Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford and the Indonesian Invasion of East Timor

In response to Bruce's comment on my previous post, I replied that Gerald Ford's presidency is most notable for its mediocrity and that I neither credit nor fault him much for anything. I may have spoken too hastily:

AMY GOODMAN: Brad, you recently got documents declassified about President Ford and his role in 1975, in meeting with the long reigning dictator of Indonesia, Suharto. Can you explain what you learned?

BRAD SIMPSON: Yes. Gerald Ford actually met twice with Suharto, first in July of 1975 when Suharto came to the United States. And later in December of 1975, of course, on the eve of his invasion of East Timor. And we now know that for more than a year Indonesia had been planning its armed takeover of East Timor, and the United States had of course been aware of Indonesian military plans. [...] the only thing delaying the invasion was the fear that US disapproval might lead to a cut-off of weapons and military supplies to the regime.

AMY GOODMAN: How knowledgeable was President Ford at the time of the situation?

BRAD SIMPSON: Well, Ford was very much aware. He was receiving hourly briefings, as was Henry Kissinger, as his plane lifted off from Indonesia, as the invasion indeed commenced. And immediately afterwards Gerald Ford flew to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, or to Guam—excuse me, where he gave a speech saying that never again should the United States allow another nation to strike in the middle of the night, to attack another defenseless nation. This was on Pearl Harbor Day, of course. Realizing full well that another day of infamy was unfolding in Dili, East Timor. As thousands of Indonesian paratroopers, trained by the United States, using US supplied weapons, indeed jumping from United States supplied airplanes, were descending upon the capital city of Dili and massacring literally thousands of people in the hours and days after December 7, 1975.
The rest of the declassified documents as well as the history of the U.S. government's 25-year support of the invasion are available at the National Security Archives website.

Like Nixon, Gerald Ford was a realist in the conservative sense of the word, meaning in the name of national vital interest, the United States should preserve the international status quo and not interfere with the affairs of other nations even for the sake of human rights and other such supposedly ideological nonsense. And like Nixon, he went one step further by embracing Henry Kissinger's version of realpolitik, or amoral politics by any means, including physical aggression, extortion and/or economic manipulation .

Bruce and Wonkette fault Ford for the rise of Rumsfeld and Cheney, but those two are a different breed altogether. They are neocons who flourished under Reagan and who believe that the United States should be the lone superpower in the world by vanquishing its enemies (specifically communism then and terrorism now) and spreading democracy (read: capitalism) even if it means coddling authoritarian friends.

Kissingerian realpolitik or neoconservatism. I can't decide which is worse.

Update: More on Gerald Ford's duplicity regarding the pardon of Richard Nixon via Bruce Miller's excellent post at The Blue Voice.

posted at 12:49 PM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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