Jokowi’s homework list



I’ve actually been trying to publish this post since yesterday, but, blame the remnants of writer’s block still lingering in my mind after a year or so having not written any thousand-word articles, the draft ended up as a messily-written timeline about the rivalries between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. Forget that, now the media anywhere has taken everything out of it.

The victory of Joko Widodo, a commoner-looking, an everyday-like-us can-do person, is not something to underestimate with. Many have doubted his real capabilities, given his ‘appearance’ (feel free to interpret the picture above), in leading the world’s fourth most populous nation. He’s been doing great as Mayor of Surakarta (Solo) from 2005 up to 2012, gaining nearly absolute support from the 500,000 people, and he’s dared himself against corrupt bureaucrats as governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and also a sprawling capital with 10 million people packed in an area no larger than Singapore, for a 2-year stint from 2012 up to 2014. And sooner or later, despite the opposite side’s accusations of ‘massive, systemic electoral fraud’ and pressure for the cancellation, which sound paradoxical (note: Prabowo relied heavily on a fragile coalition of political parties, extremists, thug-like organizations, and business elites representing Suharto’s past, while Jokowi, albeit a PDIP cadre, relied mostly on middle-class, villagers, moderates, and volunteers working day-and-night on social media to tackle black campaigns launched against him), Jokowi, as he is always referred to, will soon lead 250 million people, placing stakes at where Indonesia’s future is going to.

Okay, congratulations, Pak Jokowi, I truly believe you have had great experiences, and pioneered numerous innovative methods, in solving urban problems in both Solo and Jakarta. We must be honest, however, that many underlying problems haven’t been fully solved. They’re not gonna die down in a year, nor in the five-year tenure Jokowi and his running mate, experienced statesman Jusuf Kalla, will be trusted with, nor even in decades, not even in this generation. Problems, until the doomsday comes, will never cease to exist. Nonetheless, say the least, we should also appreciate all the attempts he had made in improving the lives of these two cities.

So, what are the problems Jokowi, Indonesia’s new president, will have to tackle within this period? Here they are:


1. Bitter pills for a long-term stability

Fuel subsidies, anywhere in any countries long hinged on it, remain a huge limbo for macroeconomic stability. Like a candy to a 5-year-old kid, it’s so addictive that the old wisdom says ‘too much candy causes your teeth rotten’. Okay, let’s not debate dentistry, but it’s definitely true that fuel subsidies have caused a huge ‘hole’ in state budgets, and many countries suffer when governments attempt to end fuel subsidies. There are protests everywhere associated with ‘fuel price increase’, and ironically, it happens in a lot of oil-rich countries, particularly Indonesia (it’s not so oil-rich anymore today). Jokowi’s foremost challenge, right now, is to make a courageous breakthrough to end fuel subsidies now costing the country nearly 30 billion US$ a year, and allocating the money instead to more investment in education and infrastructure.

2. Place the right people at the right posts, and be no Obama

No other people have been as risk-taking as Jokowi in terms of political consensus. Unlike his predecessor, the outgoing Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose cabinet is mostly filled with persons from his political parties after some power-sharing is agreed upon, he enforces every political party willing to support him to sign ‘no-lion’s-shares-attached’ treaty. That means no parties are gonna support him only to gain ministerial posts should he win the election. But, as political dynamism follows soon, Prabowo’s fragile coalition, which occupies more than 60% parliamentary seats, may at all times be ready to impose obstacles and blockades for any proposed policies by Jokowi. Two headaches for him: in an interview on Reuters, Jokowi eventually relegated that ‘at most 20% of the cabinet should be reserved to professionals from political parties’. Professionals from political parties? Hmm, I think Yudhoyono had said that five years prior. But that may be a good alternative, given that Yudhoyono’s cabinet, 80-90 percent of which I bet, is only reserved for those affiliated with political parties. And they’re disappointing, much or less. But what about Prabowo’s coalition? Well, it just kinda reminds me of Obama. He’s a great visionary, a breakthrough-maker compared to past presidents, but he always fails against the Republicans in a lot of proposed policies, most disappointingly gun control. Jokowi should be proud as Indonesia’s Obama, but he must remind himself that he can possibly fall into the same loophole Obama has been in right now. You won’t expect a government shutdown in Jakarta, and that will be really messy.

3. Make these political dynasties escape to Mars (or Moon, at least)

Massive protests in 1998, despite a huge anti-Chinese bloodshed which saw thousand lives perish, eventually brought democracy to Indonesia. Elections have been held, not only on national level, but also in every practical level you can imagine. Cities, regencies, and provinces, all of which sum up to 500 in Indonesia right now, have held direct elections, the costs of which, if calculated, may surpass tens of billions of US$. Democracy is expensive, truth be told, and any nation-state experimenting with that on early stages will find it highly formidable. Egypt is now shaken, and is still slightly shaken (despite Sisi’s rise to power), Thailand has now kept it on bay thanks to a series of military coups, and dozens of countries recount tales of democracy and the rise of political dynasties. And so is Indonesia. Elections become an economy in necessity, regardless of how paradoxical it sounds, and local dynasties rise up. Corruption used to be centralized in Jakarta, and as decentralization is massively implemented, it spreads like mushroom. Although new cities, regencies, and provinces have been carved up, people remain severely in abject poverty. It’s not to say that democracy is bad, but an emerging democracy, willingly or reluctantly, can’t avoid itself from being faced with such troubles. Now the time’s up for these dynasties; Jokowi will have to clean them up soon, and most importantly, we will need more local leaders who are clean, professional, and if preferably, technocrats. Meritocracy must always be the main priority (should it succeed).

4. You won’t ever eliminate poverty, but you can limit it

Everyone seated in Davos, Boao, New York City, what have you, never stops talking about the needs to eliminate poverty. But even Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen questions our limited perspective of what ‘poverty’ actually is. Is it an economical one, or rather a psychological one? Or simply a social label? Rich people may feel ‘poor’ if they haven’t purchased a mansion, and poor people may feel ‘blessed’ if they have enough meals to eat everyday, at least. Standards to measure poverty, in addition, remain unchanged since 1980s: a person is considered poor if he or she earns less than 1.25 US$ a day. Taking that into account (forget our government’s incredulously low statistics), as many as 100 million Indonesians are struggling to deal with life with that daily amount. Okay, we’ve got the praises from World Bank and IMF, we now have another 100 million Indonesians now entering middle class (lower-middle included). But a lot outside are getting hungry, starved with limited food provisions, something you will never expect under Suharto’s rule, despite his chronic corruption and widespread brutality. Jokowi, hailing from a lower-class family, will certainly have to deal with it, but one thing for sure: poverty, as long as humanity exists, always follows suit. At the least he should make sure that the poor get enough to eat, houses to live in, jobs to obtain, and most importantly, schools.

5. Make the fundamentalists either go to Middle East or end up in Venus

Religious tensions continue to hamper interfaith relations up to this moment, and minorities are severely affected by what a handful of extremists are doing. But we should be thankful that Indonesia, having been the world’s largest Muslim country, can successfully maintain such fragile equilibrium, by which Muslims (85%), Protestants (7%), Catholics (3%), Hindus (2%), Buddhists (1%), and hundreds of folk religions (2%) live side-by-side in peace (sorry, the statistics may not be pretty accurate). Again, though, Indonesia continues to be a spotlight, to the level of UN Human Rights Commission. Some churches remain blockaded, Ahmadiyya and Shi’ite sects (as Sunnis always claim to be ‘idiosyncratic’) continuously persecuted, and a few Buddhist temples should remove some deities’ status under pressure from a few Muslim extremists. Again, I stress out, majority of Indonesians are moderate and tolerant of each other, and it’s only this ‘few’, having been brainwashed by some dubious Saudi-based unemployed extremists supported implicitly by the kingdom, who dare to do so. Jokowi, having been dubbed ‘Chinese’, ‘Christian’, ‘Jewish’ (that’s absurd), and even ‘Communist’, will certainly have to stand up against them, something Yudhoyono right now has not pretty succeeded.

