Sunday, January 27, 2008

Good Riddance

Former Indonesian dictator Suharto dies. For those who are aware of his human rights record, there was much rejoicing. Just a bit of what Suharto was all about:
... General Suharto, backed by the CIA, began the process of seizing power and eradicating the left. The CIA had been quietly compiling a list of the country's leading leftists, a document that fell into Suharto's hands, while the Pentagon helped out by supplying extra weapons and field radios so Indonesian forces could communicate in the remotest parts of the archipelago. Suharto then sent out his soldiers to hunt down the four to five thousand leftists on his "shooting lists," as the CIA referred to them; the U.S. embassy received regular reports on their progress. As the information came in, the CIA crossed names off their lists until they were satisfied that the Indonesian left had been annihilated.


The shooting lists covered the targeted killing; the more indiscriminate massacres for which Suharto is infamous were, for the most part, delegated to religious students. They were quickly trained by the military and then sent into villages on instructions from the chief of the navy to "sweep" the countryside for Communists. "With relish," wrote one reporter, "they called out their followers stuck their knives and pistols in their waistbands, swung their clubs over their shoulders, and embarked on the assignment for which they had long been hoping." In just over a month, at least half a million and possibly as many as 1 million people were killed, "massacred by the thousands," according to Time. In East Java, "Travelers from those areas, tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies; river transportation has at places been impeded."

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, pp. 67-68.
One thing that particular shock allowed was for a veritable giveaway of Indonesia's natural resources:
They passed laws allowing foreign companies to own 100 percent of theise resources, handed out "tax holidays," and within two years, Indonesia's natural wealth - copper, nickel, hardwood, rubber and oil - was being divided up among the largest mining and energy companies in the world.

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, pp. 69.
As John Pilger notes (in his column, Our Model Dictator):

Here lies a clue as to why Suharto, unlike Saddam Hussein, died not on the gallows but surrounded by the finest medical team his secret billions could buy. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations officer in the 1960s, describes the terror of Suharto's takeover in 1965-6 as "the model operation" for the US-backed coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile seven years later. "The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders," he wrote, "[just like] what happened in Indonesia in 1965." The US embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with a "zap list" of Indonesian Communist party members and crossed off the names when they were killed or captured. Roland Challis, BBC south-east Asia correspondent at the time, told me how the British government was secretly involved in this slaughter. "British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits so they could take part in the terrible holocaust," he said. "I and other correspondents were unaware of this at the time ... There was a deal, you see."

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".

More can be found at Ten Percent. To give more perspective of the genocidal nature of the Suharto regime, consider the raw numbers of humans slaughtered. I already noted the massacres early on during Suharto's regime. We must also consider:
Another 200,000 were killed in East Timor from the mid-1970s to 1999, another 100,000 in West Papua, and an estimated 15,000 in Aceh. Throughout it all, the support of the United States, Britain, Australia, and other countries was unbending.
This is all well worth keeping in mind when our dear leaders crow about the US spreading "freedom" - their idea of "freedom" is freedom for conglomerates to rape other nations' natural resources in the name of the almighty Dollar, regardless of the human costs. That certainly cuts to the chase much more than New Pravda's:
President Suharto restored order to the country and presided over an era of substantial development. Many Indonesians benefited from his programs, but none more so than members of his family, who became billionaires many times over.
Blood money.

Good riddance.

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