Subject: Allan Nairn questions Clinton


Transcript: Peace, Democracy in East Timor Long-Term U.S. Goals

(Kelly, Clinton remarks at opening of U.S. Embassy in Dili) (1920)

Question: Mr. Clinton, you sold weapons to the Indonesian military and offered them F-16s. The next day a White House official told the New York Times Suharto was "our kind of guy." Your administration under the JCET program sent Green Berets into Indonesia to train the Indonesian KOPASSUS Special Forces in advanced sniper technique urban warfare and similar tactics. In 1999, in April, when the Indonesian military and militias massacred ...

Former President Clinton: Get to the point.

Question: I am getting to the point. Yes, I am getting exactly to the point.

Former President Clinton: You want to make a speech. Give him a hand, he is making a good speech.

Question: In 1999, in April, the Indonesian military and their militias massacred 50 people in the rectory in Liquica. They hacked them with machetes. Two days later, Admiral Blair, the Commander for the Pacific, your commander, met with General Wiranto, the Indonesian commander. He offered to help him in lobbying the U.S. Congress to get full U.S. military training restored. He made no mention of the Liquica massacre. During that same period, the Indonesian militias rampaged here in downtown Dili. They attacked the house of Manuel Carrascalao, and they massacred the refugees there. Yet you continued for months with aid to the Indonesian military. Why?

Former President Clinton: What is your question?

Question: Why did you continue with aid to the Indonesian military if they were killing civilians?

Former President Clinton: First of all I cannot answer the question you asked about Admiral Blair, you will have to ask him because I am not aware of that. I say first of all I don't believe America or any of the other countries were sufficiently sensitive in the beginning, for a long time, a long time before 1999, going all the way back to the 1970s, to the suffering of the people of East Timor.

I don't think we can defend everything that we did. I think that our objective, was to try to keep Indonesia from coming apart and from having some of the influences that I think we still worry about when Indonesia dominates. Which, in my judgment, made us not as sensitive as we should have been to the suffering of the people here. And all I can say is that when it became obvious to me what was really going on, and that we couldn't justify not standing up for what the East Timorese wanted, and some decent treatment for them, this under the guise of trying to hold Indonesia together at first and a larger foreign policy issue, I tried to make sure we had the right policy. And that is what I said today, that is what we tried to do.

I can't say that everything we did before 1999 was right. I am not here to defend everything we did. We never tried to sanction or support the oppression of East Timorese, but I think if you look in there at the foreign policy for the 30 or 40 years before that, all during the cold war, there were times when there were all kinds of reasons we thought we needed to support countries in holding them together and keeping them going in certain directions, which made us insufficiently attentive to what was happening to some minority groups. So, that's my answer. I think we are doing the right thing in New Zealand. I think we did the right thing in the UN. I think we did the right thing in bringing the Australians and ASEAN troops here. And I think the right thing to do is to do what the leaders of East Timor said. They want to look forward, and you want to look backward. I am going to stick with the leaders. You want to look backward, have at it, but you will have to have help from someone else.

(end transcript)

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