Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Moral Cretinism
Part IV
Conducted Tours
Map of East Timor

In December 1975, after months of covert military attacks and in fulfillment of plans going back at least a year Indonesia invaded the Portuguese colony of East Timor. The next 24 years were characterized by brutal repression, mass murder, starvation and at times something close to genocide.1 During much of this time period East Timor was ignored by the western media. In western complicity in the invasion was abundant. From both President Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saying during a visit to Indonesia that they had no problem with an invasion but hoped it would be over with quickly.

Below is an excerpt from a Telegram giving the minutes of a meeting between Suharto (the Indonesian Dictator) and President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger. After Suharto outlines the Indonesian plan to invade and occupy East Timor the following exchange took place.
42. Ford- We will understand and not press you on the issue. We understand the problem you have and the intentions you have.

43. Kissinger- you appreciate that the use of US made arms could create problems?

44. Ford- We could have technical and legal problems, You are familiar with the problem we had on Cyprus although this situation is different.

45. Kissinger- It depends on how we construe it, whether it is in self defence or is, a foreign operation. It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly, We would be able to influence the reaction in America if whatever happens happens after we return. This way there would be less chance of people talking in an unauthorized way. The President will be back on Monday at 2:00pm Jakarta time. We understand you problem and the need to move quickly but I am only saying that it would be better if it were done after we returned.

46. Ford- It would be more authoritative if we can do it in person.

47. Kissinger- Whatever you do, however, we will try to handle in the best way possible.

48. Ford- We recognize that you have the time factor. We have merely expressed our view from our particular point of view.

49. Kissinger- If you have made plans, we will do our best to keep everyone quiet until the president returns home.

50. Do you anticipate a long Guerilla war there?

51. Suharto- There will probably be a small Guerilla war…2
Later the United States supplied arms, air craft etc., for the invasion and subsequent repression. Further state department officials defended Indonesian actions and denied / down played Indonesian atrocities in East Timor.3

The United States in alliance with other states managed to make any UN attempt to stop or deal with the Indonesian invasion of East Timor ineffectual.4 Countries like Australia also engaged in what amounts to appeasement. Australia recognized legally and formally the Indonesian annexation of East Timor.5

Other western countries and others like Japan and the Soviet Union do not have much better records. During all this something like 150-200 thousand died out of a population of c. 800 thousand.6

During the Indonesian occupation (1974-1999), various journalists, diplomats and others were allowed on guided tours of East Timor. Many of those people were official or semi-official individuals who simply regurgitated Indonesian propaganda. In many respects they served a similar role to the fellow travellers who boosted Stalin’s Russia in the 1930’s, and told outrageous fabrications about what was actually going on.7

On April 25 / 26th 1991 for a book8 on East Timor a colloquy was held at the American University in Washington D.C. During this colloquy several representatives of the US State department and a certain Harold W. Maynard (Lt. Col. US Air Force Retired) were asked for their views on the matter of East Timor.

After other participants in the colloquy have described the various horrors of murder, starvation, torture, repression etc., etc. in East Timor. Mr. Maynard describes his impressions.

Mr. Maynard admits he flew in Indonesian Army helicopters with army interpreters and only visited for a period of seven days, but he decides that his “impressions” and “vignettes” are worth telling.9

First Mr. Maynard talks about Australian journalists getting a story wrong then he says:
I suspect that many times what we hear from East Timor about human rights violations is a case they got the facts wrong. I’m not telling you that human rights violations don’t take place. But they have to be very carefully checked.10
This is of course in many respects fellow traveller talk. It is clear that Mr. Maynard is rather partial to the side of Indonesia and its army. Thus we learn that the Indonesian army is exercising forbearance; that they could crush the opposition but draconian methods would violate their values. Thus a campaign characterized by widespread, torture, repression, massacre and countless atrocities is actually one of civilized forbearance!11 Of course for Mr. Maynard all allegations of atrocities against the Indonesian army must be carefully checked, (rather hard to do given the state of repression in East Timor), since an obviously favoured state / army is being accused.

