Indonesian army occupied East Timor over 20 years ago. Since 1976 we passed half a dozen non-binding resolutions in this Congress. Most of the Members of this body voted on them - asking them to stop abusing the rights of the people of East Timor.
Three years ago - one of the things that really brought this to a head - Indonesian soldiers fired on peaceful demonstrators in East Timor. They killed between 200 and 300 people. At first they said only 19 people died but then, when the truth came out, they said we have to do something about it. And what did they do? They arrested some of the demonstrators, sentenced some of them up to life imprisonment, and the soldiers went to jail for a few months. Even that would not have happened if the press had not become aware of what happened. Even the officers in charge were never charged with a crime. People are still not accounted for.
We cut off military assistance for 2 years and then we ended up selling it to the Indonesians anyway. We deleted the House language cutting off sale of military training. I moved to delete the ban on military training assistance. I believe the ban outlived its usefulness and I moved to make sure that could still go to Indonesia. But having given them $60 million in aid, having lifted the bans on training and assistance, let us not totally turn our backs on the people of East Timor and say the resolutions we passed time and time again in the Senate were merely that. We never meant it.
We have even amended this provision so it covers only lethal equipment. Could we, insofar as we are using America's taxpayers' money, just have a little teensy-weensy bit of control? Even a little teensy-weensy bit of American taxpayers' say of where this money is going to be used? Even a little itsy-bitsy bit of say when we tap the pockets of Americans for $60 million more to say what it is going to be used for?
There are 8,000 Indonesian troops in East Timor. We do not affect the $28 million sales of commercial equipment to Indonesia in 1995. That goes forward. But we can say when we are sending $60 million of your tax dollars, my tax dollars, everybody else's tax dollars to Indonesia, we also support people who were persecuted for peacefully expressing their human rights, even if they happen to live halfway around the world and we do not see them daily.
I agree Indonesia is an important country. I joined with the Senator from Louisiana in making that statement, as he knows, on a number of occasions. But that is why we provide this money. That is why I deleted the prohibition of IMET training. That is why I supported $60 million to them.
But I have to tell you, this is one Vermonter who does not like to give out a blank check of the taxpayers' money, and I say this action of the Senators from Louisiana and Kentucky would do that, as we put on no controls whatsoever.
Mr. President. I ask unanimous consent that an article by Philip Shenon in the New York Times on June 29, 1994, be printed in the RECORD.
[The article was not read on the Senate floor.] INDONESIA MOVES TO STIFLE CRITICISM, BOTH AT HOME AND ABROAD (By PHILIP SHENON)
SINGAPORE, June 27. - The Indonesian Government, which bans most public debate among its open people over the disputed territory of East Timor, is pressing its smaller Asian neighbors to keep quiet, too. [more on APCET, the Malaysian Conference harassment, and the closing of three news magazines. as this article has already been posted in reg.easttimor, it is not repeated here, even though it does appear in full, in the Congressional Record.]
Mr. FEINGOLD. I thank the Senator from Vermont
Mr. President, this is a heck of a time to be giving a seal of approval to the conduct of the Indonesian Government with regard to human rights and, in particular, treatment of East Timor. The Congress suspended IMET to Indonesia in response to a brutal massacre by the Indonesia forces against peaceful demonstrators in 1991, and the Indonesians have shown really very little remorse since then. Last year the Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted an amendment to the foreign assistance bill that would require the administration to consult with Congress on human rights before approving the sale or transfer of arms under the Arms Export Control Act.
Among those conditions the Indonesian Government has significantly failed to respond. There are six areas. To the first three, there has been no re- sponse. One of the conditions was whether the civilians convicted in con- nection with the November 1991 East Timor incident have been treated in accordance with international standards of fairness, including whether the Indonesian Government has reviewed the sentences of these individuals for the purpose of their commutation, reduction or remission. No response from the Indonesian Government on this item.
A second item, whether the Indonesian Government is taking steps to curb human rights violations by its security forces, including all military personnel who were responsible for ordering, authorizing or initiating the use of lethal force against demonstrators in East Timor in 1991 are being brought to justice. No response from the Indonesian Government.
Finally, whether there has been a full public accounting of the individuals missing after the November 1991 incident. No response.
That was the position which the administration agreed to, and the administration now certainly does not believe we should give a blank check to Indonesia.
The administration has adopted a ban on light arms sales to Indonesia after a thorough review of policy which concluded that Indonesia is an important ally but, at the same time, the administration wanted to send a strong message that Indonesia has not done enough.
So this is the worst possible approach we can take to simply strike the language in the bill. I cannot think of a worse time. In this very week, the Indonesians have cracked down on press freedoms by revoking the licenses of three major journals for "sowing discontent." This is the kind of conduct we are going to reward on this night after that conduct in Indonesia this week. I think that is very troubling.
Fifty people who were peacefully protesting the restriction were beaten by Indonesian security forces this past week and this comes. Mr. President, on the heels of bullying tactics by the Indonesian Government against the Philippines just recently for holding a conference of foreigners who are going simply talk about what was going on in East Timor. I understand that they are also now trying to keep the Malaysians from holding a similar con- ference as well.
Of course, the Indonesians are our allies, and I hope their country is trying to make progress in this regard and we want to have a strong friendship. But the conduct of just these past couple of weeks indicate just the opposite.
I think it would be a very serious mistake for us to remove a provision that says American arms should not be used to kill and torture the people of East Timor. And I ask the Senate to oppose this effort to table the committee language because it could not come at a more inappropriate time with regard to the human rights of the people of this world and. in particular, the human rights of the people of Indonesia and the people of East Timor.
Mr. PELL. Mr. President, I thank my friend and colleague from Vermont.
I wish to state general and specific reasons why the position regarding East Timor, in my view, of the Senator from Vermont is correct, and, thus, that the language in the bill, as reported by the committee, is correct.
I think we all agree that there should be some control of weapons, whether they are lethal or nonlethal, when they are turned over to other countries. We used this argument when the Turks took American weapons and misused them in the occupation of Cypress. The argument that the United States should exercise some control over its military assistance and sales to foreign countries is widely accepted.
In addition, there is the argument of human rights. It is generally recognized that Indonesia is a little blow in its march down the road toward human rights, although more and more countries throughout the world and particularly in the Far East are improving the human rights conditions of its citizens.
From a specific viewpoint, I cannot help but recall a couple of years ago when I was in Indonesia, I asked President Soeharto if I could go to East Timor. He told me emphatically, "No, that it might have an unsettling effect." He was afraid at that time that a visit by this U.S. Senator would draw too much attention to the plight of the East Timorese people.
As Senator LEAHY mentioned, I too was deeply distressed by the treatment accorded the shooters and the shootees at a riot in Dili, East Timor, in 1991 when the Indonesian military fired upon a group of peaceful demonstra- tors. The punishment meted out to the ones who murdered or shot the shoot- ers was far less than the punishment handed out to the shootees, the people shot at. Clearly, Indonesian security forces continue to repress the East Timorese.
I urge my colleagues to support the committee language as written.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, one thing, this does not affect licenses of commercial sales, which is the overwhelming majority of our military sales, and having given billions of dollars to Indonesia, another $60 million, the language sought to be stricken is simply any agreement for the sale or provision of any lethal equipment on the United States munitions list to Indonesia that is entered into by the United States during fiscal year l995 to expressly state the understanding the equipment may not be used in East Timor.
It does not affect commercial sales, which is the overwhelming majority of military sales. It is a tiny, itsy-bitsy restraint on the money we are going to give them.
Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I just learned of this amendment, and I no- ticed there was a time limit on it. I wish there was not. Had I been here, I would have objected to a time limit on this amendment.
