29 December 2006

I'm part of a movement!

Who knew that even by neglecting my blog, I could be joining a 200-million strong online movement?
The firm has said that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs.


"A lot of people have been in and out of this thing," Mr. Plummer said.

"Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it."

However, just to show I haven't totally slid into apathy, here is a letter I just wrote to the NYT about what's missing from their recent Ford hagiography.
To the editor,

Much of your coverage of the Ford presidency was nostalgic and moving, but I was disappointed that you neglected to mention Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor, which used mostly American weaponry, killed an estimated 200,000 out of 700,000 people and led to a 25-year occupation. The day before the invasion, Ford and Henry Kissinger were on a state visit to Indonesia, where Indonesian president Haji Mohammad Suharto asked for "understanding if we deem it necessary to take rapid or drastic action." Ford responded with "We will understand and will not press you on the issue," while Kissinger asked only that the invasion wait until Kissinger and Ford had returned to the U.S.

Aram Harrow

I should point out that I didn't know of Ford's involvement here until I learned it from Jon Schwarz and Dennis Perrin, although my first letter to the The Tech (which was actually published!) was inspired by my realization that even in 1998 the Clinton administration was illegally arming and training the Indonesian military.

So now will I join Bernard, Carla, Julia, Michael, Dan, Fafblog and all of my other fellow no-longer-bloggers? Or will I turn to page 123 of some book and flesh out all of those drafts on book reviews, freedom of information, math problems, anti-nationalist mockery and women's underwear? All I know is that I'm not going to promise anything.


Anonymous said...

It's only partially on-topic, but nevertheless I recommend reading George Packer's new article in the New Yorker:

In 1993, a young captain in the Australian Army named David Kilcullen was living among villagers in West Java, as part of an immersion program in the Indonesian language. One day, he visited a local military museum that contained a display about Indonesia’s war, during the nineteen-fifties and sixties, against a separatist Muslim insurgency movement called Darul Islam. “I had never heard of this conflict,” Kilcullen told me recently. “It’s hardly known in the West. The Indonesian government won, hands down. And I was fascinated by how it managed to pull off such a successful counterinsurgency campaign.”

Kilcullen, the son of two left-leaning academics, had studied counterinsurgency as a cadet at Duntroon, the Australian West Point, and he decided to pursue a doctorate in political anthropology at the University of New South Wales. He chose as his dissertation subject the Darul Islam conflict, conducting research over tea with former guerrillas while continuing to serve in the Australian Army. The rebel movement, he said, was bigger than the Malayan Emergency—the twelve-year Communist revolt against British rule, which was finally put down in 1960, and which has become a major point of reference in the military doctrine of counterinsurgency. During the years that Kilcullen worked on his dissertation, two events in Indonesia deeply affected his thinking. The first was the rise—in the same region that had given birth to Darul Islam, and among some of the same families—of a more extreme Islamist movement called Jemaah Islamiya, which became a Southeast Asian affiliate of Al Qaeda. The second was East Timor’s successful struggle for independence from Indonesia. Kilcullen witnessed the former as he was carrying out his field work; he participated in the latter as an infantry-company commander in a United Nations intervention force. The experiences shaped the conclusions about counter-insurgency in his dissertation, which he finished in 2001, just as a new war was about to begin.


Not that there is much cause for reassurance in the piece. A recurring theme is that little will change in the official U.S. approach to such movements until Bush is out of office.

mick said...

Women's underwear? I'm enthralled, please post this one :-).

I didn't know that about Ford by the way. I don't know what's worse, their actions or that it doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Australia was in lock-step with the US on this issue as well.

Oh, and I turned to page 123...