But of course we then hear the familiar trope of those who pooh-pooh human rights abuses. We hear about economic development. First we hear that human right abuses are exaggerated, then we hear that even if they happen economic development is what counts. Thus Mr. Maynard says:
I don’t think even those who cry correctly about human rights violations in East Timor can deny that the roads have been dramatically improved, there are television stations where there had been none before, along with the stores, and the marketplaces, and the rest of that.12
Isn’t it interesting people “cry” about human rights abuses, i.e., behave irrationally when what really counts are roads and Television stations! Yup once again it is thinking similar to Mussolini made the trains run on time and Stalin built numerous factories.

Like so many of the conducted tours of the past Mr. Maynard’s “impressions” are that people are not afraid. Much like the fellow travellers to Stalin’s Russia during the 30’s he sees no fear instead he sees contentment and of course the East Timorese are not interested in politics but only in bettering their lot economically.13

Commonly in repressive societies, including those favoured by right wingers people being repressed are assumed to be a-political and only interested in economic improvement. An excellent example of this was American right-wing attitudes towards South Africa in the 1980’s.14

It seems never to have occurred to Mr. Maynard that what he saw and heard was managed. But then considering his attitude / bias it is unlikely he needed much management.

Mr. Maynard cannot claim that there are no human rights abuses in East Timor, so he instead goes into a peroration about how the human rights situation can only be improved by dealing with the problem locally. Mr. Maynard rejects the idea that it can be settled “by being internationalized and publicized”.15 Of course what he means is that he wants it settled by the Indonesians and that he desires that those outside Indonesia cease talking about it and doing anything about it. What Mr. Maynard wants is silence so that Indonesia can solve the East Timor problem.

Later like a good fellow traveller he says:
I encourage you to judge them by their own value system, and not by the words and value system we use.16
Indonesia under Suharto’s “values” included mass murder, torture, repression and rule by the corrupt kleptocracy of Suharto’s family and their cronies. Of course their “values” included such things as the great anti-Communist massacre of 1965-1966 and many other cases of murderous repression. Yes they should be judged according to those “values”!17

Then Mr. Maynard quotes from the soldier oaths and other bits about how soldiers in the Indonesian army swear to uphold “humanitarian values”, and “defend truth and justice”; no doubt while murdering, raping, pillaging and torturing. Why Mr. Mr. Maynard takes these bromides seriously is hard to take but then he is a fellow traveller and when the favoured state says something words count more than actual behaviour.18

Mr. Maynard then says that you must accept that East Timor is part of Indonesia. That the issue is non-negotiable and besides politics is irrelevant what counts is improving the economic well being of the people. Of course implied in all this is that what the people of East Timor want politically is irrelevant. Mr. Maynard accepts the political views of the Indonesian’s or to be specific of the government and the army. That the invasion was a naked act of aggression, characterized by a truly hideous level of brutality is ignored as irrelevant and Mr. Maynard wishes it to be forgotten.19