I kept hearing all this talk on my monitor before I left to come over here that somehow because Indonesia is big and powerful and they are a market and that somehow we have to excuse their conduct in East Timor.
Look at the history. In 1975 with the use of United States arms, which we prohibited in a treaty with Indonesia in 1958, they invaded tiny East Timor, killed 200,000 people, one-third of their population and have kept them in severe repression ever since.
And now we are going to let them walk and say, "Oh, that's just fine." It has been condemned by the United Nations and by about every human rights organization around the world. The East Timorese have pleaded with us year after year to help them out. Just last week, the Indonesian Govern- ment banned three of the top newspapers in East Timor. They will not let them publish. Three of their top newspapers they just shut down so there could not publish anymore.
Is this the kind of activity that we want to reward? They broke the treaty we had with them dating back to 1958 in using our arms to invade East Timor. I agree with the distinguished chairman we ought to have at least some control.
Mr. President, the East Timorese over the years, the Catholic population there have pleaded with us to help them out, to take their cause to the world community. Just because they are small and because they are de- fenseless means that we have to put up with what the Indonesians have done to them? I do not think so.
We have not banned all aid to Indonesia. We have not stopped trade with them. But at least I think we ought to do what the chairman has said, to hold them to some small standard.
The implication I think given earlier that I heard on my monitor that somehow the State Department is against all forms of control on the military equipment that we give them is wrong. They may be opposed to this amendment, or they may be opposed to one provision in the bill, but the implication that they are opposed to any restrictions at all is wrong and the amendment offered by the Senator from Louisiana strips all controls - everything - strips everything off.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired. Six minutes remain for the proponents of the amendment.
Mr. JOHNSTON. Mr. President, I yield myself 30 seconds simply to say that my amendment strips only that part of the bill to which the State De- partment and the Department of Defense both object.
Mr. SIMPSON. Mr. President, I am aware of the time limitation. I just want the Senate to be very clear what we are voting on here. This is not a vote about whether or not we are concerned about human rights violations or transgression in the region of East Timor. We are rather voting about whether or not to place an explicit prohibition on the use by the Indonesian Government of any defense items which we send to them in East Timor.
The language in the underlying bill is very troubling. I appreciate that we have been able to successfully work at the committee level to remove the restrictions on IMET, that training defense contractors would be penalized which is in the House version. But under this proposal there is a clear and disturbing indication that results from military sales language in the underlying bill. I think all of us would agree it would be inappropriate for us to restrict how other governments are able to use their defense weaponry to deal with insurgent activity within their borders. Arrogant intrusion.
I agree with Senator JOHNSTON that by drawing the line on East Timor, we are giving a kind of implicit endorsement to the principle that East Timor is not a part of Indonesia.
I fully recognize that many Members of this Senate believe in good con- science that East Timor is not and should not be a part of Indonesia. This is going much further than simply saying, as we should, that basic human rights ought to be respected there.
By including this language, we place the Senate on record on one side of a very fractious debate, and that is on a side in direct opposition to the Indonesian Government. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to be mindful of this while casting their votes.
I further echo the arguments of my colleague, Senator JOHNSTON, in noting that the language in the underlying bill contradicts the evolving adminis- tration policy toward Indonesia which is in the direction of more exchange, more involvement and more influence on human rights by the consequence of increased military and trade contacts.
I urge, if you can, go to Indonesia. See the changes made. Hear their leaders. Look at our own history, where in 1860 we had a civil war that makes that one, if it comes about, look like nothing. A country that has 300 languages - not dialects, but language - and hundreds of ethnic groups. They know what will happen to their country when the breakup takes place. I think it is very important we not judge Indonesia by our own standards and try to let Indonesia judge itself and know that our best influence on their human rights is exchange and openness and trade and communication.
Mr. McCONNELL. There is no doubt that there is a human rights problem in East Timor. We are not here arguing about that. But the control the chairman is insisting on will not necessarily achieve the goal of improving that situation, and it may punish American companies seeking contracts and business opportunities.
