International comment on East Timor as UN peacekeepers move in and the Indonesia army leaves
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The Australian

THE HUMANITARIAN nature of the peacekeeping force in East Timor created a high level of support for the Australian troops. However, public opinion can just as quickly turn the other way, when troops are harmed and costs accumulated. Australia has taken on the role of regional policeman and peacemaker, and must be in no doubt the commitment is for as long as it takes and as much as it costs. The support for our operation now fuelled by the urgent need to right the injustices being committed on our doorstep must not wane as time and costs mount. We are in East Timor for the long haul.

Jakarta Post


THE INTERNATIONAL community should shift the focus of their widely based condemnation against Indonesia and the Indonesians, to condemnation based on humanitarian concerns, directed only against the excesses of the New Order regime. By following this course of action, the international community will avoid triggering outbreaks of nationalism, which will only strengthen the military and the status quo's position. This approach may also remind the Indonesian people that their struggle is against the mistakes of the New Order and Habibie's rule, not democracy, justice and humanity.

The Washington Post


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. 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.

Globe and Mail


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. 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.



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. s 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.

The Age


THE ADVOCATES of the supposed special relationship cultivated close ties with the Suharto regime and the military establishment that upheld it, and sometimes appeared to think that the regime was invulnerable. In consequence, this country was not prepared for Suharto's downfall, and has only been able to support the United Nations mission in East Timor in the face of an Indonesian military that is increasingly resentful of Australia's change of heart. It is the price of a quarter of a century of failing to recognise where our deepest interests lie.