Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Friend of America and Freeport?

Today was probably my first time asking question in my Inquiry Study class: The Governing Crisis. The reason why most of the time I kept silent because it has been usually somehow more interesting to me to listen to what my fellow American classmates think about their own country, and I would rather to observe their discussion as a “foreigner”. I don’t like making unnecessary thoughtless comments just for the sake of getting participation points. It is always an interesting class; there is one student in my class who always brings up discussion about America as a bully. We call it as the “bully-analogy”. America is a bully because many countries hate America, so in order for America to keep them as a leader they have to scare the people – but from what I learned today, it is not the case, you have to be friend of America, so they won’t scare you.

I might not be the most knowledgeable person to write about this “friend of America”, America as bully, and many other topics that I bring up. But, I can assure you I know a little-bit-more about everything, not just a little bit, but more. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, the classes were shortened. When the classes started, our professor asked us about the last book that we read, “Washington Rules” by Andrew J Bacevich. One guy in my class was asking about one of the topics that were discussed by Bacevich with relation to the Vietnamese war. It is about trinity. America is the internationally-responsible country to ensure the world peace.

The world wants the United State to lead (p. 21). We went for a long discussion. One of them is how important for America to maintain their interest in other country’s territories. My professor brought example about the how the Cuban knew about the assassination of Kennedy, and this is why America has to keep its eyes towards the Cuban. Another example was the nationalization of United Fruits; why the Guatemalan government did it because they saw it as a capitalist trick that won’t benefit their country. Until at one particular point my professor stated, if I can still re-phrase it would be, “The reason behind the Washington Rules and why our country keep their defense amenities throughout the world could be capital, money,” We only had around ten minutes left and he continued saying, “You should make me feel useful, do you have any question or concern about this?”.

I have been thinking before that about the money that America borrowed and spent for war and to build their military base all over the world. They have 761 “sites” in 39 foreign countries; no other country comes even remotely close to replicating this “empire of bases” (p. 25).

“If the reason of the thing that the Washington does is money, do you think all the money that the USA has spent worth it? Does America actually get more money by doing this? Because the US in a big debt right now”

My Professor said that’s a great question and there is not an easy answer to this. He brought the illustration of why Sadam Hussein was arrested and some other examples. At the end the, thing that I can remember that my professor said was, “I think, it is not worth it,”.

I kept thinking about what he said. How I actually I adored Guetamalan government’s action toward the United Fruits, since I think a government is very responsible for the welfare of its citizen, and they have to fight for their rights.

I have reason to say this. If I compare this to what happened in my country with the Freeport Company who has been operating on mining gold for the fourty-two years. The fact that after the second exploitation in 1988, Freeport gained around 7,3 million tons of copper and 724, 7 million ton of GOLD. In contrary, the people in Papua can be considered as the poorest people in Indonesia, they cannot enjoy the enormous valuable resources of their own land. No wonder if at some point they asked for separation.

So, I talked with my professor after the class finished. The first thing I said was, “Have you ever heard about Freeport? It’s an American gold mining company in West Papua, a province in East Indonesia”. He said no.

“I think it is one of the examples of an American capitalist company. It’s not oil, but it’s gold,” and I told him the facts why I think it is a capitalist company. About the exploitation they did.

“When you were talking about Guetamalan leaders, I actually at certain level adore them. They at least have the guts to do something for their people, unlike the Indonesian government,”

Then I also explained him how complicated it was because there was a thirty-two years contract sign by Soeharto and the representative of the USA about Freeport. Stupid is the government. Everybody knows Soeharto was a dictator anyway.

My professor said, “I know about Soeharto. I heard he was a prick,”

“That’s true. But you know what; he is a friend of America. We learned in history how Soeharto got some help from American most powerful Intel to take over Soekarno’s presidency, because in 1955 Soekarno shown some ideology that is related to Marxist. While this might be not the case about what happened with Sadam Hussein, Castro, and other considered as dictator or communist leaders of the world,”

Reading Washington Rules is always enjoyable with a cup of Indonesian tea.

The whole Soeharto issues happened around fourty years ago. And we are already thirteen years forward after the New Regime had ended. But nothing has really changed about the Freeport situation. The people around the mining are still always be poor and the company is getting richer by transporting the natural resources outside Papua, Indonesia.

Go back to the “friends of America” topic. I totally support how our government tries to maintain such a really good relationship with the USA. Especially, lately, when Barrack Obama was elected as the President of United State and he has a close relation with Indonesia, since he spent part of his childhood in my hometown, Jakarta. I think this situation has to be used wisely by Indonesian politicians, diplomats, and lobbyists in the US to re-evaluate the policies that affected the three million of Papua people. It is time for Indonesian politicians to re-think about this. And we should be confident enough of doing this, if we believe that relationship is something mutual.

I do not ask my government to be as radical as some others leader, since we are famous as a very friendly, diplomatic, neutral and democratic country with the most Muslim population in the world. During the revolution in Libya, a famous person mentioned Indonesia as a new Switzerland in Asia. If this is true, we should apply this to first fix the issues in our country, rather than thinking too much on building images in front of the world. This is not what we need right now.

By fixing this, the world will see us as a country who takes the most care of its own citizen, a country who tries to combat poverty, a country that is fair to its citizen, and a country who tries to protect its people. True, it is important for our government to maintain good relationship between another countries and becoming friends with them, but what is most importantly after all is to built a trust, a comforting relationship between Indonesia and its people, without any exception. All we need are politicians who are aware and care enough about what has happened not just what happening. Because, what has happened is still happening until now, and we want to stop it.

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