Taiwan’s military as the 5th column, value politics and other militaries

Taiwan’s military as the 5th column, value politics and other militaries

After the US think tank CSIS ran 24 war simulations between the US and China, especially around Taiwan, with the result that China would lose, although the price was high, a Japanese war simulation scenario now follows, which also comes to the conclusion that China would lose :

Sat, Feb 25, 2023 page2

  • Losses ‘ghastly’ in war game; China seen losing

TABLETOP STUDY: Researchers said China failed to seize Taiwan in the simulation, with the PLA losing 156 warships, while 40,000 soldiers were killed or wounded

By Lin Tsuei-yi and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter in TOKYO, with staff writer

A war game by a Japanese think tank simulating a Chinese invasion of Taiwan resulted in a defeat for Beijing, with ghastly losses of troops and equipment on both sides, the Nikkei Asia magazine reported yesterday.

The tabletop simulation conducted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation envisioned the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launching an amphibious attack on Taiwan in 2026 against the combined forces of Taiwan, Japan and the US, it said.

The exercise was conducted over four days through Jan. 21, with close to 30 participants, including retired Japanese military officers, and academics and researchers from the US and Japan, it said.

The Chinese offensive failed to seize Taiwan after a two-week struggle that cost the PLA 156 warships, including two aircraft carriers, 168 fighter jets, 48 transport aircraft and more than 40,000 soldiers killed or wounded, it said.

The victory came at a heavy price for the defending forces, who lost more than 26,000 military personnel, scores of warships and hundreds of aircraft, the report said.

The exercise had a PLA command center for the Taiwan front that was capable of deploying all of China’s aircraft, submarines and surface combat capabilities, it said.

In response, the US sent two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and advanced stealth fighter jets to the theater, while Tokyo permitted the US to operate from Japan Self-Defense Forces bases and civilian airports on Okinawa and Kyushu after invoking a state of emergency, the report said.

After detecting Chinese plans to attack its military bases being used by the US, Japan designated the conflict as an existential threat, prompting Japanese F-35s and warships to join the US in launching missile attacks against the PLA, it said.

The US and Japanese forces overwhelmed China’s, cutting the PLA’s supply lines before seizing control of the airspace over Taiwan in a decisive blow that terminated the battle, it said.

The exercise ended with casualties among Taiwan’s armed forces totaling 13,000 killed, wounded or captured, while 18 warships and 200 warplanes were lost.

The US military’s casualties tallied at 10,700 service members, 19 ships and 400 warplanes, while the Japan Self-Defense Forces lost 15 ships, 144 fighter jets and 2,500 military personnel. Hundreds to 1,000 civilians were killed or wounded by Chinese strikes in Japan, the exercise showed.

Last year, the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conducted a series of tabletop exercises on a Taiwan Strait conflict, which found that China was defeated in a majority of the 24 simulations, but at a similarly high cost to the forces of Taiwan, the US and Japan, the report said.

The Sasakawa and CSIS games were predicated on current capabilities and arsenals projected for 2026, so outcomes would differ if the PLA significantly improves its capabilities, it said.

China is rapidly building up its military and some experts believe Beijing is poised to swing the balance of the west Pacific to its favor within two years, the report said, adding that China is also swiftly expanding its nuclear arsenal.

“We must make every possible preparation for substantial losses while we still can,” Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior research fellow at the foundation, was quoted as saying.


So everything ok. Xi will not do this, at least not in the near future or as ex-NATO General Domroese jr. assured: „…then there would still be the high risk of performing BADLY. The Chinese will lose in the next 10 years….“ Yes, if, like China experts and military experts, you only see the arithmetic military balance of power. Interesting in this context is the following message, which makes another scenario possible and conceivable:

„Newspaper asked to clarify mass Chinese spying claim

By Lu Yi-hsuan, Wu Su-wei and William Hetherington / Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday called on Japan’s Nikkei newspaper to “seriously clarify” a report that “up to 90 percent” of Taiwan’s military retirees have collaborated with China for money.

The report on Tuesday said that up to 90 percent of military retirees have spent time in China, where they provided information to Beijing in exchange for money.

Citing an unnamed source, the report attributed the issue to the top ranks of the military being dominated by people with family lineages in China, saying that the government is not aware of the “true face” of the situation.

