The presidential election will be held in 2014, which means that it is too early to discuss candidates. “Belanda masih jauh”, as a local proverb goes, meaning that it is too far away to catch. In spite of that, a number of people (despite saying the majority) have started to stimulate the public by “releasing” an ideal president, who is a resolute-and-responsive figure. Due to dissatisfaction toward the current administration, there is even a joke, which is somewhat sarcastic, saying that we should vote for a real president, not a songwriter, in the next presidential election!
Before discussing that further, let us start with world development in general within the national and security interests of developed countries, to be exact the United States framework. Currently, the United States is still struggling from the financial crisis. In the meantime, European countries are also having the same problem as the US. On security, American international policies were clearly conveyed during the last presidential debate. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, claimed that Obama’s policies stipulated “clash escalation” in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden highlighted that the development of the Middle East was not the only article of the international policies under the Obama presidency. Biden proclaimed that the United States would do more, yet would ask more of their partners in return. Who are the “partners” he was referring to? For many reasons, it is not difficult to decipher who exactly these “partners” are. There are countries who fully support (not to say blindly act) every single international policy of the US.
So, how about China? Analyzing the US’ policies towards China during the US presidential debate is pretty interesting. US President Barack Obama stated that China was not only the “enemy” of the US, but also a potential partner. For Romney, China is a good partner to work with should they be responsible. Thus, it is obvious that the US is indecisive when it comes to China. In relation to that, the US Marines home base in Darwin, Australia, is another America-against-China policy in the region. The home base was a sensitive issue during a recent meeting between Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. PM Gillard stated that the home base was aspired to for disaster emergency issues. It would be so naive, however, to merely believe what she said.
Historically, there has never been the deployment of a country’s military only for natural disaster management purposes. There must be a well-established agenda behind it. It is not a natural disaster, indeed. So, does it have anything to do with China’s increasing global power lately? Or is it because of the US new partnership policies, as claimed by Biden? Now, let us look at the next improvement regarding the recent weapons system procurement. I bet you still remember how difficult it was to get the United States to supply the fighter’s parts.
Now, the US has officially made a decision, to grant 24 F-16 Fighting Falcons! In a meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in Washigton DC, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the US government would offer eight military helicopter AH-64/D Apaches to Indonesia. For your information, the Apache is one of the aircraft that is very unlikely to be offered to non-Allies. But, there is no certainty as to whether the Indonesian Army would take that chance in order to obtain Apaches. So, what is happening? On the other hand, in the procurement process, Indonesian aircraft manufacturer PTDI seems to be an agent of Airbus Military for the C-295, which was somehow believed to be the competitor of B.J. Habibie’s masterpiece — the N-250.
It’s interesting that the procurement of Spanish aircraft was made during the crisis in the matador country. Thus, some people started to raise questions as to whether Indonesia was trying to be Spain’s “savior”. Indonesia is hand in hand with South Korea, who was facing a serious conflict with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in manufacturing a sort of variant of the F-16 fighter aircraft.
Why should the Indonesian government have an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with a country that is “engaging” in a war and why doesn’t the Indonesian government order it from the F-16 manufacturer itself? All those questions lead to a rational answer. Among those conflicts, Indonesia is trying to uphold (popularize to be exact) a new political policy to befriend all countries. Indonesia is experiencing magnificent economic growth that other countries currently don’t have. For this reason, Indonesia is so confident in putting forward the glamorous tagline,“Million Friends, Zero Enemies”, as its foreign policy. It somehow sounds irrelevant in comparison to what Aristotle once said that “A friend to all is a friend to none.”
Thus, we end up with a simple conclusion, “Quo vadis, Indonesia?”
Chappy Hakim, Jakarta Post | Opinion | Tue, October 30 2012, 8:46 AM
The writer is a former Air Force chief of staff and chairman of CSE Aviation