Like China, I think it is a mistake to try to use commercial levers to fulfill human rights goals. While strict commercial sales are excluded, American defense contractors would be penalized under this proposal.
So I hope that the amendment of the Senator from Louisiana will be approved.
Mr. JOHNSTON. Mr. President, the Senator from Wyoming stated it properly. There are human rights concerns in Indonesia. By adopting the language that is contained in the bill, we are not endorsing the human rights violations in Indonesia. What we are doing by adopting the Johnston motion to strike is recognizing that the Secretary of State believes there has been a lot of progress in Indonesia, by recognizing that the Department of Defense thinks this is a very unworkable amendment that may restrict the sales of spare parts to C-130's, of which we sell many, many to Indonesia, spare parts to F-16's, spare parts to other things, and thereby render ourselves to be unreliable as the supplier to Indonesia.
Mr. President, the President of the United States is going to Indonesia this fall. This would be a matter of severe embarrassment to him, a major blow in our relationship with Indonesia. I say follow the Secretary of State, follow the Deputy Secretary of Defense, both of whom say this would be a big mistake and we ought to strike this language.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the following be added as co- sponsors: The Senator from Virginia [Mr. WARNER]; the Senator from Kansas [Mr. DOLE]; the Senator from Virginia [Mr. ROBB]; the Senator from California [Mrs. FEINSTEIN]; the Senator from Wyoming [Mr. SIMPSON]; the Senator from Tennessee [Mr. MATHEWS]; the Senator from Alaska [Mr. STEVENS]; the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. THURMOND]; and the Senator from Florida [Mr. GRAHAM].
[The following speech, by Senator Feinstein, was not given on the Senate floor, but inserted later into the Congressional Record.]
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to speak about the pending Johnston amendment to the foreign operations appropriations bill, which strikes language prohibiting the Indonesian Government from using United States military equipment in East Timor. This is a very complex issue that I have reviewed carefully.
On the one hand, there is no question that there are serious and continuing human rights abuses in Indonesia. While we now see the Indonesian Government opening up to visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross and withdrawing troops from East Timor, it has simultaneously moved to crack down on freedom of the press and labor activists.
On the other hand, Indonesia is an important ally of the United States in a strategic location. It is also a large and populous country that provides significant trade and investment opportunities for American companies. The entire Pacific rim is particularly important to California business and industry.
With regard to the Johnston amendment, the pertinent question to ask is whether keeping the language restricting military sales to Indonesia would accomplish the goal of improving human rights in that country and in particular in East Timor. I believe that the answer to that question has to be no.
There are also logistical concerns about whether it is practical to try to condition military sales on where the equipment will be used.
Secretary of State Christopher has stated that the administration is con- cerned about human rights in East Timor and will continue to engage the Indonesian Government aggressively on this important issue. I support Sec- retary Christopher's and the administration's efforts in this regard. In addition, as Secretary Christopher has explained, it is the State Department's current policy to deny license requests for sales of small and light arms and lethal crowd control items to Indonesia. This decision was made on the basis of concerns over Indonesia's past record in human rights, especially in East Timor.
With this in mind, I will vote for the Johnston amendment. As a general rule, I believe that trade is a force for economic liberalization and that it leads to democratization. Trade is a tool, but it must not be used as a blunt instrument to cudgel those nations that we wish to influence.
I ask unanimous consent that the letter from Secretary Christopher be printed in the RECORD.
[Although it is in the record twice, this posting doesn't contain a second copy. See Johnston above.]
The legislative clerk called the roll. The result was announced - yeas 59, nays 35. Rollcall Vote No. 174
[The Senate voted on Johnston's motion to table a provision saying that lethal weapons sold by the US government to Indonesia can not be used in East Timor. A No vote is a vote FOR East Timor. The tabling motion passed, 59-35, with 6 abstentions. A double-letter in the last column indicates people who spoke on the floor or co-sponsored Johnston's motion.]
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