There follows a piece of advice about how to deal with the Indonesian armed forces which consists of telling people to exercise deference to the Indonesian army and be respectful. The following is quite revealing of Mr. Maynard’s attitude:
The guest in someone else’s house does not ransack the drawers, does not go in through the basement, does not publicize the diaries. If you are in Indonesia you are still a guest in Indonesia.20
What Mr. Maynard is saying is that when going to Indonesia to check out the human rights situation or East Timor; one does not investigate; one does not check government claims. One does not publicize the secret crimes of the regime. Guests should be deferential to the state. Of course this is also a dig at those individuals who went to East Timor supposedly as tourists but actually to check out the human rights situation. Mr. Maynard, who a little later mentions Amnesty International, seems to think that Amnesty when investigating human rights abuses in Indonesia / East Timor should not investigate. Thus Mr. Maynard says regarding Amnesty:
I think very few of us would be inclined to invite people into our own home in our own country if, when they come through the door, we know we are under the inquisition. If you start in with that approach I think it’s going to fail in the end.21
Mr. Maynard thus repeats the standard Indonesian Army / government attitude / opinion regarding Amnesty International. Thus Mr. Maynard shows he is a mouthpiece for the Indonesian army / government. The bottom line is that the government / army refused Amnesty’s requests because it did not want Amnesty to document the massive on-going abuses. It was in other words typical shoot the messenger logic. A powerful indication of Mr. Maynard’s biases is his comparing an Amnesty investigation to an “inquisition”. No doubt questioning people about possible repression, torture etc., is an “inquisition” of the alleged torturers etc. It’s also of interest that Mr. Maynard does not refer to the Indonesian Army / government as engaged in a “inquisition”, despite mass, murder, repression, torture, forced labour etc. One must always stand up for one’s ‘holy state’ I suppose.
 East Timorese being tortured
Later Mr. Maynard reiterates his desire, reflecting that of the Indonesian government that:
I think the time has come to put the question of East Timor sovereignty behind us and to put the 1975 events behind us and address what is good for the people, recognizing that many people think that they carry the flag of the people and that probably all of them have some part of the truth.22
Of course what was revealed in 1999 was that the great majority of the people of East Timor wanted nothing to do with being part of Indonesia. Mr. Maynard does not want to remember the sordid facts of the 1975 invasion or obviously of the atrocities that followed. He wants those to be dropped down the memory hole and forgotten. Of course his implicit assumption is that Indonesian rule is ‘good’ for the people of East Timor. Of course the “good” Mr. Maynard is talking about is economic betterment which of course in his implied view of things is all the people of East Timor should be concerned with.23

Mr. Maynard after discussing the alleged mania of Indonesian officials to collect stats, (Maynard doesn’t question whether the stats are valid), says using a metaphor that perhaps people are perceiving different parts of an Elephant and that everyone should check their sources. Mr. Maynard then says regarding his impressions:
But I don’t think that my impressions are any less valid than yours.24
Earlier Mr. Maynard said after other travellers to East Timor had described a situation of extreme repression and violence that:
I have been twice to East Timor and travelled around extensively and what you described I did not see. If you ask government officials, whether they’re American officials from the State Department, the CIA, or AID [ie USAID, US Government Overseas Aid Program], or Department of Defense, or Australian government officials, or French and German, by and large they do not see what you have described. Now, there are several things that might be going on. Number one is that they are imbeciles; number two is that they are insensitive; or number three, maybe it’s an elephant and each of us has a different part of the elephant that we are describing.25
Subsequent events and investigations revealed in abundance that Mr. Maynard’s “impressions” were indeed valueless. Like the fellow travellers to 1930’s Russia with their guided tours Mr. Maynard was not only deceived he wanted to be deceived. The same is true of the various government officials he is referring to. Of course realpolitik also played a role basically those governments supported Indonesia so of course they would not see / notice things that might damage the relationship. Mr. Maynard sets up a straw man. No one believes they are imbeciles but describing them as both insensitive and moral imbeciles seems right. They didn’t see because it was not in the interest of their governments to see. The record is clear East Timor under Indonesian rule was a thoroughly horrible place to live in; of course the degree of horror varied over time.26

In the same passage quoted above Mr. Maynard wonders:
My question for you is, if all the things you describe have been taking place and this is the greatest holocaust in this century by proportion, why is it that so many governments are ignoring it?27
Aside from indicating that Mr. Maynard does not want to believe that the horrors actually happened, is Mr. Maynard really so oblivious to realpolitik? I frankly think it is merely a pose given that Mr. Maynard thinks everyone should just accept the realpolitik of the invasion and occupation of East Timor and move on.