6. Research, research, research!

Truth be told, we have millions of talented, brilliant individuals with so much potential to make Indonesia a progressive state. But our current educational system, tainted with Suharto’s decades-old militarist patterns (revenge is good, seniors must wound the juniors to teach them how life is ‘pain-in-the-ass’), has been obviously a fiasco, failing to improve the lives of these millions. Exacerbate that with our chronic lack of funds for R&D. Okay, don’t compare ourselves to either United States, China, or Japan (the governments, respectively, have allocated 500, 300, and 150 billion US$ each); nor can even Indonesia match itself with neighboring countries, say, Malaysia or Singapore (each of which provides 5 and 9 billion US$ respectively for research). Economists, meanwhile, have calculated that a country should invest, at least, 2 to 3% of its GDP towards R&D to achieve long-term economic prosperity, and how much has Indonesian government allocated so far? Given its GDP of 1 trillion US$ this year, it only invests 0.2%, equivalent to approximately 2 billion US$. Will Jokowi afford to increase an astronomical spending on R&D to the level of 20 or even 30 billion US$ before the end of 2019? That will take decades. Firstly, education should continue to be reformed (given our current quality is not that supportive, frankly speaking), and to make it realistic, it would have been a spectacular momentum if Jokowi can increase R&D budget manifold, at most, into 10-15 billion US$ by the end of his tenure (make sure nobody corrupts the money though!).

7. Infrastructure please!!

Indonesia has its own ‘cholesterol problem’; like a human body with blood veins blockaded by fats or other substances, our country’s infrastructure remains in poor shape, most of which was built during Suharto’s time (thanks for an influx of easy foreign loans which burst out in 1997 crisis). Now, with our economy rapidly booming, more people are buying cars, motorcycles, using ships and airplanes than ever. Production has increasingly skyrocketed, and delivery becomes more sophisticating than ever, yielding in a huge flow of cargo movements between islands. Nonetheless, deadlocks still happen in seaports, with trucks, spanning kilometers wide, tucked in highways, oftentimes for days. Air travel becomes busier than ever, and most airports surveyed have encountered this problem known as ‘over-capacity’. Excluding ongoing power outages still imposed, even in major cities like Medan. Yudhoyono’s administration, at least we must acknowledge, has been ambitious enough to prep out investment in infrastructure systems through a 15-year economic package known as MP3EI (not some sort of MP3 product, mind you; it’s ‘Masterplan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development), with estimated costs between 450 and 600 billion US$. It has been partially successful, but structural problems continue unabated. Corruption, red-tapes, licensing problems, land disputes, and logistics problems, these are all problems Yudhoyono has ineffectively managed. Now, it’s time for Jokowi, and now I mention Jusuf Kalla (he’s also a national businessman engaged in infrastructure building), to continue supporting this program by eliminating obstacles related to its implementation.

8. Promote ‘Indonesia, Inc.’ abroad, be a global player, and engage the diaspora

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, but the problem is, many foreigners, aside of those who know this country much better than we do, do not even know if there’s a country named Indonesia. Some of my friends in Hong Kong even think if Indonesia is part of India, that Indonesia is part of Bali, that Bali is in South Africa, or even just know that there is a country surrounding Malaysia or Singapore. Okay, it’s unfair to simply blame them, but many of our diplomats abroad, given limited funding from state budgets, have ineffectively promoted Indonesia’s image to international public. Our roles in facilitating international crises have been particularly limited, aside of those attributed to the end of decades-old conflicts in Cambodia and limited mediation for Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, with the ongoing conflicts between China and ASEAN regarding South China Sea disputes, Indonesia, as ASEAN’s largest member and unofficial ‘big brother’, hasn’t completely attempted to mediate the conflicts effectively. Right now, with Indonesia’s image gradually rising as its economy now actively grows, Jokowi’s new government should use this opportunity to increase its roles in international diplomacy, most importantly through its active participation in South-South cooperation. But, for me personally, there are several regions that Jokowi’s government must prioritize in its foreign policy: Middle East (solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he promises to support full independence for the latter), Southeast Asia (be an active player in formulating peace deals between China and ASEAN in regard to South China Seas), Africa (there’s so much potential Indonesian businesses can afford more to invest in), and Pacific region (Pacific island states usually refer to Indonesia in learning about environmental protection, and Australia must solve its own bilateral problems as well). Indonesian diaspora, in addition, is also a great potential for Jokowi to improve Indonesia’s image internationally. Estimated that between 5 and 10 million people living overseas are either Indonesians or have its ancestry line, it has unfortunately been relatively neglected by current government nowadays. Majority of them are informal workers in Middle East, Southeast and East Asia, but quite many of them are talented professionals in world-class universities. This is where Jokowi’s new government should engage them, regardless of their status, to promote Indonesia, Inc. to the world stage. Don’t ever let people outside think that Bali is in Hawaii anymore, or that Indonesians are an African tribe.


I’m getting enough with this list, but if you have more priorities you haven’t mentioned, just comment it below.


NB: Jokowi is now making efforts on crowd-sourcing; it starts with his volunteer team publishing a Google doc, by which people are persuaded to recommend experts and professionals suited for a ministerial post. Fill the document here (only in Indonesian, sorry!) if you want to, and time’s now to supervise his new government to come!

“Not really slaves – but gofers…”

A child holds a poster of Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and vice presidential candidate Hatta Rajasa in Bandung


The final part of the series of articles written by American investigative journalist, Allan Nairn, about the connection between Indonesia’s current presidential candidate, NSA (National Security Agency), underground militia in secessionist areas, and other wrongdoings in the past.

You can read the original article at his personal blog.




Prabowo, Part 3: The NSA, Militia Terror, Aceh, Servants, and “Slaves”

By Allan Nairn

At one point during our meetings in Jakarta in 2001, General Prabowo started talking about the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Prabowo had already described how he reported to the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at least weekly and had mentioned his extensive work with other parts of the Pentagon.

When I asked about crimes by the TNI/ ABRI (the armed forces of Indonesia) Prabowo said that evidence of them could be found in the archives of the NSA.

He said his US handlers had talked to him about the extensive electronic surveillance that NSA, with help from Australia, was carrying out against Indonesia.

Some of this was already public record, but Prabowo said he knew more.

I asked if he had passed this information to his superiors and subordinates in the TNI/ABRI.

Prabowo replied “I don’t remember if I sent a memo warning about it [the intercepts] but everyone should assume that” — ie. assume that they were taking place.

The context for this was interesting.

Prabowo was not referring to his own crimes, but to those of his rival, General Wiranto.

He said that Wiranto was responsible for the 1999 East Timor TNI militia arson and massacre, and that Wiranto’s main man on the ground was General Zacky Anwar Makarim.

Prabowo noted with apparent bitterness “I was the Americans’ fair-haired boy,” but now that the US had ditched him “Wiranto is their fair-haired boy.”

Prabowo said that during the terror Wiranto was “close to” the US CINCPAC (Commander in Chief, Pacific) Admiral Dennis Blair.

Prabowo added that from its intercepts and from its direct involvement, the US knew exactly what Wiranto had been up to.

As far as I can tell, all of this was accurate.

I had reported in 1999, as TNI and the militias were burning Dili, internal US documents showed that Wiranto had a green light from Blair.   (“US Complicity in Timor,” The Nation [US], September 27, 1999; see also “Breaking News: US Intel Nominee Lied About ’99 Massacre.  US, Church Documents Show Adm. Dennis Blair Knew of Church Killings Before Crucial Meeting.”)

It was also the case, as I reported then, that many TNI atrocities were ordered through communications equipment that was interceptable.

Prabowo said “Only they [the NSA] would have the evidence of Wiranto’s militia operations.”

He said he had “heard that now DC is saying prosecution of Wiranto is no longer necessary.”

This latter statement was misleading, since the US had never backed prosecution (The UN, though, did indict Wiranto for crimes against humanity).

But Prabowo’s point that the US was shielding Wiranto was indeed correct.

Prabowo knew the US procedures well.  The US had backed and shielded his crimes for decades.


NSA surveillance has recently become an international issue.

The US should be pushed to divulge what it has on crimes by itself and those it sponsors.


When Prabowo implicated General Zacky to me it wasn’t entirely self-serving, since Prabowo acknowledged that he himself had often set up such militias.

He said correctly that such forces were part of US counterinsurgency doctrine, and that he, Prabowo, had set militias up during his years in Timor.

