Appointed Advisor to Indonesia (not a satire)
Kissinger named as adviser
Indonesia Pres Appoints Henry Kissinger As Adviser
Kissinger calls on RI to honor Freeport deal
With Friends Like These; Kissinger does Indonesia
Asked why he quit writing satirical songs, Tom Lehrer replied that after Henry Kissinger won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, there was nothing left to satirize. Lehrer may have underestimated Dr. K's spirited sense of irony.
This February, the former U.S. secretary of state accepted Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid's invitation to become an unpaid adviser to the Indonesian government. Kissinger accepted "out of friendship for the Indonesian people and the importance I attach to the Indonesian nation."
Twenty-five years earlier, on December 6, 1975, Kissinger -- along with President Gerald Ford -- paid another friendly visit to Jakarta. The next day, as Air Force One cleared Indonesian air space, President Suharto launched some 10,000 troops on a full-scale attack of East Timor. The goal was to conquer and annex the fledgling nation, which had just been granted independence by Portugal. Kissinger now calls the atrocities that accompanied and followed the invasion -- 200,000 dead -- "regrettable."
To this day, Kissinger maintains that the timing of his 1975 Jakarta visit was a mere coincidence and the United States had no role in the invasion. But a partially declassified State Department document of the December 6 meeting, minutes of a December 18 Washington meeting with his top advisers and other documents have been enough to convince most historians that the United States was complicit in planning, arming and supporting the invasion.
As a recent editorial in the Asian Times noted, "Kissinger is an accomplished liar in the service of his nation and his personal image." Not to mention his bank account. The strength of his fellowship for the Indonesian people is at least rivaled by that of his financial ties to the world's largest gold mine, located in the remote province of Irian Jaya (now called West Papua). Kissinger sits on the board of New Orleans-based Freeport McMoRan Gold and Copper, the majority shareholder in the massive mining operation, which also happens to be Indonesia's biggest taxpayer. Friends and family of Suharto, who was ousted in 1998, still hold much of the minority stake in the mine.
In another "coincidence," Kissinger's trip to Jakarta came at a time of rising Indonesian dissatisfaction with the mining giant and the terms of its operating contract, which was negotiated during the height of Indonesian cronyism and U.S. dependence. Recently, after several Indonesian legislators visited the company's 10,000-square-mile mining operation, Jakarta rejected a glowing environmental impact statement prepared by a firm hired by Freeport.
The government indicated it might review Freeport's contract to operate in Indonesia. But settling into his new role of adviser, Kissinger proffered his first words of wisdom. Chiding Jakarta for failing to guarantee strict adherence to working contracts signed in the past, he cautioned that "it is in the interests of Indonesia" to honor the contract. "Investors also expect an assurance in law enforcement," Kissinger reportedly reminded Yasril Ananta Baharuddinn, chairman of the House of Representative's defense commission.
Law enforcement is certainly what Freeport investors got in West Papua in spades . . . and clubs. Local and international human rights groups have linked Freeport with persistent human rights violations. The Free Papua Movement, like its counterpart in East Timor, has long sought independence from Jakarta. During Suharto's 32-year reign, the military, armed with U.S. equipment, burned and strafed villages in an unsuccessful scorched earth campaign to eradicate a tiny band of ill-equipped rebels.
The army reportedly has used Freeport company buses to haul away protesters, and West Papuans have been imprisoned in Freeport chipping containers. Freeport Vice President Paul Murphy vouched for the mine's innocence: Company equipment, he said, was commandeered by the military. "For years Papuans saw the Indonesian military coming in Freeport helicopters, boats, trucks and Jeeps," a U.S. missionary told Time magazine. "So it's hard for them to see the difference."
The mining company also has touted its "exemplary" environmental practices. However, both international and local organizations have accused Freeport of massive pollution. West Papua's Environmental Impact Management Agency says that the operation has contaminated 514 square miles. Freeport officials insist that the devastated area is only 51 square miles and will soon blossom forth with bananas and pineapples.
While admitting that it dumps 220,000 tons of gravel tailings every day directly into the murky Aghawagon River, Freeport insists the water is safe and that the local hunter gatherers have failed to provide scientific studies to back up their claims that fish and shellfish -- and the people who eat them -- are being poisoned by metal from the tailings. Nor have they proven that Freeport's huge mountains of stored tailings may be leeching into the groundwater.
While all agree that the mining operation has brought with it many of the accoutrements of 20th-century progress, some of the beneficiaries are less than grateful. They charge that economic change, including patterns of land use and ownership, have undermined indigenous cultures and spawned an epidemic of alcoholism.
All this unrest no doubt makes Kissinger and fellow Freeport board members nervous. In his new role of adviser, the former secretary of state promised to hold regular phone discussions with senior government ministers and to visit Jakarta annually. Accepting his appointment and calling himself "a patriotic American," Kissinger said "the role of Freeport in Indonesia must be a strictly commercial one and must be to the mutual benefit of Indonesia and Freeport."
But he promised not to interfere in Indonesian politics (wink, wink).
Kissinger Appointed Advisor to Indonesia (not a satire)
Indonesia's president Wahid has appointed Henry Kissinger as an advisor. This is not a joke.