But like any good fellow traveller Mr. Maynard shortly before he is finished, along with dismissing the idea of the East Timorese people deciding their future says:
What I’m saying is my impression, with the exception of sullen people in Iliomar, was that the people were very happy. So my impression is that the people are happy with the Indonesian government as opposed to a viable alternative of which I see none.28
Yep like a fellow traveller in Stalin’s Russia Mr. Maynard sees happy people, but then given his mindset he would perceive happy people and not notice the others, if any on his conducted tour. Of course subsequent events, like the Santa Cruz massacre on November 12, 1991 would indicate that people were not happy with Indonesian rule. Of course so would the referendum of August 30, 1999 during which a little over 78% of the East Timorese voted for independence would indicate just how happy the East Timorese were to be part of Indonesia.29

On that suck up note lets us bid good bye to Mr. Maynard fellow traveller.

Later in the Colloquy a US State department official, (who remains un-named) states official US policy that work should be done to improve things in East Timor but that the Indonesian occupation should be accepted. Of course there is the usual stuff about dealing with “realities” rather than as implied airy idealism. The same official then declares it unlikely that East Timor was brought up during Ford’s visit to Indonesia in 1975. As indicated by the document quoted at the beginning of this post that is false.30

The official then goes on to wonder why the Portuguese government is so concerned now when in 1975-1976 they supported Indonesia getting East Timor. He also brings up the Goa comparison. (Goa was a small Portuguese colony on the coast of India. Invaded and occupied by India in 1961). Aside from ignoring that perhaps the Portuguese now recognized that going along with Indonesia on this was immoral, perhaps the horrible human rights abuses in East Timor have something to do with it. Further it does not appear that the inhabitants of Goa did not want to be part of India. This is of course different from East Timor. Obviously raising the issue of Goa is just an example of changing the subject.31

Another State Department official later acknowledges that perhaps knowing Portuguese would help while checking things out in East Timor. The official then admits that the languages used are Indonesian and English. Of course what is interesting is that no one discusses that the visits are guided tours during which the State Department officials will see what their Indonesian guides want them to see, and frankly what they want to see. In other words what will favour State Department policy which is in favour of Indonesia.32

In the Colloquy are a number of experts from Indonesia who are incredibly and amazingly obtuse to say nothing of to one degree or other suck up servants to power.33 It is amazing that the other participants tolerated the presence of these apologists for terror and fellow travellers.

Subsequently the Santa Cruz massacre exposed as hollow the argument that East Timorese were happy or even accepted Indonesian rule. Meanwhile brutal Indonesian repression and torture continued.

In 1996 Bishop Belo of East Timor and Jose Ramos-Horta are awarded the Noble Peace Prize for their efforts to bring peace to East Timor.

In 1998 because of a severe economic crisis and bent up frustration caused by decades of brutal autocratic rule, and corruption the Suharto regime collapses. The new President B. J. Habibie agrees to allow East Timor to have a referendum under UN Auspices to decide East Timor’s future.34

Elements in the Indonesian Military set up Militias in East Timor, which with the covert and overt support of the Indonesian military and police carry out a campaign of intimidation, torture and murder to intimidate the voters in the months before the referendum. Despite all this, including rumours that the Indonesian army and the Militia’s intend to devastate East Timor if the independence vote wins, the people of East Timor choose independence. Afterwards the Militias and the Indonesian army devastate East Timor creating over 250,000 refugees and destroying the economy and killing well over 1000 people.35

It will take decades for East Timor to recover from the brutal rule of Indonesia that people like Mr. Maynard white washed.36
Political Rally East Timor 1998
1. Taylor, John G., East Timor: The Price of Freedom, Zed Books, New York, 1999, pp. 68-131, Chomsky, Noam, & Herman, Edward S., The Political Economy of Human Rights, v. 1, Black Rose Books, Montreal, 1979, pp. 129-204, Chomsky, Noam, Towards a New Cold War, Pantheon Books, New York, pp. 337-370, Chega! Final Report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor, 2005, Here.

