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Response to State Department “Memorandum of Justification” for
Waiving Congressional Conditions on Military Assistance to Indonesia
chose to restart multiple military programs for Indonesia in 2005.
In February, the Secretary of State resumed full International
Military Education and Training (IMET) for Indonesia for the first
time since 1992. In May, the administration resumed non-lethal
Foreign Military Sales. Extensive counter-terrorism programs, in
place for several years, continue to expand. The U.S. government has
provided tens of millions of dollars for the Indonesian police, and
the military is the world’s largest recipient of the Pentagon’s
Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program.
In November 2005,
only two days after the FY 2006 Foreign Operations, Export
Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act became law, the
State Department waived conditions restricting Foreign Military
Financing (FMF) and defense exports to Indonesia (Sec. 599F).
Military assistance is now available without Congressional
restrictions for that country for the first time in more than a
decade. The State Department exercised the wavier on so-called
national security grounds. The law’s conditions – pertaining to
justice for gross human rights violations and military reform – had
not been met.
conditions provided strong leverage to press for real change to
Indonesia’s culture of impunity and military insubordination to the
civilian government. But the administration chose to abandon them.
The East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) strongly believes that
respect for human rights, justice for crimes against humanity, and a
truly reformed Indonesian military are in the national
security interest of the United States. The State Department
provided a two and one-half page Memorandum
of Justification explaining its position and utilization of the
waiver. The memorandum is fraught with misleading and incomplete
information. Below is ETAN’s analysis:
from Memorandum of Justification
U.S. and Indonesia face immediate challenges to our mutual
security interests in the region, including terrorism,
potential threats to strategic sea lanes…and the omnipresent
potential for natural disasters”
ACCORDING to Indonesian law, lead responsibility for
addressing terrorism is assigned to the police, not the
military. This is because Indonesia’s terrorism threat
comprises small cell operations requiring investigatory work
for which tactical police units are best suited. Further, in
recent years the Indonesian military has had demonstrable
ties to various jihadist militia which have been used to
terrorize civilians, thus making the military an unreliable
partner in the “war on terror.”
Congress had already addressed
the potential threats to strategic sea lanes by allowing FMF
for the Indonesian navy notwithstanding other restrictions.
FMF for the Indonesian navy was legislated in 2005 and
renewed in 2006.
December 2004 tsunami, the largest natural disaster in
Indonesia’s history, led to unprecedented cooperation
between U.S. and Indonesian militaries. This cooperation
occurred while restrictions on military relations between
the two countries were in place and had no negative impact
on the two militaries’ ability to work together.
"As a matter of policy, the quality and quantity of our
assistance will continue to be guided by progress on
democratic reform and accountability, and carefully
calibrated to promote these outcomes."
specific "calibrated" benchmarks against which such
"progress" is to be measured are not suggested in the memo,
and State Department officials have indicated that no such
benchmarks had been prepared, nor were any envisioned. The
Congressional conditions that were waived did provide
"Carefully targeted U.S. assistance to specific, vetted
military units would provide the incentives and necessary
resources for assisting further reform and strengthening
civilian control of the military.”
of “vetting” from the State Department are hardly
reassuring. A July 2005 GAO report “found no evidence that
U.S. officials vetted an estimated 6,900 foreign security
trainees (about 4,000 Indonesians) trained by Justice with
State law enforcement assistance between fiscal years 2001
through 2004.” While the State Department reportedly
implemented new guidelines for vetting in February 2005, the
apparent centerpiece of improved vetting, a human rights
database called the Abuse Case Evaluation System (ACES), is
in its infant stages and cannot yet provide sufficient means
for monitoring by itself. Moreover, Indonesian forces used
aircraft and other U.S.-provided weaponry in campaigns
against civilian populations in East Timor, West Papua and
elsewhere, which cost scores of thousands of lives.
Prospects for end-use monitoring of future U.S.-supplied
weaponry remain unclear.
military assistance to Indonesia brings with it exposure to
U.S. values, including military professionalism, respect for
human rights and transparent business dealings."
"EXPOSURE to U.S. values" clearly had no discernable
redemptive impact during the decades of close ties between
the Indonesian and U.S. militaries -- until Congress imposed
the first aid restrictions in 1993. Throughout this period,
the Indonesian military committed massive violations of
human rights. Many of those directly responsible for these
abuses were trained in the United States. It was during this
period of close association that the Indonesian military
developed a vast empire of legal and illegal businesses,
including drug and people trafficking, illegal logging, and
extortion targeting domestic and foreign businesses. The
government still only provides 25% to 30% of the military’s
“Other potential military suppliers have no such scruples,
and it would be counter to U.S. interests for Indonesia to
develop close military relationships with these other
“potential military suppliers” presumably are China and/or
Russia. This argument has been tossed around and
regurgitated for years by various U.S. administrations. Like
its counterparts in ASEAN, Indonesia has a western
orientation that seeks to be integrated into NATO and
American weapons systems. While Indonesia may buy some
equipment from other sources, its military is based on U.S.
systems. Thus, it would be counter-productive for Indonesia
to re-orient itself with Chinese or Russian weapons systems.
