Monday, January 28, 2008

Death of a bloody Asian dictator

I was amazed and sickened to find a reputed journalist in The Australian coming out with a lengthy and laudatory obituary for Indonesia's Suharto. In praising the way in which Suharto slaughtered opponents after he came to power in 1965, Greg Sheridan writes: "It is difficult to imagine what Australia might have been like had Indonesia become a communist nation in the mid-1960s. Everything we know of Southeast Asian development and success would have been absent from history, and tyranny and social failure on a massive scale would have replaced it. Australia’s defence budget over three decades might have been three or four times as high as it was. We could have developed as a fearful, isolated and perhaps even militaristic society. This is all speculation, but a communist Indonesia would have fundamentally changed Australian history."

What a curious style of thinking aimed at justifying retrospectively the emergence of a bloody tyrant. Sheridan paints a depressing picture of Australia standing apathetically on the sidelines and applauding the efforts of a dictator doing his appalling dirty work in a neighboring nation. Is that really the spirit of foreign affairs in Australia?

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