Fri, 15 Sep 2000

Vilifying Wiranto

The relentless vilification of Pak Wiranto over the East Timor saga is typical of a society thirsting for a scapegoat. Everyone, it seems, is jumping on the "get Wiranto" bandwagon. Why? Because he was head of the Indonesian Military at the time.

Surely a leader can only wield so much influence over his subordinates. Pak Wiranto, as far as I understand, responded appropriately and professionally to each and every crisis during East Timor's protracted and traumatic balloting. He consistently dispatched and alternated troops, including officers with each crisis.

Pak Wiranto should not, as the case now seems, be held accountable for mercenary rogue elements within the forces. He did his job to the best of his capabilities, and with what resources he had at hand at the time.

We have a saying in the west: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Pak Wiranto sent the cavalry to East Timor, however, the behavior of the cavalry during the crises was the responsibility of frontline commanders and not himself.