Subject: Letter: US-RI partnership

Monday, April 27, 2009 10:05 PM

Jakarta Post

Letter: US-RI partnership

Sat, 02/21/2009 3:42 PM | Reader's Forum

Bara Hasibuan's recent thoughts regarding a US-Indonesia strategic partnership (The Jakarta Post, Feb. 17, ) are timely and well crafted. His advice that we not let "disagreements" prevent us from focusing on the big picture; however, appear to misunderstand what a strategic partnership entails.

Such relationships, to be enduring, are founded on more than shared interests. They grow out of shared democratic values which go far deeper than mutual economic advantage or complimentary political perspectives.

Indonesia, like the US, is clearly on a democratic path. Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of its citizens, Indonesia has become an example to the rest of the world, demonstrating that dictatorships can be overturned peacefully.

The US too, is on a democratic path, recently having rejected as false the "compromises" with justice and human rights entailed in the policies and practices of the past administration. But neither the US nor Indonesia has yet fully come to terms with its past.

The US has yet to hold accountable those officials responsible for creating policies that manifestly violated human rights, nor the civilian and military bureaucrats who implemented these policies. For its part Indonesia still labors under the burden of a military that remains unaccountable for its past human rights crimes and corruption - which in some areas such as West Papua, continues to operate under Soeharto-era rules.

Clearly the Indonesian people and the American people aspire to emerge from the shadow of their pasts. But in both countries, that struggle is still underway. A strategic partnership based on the shared values that drive this mutual struggle for respect for human rights and accountability would endure and prosper.

Such a partnership is a worthy and possible goal, but progress on both sides is required.

Edmund McWilliams

Falls Church, US

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