Looking at Indonesia from Abroad and Within

Reading about Indonesia from the United States in the post-9/11 era creates a picture of that country that has little to do with realities inside its borders.  One of the reasons is the obsession of the American media and even OpEd writing intellectuals with Jemah Islamiya (JI) at the expense of everything else.  As much as the “informed public” (defined as people who are interested in substantive news coverage in the print and electronic media) wants to know about Southeast Asia, somehow their interest in and about Indonesia has been reduced to reading or hearing reports that discuss how dynamic the JI still is, and about how many Indonesians are sympathetic to that entity.


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What the Asians See in Obama and McCain

While Barack Obama is fully focused on winning the hearts and minds of Americans overwhelmingly enough to become the next U.S. President, Asians are focused on him and are rooting for his success.  Obama carries ample charm, goodwill, and positive feelings among Asians.  In a recent public discussion, a former Singaporean diplomat and a prominent strategic thinker, Kishore Mahbubani, underscored that fact.


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Don’t Tug on the Lone Superpower’s Cape!

The financial crisis of 2008 may turn out to be the harbinger of the permanent loss of status for the United States as the financial superpower.  That might be the best news for both China and Russia, even though the Chinese have tremendous stakes in the continued health of the U.S. economy in terms of the volume of trade and Chinese investments.  The loss of economic superpowerdom also presages America’s demise as the global leader, a role that it has enjoyed since the end of the Second World War.  What is not certain is which country or group of countries would replace the lone superpower in this realm.


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Pakistan’s Gift to America: Turbulence Unlimited

The saga of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship may best be described by the phrase “use and abandon.”  That happened during the years following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when Pakistan eagerly became America’s ally.  But when the Soviets were defeated and ousted from Afghanistan, the U.S. went home.  Pakistan was left alone to deal with the consequences of militant Jihad, which America was too happy to revive in order to defeat the communist superpower.


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