Jakarta Post, Indonesia
MR HABIBIE and other Indonesian political leaders should make clear that Australia, a current focus of nationalist anger, is performing a brave and necessary job. Indonesia's military not only proved unable to maintain order in East Timor, the armed forces were heavily responsible for the mayhem. Mr Habibie and other would-be presidents should be saying that, too. Some diplomats argue that the United Nations should ease off on such demands so as not to injure Indonesia's democratisation. But confronting history honestly, as Mr Habibie yesterday began to do, and respecting East Timor's democratic wishes can only enhance Indonesia's own democratic aspirations. Appeasing Indonesia's darker, nationalist forces will not push the country in a positive direction.
The Washington Post, US
ONE PREDICTABLE result of the multinational intervention in East Timor has been a flare-up of Indonesian nationalism. Demonstrators wearing the red-and-white national colours have attacked the Australian embassy in Jakarta. The government has downgraded relations with Australia, whose troops are spearheading the 8,000-strong force. In East Java, tens of thousands of Muslims have signed up for a holy war against the foreign troops. All this may seem a little ridiculous. After all, Indonesia would never have had to suffer the humiliation of seeing foreigners land in its "27th province" if it had kept its promise to respect the wishes of the East Timorese as expressed in a referendum on independence last month. Instead, the military colluded in and apparently organised the pogroms against the East Timorese that broke out, turning the capital, Dili, into a near-deserted ruin and giving Indonesia a black eye in world opinion.
Globe & Mail, Canada
AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS constitute the prime contingent in the international peacekeeping force that landed on Monday night in Dili, the capital of East Timor. The bloodshed in this former Portuguese colony shocked Australia, which, ever since the end of the Cold War, has been regarded as a peaceful country that does not have to expend its energies on security problems. Australia is perhaps the only country that perceives the East Timor crisis as a strategic threat to its national security. The Australians are afraid that the collapse of the regime in East Timor could create a massive wave of refugees that could engulf their shores. They are thus prepared to earmark 20 per cent of their armed forces for the international peacekeeping force that will try to keep the lid on things in East Timor.
Ha'aretz, IsraelReuse content