Appointing Henry Kissinger as an advisor to Indonesia's young democratic government is like the U.N. appointing General Pinochet to be Commissioner for Human Rights. Both General Pinochet and Dr. Kissinger have well-deserved reputations for undermining democracy.
Kissinger's first piece of advice to Indonesia (recommending that the government not to review the contract Freeport MacMoran signed with the Suharto dictatorship) serves Dr. Kissinger's own interests (as a director of the mining giant) and not the people of Indonesia's. [LINK TO JAKARTA POST ARTICLE BELOW]
Kissinger, with President Ford, gave the green light while in Jakarta before Indonesia launched its 1975 invasion of East Timor and kept up the flow of U.S. weapons to Indonesia as thousands were massacred.
"Henry wants to erase a few black marks from history," a businessman close to the former Secretary of State is quoted as saying. If he is sincere about penance, instead of flying first class and hobnobbing with politicians, he should volunteer to clean up and rebuild East Timor's devastated towns.
Indonesia's recent Commission of Inquiry on East Timor didn't look into the events of 1975, only investigating actions since January 1999 leading to the destruction following last year's pro-independence vote. Dr. Kissinger says he will regularly travel to Indonesia. The Indonesian government should open an investigation into the entire brutal history of its occupation of East Timor (including the events of 1975). When it does, it should detain Dr. Kissinger on his next visit as a material witness and consider prosecuting him as an accomplice.
South China Morning Post Tuesday, February 29, 2000
Kissinger named as adviser
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger was appointed an adviser to President Abdurrahman Wahid on general affairs and socio-political matters yesterday on a brief visit to Jakarta.
But the real business of their meeting lay elsewhere. Dr Kissinger is on the board of Freeport McMoran Gold and Copper, the majority shareholder in the massive Freeport mine in Irian Jaya.
The Indonesian Government recently rejected an environmental impact assessment produced by Freeport, and says it wants to review Freeport's contract to operate in Indonesia. Dr Kissinger urged the Government to honour the contract, saying "it is in the interests of Indonesia" to do so.
In 1974, it was Dr Kissinger, backed by then US president Gerry Ford, who gave the green light to the Suharto government for its invasion of East Timor. "Henry wants to erase a few black marks from history," said a businessman close to the statesman.
Associated Press February 28, 2000
Indonesia Pres Appoints Henry Kissinger As Adviser
JAKARTA (AP)--Confronted with massive economic and social problems, Indonesia's reformist president Monday appointed former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a political advisor.
Kissinger said he would confer with President Abdurrahman Wahid at least once a year on political and social policy for the world's fourth most populous nation.
"I responded to the request of the president out of friendship for the Indonesian people and the importance I attach to the Indonesia nation," he told reporters after the meeting. "I would like Indonesia to be strong, unified and democratic."
Indonesia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab, who was with Kissinger at the press conference, didn't explain why Wahid had made the appointment.
Kissinger was the U.S. secretary of state under former U.S. President Richard Nixon and ex-President Gerald Ford. He was instrumental in shaping the U.S.'s foreign policy for Southeast Asia. Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.
Wahid, who assumed office last October, is struggling to pull Indonesia out of its worst economic crisis in a generation. He is also working to end years of separatist and religious fighting that threatens to tear this Southeast Asian nation apart.
Kissinger is also a board member of Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold Inc. (FCX), a U.S.-based company that owns one of the world's largest open-cut mines in West Papua province in eastern Indonesia.
The Jakarta Post, Tuesday, February 29, 2000
Kissinger calls on RI to honor
Kissinger, listed on the company's website as a member of the board of directors of the U.S. parent company, Freeport McMoRan, warned that any violation of the contract would have an impact on the flow of foreign investment into the country.
"The contract should be respected because it is in the interests of Indonesia since you want investment from all over the world," Kissinger told reporters at the State Palace after a meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab, who accompanied Kissinger to the meeting, said the President agreed to honor the contract but hoped Freeport would have some understanding of the wishes of local residents.
"The existing contract will be honored. But Abdurrahman asked Freeport to have a sort of understanding of the people's aspirations. There won't be any change made to the contract, but (Freeport) needs to give a special concession," Alwi said without elaborating.
Kissinger agreed that Freeport should pay attention to some special concerns in its operation.
"Freeport should be open-minded to special concerns in the execution of that contract," he said, but he did not elaborate.
Freeport has been criticized by many parties for allegedly destroying the environment around its copper and gold mine in the Grasberg area in Irian Jaya.
Head of the Regional Environmental Impact Management Agency (Bapedalda) of Irian Jaya Muhammad Ali Kastella recently told The Jakarta Post that his office had found 13,300 hectares destroyed by the company.
Many legislators have also demanded the government to revoke a governmental regulation of 1994 that enables Freeport to avoid its contractual obligation to divest up to 51 percent of its shares to Indonesian companies or the government.
In a media conference, Kissinger also said he had accepted Abdurrahman's offer to be his political advisor.
He said he would confer with Abdurrahman at least once a year on political and social policies for the world's fourth most populous nation.
"I responded to the President's request out of friendship for the Indonesian people and the importance I attach to Indonesia.
"I would like Indonesia to be strong, unified and democratic," he added. (jsk/prb)
From: BRT, Jakarta
Return to Kissinger menu