Monday, January 28, 2008

"Enigmatic and Magical:" The Butcher Suharto

The death of Indonesian dictator Suharto on January 27, wholly a creature of Washington's Cold War jihad against "international Communism," will be mourned by pathological killers, multinational corporations and their sycophants everywhere.

Between 1965-66, Suharto's "New Order" embarked on a killing spree that led to the slaughter of some 500,000-1,000,000 Indonesians. The massacres commenced again a decade later, when, with the blessing of President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the Indonesian army invaded and occupied East Timor and slaughtered some 200,000 Timorese. In the process, Suharto's uniformed thugs "opened up" the seabed off the coast of the beleaguered island for "development" by Western oil and gas companies.

The destruction of the Maoist-aligned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was so atrocious and diabolical that the normally staid New York Times called the purge "one of the most savage mass slaughters of modern political history." [New York Times, March 12, 1966.] The ensuing violence reached such malevolent proportions that Life magazine declared it "tinged not only with fanaticism but with blood-lust and something like witchcraft." [Life, July 11, 1966.] (cited in Blum, below)

William Blum, in his excellent study, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, wrote:

Twenty-five years later, American diplomats disclosed that they had systematically compiled comprehensive lists of "Communist" operatives, from top echelons down to village cadres, and turned over more than 5,000 names to the Indonesian army, which hunted those persons down and killed them. The Americans would then check off the names of those who had been killed or captured. Robert Martens, a former member of the US Embassy's political section in Jakarta, stated in 1990: "It was really a big help to the army. They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad. There's a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment." ... "No one cared, as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered, said Howard Federspiel, who in 1965 was the Indonesian expert at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. "No one was getting very worked up about it."

Business as usual, move along...

Since after all, the "business of government is business", John Pilger writing in Monday's Guardian, lets the cat out of the proverbial (body) bag:

The deal was that Indonesia under Suharto would offer up what Richard Nixon had called "the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in south-east Asia". In November 1967 the greatest prize was handed out at a remarkable three-day conference sponsored by the Time-Life Corporation in Geneva. Led by David Rockefeller, all the corporate giants were represented: the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, Imperial Chemical Industries, British American Tobacco, Siemens, US Steel and many others. Across the table sat Suharto's US-trained economists who agreed to the corporate takeover of their country, sector by sector. The Freeport company got a mountain of copper in West Papua. A US/European consortium got the nickel. The giant Alcoa company got the biggest slice of Indonesia's bauxite. America, Japanese and French companies got the tropical forests of Sumatra. When the plunder was complete, President Lyndon Johnson sent his congratulations on "a magnificent story of opportunity seen and promise awakened". Thirty years later, with the genocide in East Timor also complete, the World Bank described the Suharto dictatorship as a "model pupil".

Merely the journalistic conceit of wishy-washy leftists and other malcontents, you ask? Here's what the CIA's own 1968 National Intelligence Estimate had to say:

An essential part of the Suharto government's economic program, therefore, has been to welcome foreign capital back to Indonesia. Already about 25 American and European firms have recovered control of mines, estates, and other enterprises nationalized under Sukarno. In addition, liberal legislation has been enacted to attract new private foreign investment. Tax incentives are offered and the rights of managerial control, repatriation of profits, and compensation in the event of expropriation are, in large measure, guaranteed. The prospects for private foreign investment in extractive industries are fairly good, but it will take several years before survey and exploratory work can pay off in large scale production, export earnings, and tax revenues. Some of Indonesia's traditional export industries such as rubber, tin, and copra are on the decline because of inadequate maintenance over the years and falling prices on the world market. Nevertheless, there is substantial foreign interest in new investment in relatively untapped resources of nickel, copper, bauxite, and timber. The most promising industry, from the standpoints of both foreign capital and Indonesian economic growth, is oil. Crude production, chiefly from the fields of Caltex/5/ in Central Sumatra, now averages 600,000 barrels per day, and daily output will probably exceed one million barrels within the next three years. On balance, however, Indonesia's export earnings (and, therefore, much needed foreign exchange) will probably grow slowly, not increasing substantially before the mid-1970's. [emphasis added]

Would that be one barrel for every dead "communist"? A bargain by any reckoning and consistent with the grim "metrics" of U.S. economic shock jocks.

But just for laughs, here is how The New York Times' Helen Berger describes the Dear Leader. Under the heading "Enigmatic and Magical" she writes,

Mr. Suharto was an unlikely character to play such a major role in his country's destiny. He was a private person, and although he wielded complete power, he spoke in gentle tones, smiled sweetly to friend and foe and presented himself as a man of humble origins, shy, retiring and enigmatic. Short and thick set, he almost invariably dressed in a Western business suit or a safari jacket once he gave up his military uniform, and a black songkok, the flat traditional Indonesian cap.

But as readers know only too well, fascists and other "friends of Washington" don't always shave their heads...

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