Sat, 09 Oct 1999

Military systems

If I am not mistaken, the visiting U.S. defense secretary said: "If the military remains in power in Indonesia, diplomatic sanctions and an economic embargo will be slapped on Indonesia". His statement was reported during the Sept. 29 SCTV private television evening news broadcast.

There may well be a basic difference concerning the "military" in the United States and in Indonesia. In the U.S., the military constitutes troops as a real part of a hierarchical command system. They perform a sole function and are real professionals. They are not contaminated by any dual or multifunctions. It is clear that they are under the hierarchical system of people's sovereignty. In the language of an advanced society, they are under the democratic management of a civilian government. In terms of the theory and practice of a state system, the former is a subsystem of the latter, and not the other way around.

The U.S. system of democracy does not recognize a method of appointment, a method which contaminates democracy. In short, "from the people, by the people and for the people". It seems that recruitment in all institutions labeled with the term "people" must be through fair and transparent elections. Soldiers are assigned to face foreign foes; they are not supposed to be "hostile" to their own people or treat people as their enemies. Should there be enemies at home, then the state's police will deal with them; the police will definitely not resort to repressive methods. Explanations like "procedural mistakes on the part of civilians" does not seem to exist in the vocabulary of U.S. soldiers, although it might have existed at the time of roughneck soldiers.

In our country since 1966 the hierarchical system of people's sovereignty has been under the control of the military system. With their dual function, soldiers do not seem to prepare themselves against foreign foes but rather concern themselves with domestic sociopolitical affairs, the turf of civilians. For over three decades and maybe more, the people as a whole have experienced the impact of the dual function of the armed forces. This impact must have been monitored and detected by other nations. Remember that the intelligence agencies of the U.S., Britain and France, to name only a few, are second to none.

Directly or otherwise, it seems that East Timor will be used by other nations which care to "straighten out" democracy Indonesian-style to conform to the democracy which generally applies around the world. This is the first thing to take note of. The second is that the majority of our nation's elite often forget or pretend to overlook the fact that the essential parts of the Constitution drawn up by our founding fathers are positive as they have as their origin in the constitutions of advanced nations. Unfortunately, our ruling regimes since 1959 have not been able to apply these essential parts of the constitution.

In the case of nations like Iraq which have been subjected to diplomatic sanctions or economic embargoes, the impact is not felt by the ruling regime, who is only a minority, but by the majority of civilians who suffer both spiritually and materially.

A library study shows that the best choice for members of the People's Consultative Assembly, the majority of whom are civilians, now convened for the General Session should be to use the prerogative right of a global civil society to correct any irregularities. Make sure that everything conforms to international standards because failure in this mission will mean depriving the Indonesian people of any possible benefits.


Bandung, West Java