Tag Archives: Indonesia


The Obama Factor and the World of Islam

by Ehsan Ahrari on June 16, 2009, No Comments

President Barack H. Obama spoke to the Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, 2009.  Symbolically, that day will always be remembered every time someone raises the issue of the United States' relations toward the world of Islam.  The following statement he made that day will go down in history as a memorable one:  The United States is "not and never will be, at war with Islam."  He made the same statement for the first time in Turkey two months prior.   (more…)

What’s in a Name?: “GWOT” Versus “OCO”

by Ehsan Ahrari on April 25, 2009, No Comments

As the international community is witnessing the debate over the use of torture during the presidency of George W. Bush, another radical change has taken place over naming the United States' campaign against terrorism.  It used to be called the "global war on terrorism" (GWOT).  President Barack H. Obama has quietly changed that name to "Overseas Contingency Operation" (OCO).  The significant development is that not only has the name been changed, but, more to the point, the actual practices of the United States dealing with its campaign against global terrorism are undergoing major transformation. (more…)

Au Revoir, Indonesia!

by Ehsan Ahrari on November 15, 2008, No Comments

Indonesia has always been a place "way out there in Southeast Asia" for me.  My world travels took me all over the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Europe, but East Asia remained a place that did not capture my professional interest until 2005, when I visited Singapore.  During that trip, I remember the distinct feeling of ambivalence among a lot of Singaporeans on all issues related to Indonesia.  That further aroused my curiosity.  Since then, Indonesia was the most interesting place for me in East Asia.  Strangely enough, however, my first visit to that country didn't happen until October 2008.   (more…)

Looking at Indonesia from Abroad and Within

by Ehsan Ahrari on October 23, 2008, No Comments

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.   (more…)

What the Asians See in Obama and McCain

by Ehsan Ahrari on October 7, 2008, No Comments

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.   (more…)

A Case for Optimism for Indonesia

by Ehsan Ahrari on September 20, 2008, 1 Comment

As extremist forces are intensifying their endeavors to make Pakistan an obscurantist Muslim country, the example of Indonesia is both inspiring and heartening.  The country is well on its way to democracy, something that is quite rare in the world of Islam.  To be sure, Indonesia has problems of its own.  Extemist forces have shown their ugly faces in the past and terrorist attacks have taken place.  Even today, when democracy is thriving in Indonesia, the global economic crisis gives one great concern that Indonesia might suffer from its deleterious spillover effect.  However, considering the significance of Indonesia as the largest Muslim country, in all likelihood, forces of regional stability and global order are likely to come to its rescue.  In the meantime, one has to watch with rapt attention that there is no resurgence of religious extremism, since the forces of extremism are weak, but are  very much on the mend.   Kishore Mahbubani's essay makes the case for optimis