2. Embassy Jakarta Telegram 1579, From The National Security Archive, East Timor Revisited, Here.

3. See Chomsky, 1979 & 1982, see also East Timor at the Crossroads, Ed. Bentley, G. Carter & Carey, Peter, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1995,. The colloquy entitled Dimensions of Domination, Ed. Bentley, G. Carter, is on pp. 161-194, at pp. 166-171.

4. IBID, Gunn, Geoffrey, C., A Critical View of Western Journalism and Scholarship on East Timor, Journal of Contemporary Asia Publishers, Sydney Australia, 1994, pp. 109-134.

5. IBID Gunn, Fernandes, Clinton, Reluctant Saviour, Scribe Publications, Melbourne Australia, 2004, pp. 13-25, Kingsbury, Damien, East Timor: The Price of Liberty, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009, pp. 48-50.

6. Estimates vary see Kiernan, Ben, Blood and Soil, Yale University Press, Harvard CONN, 2007, 578-580, and The Demography of Genocide in South East Asia, 2003 at Here. See also Chega! Executive Summary, p. 48 which gives a minimum figure of 102,000 killed at Here.
7. See Caute, David, The Fellow Travellers, Revised Edition, Yale University Press, Harvard CONN, 1988. Especially see pp. 64-139.

8. See Bentley, pp. 161-194.

9. IBID, Maynard’s first impressions are pp. 173-176, the quotes are p. 173.

10. IBID, p. 175.

11. See Footnote 1.

12. Bentley, Maynard’s impressions p. 174.

13. IBID, pp. 174-175.

14. See Minter, William, King Solomon’s Mines Revisited, Basic Books, New York, 1988.

15. Bentley, Maynard’s impressions p. 175.

16. IBID, p. 175.

17. Chomsky, 1979, pp. 205-217, Kiernan, 2007, pp. 576-578, Challis, Shadow of a Revolution, Sutton Publishing, London, 2001, pp. 104-108. 191-196. The anti-Communist massacres of 1965-1966 killed 500,000 – 1,000,000 people.

18. Bentley, Maynard’s impressions quoting the Indonesian soldier’s oath, p. 175.

19. IBID, pp. 175-176.

20. IBID, p. 176.

21. IBID, p. 176.

22. IBID, p. 179.

23. See Gunn, pp. 207-236.

24. Bentley, Maynard’s impressions p. 180.

25. IBID, p. 169.

26. See Footnote 1.

27. Bentley, Maynard’s impressions p. 169.

28. IBID, p. 181.

29, Kingsbury, pp.60-65, 71-76, Taylor, pp. 213-214, 227-228, van Klinken, Helene, Taking the Risk, Paying the Price, in Guns and Ballot Boxes, Ed. Kingsbury, Damien, Monash Asia Institute, Victoria Australia, 2000, pp. 43-68.

30. Bentley, USSD1’s impressions p. 187.

31. IBID, p. 188.

32. IBID, USSD2’s impressions pp. 189-190.

33. Footnote 8. Just read the entire colloquy it has some truly stomach turning passages.

34. Taylor, pp. 213-223.

35. Kingsbury, 2009, pp. 65-76, Taylor, pp. 223-230, Nevins, Joseph, A Not So Distant Horror, Cornell University Press, Ithaca NY, 2005, pp. 81-135, van Klinken, Kingsbury, Damien, The TNI and the Militias, in Kingsbury, 2000, pp. 69-80, Bartu, Peter, The Militia, The Military and the People of the Bobonaro District, in Kingsbury, 2000, pp. 81-98., McDonald, Hamish, Masters of Terror: The Indonesian Findings, in Masters of Terror, Ed. McDonald Hamish & Tanter, Robert, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc, New York, 2006, pp. 13-20, KPP HAM, Full Report of the Investigative Commission into Human Rights Violations in East Timor, in Hamish et al, pp. 21-66, Ball, Desmond, Silent Witness: Australian Intelligence and East Timor, in Hamish et al, pp. 177-202.

36. Just how difficult it as been so far see Kingsbury, 2009.

Pierre Cloutier

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