He said “All counterinsurgency operations need militias, paramilitaries.  The US uses them.”

“They speak the local dialect, know the area.  They use tactics of claiming to be the other side.”

He said that he presumed that as we spoke, in 2001, Kopassus was running such militias in Aceh, and was hiding its men in plainclothes and in BRIMOB uniform.

Prabowo knew in detail about Zacky’s Timor operation because Zacky had been his — Prabowo’s — man until he “abandoned” Prabowo for Wiranto.

The TNI-run militiamen committed rape, mass murder, torture and arson.

But Prabowo’s objection to them was not their crimes but their uncouth personalities.

He said Eurico Guterres, of Timor’s Aitarak, was “a street punk, a gambler, barely literate.” Though Eurico worked for Kopassus,  Prabowo said he found him “disgusting.”

Today, the press says Eurico is “ready to become a minister in a Prabowo cabinet.” (“Eurico Guterres siap jadi menteri  kabinet Prabowo“).


At the time we spoke, there had been a bombing at the Jakarta stock exchange (JSX) nine months earlier.

Prabowo said one of those involved was an ethnic Acehnese ex-Kopassus (Group 5).

He said  “Its a problem letting Acehnese in there,” (the military) because the Acehnese were not trustworthy.

Prabowo said”Its like Black Panthers in the US.  Do you keep blacks out of the military?”

Today, the Aceh ex-GAM leadership has endorsed Prabowo for president.

I discussed this twice with Muzakir Manaf, the former GAM guerrilla commander.

The first time was on April 10, 2012  right after ex-GAM won local Aceh elections.  The second was last February 9 when Muzakir was serving as the Aceh vice governor.

On both occasions I asked Muzakir if it was true that, as I had reported in 2010, the former Kopassus commander,  General Sunarko, had helped assassinate pro-GAM activists during 2009.

Muzakir’s response on this was significant since, by 2012, Sunarko had become a Muzakir ally.  They were waging an election campaign together.

On both occasions Muzakir said yes, it was true, Sunarko helped command the murders.

So why was GAM now supporting Sunarko, this man who had killed their comrades?

Two reasons, Muzakir said, first, Sunarko could help with the Central Aceh Gayo vote, and second, Sunarko was in Prabowo’s party and Prabowo was giving GAM lots of money.

Last February Muzakir acknowledged to me that Prabowo’s Kopassus had murdered Aceh civilians.

But Muzakir said “He [Prabowo] had his orders, that was his national necessity.  That is all in the past now.”

When I asked Muzakir if his new friend Prabowo should be tried for crimes against humanity, he replied “That is not up to me.  That is up to others, maybe internationally.”


Prabowo was careful when he spoke to me to avoid implicating himself criminally.

It was not that he was denying things, he was just refusing to talk about them.

But there was one interesting case, when he appeared to come to the verge of discussing his role in the 1998 Jakarta riots that featured murder, rape and anti-Chinese violence.

Prabowo had just finished blaming Wiranto for a long list of what he saw as political embarrassments, including the highly-publicized ABRI murders of civilian demonstrators at Trisakti and at Semanggi 1 and 2.

But when it came to the riots, Prabowo did not attempt to blame Wiranto.

Instead, he said, with what could have been pride: “There were 128 fires at one time.  This was an operation: planned, instigated, controlled.”

The only thing he would not say was who had done the controlling.

Prabowo reminisced that during his time in occupied Timor, in the Kopassus camps, he had the use of “slaves.”

But then Prabowo caught himself.

Boasting about “slaves” was not advisable.

He corrected, in good American idiom: “Well, not really slaves — gofers.”

He complained that as we spoke, in 2001, he was short of money: “I am not rich.”

Prabowo said “I have 15 servants.  Maybe you really only need 3.”



“I was the Americans’ fair-haired boy…”

A child holds a poster of Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and vice presidential candidate Hatta Rajasa in Bandung



A second part of the series of articles by US investigative journalist, Allan Nairn, about how Indonesia’s presidential hopeful, former lieutenant general Prabowo Subianto, became one of US government’s ‘most endeared agents’ in implanting their influence in Indonesia, while at the same time covering the past human rights abuses he had done before in numerous regions, including Aceh, East Timor, and Papua.

You can view the original article in his personal blog.




Prabowo, Part 2: “I was the Americans’ fair-haired boy.” The Nationalist General and the United States


By Allan Nairn

When we met in Jakarta on June 21 and July 2, 2001 General Prabowo spoke at length about his work with and for the United States.

Prabowo told me “I was the American’s fair-haired boy.”

He said he had been “very good friends” with US intelligence,  reporting to them “maybe weekly or more,” had served as a go-between to convey US messages to Suharto, and had even gone so far as to help bring US troops into Indonesia for exercises the  Pentagon used to prepare its’ “contingency plan for entry to Indonesia,” i.e. “the invasion contingency.”

But at the time we spoke Prabowo had recently been denied a US visa.

His sense of grievance about this was palpable.

It was easy to understand why.

Prabowo had served Washington through years of torture and massacre.  The US had backed him warmly, with sponsorship, weapons, and public praise. 

Prabowo was not just Indonesia’s single most intensively US-trained officer, but, so far as I can tell, he was Washington’s closest Indonesian armed forces protege ever.  Much of Prabowo’s power came from the fact that he was Washington’s man as well as Suharto’s.

But the instant he lost an inter-army power struggle in 1998,  the US had jilted Prabowo in favor of his most hated rival (Wiranto),  and now they were piously criticizing him for crimes he had committed with US support,  and, to top it off,  had added the indignity of the visa denial.

When Prabowo — by way of complaint — went on to me about his years of loyal service to Washington, it was clear to me he was not boasting.  He was simply stating the facts.


Prabowo told me he had “always identified with the US.  It was something I got from my family.” 

Though he had previously been a minister in the government of  Sukarno,  Indonesia’s founding president, Prabowo’s father had been involved in the CIA-backed operation to oust Sukarno.

Prabowo told me he grew up imbued with US Anti-Communism,  and had supported the US when it went into countries like Cambodia and Afghanistan.

In a July 17,  2013 Washington DC speech to US government and corporate leaders, Prabowo’s brother,  Hashim Djojohadikusumo, the billionaire investor, said:

“Prabowo is very pro-American.  He went to American high school,  American grade school.  I mean, you know, he’s been going to American school all his life.  He went to Special Forces,  he was in Fort Benning,  Fort Bragg.  You know,  I’m pro-American.  Until recently I was an investor in California, in a big way, in the oil business.”

Hashim promised that if Prabowo becomes president of Indonesia: “Yes,  the US will be a privileged partner with a GERINDRA administration.”

( GERINDRA is Prabowo’s political party, which Hashim helps to finance.  [See video link, starting at around the 56:32 time stamp]).

Two months before our first meeting I saw Prabowo speak and work the crowd at a gathering in Jakarta of the US-Indonesia investor/ military elites (the Van Zorge conference, 2001). 

Prabowo professed his devotion to the doctrines of two US Civil War generals, William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant (later US president), both of whom had embraced the tactic of occasionally killing many civilians. 

Prabowo remarked “I know more US history than Indonesian history.”


When we spoke, I was struck by Prabowo’s emotion when he talked about America.

Prabowo said to me with rising anger that his fellow Indonesian officers used to mock him,  calling him “The American officer” because he was so close to the United States. 

He said that they made fun of him — and implied he was unmanly — because his English was so good and he spent so much time with the foreigners. 

Prabowo told me he was “Very good friends with DIA (the US Defense Intelligence Agency) back to George Benson.”

Benson spent decades going in and out of Indonesia for US intelligence. 

Benson worked with elements of ABRI in the CIA-backed covert operation to oust Sukarno, providing US intelligence for the 1958 attack on Padang, West Sumatra (See “In memoriam: George Benson: a true friend of Indonesia” ).

Benson later effectively ran US-ABRI covert operations against Sukarno leading up to Sukarno’s toppling amid the mid-1960s US-backed massacres  that killed hundreds of thousands of Indonesian civilians (See “Pretext for Mass MurderThe September 30th Movement and Suharto’s Coup d’Etat in Indonesia,” the landmark historical study that discusses Benson and the US role.) 

For his work in Indonesia Colonel Benson was inducted into the Defense Intelligence Agency “Hall of Fame.”

After leaving the DIA,  Benson represented Suharto’s Pertamina oil company in Washington,  and became a leading promoter of US corporate entry into Indonesia. 

In 1994 Benson , the Prabowo circle, and US business,  diplomatic, and intelligence figures helped launch the United States – Indonesia Society (USINDO).   USINDO worked to fight the rising grassroots movement to cut off US aid to Suharto’s ABRI (a movement I was deeply involved with
),  and to defend US corporate interests in Indonesia like the huge miner Freeport McMoRan. 

Prabowo’s father, Sumitro, and brother Hashim sat on USINDO boards.  USINDO has established a fellowship to honor Sumitro.  Corporate sponsors of USINDO have included the Lippo Group, Freeport McMoRan, Texaco, Mobil, Raytheon, GE, Hughes Aircraft and Merril Lynch.  Prabowo was reportedly, through his wife, Suharto’s daughter Titiek, involved in business with Merril Lynch.

USINDO was the group to which Hashim gave his 2013 Washington speech that promised that a Prabowo presidency would treat the United States as “a privileged partner” (see above).


Prabowo told me he was “on the phone frequently with US intel,  McFetridge and the others, maybe weekly or more.” 

He was referring to Colonel Charles D. (Don) McFetridge of the DIA.   McFetridge was one of Col. George Benson’s successors in Indonesia,  and the 1994-’98 US Defense Attache in Jakarta.

McFetridge also dealt directly with Prabowo’s Kopassus Group 4 commander,  Colonel Chairawan,  according to interviews I had with Chairawan and US officials.   (See my piece in The Nation [US], issue dated June 15, 1998, “Our Men in Jakarta“).

The DIA was working with Prabowo and Chairawan throughout the time they were implicated in the abuction, torture, and murder of the Jakarta activists (1997-’98).

Thirteen of those abductees are still missing, presumed dead. 

One of Prabowo’s campaign leaders — General Kivlan Zein — says he knows where the bodies are buried.

Col. McFetridge, who had attended SESKOAD, the Indonesian army staff and command school, went on to help run security for the multinational oil and gas giant BP, particularly on their BP-Tangguh gas extraction project in West Papua.


Prabowo told me he didn’t deal with the CIA but rather the DIA. 

He said the CIA liaison was with BAKIN, which reported directly to the armed forces commander.

Prabowo asserted that within the Indonesian armed forces, deference to DIA people was normal. “If the US Attache calls the ABRI military chief of staff and wants a meeting he gets a meeting.”

Prabowo said that such was the US confidence in him that they used him to convey messages to his father-in-law, Suharto.

He said that at one point late in the 1998 uprising that brought down Suharto, his US handlers confided to him that the US government had concluded that Suharto had suddenly lost his usefulness.

Prabowo told me he went to Suharto and conveyed the message: the US is “no longer with you.”

But Prabowo told me that Suharto replied: “‘No, the US is still with me, someone just came from DC and told me.'”

Prabowo said Suharto “got angry and threw me out.”

It is possible that Prabowo and Suharto were,  in a sense,  both correct. 

As Suharto lost his ability to repress effectively, the US moved to dump him, as they have done with many others. 

But they did so only grudgingly, and with division in the US ranks.

It is plausible that Prabowo and Suharto could have gotten different messages from different Americans.


Prabowo’s account to me of his US intelligence dealings is consistent with what others told me. 

I reported during the 1998 crisis:  “As one [US] embassy official described if for me at the height of the disappearances: ‘Prabowo is our fair-haired boy; he’s the one who can do no wrong'” (The Nation [US], issue dated June 15, 1998; the article was released to the press in May). 

On May 26, 1999 in an interview at his Jakarta home, one of the architects of the Indonesian intelligence system, the US-trained Admiral Sudomo,  Suharto’s old security chief, remarked to me that “Prabowo also has close intelligence ties with the US.”  (For background on this interview see posting of Dec. 7, 2007, “Imposed Hunger in Gaza, The Army in Indonesia.  Questions of Logic and Activism.”).

But Prabowo’s US work extended far beyond intelligence.  As he described it to me he collaborated closely in US military actions, including bringing US troops onto Indonesian soil.

Prabowo’s statements to me are fully consistent with internal Pentagon and State Department documents, which, among other things, back up his claim to have facilitated US invasion planning.

These documents also indicate something Prabowo did not mention to me: that the US Special Forces Prabowo brought in conducted at least two covert operations in Indonesia that the Pentagon described to the US Congress as “Classified … compartmented activit[ies].”

The documents also make clear that from the US government point of view, the Pentagon was using Prabowo to undermine Indonesia’s nationalists.


Throughout his US collaboration, which spanned Prabowo’s army career, Prabowo was often handled directly by Pentagon officials from the highest levels of US power.

They included Secretaries of Defense, Pacific Commanders in Chief and US Special Operations Commanders.

I reported in 1998: “Although Prabowo’s personal relish for atrocity is legendary (a Timorese man told me of having his leg and teeth broken by Prabowo), high-level U.S. officials paraded him this year as the political crisis gathered steam.  In January, Defense Secretary William Cohen praised the “very impressive … discipline” of KOPASSUS.” (The Nation [US], issue dated June 15, 1998; the article was released to the press in May).

I reported then: “[Cohen] pointedly refused to call for ABRI restraint in dealing with street demonstrations.  Asked about the overall message conveyed by the visits, one official said, ‘It’s simple. The U.S. is close to and loves the army.’ … Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth has dined frequently with [Prabowo] recently.  When Secretary Cohen visited, he raised eyebrows in Jakarta by going to KOPASSUS headquarters [and] [s]pending three hours by Prabowo’s side…” (The Nation [US], issue dated March 30, 1998).

A book by Dana Priest of the Washington Post — who interviewed US officers who worked with Prabowo —  said that Prabowo “became known among the diplomatic corps in Jakarta as ‘Washington’s man in Indonesia.””

Priest reported that while still young Prabowo “quickly became the darling of the American military, from which he collected both experience and honors.”

Priest recounts an anecdote about how Prabowo feted a visiting US commander  ( Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Command [CINCPAC], Admiral Joseph Prueher) by putting on a special Kopassus demonstration to honor him:

“Prabowo ended another show for … Prueher with his [Prabowo’s] troops standing shoulder to shoulder singing the Indonesian version of the [US] 82d Airborne Division’s song.  The adrenaline on the reviewing stand was palpable, said one observer.  Prueher was pleased and excited.” (Dana Priest, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military,” Norton, 2004.)

The story is an interesting example, since Prabowo said to me that there were other Pentagon leaders with whom he was closer than he was with Prueher.

One he cited was the CINCPAC from March, 1991 to July ’94, Admiral Charles R. Larson, who later became a director of the Northrop Grumman Corporation.  Prabowo even recounted some internal White House – Pentagon gossip about Admiral Larson, saying that he had been “in line to be CNO [US Chief of Naval Operations, the highest US Navy position], but instead became the Annapolis commandant [at the US Navy cadet academy].” 


When the US-Prabowo relationship was still in flower, Prabowo was, as a former US Ambassador to Indonesia — Robert Gelbard — would later put it, conducting himself as :”perhaps the greatest violator of human rights in contemporary times among the Indonesian military.  His deeds in the late 1990s before democracy took hold were shocking, even by TNI standards,”  (Radio Australia interview, July 16, 2008).

But while Prabowo was actually doing those deeds, his conduct was just fine with Washington.

According to what US officials were saying to Prabowo and the US Congress at the time, General Prabowo was doing precisely what Washington wanted him to do.

The US Ambassador to Indonesia before Gelbard — ie., the one who was there as Prabowo was still in power and still Washington’s man, Stapleton Roy — wrote a December  1996 cable (Jakarta 08651 , R 061039Z Dec96) citing Prabowo as a model trainee. 

(Another trainee singled out for praise was General Hendropriono, who had been implicated in the 1989 Lampung massacre of Muslim activists and whose intelligence unit later assassinated the human rights hero Munir. Hendropriono is now campaigning for Prabowo’s presidential opponent, Jokowi.).

Incredibly enough, the US cable even inverted the facts to praise Prabowo for the West Papua operation in which Prabowo’s men posed as the Red Cross and went on to commit a massacre (See the detailed account of what actually happened from Edmund McWilliams, who investigated the killings as the US Embassy’s chief political officer).

Roy’s cable praised Prabowo for “maintaining discipline and restraint,” “earning … commendation” for the Red Cross episode and “initiat[ing] additional human rights training for his command.”

It argued that by training Prabowo and Indonesian officers like him, the US reaped major dividends in — among other things — containing army nationalism.

The cable said: “Indonesian IMET graduates return home with an understanding of what we Americans stand for and what we stand against.”

IMET is one of the Pentagon programs under which Prabowo was trained.   It was the first one the US grassroots movement succeeded, through Congress, in cutting off after the 1991 Dili massacre in occupied East Timor (See the first installment of this Prabowo series).

The US cable continued:

“Home grown and locally educated ARBI officers are less receptive to our values, less convinced of our arguments, and less responsive to our policies… IMET graduates serve in key positions in ABRI.  During times when our relationship has been under stress, it was the core of U.S. – trained IMET alumni who refused to heed the calls to ‘shut out the Americans.’  We have been able to retain some access and influence through IMET alumni… Over the next several years a major transition of power will occur in Indonesia.  The military will be an important factor in how that transition occurs, whether through a background role as the ensurer of stability, or as a more active player.  Within Indonesia, especially in the armed forces, an internal debate pits two factions against each other.  One faction is progressive, educated, and enlightened… The other is introverted, ethnocentric, anti-Western.  It believes that foreign education and training is a polluting influence.  We have an opportunity to influence that debate and the future in support of our long term interests,” — i.e. by backing Generals like Prabowo, and facilitating his “shocking” deeds.


Prabowo’s remarks to me — and his record — become especially interesting in light of  the claims that are being made in his current campaign for president. 

This time, Prabowo is running as, in effect, the new Sukarno,  the nationalist who loudly insists that he will not bow to America. 

Prabowo is “the only one brave enough to oppose America,” according to Amien Rais,  one of Prabowo’s top campaigners.

(In March, 1998, Amien Rais and I both testified as witnesses before the US Congress, in a hearing of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.  At that time Rais was blaming Prabowo for the still-ongoing disappearance of the Jakarta activists.  In 2009 the Australian press quoted Rais as describing Prabowo as a “criminal.” [The Australian Financial Review; Wednesday, February 25, 2009; Outsider Prompts ‘General’ Unease; by Angus Grigg]).


Prabowo told me he was especially close to the US Special Forces, the commando teams that do invasions and insertions around the world.

His assertion is backed up by voluminous public information.  The Dana Priest book notes, for example, that “The brass from the US Special Operations Command was especially enamored  of Prabowo’s troops.  General Wayne Downing, its commander from 1993- 96, parachuted with Kopassus.”  In 1996, she writes, Prabowo was “the star of the [US] Pacific Command’s Special Operations Conference in Hawaii.” 

Prabowo told me he was instrumental in bringing US Special Forces into Indonesia, in large part through JCET, the Pentagon’s Joint Combined Exchange Training program.

After the US Congress cut off the IMET training for ABRI in 1992, the Pentagon went behind Congress’s back and used a JCET funding scheme to do military drills in Indonesia that Congress didn’t approve or know about.

The Indonesia JCET was abruptly cancelled on May 8, 1998 after Congress reacted with outrage when I and the East Timor Action Network (ETAN, a grassroots group I helped to found) disclosed what was going on by releasing Pentagon JCET documents obtained with the help of the late US Representative Lane Evans. (See NY Times, “US Training of Indonesia Troops Goes On Despite Ban ,””Pentagon Documents Show Indonesian Military Training Continues Despite Congressional Ban,” “Indonesia’s Killers,”  (The Nation [US], issue dated March 30, 1998), “Statement by Allan Nairn on the suspension of US military training aid to Indonesia.”

After my Jakarta press conference releasing the documents — and focusing on JCET drills with Prabowo’s Kopassus, I was arrested and interrogated by the Suharto security forces. 

I remember that after the interrogator slapped my intel file on the table, he reacted with great equanimity as I denounced the Suharto-ABRI-Prabowo-US mass killings but suddenly became annoyed when I offhandedly mentioned Suharto corruption.

The JCET had gone far beyond IMET, which had brought officers like Prabowo into the US for training like that which Prabowo received at Fort Bragg, North Carolina  (US Army Special Forces Training Course, 1980; Fort Bragg is home to the 82d Airborne, the US unit Prabowo celebrated by having Kopassus perform the 82d’s fight song in Indonesian [see above] ) and Fort Benning, Georgia  (US Advanced Infantry Officers Course , 1985). 

For JCET, large numbers of fully armed US troops actually went into Indonesia and, among other things, drilled with ABRI on a range of skills including Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT), Advanced Sniper Technique, air assault, ground assault, sea assault, surveillance,  Nuclear Chemical Biological (NBC), Combat Sapper, “ambush skills,” Explosives and Demolition, and Psychological Operations (PSYOPS).

There were at least 41 such exercises.   The documents specify activities with Kopassus Groups 1 through 5.  The principal unit conducting them was the US 1st Special Forces Group but there were also others, including the US Marines.

This obviously constituted crucial US support for Suharto, Prabowo and ABRI.

This was pointedly so since the US troops were on the ground in Indonesia during many ABRI atrocities, including the activist disappearances and the shootings of civilians in the uprising against Suharto.   The armed Americans were drilling with and helping precisely the ABRI units that were implicated in these crimes, including Kopassus, KOSTRAD, Kodam Jaya and others.

But Prabowo made a telling point to me:  these maneuvers he had set up with the Americans had another side. 

In addition to helping the US shore up its favored dictators and generals of the moment, they also helped the US get what it wants in Indonesia.

Prabowo told me that JCET in large part existed for the US — and in particular its Special Forces — “to do recon, practice for the invasion contingency.”

Prabowo said: “They do recon, they see the [Indonesian] terrain.”

He referred to the US “special forces contingency plan for entry to Indonesia, Jakarta, Bandung etc.”

Prabowo told me he had “briefly discussed it [the invasion planning] with them.”

Prabowo said: “US invasion plans for Indonesia are not unusual.  They’re a super-power with intelligence everywhere.”

He described the US as “a higher power.”

Prabowo was correct in noting that the Pentagon prepares to invade most everywhere.

Prabowo informed me of a then-new book, “Special Forces: A Guided Tour of U.S. Army Special Forces, by the White House/Pentagon confidant Tom Clancy that included as Prabowo put it “an Indonesian [invasion] scenario with atomic bombs.” 

I did not bother to look it up at the time, but when I did so recently, I saw that Prabowo was referring to a dramatized scenario (Clancy was a novelist but this book was mostly nonfiction; US military officers loved to talk to, and read, Tom Clancy) in which US Special Forces invade Indonesia after a terrorist atomic blast in the Malukus .

At the time Prabowo and I spoke, mid 2001, the prospect of an actual invasion seemed quite remote.

The last known time the US had directly invaded Indonesia, in 1958 (an operation that included bombing of Indonesia by CIA pilots; as a child in US grade school I happened to have slightly known the son of one of them),  the country was run by Sukarno who was something of an adversary of Washington. 

Sukarno had confronted foreign corporations and embraced rebellious ideas: workers’ rights, social welfare, Indonesian and Third World nationalism and Non-Alignment.   These were ways of thinking that Washington regarded as unacceptable, “Communist.”  And in addition Sukarno had allowed the Communist party and peasant leagues to organize.

In 1993,  Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Bobby Kennedy, described to me how “Bobby hated that man, Sukarno.”

Bobby Kennedy was the right-hand-man of his brother, President John F. Kennedy (1961-’63),  and had gone to the trouble of flying to Jakarta to confront Sukarno personally.

But after Sukarno it was a different story.

Prabowo’s mentor and father-in-law, General Suharto, was, from the start, Washington’s man. 

The US backed and cheered Suharto and ABRI when, after more than a decade of US prodding, they finally overthrew Sukarno and consolidated absolute power with one of the largest massacres of the 20th Century. 

More than 400,000, perhaps a million, Indonesian civilians were slaughtered.  The big US press saluted the operation.  They called it “a gleam of light in Asia” (The New York Times).  The CIA chipped in with a list of five thousand “Communists” to be executed.

Suharto did as Washington wanted and brought in the US corporations — in part under the guidance of one of his leading economics ministers, Prabowo’s father.  These were the same corporations that, with the Prabowo clan and the US intel veterans,  went on to form the USINDO lobby to safeguard their Indonesia interests and the Pentagon’s sponsorship of TNI/ABRI.-

Suharto is “our kind of guy,” the Clinton White House told the New York Times.

So Washington wasn’t invading their own guy, and even after Suharto fell, ABRI/TNI and corporate influence had been such that Jakarta  had stayed in Washington’s corner.

The state of US invasion contingency thinking in the moment when Prabowo and I were speaking was typified by a discussion I had with a US Defense Department planner  on January 14, 1999.   Following a Marine Corps military-civilian seminar on Indonesia, this official remarked that US planning focused on a speculative down-the-road “Law of the Sea” scenario, in which the US might decide to take some action if Indonesia changed course politically and decided to resist Washington’s practices regarding freely sailing its ships through archipelagos.

During our discussion neither Prabowo nor I talked of invasion as a real possibility.

But two months after our second meeting the September 11 attacks on the US happened.

And in the wake of that there were actually presented,  at the White House and at Camp David, proposals for a US Special Forces attack on Indonesia.

The idea was for a dramatic strike to send a message to the Muslim world.   It would involve simultaneous moves against Indonesia and other countries. 

This was advocated at the highest level.  President George W. Bush was at the table.  Pushing the plan were White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and , apparently, Dick Cheney, the US Vice President, and Donald Rumsfeld the Secretary of Defense.

The matter is documented by Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, who interviewed meeting participants and evidently had access to secret White House records.

Woodward writes: “White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said consideration should be given to simultaneous actions in other parts of the world such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Yemen or Somalia. ‘If you had 15 SEAL teams hitting 10 different targets on the same day, all at once, around the world that would send a message that we’re reaching out globally.”

Later, on October 9, 2001 at a 1 am meeting of the National Security Council, Vice President Cheney “returned to the hard questions they were skirting … At the top of the list for expanding anti-terror attacks were the Philippines, Yemen and Indonesia.”  In the Philippines, Woodward reports, there were looking at Abu Sayyaf in the Muslim south as a possible target, and “In Indonesia, Muslim extremists were everywhere.” (Bob Woodward, “Bush at War,” 2002, Simon & Schuster).

This — in my view — criminal, lunatic plan was, in the end, abandoned.   But had it not been, the Indonesia invasion planning that Prabowo had helped facilitate through JCET would have come in handy to his sponsors in Washington.


The JCET documents we initially released in March, 1998, were later supplemented by others, some in internal working-paper form.

They back up Prabowo’s claims to me that first,  he was the key man in bringing the US forces into Indonesia, and second, that in doing so he was doing the Pentagon a major service.   And interestingly, though these documents were initially of a low or zero level of classification, they still make a fairly specific allusion to this laying the groundwork for a possible future brief invasion.

The documents also shed revealing sidelights on how the Pentagon thinks about Indonesians, and on the US’s extremely agile definition of “human rights violations.”

Finally they allude to two US covert operations in Indonesia that grew out of the Pentagon-Prabowo JCET collaboration.

The documents say that Prabowo, who is referred to as the Kopassus commander , “open[ed] the door” to get the US forces into Indonesia:

The Pentagon writes that they had been “discussing JCET activities [with] Indonesian planners at the highest level, including the KOPASSUS Commander,” i.e.. General Prabowo.

Another Pentagon document states: “At the outset of the JCET program most activities were conducted with KOPASSUS for a number of reasons.  Most importantly KOPASSUS [ie. Prabowo] was anxious to train with U.S. SOF [Special Operations Forces] and their standing as a prestigious unit allowed them to open the door for U.S. Forces to train in Indonesia.  They were also well resourced, had access to training areas, had specialized skill of training interest to U.S. SOF and through their willingness made in country training with U.S. Fores acceptable to other ABRI units.” 

Elsewhere, the Pentagon states regarding Kopassus/ Prabowo: “Our strategy was to integrate other training partners [other ABRI units beyond Kopassus] in our training events whenever possible, prudently leveraging the access provided by Kopassus,” i.e.. Prabowo.

Also, “After the ‘ice was broken with KOPASSUS’ a concerted effort was made to expand the number of Indonesia units participating in JCET activities such as KOSTRAD, PUSDIKZI, KODIKLAT, SESKOAD, PUSSENIF, Naval and Air SOF units…”

At one point the office of the CINCPAC, the top US Pacific commander Prabowo routinely dealt with, writes: “Within Abri, Kopassus had the influence required to begin training with the US (when other units either could or would not) and the resources to contribute to this training.  Kopassus opened the door…”

The Pentagon went on to write about then putting a foot in that door:

“The JCET program in Indonesia had the primary objective of providing training opportunities for U.S. SOF [Special Operations Forces]…It assisted us in gaining access to Indonesian Armed Forces units and leaders.  It was oriented in a progressive manner with increasing options for U.S. SOF to train in METL tasks …[and do ] training in areas that are new or not available at home station.  It held the promise of increasing interoperability and use of excellent training facilities for conventional as well as SOF by ‘getting a foot in the door’ at BATU  RAJA and SIABU RANGE [ABRI facilities].”

Prabowo’s JCET foot in the door allowed the US Special Forces and other US units to, as Prabowo put it to me, “do recon, see the terrain,” “practice for the invasion contingency,” in exercises held in — according to the documents — at least the following locations, beyond Batu Raja and Siabu Range: Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung,  Surakarta, Serang, Ciampea and Camara.

In one memo to the deceived Congress, the Pentagon wrote: “Please recall that the primary purpose of training under Section 2011 [which was used for this JCET gambit] is to improve US SOF readiness. Any benefits to the host nation [Indonesia] are incidental to those we gain.”

The documents refer to the JCETs allowing the Special Forces to get ready for action in Indonesia and environments like it due to the training they received from ABRI during the JCET RECONDO action in things like “jungle survival, tracking and counter tracking techniques.”

As to what might prompt the US to use the Prabowo foot in the door to actually strike in Indonesia, one Pentagon document for Congress says , several years before the 2001 White House invasion hysteria: “JCET inspires a high degree of confidence in the ability of our SOF.  This confidence and admiration would likely lead to inclusion of our SOF in an active role in any operation to protect US lives or property should they be threatened by terrorist or separatist movements in Indonesia.”

It still seems highly unlikely that the US would invade its defacto ally, Indonesia, but if they did they would be building on the work done for them by Prabowo. 


At one point, writing to Congress, the Pentagon says of its Indonesia JCET that it would “not conduct training with individuals involved in human rights violations.”  The Pentagon, of course, set up its JCET with, and trained with, Prabowo, which means that by the US definition the “shocking” deeds that Prabowo did (Gelbard) were not quite bad enough to constitute “human rights violations.”

This definition of “human rights violations” is especially impressive in light of another passage in the documents.  Prabowo’s former handler, the CINCPAC, writes regarding “the abductions of the political activists … We are certain of the involvement of LTG Prabowo, MG Muchdi and COL Chairawan [This was written after Prabowo fell from power].  LTG Prabowo has retired and MG Muchdi and COL Chairawan have been relieved of all their duties and responsibilities.  They were all in command of units that participated in JCET activities.”

Muchdi later went on, under Hendropriono, to be implicated in the assassination of Munir.

The Pentagon does not state what a US protege would have to do to be seen by the US as committing a “human rights violation,” but it does seem to suggest that whatever a US client like Prabowo might do, evidence against him will never be seen as quite sufficient:

“Credible evidence of gross violations of human rights was only disclosed following the May 1998 events in Indonesia.  In this area the DATT [the DIA, that was handling Prabowo and Chairawan] notes that, without exception, prior to the events, every accusation regarding possible human rights violations made to the DAO [again, the DIA] were [sic] followed up.  In every case information was incomplete.  Prior to May 1998, name, unit designations, timing and/or location of alleged violations were not available from source(s) making verification impossible.  At no time during the course of JCET activities were we aware of training any unit or personnel who had committed violations of human rights.  We did in fact, through the excellent performance of our SOF [Special Operations Forces] provide examples of how a professional Armed Force conducts military operations in a lawful manner.”

By this, the Pentagon would seem to mean it is excellent and lawful to arm, train and do intelligence work with the killers so long as the US personnel do not pull the triggers on the victims themselves.

At one point the Pentagon writes: “JCET provides an excellent example of how professional soldiers conduct themselves.  Indonesians have attempted to emulate this …”  Elsewhere: “U.S. JCET participants provide an example of a highly trained professional force that has a high regard for the rule of law; this encourages our hosts to emulate their performance.”

This implication of US moral superiority pops up again and again.   It is perhaps one reason why the visa-denied Prabowo seemed so hurt.


Finally, the documents note that the US ran, under cover of JCET,  two covert activities inside Indonesia, one in US Fiscal Year 1995, the other in US Fiscal Year 1996.

In FY ’95 “there was one classified deployment by US SOF to Indonesia.  In this activity, the three US SOF personnel did not train, or train with, the Indonesian military.  This deployment was not completed under the authority of Title 10, Section 2011.  Classified details of this compartmented activity will be provided, upon request, through the appropriate channels.”

In FY ’96: “there was one classified deployment by US SOF to Indonesia.  In this activity, eight US personnel did train, and train with, Indonesian military forces.  This deployment was not conducted under the authority of Title 10, Section 2011.  Classified details of this compartmented activity will be provided upon request, through the appropriate channels.”

Though they won’t get an answer, the Indonesian public might want to make such a request.

Both ops were made possible by the work of the nationalist general, Prabowo.


“Am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?”

A child holds a poster of Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and vice presidential candidate Hatta Rajasa in Bandung



Allan Nairn, an American investigative journalist having covered atrocities made by US-supported regimes in East Timor, Guatemala, Haiti, and Indonesia, released his 2001 interview with Prabowo Subianto, former chief of Indonesia’s special forces (Kopassus) implicated in numerous human rights abuses, and also currently a presidential candidate, as the world’s third largest democracy is coming increasingly near to the election scheduled on July.

You can read his article in his personal blog, but I’ve personally copied the entire article below.





News: “Do I have the guts,” Prabowo asked, “am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?”


By Allan Nairn

On July 9 the world’s fourth most populous country, Indonesia, will hold an election that could result in General Prabowo Subianto becoming president.

General Prabowo, the brother of a billionaire, was the son-in-law of the dictator Suharto, and as a US trainee and protege was implicated in torture, kidnap and mass murder.

In June and July, 2001 I had two long meetings with Prabowo.

We met at his corporate office in Mega Kuningan, Jakarta.

I offered Prabowo anonymity. 

I was looking into recent murders apparently involving the Indonesian army, and was hoping that if he could speak off-the-record General Prabowo might divulge details.

I came away disappointed.  Prabowo shed little light those killings.

But we ended up speaking for nearly four hours.   

My impression then was that his comments were extraneous.

Prabowo talked about fascism, democracy, army massacre policy, and his long, close relationship with the Pentagon and US intelligence.  

But at that time he was out of power and in political isolation. Other generals were the threat. 

But now Prabowo is on the verge of assuming state power.  And looking back at my notes I realize that some of what he said has now become relevant.

I have contacted General Prabowo asking permission to discuss his comments publicly, but not having heard back from him have decided to go ahead anyway.

I think the harm of breaking my anonymity promise to the General is outweighed by what would be the greater harm of Indonesians going to the polls having been denied access to facts they might find pertinent.


Prabowo and I had a revealing discussion about the Santa Cruz Massacre.  

This was an Indonesian armed forces slaughter of at least 271 civilians.

It was done on November 12, 1991 in Dili, occupied East Timor, outside a cemetery where a crowd of men, women and children had gathered.

I happened to have been present at that massacre and managed to survive it.

Prabowo told me that the army order to do those killings had been “imbecilic.”  (He said he thought the order came from Gen. Benny Murdani, but said he wasn’t certain).

Prabowo’s complaint was not with the fact that the army had murdered civilians, but rather that they had done so in front of me and other witnesses who were then able to report the massacre and mobilize the outside world.

“Santa Cruz killed us politically!,” Prabowo exclaimed.  “It was the defeat!” 

“You don’t massacre civilians in front of the world press,” General Prabowo said. “Maybe commanders do it in villages where no one will ever know, but not in the provincial capital!”

The remark was telling as an acknowledgement that the army routinely massacres, and in establishing that Prabowo finds this acceptable if the killings are done in places where “no one will ever know.” 

In September, 1983, there was just such a series of massacres around the little-seen village of Kraras on the mountain of Bibileo, East Timor. 

The official UN-chartered Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor, the CAVR, later reported regarding the Kraras slaughter: 

“421.  The Commission received evidence that Prabowo was stationed in the eastern sector of Timor-Leste at this time. Several sources have told the Commission that he was involved in the operation to bring the civilian population down from Mount Bibileo, shortly after which several hundred were killed by ABRI [the Indonesian Armed Forces]. The Commission also received evidence of Kopassus being involved in these killings. (See Chapter 7.2: Unlawful Killings and Enforced Disappearances).”

As Suharto pulled Prabowo up through the ranks, his commands were implicated in other mass murders, including one in West Papua where Prabowo’s men masqueraded as the International Red Cross (ICRC), and the now well-known covert operation in Jakarta where they disappeared pro-democracy activists.


The fact that Prabowo and I had agreed to sit down was in itself a bit unusual. 

I had called for Prabowo to be tried and jailed along with his US sponsors, and had helped lead a successful grassroots campaign to sever US aid to the Indonesian armed forces.  I had been banned from Indonesia as “a threat to national security,” and General Prabowo’s men had tortured friends of mine.

But, for my part, I had made the cold calculation that if it helped solve the recent murders sitting down with Prabowo would be worth it.   

For Prabowo’s part, I do not know, but I did get the impression that he enjoyed the chance to talk shop and compare notes with an adversary.


At that time, two years after Suharto’s fall,  Indonesia had a civilian president.

He was the blind cleric, Abdurrachman Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur.  

The Indonesian armed forces had undermined Gus Dur’s presidential authority.  They had done so in part by facilitating ethnic/ religious terror attacks in the Malukus.  Three weeks after my second meeting with Prabowo, Gus Dur was impeached and ousted.

Today, Gus Dur is often remembered fondly.  The current Prabowo campaign uses footage of him.

But that day, to me, Prabowo ranted about Gus Dur and democracy.

“Indonesia is not ready for democracy,” Prabowo said.  “We still have cannibals, there are violent mobs.”   

Indonesia needs, Prabowo said, “a benign authoritarian regime.”  He said the many ethnicities and religions precluded democracy.

Prabowo said, regarding Gus Dur:

“The military even obeys a blind president!  Imagine!  Look at him, he’s embarrassing!”

“Look at Tony Blair, Bush, Putin.  Young, ganteng [handsome] — and we have a blind man!”

Prabowo called for a different model.

He mentioned Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf.   

Musharraf had arrested his country’s civilian prime minister and imposed dictatorship.  Prabowo said he admired him greatly.

Prabowo ruminated on whether he could measure up, whether he could be an Indonesian Musharraf.

“Do I have the guts,” Prabowo asked, “am I ready to be called a fascist dictator?”

“Musharraf had the guts, ” Prabowo said.  

As to himself, he left that question unanswered.

End of Part 1.  

Coming Up,  Part 2:  Prabowo: “I was the Americans’ fair-haired boy.”  The Nationalist General and US Intelligence.



Resolution for the scandalous, chest-haired king

If these polygamists paired up, that would be a perfect choice. (right side: Aceng Fikri, the deposed regent of Garut Regency, West Java, who flared up widespread controversy after marrying an under-aged girl and divorced her in 4 days, by SMS).


“I’m apprehensive of the fact that there are certain minority groups which are agitating us, Muslim comrades.”

“These minority groups…they domineer not only in economy, but also in politics. See how they’re preparing themselves for the arena.”

“I feel that I’m incapable of answering your questions.”

“Mick Jagger may be proud that he has fans. But I have followers.”

“I’m gonna brush up on the government’s statistics shortly before the election.”

“It’s not me who wants to nominate myself for President. It’s a holy task, by the good will of Allah, that calls me to do so.”

“I feel it’s kafir that Muslims elect non-Muslims to lead and serve them.”

Having the panoply of faith-blinded myrmidons, the ‘herd’ of help-mates, the comrade of dangdutcavalry, and, what’s more inextricably tied to the megalomaniacal Rhoma Irama than all the gains above he had had through all his soap-opera-like pilgrimage of life?


“I’ll promise you I’ll research more on fuel price hike policies, only if you elect me.”


An interview in Metro TV, perhaps, had reduced his likelihood of a presidency he was so inclined that he claimed ‘a banzer of my faithful disciples could help me win the 2014 election’.

Surveys, in fact, have previously recommended politicians, military generals, and/or businesspeople for this paramount seat. Names like Prabowo Subianto, Aburizal Bakrie, Jusuf Kalla, Dahlan Iskan (we won’t wish a president who may act like a clown in tollroads and wears sports shoes in formal ceremonies), Mahfud MD, Sri Mulyani, or Gita Wirjawan were among the top 10 potential nominees. But this pudgy old man all of a sudden? The response bears verisimilitude to that of Balram Halwai in The White Tiger: what a fucking joke! Even it is a plethora of times better to have them, despite their disputation over certain cases, seated in the 5-year post than this megalomaniacal, self-claiming firebrand cleric who thought having led an ‘Islamic solidarity movement’ has been more-than-okay preparation for such sacrosanct position.

Okay, perhaps these public figures’ wrongdoings, except for those of Mahfud MD which are probably either nonexistent or closely concealed, are enormous. Prabowo was indicted in severe human rights abuses in 1990s. Bakrie was found out having conspired with Gayus to conceal his taxes, then denied his responsibility for Lapindo maelstrom and the BakrieLife scandal. Jusuf Kalla is, according to  @TrioMacan2000, a Wikileaks-like anonymous account, brilliant and quick-witted, but his despotic, parochial attitude is just ‘too unbearable’. Dahlan Iskan never ceases from making headlines every time, as though he reeked of his face being posted over the front pages every day. Sri Mulyani finds herself more comfortably working in Washington, D.C. and managing global economic affairs, than catches up herself being protested nearly quotidian in Jakarta (and nationwide) for Bank Century scandal. Gita Wirjawan, a Harvard-educated, Western-minded graduate with TOEFL scores worth 650, is primarily targeted by mass media when his business empire, Ancora Group, was rumored to be ‘a safe haven’ for the assets bailed out from Bank Century. Now this dangdut king, with an iota and even no expertise in playing dirty, wants to pull the gauntlet? Does he have, just like cats do, a dozen of back-up lives in his body? He’s doing another stand-up, I suppose. Or maybe not. He claims Islamist parties are ready to back him up, when Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations, strictly recommend their 80-million-strong members not to ever ‘nominate’ this guy as a candidate.


“Mr.Rhoma, let me test you regarding the knowledge you need suppose you were the president. Do you know who Xi Jinping is?”

“Oh, I see. He must be a business partner of Ahok, isn’t he? He’s a danger to our country then!”

*Najwa face-palms.


Well, we know for cock-sure, simon-pure that his chances are slim, but what if, in the funniest-case (rather than worst-case) scenarios, he won it out? What is he gonna do with a nation of 250 million, already perplexed by problems seemingly aeons-old and labyrinthine, given that his finesse is restricted to singing and performing oratory, fiery speeches? Here are a few, among too many, things that he ought to note down: (only if he happens, by accident and by probability of 1 in 1 million, to click my blog after Googling his name)

1. Put up with, or split it up.

Rhoma had no guilt, albeit his reputation was stained (actually it’s been long dirtied) by his racist remarks in a talk he gave in a Jakarta mosque – he said, “It’s malignant to have a Christian lead you!”, obviously referring to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or in short, Ahok. If he were, and only if God Himself were so ‘benevolent’ to grant him the golden opportunity, and if he failed to pay respect to other religions and/or any other minorities else, expect yourself to see an independent Papua, Bali, Maluku, and a pantheon of ‘mini-states’, emerging in this country. Up to day, the question remains ‘what if’.

2. You can’t end the dominance of the ‘slant-eyeds’ simply by expelling them.

As in the verbatim above, it can be inferred that he disrelishes the Christians, and regards the ethnic Chinese in disesteem. “These groups….domineering not only in economics,”, and this catchphrase is clearly referred to ‘us’! You must have remembered, only if you watched, when Najwa Shihab enquired him whether he’s actually mentioning Ahok for this disadage and he replied with a big ‘yes’. Matter-of-factly speaking, as much as two-thirds of our economy remains under the control of the politely so-called ‘Tionghoa’, whose existence represents no more than 5% of Indonesia’s population, and whose dominance largely affects Indonesia’s long-term economic development. So, if you would like to implement ‘active and drastic measures’, you might be no different from 20th-century dictators. Why not just persuade them to be entrepreneurs?

3. You say you let the Cabinet do all the jobs, and…

You go on with your Soneta business? Do a sing-a-long at Presidential Palace with your personnel, entertain 250 million people, and ensure ‘everything is solvable with music’? And that means while you’re at the helmet to do Koontz and o’Donnell stuff, that you plan, organize, direct, and supervise your staff, and because you have no expertise in handling national and international issues, you just let them do what they are supposed to do, like as you told Najwa? Even a vision-impaired Gus Dur knows more about the world than you do. For such possible occurring, there is nothing more I can recommend but to……

4. Return to your old dormitory.

You told Najwa you dropped out of university, but which one? Which academic year? You also highlighted your experience as a parliament member in 1990s, but what’s your contribution? More complicitly, other than singing and showing off that chest in your hair? Meanwhile, regarding your once ‘being in the institution’, I pull out 2 conclusions: you either got admitted to that ‘university’, in your subconscious mind, or you really got ‘admitted’ to that ‘university’, but only as a visitor. I strongly recommend that this guy had better enroll in admission exams next year, and see how far his ‘expertise’ could go on.

5. Beware of ‘America’.

Your vision, and all the subliminal messages you transmit to your disciples, do echo like those of a pan-Islamist. America, on the other hand, to ensure ‘world peace’ and to make sure ‘American interests’ are not in harbinger, have always had many of its CIA agents stationed up from North to the South Pole. Did you remind yourself to consider how many megalomaniacs like you have been deposed by the so-called ‘Western-bribed’ mercenaries? Or are you oblivious, or even negligent, on the fact that people could be anytime angered by your leadership, and Uncle Sam would have possibly made use of that chance to brainwash them to revolt against you? Ah, forget that. I only realize that ‘your singing’ can bring a predicament to the masses, like an ointment.

6. Memorize the list of member states in United Nations.

As a leader, you should learn to identify which countries have tremendous mutual benefits for Indonesia, and which ones would bring more maladies. Don’t make us dumbfounded that you announce ‘arms-dealing treaty’ with the al-Shabaab gendarmerie, or ratify ‘nuclear research treaty’ with Kim Jong-un, or offer ‘scholarship programs’ in Chad, or even ask Julia Gillard for a proposal. I’m afraid your first priority in foreign-policy objectives is to ‘arm every viable Palestinian to turn Israel into an ocean of fire’. Or you maybe think that Park Jae-sang is UN Secretary General, and Ban Ki-moon popularizes Gangnam-style hysteria.

7. Eliminate ‘family planning’?

So, basically, only because Koran permits every man to engage with, in maximum, 4 women, and you would exert authority on the Parliament to pass legislation to persuade every Indonesian man to unite 4 women in the holy wedlock at the same time? It might only be a stone’s throw away from seeing Indonesian population eclipse that of China within 4 decades.

8. Now it’s your job to fill the rest.

Well, it’s only 3 days left before 2013 commences. Given that all of us had survived the procrastinated-to-time-immemorial apocalypse, fortunately I had this splendid chance to utter such meaningful words to you. Read it or not, I even bet you won’t understand half the context of the words I’ve been writing below.