'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, January 17, 2005

Wolfowitz in Indonesia 

So Wolfowitz is spending some time in Aceh sounding genuinely human, like the bleeding heart Hitchens says he is, saying things such as the following regarding the suffering and destruction there:

One is at a loss for words. It’s just, nothing prepares you for it. You read stories in the newspaper, you see pictures on television, but until you actually see it. One of the things that’s just stunning is to see the way whole ships have been moved, places have been moved, houses have been torn down, just things level, and you try to imagine what it was like to be there in the middle of it and it’s, and it’s unimaginable. And the scale of it is frankly, something also that until you actually see it with your eyes, you can read that it’s large, but it’s just huge. And that bears also on what we have to accomplish now, because the, I think if I were an Acehnese who had survived this, I wouldn’t have any idea of what I should do next, or where to begin, the problem seems so big.

which is steeped in admirable empathy. Of course, he's also making a number of other statements that aren't.

According to Australian radio Wolfowitz is interested in capitalizing on "the personal goodwill generated by the huge aid effort for victims of the tsunami" that is "spilling over into the international political sphere" to reinstate US military links to Indonesia by lifting the US arms embargo. Wolfowitz says

I do think that there are some issues that need to be considered in the light of this.

We believe that the more we can cooperate on a peaceful basis with militaries in this region in normal times, increases our capacity to respond to disasters and I think that's one of the things that needs to be one factored into how we assess the relationship.

And one of the things I think we'd like to help with is to strengthen the civilian capacity to manage the defence and security matters.

It's not an easy thing. We've spent a lot time in our country, over a long period of time. We can be helpful in developing that important piece of democratic institution in Indonesia.

You know the Indonesian arms embargo ... the one that was imposed in the first place because of the Indonesian military's atrocities and human rights violations in places like East Timor and ... um ... Aceh. But what's a few atrocities among friends; there's no sense in squandering all this goodwill... Of course, this is a man who once praised former Indonesian president Suharto, one of the most horrible dictators of the 20th century, for his "strong and remarkable leadership" regarding human rights.

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