Moreover, Indonesia for decades has been “anti-Communist,”
and this view remains strong within Indonesia’s security
forces and civilian government. Finally, Australia – not
China or Russia – is providing the most extensive training
to Indonesia’s armed forces, including plans to resume
training its most notorious elite Special Forces, Kopassus.
“Since the International Military Education and Training (IMET)
program was restored in February 2005, the military has
worked with the government to”--
“transfer and make more transparent its business
REGULATIONS to implement a 2004 law outlawing such business
interests by 2009 have not been issued, nor are there
timetables or benchmarks for full implementation. Moreover,
in the very limited action taken so far, the military has
used a narrow definition of what constitutes a military
business. Military cooperatives, which account for a
significant component of the military’s economic activity,
do not appear to be covered by the law. Furthermore, there
are concerns that those businesses subject to transfer to
civilian control are being stripped of their most valuable
assets and will end up little more than empty shells.
government has drafted a Defense and Security Bill that
brings Armed Forces and Police more clearly under
civilian control and advances the development of
Indonesia’s democratic institutions,”
pending legislation is a mixed bag. By dealing with the
military and police in one bill and possibly putting them
under the same ministry, this bill could potentially blur
the lines between the recently separated security forces.
Moreover, the civilian defense minister still lacks the
authority to fire military officers.
“the military and police
have continued their good cooperation with the FBI in
the Timika murder investigation to include deployments
to Papua in August and October;”
THE conditions restricting FMF and lethal exports for
Indonesia which Secretary Rice waived have absolutely
nothing to do with the Timika case. Indeed, the Bush
administration’s invocation of developments in the Timika
case to explain the waiver’s utilization disingenuously
conflates two unrelated matters.
Indonesia negotiated, concluded and is now implementing
on schedule an historic peace agreement in Aceh.”
peace agreement in Aceh does not negate accountability,
civilian control, and human rights conditions legislated by
Congress. While cautious optimism is merited, international
pressure must be maintained, not eased, to ensure the
military’s compliance with the peace process, which is still
in its early stages.
believe that other immediate and longer-term objectives,
such as…a more consistent rule of law, accountability for
atrocities committed in East Timor; and implementation of
special autonomy in Papua could also be furthered through
the closer relationship engendered by normalization of
military relations and enhanced security assistance.”
NO institution has done more to thwart special autonomy and
peaceful negotiations in West Papua than the military. It is
ludicrous to attempt to justify the waiver on these grounds.
Further, the Congressional conditions waived were
specifically designed to leverage justice for East Timor and
application of rule of law in Indonesia. The State
Department has squandered that leverage without seeing any
real progress toward ending impunity.
The memorandum also cites
areas of "considerable progress" in military reform,
including the following --
"The police have been separated from the military;
THIS reform was instituted over six years ago and may be
jeopardized by a new defense bill which would subordinate
the military and police together under the command of the
Coordinating Minister for Social and Political Affairs.
"The security forces have
lost their reserved seats in the legislature;"
security forces have never relied on the legislature to
exert their undemocratic power and influence. Rather,
security forces have exerted such power through the
executive branch at all levels. The military retains its key
power structure under its largely intact territorial command
structure. Under the
territorial command, the army maintains 11 regional military
commands, dozens of military resort (subregional) commands,
hundreds of district commands and thousands of military
subdistrict commands, as well as many noncommissioned
at villages nationwide. The new armed forces
commander publicly supports retention of the territorial
command concept. Moreover, the Indonesian military is
finding new ways to exert power locally, where the money is
flowing with decentralization.
“The practice of placing
active duty military officers in civilian government
positions has been all but discontinued (they occupy
some positions in the Department of Defense); The
military has supported the democratic political process
by remaining fully neutral in the 2004 legislative and
first-ever direct presidential elections;"
local government law partly reversed a prohibition on
military officers running in local elections. Moreover,
officers can occupy other security-related positions in
addition to those within the Department of Defense,
including intelligence and narcotics control. Moreover,
senior officers in Indonesia remain powerful figures within
and outside of the military even after retirement. They
wield great influence over their former subordinates and
continue to draw funds from military "businesses." The
latest State Department Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices noted for Indonesia, "The military and police
continued to wield significant political power..."
Furthermore, none of the leading candidates in the 2004
presidential elections threatened military prerogatives;
two, including the ultimate winner, were retired generals.
State Department Memorandum of