Monday, June 11, 2007


Is Hawaii's governor Lingle setting up a secret military alliance with Indonesia for Bush?

It appears that Hawaii's governor Linda Lingle may be on a mission to further military cooperation between the US and Indonesia, a role that should properly fall to the White House or the State Department. The meetings she is holding during her trip imply cooperation between Lingle and Washington, although her travels are on Hawaii's nickel.

State governors do not travel overseas to make military arrangements on their own initiative. And the arrangements that Lingle is making may not be in the best interests of the State of Hawaii.

Domestic overage of Lingle's trip makes it seem innocuous enough, nothing we need to get riled about. For example, according to KITV:
She is in the country to meet with tsunami experts and government officials to discuss emergency preparedness.
Although reports hint that the Indonesian military might step in if assistance from the US Mainland was lagging after a disaster, isn't that rather far-fetched?

There are more questions than answers in these stories. Why exactly should Hawaii depend on distant Indonesia and what might they do for us? Were the Indonesian plans discussed in the secret meetings Lingle arranged to repair our broken disaster communications system? Where's the plan? What happened to the compact between states to assist one another if the feds prove themselves inadequate again?

More: If we can't reach KSSK on the phone, should we try calling Jakarta instead? Before making arrangements for aid from Indonesia, shouldn't citizens be provided at least with an evacuation plan and know where our nearest shelters are located?

Where are our news media on this sudden twist in disaster planning?

Indonesia was notably unprepared when the monstrous tsunami hit. But ok, maybe there is something we can do for them. After all, we get our oil from Indonesia, why not return the "favor."

So leaving the "disaster preparedness" plan aside as a possible decoy, we need to dig deeper on this story to learn its purpose.

News coverage mentions that Lingle's entourage includes State Adjutant General Robert Lee and Major General Vern Miyagi from the U.S. Pacific Command. General Lee's presence makes sense if disaster preparedness is on the agenda, but what is Maj. Gen. Miyagi's role in these talks? His name was not mentioned in an earlier Advertiser story on Lingle's trip.

The Advertiser article yesterday only hints at talks that go way beyond disaster preparedness:
JAKARTA, Indonesia — The governor will meet with Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla tomorrow morning, the third of a series of meetings with high-level Indonesian leaders to discuss a state military partnership with the country.
Why is Hawaii, a state, involved in high-level talks with the Indonesian military in the first place? Shouldn't Washington attend to intergovernmental affairs? Has Lingle been given some sort of special assignment unknown to the people of Hawaii?

The domestic press has not reported details of Lingle's talks, even though a Honolulu Advertiser reporter is along for the ride. For that info we need to read the overseas coverage:

Indonesia, Hawaii set up military cooperation,

Indonesia and Hawaii would establish military cooperation under a close coordination with the United States Pacific Command in Hawaii, Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono and visiting Hawaiian Governor Linda Lingle said Monday.

They told at a joint press conference at the Indonesia defense ministry office here after a meeting that the focus of the military cooperation is on the maintenance of non-lethal military equipment and also on how to deal with natural disasters.

"We should build up cooperation between the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) and the Hawaiian National Guard to beef up professionalism at the level of soldiers and low-ranking officers on maintenance of military equipment, such as helicopters and other equipment made by the United States," Juwono said.

"In the coming months, scores of our soldiers will be sent to Hawaii to get trainings of the maintenance which could boost the capacity of troops," he added.

Most of Indonesian military equipment are produced by the United States.
Indeed it is, and this is why Hawaii, to preserve its security in today's increasingly dangerous world, should have nothing to do with Indonesia. Except to purchase its oil, perhaps (although there are alternatives to that as well).

The Indonesian military is widely hated in the region, both by fundamentalist groups and independence fighters. The country suffered terrorist retaliation on Christmas Eve 2000, attacks on Bali in 2002 and 2005, on the Marriot Hotel in Jakarta in 2003 and an attack on the Australian Embassy in 2004.

While some other states have formed relationships with Asian countries, Hawaii should steer clear of Indonesia lest the state become a target in exchange for assisting the hated Indonesian army. It's widely known overseas that US president Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger, his secretary of state, offered advance approval of Indonesia’s brutal invasion of East Timor. The US provided weapons and military supplies to the regime. Democracy Now! reports that "Thousands of Indonesian paratroopers, trained by the United States, using US supplied weapons, indeed jumping from United States supplied airplanes, were descending upon the capital city of Dili and massacring literally thousands of people in the hours and days after December 7, 1975."

Indonesia's idea of disaster relief as described by Democracy Now! is nothing we need to emulate here in Hawaii (The death toll in the Aceh region of Indonesia was estimated between 170,000 and 200,000):
Following the tsunami, humanitarian officials and human rights groups said the Indonesian military actively prevented aid from being distributed to Aceh. For years the Indonesian military had operated in Aceh in an attempt to quell an independence movement led by the Free Aceh Movement or the GAM. The military reportedly killed upwards of 10,000 in Aceh but exact figures have never been known because Indonesia closed off Aceh from outside observers and put it under martial law.
By assisting the Indonesian military and its hated government, Hawaii clearly risks becoming a terrorist target itself. For what return?

Gov. Lingle discussed Indonesia with President Bush during his visit to Hawaii in November, 2006, shortly after the national election shifted power in Congress to the Democrats. See, for example, Bush’s Hawaii visit was a social one, Lingle says. News coverage referred only obliquely to a military relationship with Indonesia and Hawaii's National Guard. One hopes reporters will now dig more deeply into this story.

Hawaii's economy would be devastated should a single bomb be detonated in Waikiki, even without loss of life. Tourists would shun the Islands as they shunned Bali after the tourist bombing there. Our legendary island lifestyle would become a shambles without the one industry that sustains us.

Perhaps the state legislature would consider holding hearings on this questionable relationship with Indonesia and how it might affect us, as well as on the use of state tax-derived monies to further possible Washington objectives.

Lingle may be a governor who is at the moment too close to Washington and too far from Hawaii.


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