Friday, December 01, 2006

"Lessons? Vietnam, Indonesia, and Iraq" - Immanuel Wallerstein

David Seaton's News Links
Immanuel Wallerstein, (follow the link), if you don't know him already, is too huge to explain here. The professor has written this meditation on Bush's latest jaunt to Vietnam and Indonesia and how those countries experienced American intervention in their lives and how that could show us what to expect in Iraq. It's a bit of a masterpiece, I thought I'd share some of it with you. Someday, somehow, we might learn from experience. DS
Abstract: The ostensible reason the United States fought in Vietnam was to oppose Communism and to make sure that there was no "domino effect" of Communism in Southeast Asia. Well, the Communist Party still rules Vietnam today, and they are actually friendly to the United States. And there was no domino effect. So, why did the United States sacrifice all those lives and financial resources? Maybe it would have made more sense not to have gotten involved in the first place. President Bush proceeded to Indonesia, where he spent a few hours, holed up in a government palace. No motorcades - too dangerous; no staying even one night - too dangerous. So let us review U.S. policy in Indonesia. There, unlike Vietnam, the U.S. intervention was "successful." The CIA helped arrange the overthrow of Sukarno, a leader of the world's "non-aligned" powers - someone the United States felt was too friendly to the Soviet Union. In his place, a rightwing general, Suharto, became the ruler. He promptly engaged in a mass slaughter of the Indonesian Communist Party, the largest in the world outside the states where the Communist Party was the government. Indonesia is also the state with the largest Muslim population in the world. Indonesian Islam has been, by world standards, of a quite "moderate" variety. But after the fall of the secular government of Sukarno, the Indonesian government has felt the need to take account of the political views of Muslim parties. And in Indonesia there has been the "domino" effect that never occurred in Vietnam. Only the domino effect came from the U.S. policy in Iraq. The United States is seen these days by many, possibly most, Indonesian Muslims as an enemy of Islam, and they are very angry. Had there been a motorcade in Jakarta, it probably would have been stoned. So the Secret Service nixed it. So, what lessons should we draw? In 2006, one of the world's few remaining Communist governments is a friend, relatively speaking, of the United States. And the country where we arranged to wipe out the Communist Party is a country in which it is physically dangerous for the U.S. president to set foot. Will the U.S. president who visits Iraq in twenty years get the kind of reception George W. Bush got in Vietnam, or the kind Bush got in Indonesia? READ IT ALL

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'tis here, at Wallenstein's own outlet: