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Monday, November 29, 2010

Is Indonesia a "Third World" Country ? - Whose on First ?

Before I answer that question or opine, let's have a clear and correct understanding of what a "Third World" country is in the first place; and let's also ask ourselves, if there is a "Third World" - then whose on first ?

What or who is First World and Second World then ?  We hear the term "Third World" in the media all the time, and most people would just think or assume that the terms has to do with a country's level or economic development. WRONG !

Having the moniker of being a "First", "Second" or "Third World" country originated in the United States during the Cold War period and has nothing to do directly with economics but with POLITICAL alliance or affiliation. It refers to a country being one of "us, them, or undecided"; i.e. for us or against us.

First World = the United States (and it's allies).

Second World = The Soviet Union (and it's allies).

Third World = everyone else who is either undecided, uncommitted or lacks the military resources to be of any real concern or consequence to the United States. 

Typically a "Third World" country can be one that is undeveloped or impoverished; but not necessarily and "undeveloped" or impoverished are not pre-requisites to claim the moniker of being a "Third World" country.  There are 233 countries in the world (including Vatican City).  Many of these countries are advanced culturally, technologically, and economically; but do not have a political or diplomatic alliance with the United States.  Some countries that come to mind are; Mexico & South America, the UAE and other Middle East countries.

So, now where does Indonesia fall ?  Is Indonesia one of "us" or one of "them" ?   Although Indonesia does have diplomatic relations with the United States, Indonesia does not trade with the United States in any considerable volume import or export wise (see previous blog entries with data and charts on this).  The U.S. tried to impose political "sanctions" on Indonesia throughout the 1990's and through the first half of this decade as a result of human rights violations or concerns in East Timor and refused to sell military arms to Indonesia or provide IMET (International Military Education & Training) through an embargo. Indonesia subsequently said, "fine then, be that way... we'll just get our arms from Russia!"  DOH !


Much to my surprise and dismay, on the drive into Jakarta from Bogor one Sunday morning recently there must have been either an airshow or routine training exercises taking place; but I was quite surprised to see Russian fighter jets flying low and fast over the toll road and thought to myself, what an odd sight that was.  Now it all makes sense.... 

From a news article in October: "Indonesia Set to Continue Buying Arms From Russia"

<< Indonesia will continue its military-technical cooperation with Russia, the country's defense minister said on Wednesday.  

Purnomo Yusgiantoro spoke after an official transfer of three Russian-made Mi-35P combat helicopters to Indonesia.

"We will continue our military-technical cooperation with Russia," the minister said, noting the high quality and reliability of Russian-made military equipment.

With the addition of the three Mi-35s, the fleet of Russian-made helicopters in service with the Indonesian Armed Forces now comprises five Mi-35 attack helicopters and six Mi-17V5 multipurpose helicopters.

Under a $300 million contract, signed in 2007, Russia recently completed the delivery of three Su-30MK2 and three Su-27SKM fighters to Jakarta in addition to two Su-27SK and two Su-30MK fighters purchased in 2003.

"Our current priority is to create a full-size squadron of Su fighter jets comprising 16 aircraft," Yusgiantoro said.

There are several other prospective areas of military-technical cooperation both countries were eager to pursue, Yusgiantoro said, without elaborating.

According to media reports, Russia and South Korea are competing in the second round of a tender for the supply of two submarines to Indonesia.>>

There may be diplomatic relations with the United States, and Indonesia does fight terrorism; but that doesn't necessarily mean in and of itself that they are one of "us", or on our side.  Buying arms from Russia and not trading with the U.S. in any noteworthy volume would be a "clue" that Indonesia is obviously paying mere lip service to "diplomatic relations" with the U.S.

It's quite ironic, however, how much assistance Indonesia accepts from USAID (United States Agency for International Development) then turn around and buys arms from Russia.  Whose side do you think Indonesia is on now ?  I am not suggesting that Indonesia will become a "Second World" ally with Russia now or have communist or socialist proclivities or penchants as a result of buying arms from Russia; but by buying arms from Russia, Indonesia certainly doesn't align itself with the United States.

I vociferously believe that the U.S. should cut off ALL humanitarian and social aide to Indonesia and spend that money more wisely by investing in its own people, rebuilding the failing economy as a result of the recession, and putting Americans back to work.  Someone at USAID or in the Obama administration needs to WAKE UP and smell the coffee and invest in a country who is going to show more loyalty to the United States!  Or better yet, help it's own people FIRST before trying to help everyone else in the world.

The underlying principle of foreign aide is to create or open up foreign markets for U.S. products; particularly ARMS SALES.  Foreign aide is actually intended to aide the giver, not the recipient.  The idea is that the recipient will be appreciative and thankful and be favorable to the U.S. when it comes to trade, partnerships and political alliances.  So, now I ask you; how is the U.S. getting a good return on its investment when a country (such as Indonesia) turns its back on the U.S. and buys arms from Russia ?

President Obama's recent visit here earlier this month in November was somewhat of an embarrassment actually.  He had nearly nothing substantive to say really about all this or how specifically he intended to improve trade relations with Indonesia.  His anecdotes of his childhood here in Indonesia about eating meatball soup and catching dragonflies were slightly entertaining; but come on Mr. President, you can certainly say a great deal more about U.S. - Indonesian relations than what you said on a less than one day visit here to tell us, "bakso...enak" smile alot then basically hop back on Airforce One and leave.  The consensus I get from locals is that his visit here was a big disappointment; especially in light of him having to cancel or defer his visit here several previous times.  One would think that the returning "prodigal son" would have something more to say...  I would have loved to ask the President, "Mr. President, can you comment on Indonesia's apparent lack of loyalty to the United States as manifest through its lack of any significant trade with the U.S. and it's recent arms purchases with Russia, and what specifically does your administration intend to do about that other than engage in mere diplomatic rhetoric for the duration of your less than one full day visit here; and finally, where is Hillary Clinton and why didn't you bring the Secretary of State along with you to put some things straight here?"

Here are some other considerations to ponder and absorb. Indonesia is a quasi-democratic society or country.  Indonesian may self proclaim itself to be "Democratic" or a "Democracy" but it is not a true democracy as we in the United States know it or think of it.  There is not freedom of religion (or freedom from it) and there is not free press here or freedom of speech (certain books are banned here) for example, which are core elements of a truly democratic society or government "of the people, for the people and by the people." In a truly democratic society or regime freedom of a sovereign nation's citizens is secured by legitimate rights and liberties. There are of course many forms of democracy and there is no universally accepted definition of a democracy.  The "majority rule" is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without governmental or constitutional protections of individual liberties, it is possible for a minority of individuals to be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority".

My intent is to not bash Indonesia here in this post.  I have a strong affinity for the Indonesian people; otherwise I wouldn't be here.... but certain truths need to be told or realized before [economic and political] relations between the two countries can improve.  

I've digressed from the original story line and have gone a little bit "stream of consciousness" with some tangents above, but I'll wrap it all up now and tie it all together...

Final Answer:  Indonesia IS a "Third World" country. (who now buys its arms from Russia)

See map below:

Blue = United States (and its allies); therefore "First World"
Red =  The Soviet Union (and its allies); therefore "Second World"
Green = non aligned countries.  Indonesia is in green

The "non-aligned" countries (probably not wanting to be thought of as or called "Third World") formed their own "non-aligned" alliance under the "Non-Aligned Movement"

Member Countries (Indonesia)
Observer Countries

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, definitely true. Just want U to know, I'm an Indonesian. And I admit everything you said there. But it is not that simple. If we here could choose. I have no idea of what decision our government made. Despite all that, I love my country, and I don't give a sh*t about the government. I'm always proud of you two (the First and the Second Worlds)