The ministry said it doubts the veracity of the report.

“False news cannot be allowed to spread and mislead the public,” the ministry said, adding that it had asked the representative office in Japan to urge the newspaper to clarify the details of its report.

The article was “fabricated out of thin air,” and the newspaper used “sensational headlines to slander the integrity of national army officers and soldiers, and dividing troops,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on Wednesday.

The article was detrimental to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, it added.

“The national military fights for the survival and development of the Republic of China. We fight for the security and welfare of the people of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu,” it said. “We are unwavering in our resolve to safeguard the nation’s freedom and democracy with the full extent of our forces.”

The defense ministry said it has long been aware of China’s ambitions to use military retirees to obtain information.

It has implemented measures to counter such activities, including investigating individuals considered “high risk,” it added.

The defense ministry has implemented an information campaign at the administrative level of the military to improve awareness of Chinese threats, adding that it is working with intelligence officials to reduce China’s intelligence-gathering abilities.

“We have worked hard to foster a spirit of loyalty among [military] personnel,” it said.

Veterans Affairs Council Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬), who served as minister of national defense from 2016 to 2018, yesterday called the report “complete nonsense.”


Yes, what if Taiwan is not such a unit, if between KMT and DDP there could be very different decisions in case of a Sino-American war, bensheng and waisheng drift apart, what if whole parts of KMT or its associated military change sides or paralyze each other? Professor van Ess even asked: „civil war“ in Taiwan? So far I have not read this 5th column or civil war scenario from any of the Western military experts and China experts. Are we pioneers? At least we had already dedicated an article to it, also with parallels to German reunification and the billion-euro loan to the former GDR/DDR.

Sun Tse, the 8 spies and the conquest of Taiwan from within

China expert Professor van Ess said: „I don’t think it gets much coverage because eveybody thinks is that Taiwan is united against China. One ignores the fact that the DDP has a completely different attitude than the KMT and that the Taiwanization is not well received by many Chinese in Taiwan.”

That’s exactly the point. Taiwan is always spoken of as a unit, without considering the possibility that there could also be Capitol Hill or Brazilian scenarios or even pro-Chinese 5th columns between the KMT and DDP IM in the event of war, which would throw all this purely military calculations and scenarios overboard. Are our experts so blind or what is the reason? Everyone refers to Sun Tse and apparently, like Gerasimov’s non-linear/ hybrid war, did not understand what the instrumentalization of 5th columns by Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban, Erdogan or the KMT could mean. They may be homegrown, but in spite of everything they are instruments and decision-makers, also in the direction of NATO, whether it is obsolete or whether one still wants to give Europe or Asia  US nuclear protection, as well as Taiwan or even Ukraine weapons aid or more.

Chiang Kaitschek’s grandson Chang Wangan is already stirring up emotions as a possible KMT presidential candidate, just like Bong Bong Marcos jr. in the Philippines. There is debate as to whether he is the right candidate for the KMT. Although he is not responsible for the 228 massacre, but the DDP does not trust his apology for his grandfather’s 228 massacre of the then Taiwanese. The Chiangs and the KMT would not have changed. Even the fate of Shinzo Abe for Chiang Wanan is prophesied.

„Thu, Mar 02, 2023 page8

EDITORIAL: Chiang as KMT’s past, present, future

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), purportedly the great grandson of former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and grandson of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), has much to learn from the reaction to his speech on Tuesday afternoon marking the 76th anniversary of the 228 Incident.

Chiang Wan-an offered an apology that, regardless of whether he was sincere, some people found difficult to accept due to several factors.

First was his curious reaction to the chaotic appearance of protesters, who approached him from behind, demanding that he kneel down to apologize and calling him a murderer. Second was his apparent downplaying of the relevance of his bloodline and party affiliation.

Video footage showed that the first protester who approached Chiang Wan-an seemed astounded that he was to arrive at his target unimpeded by the mayor’s security detail, prompting him to veer off at the last second. The security detail eventually held off the other protesters, but their slow response to apparent aggression against the capital’s highest elected official leaves many questions unanswered. The security of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was also taken by surprise when he was assassinated less than a year ago in Japan, a country where such things usually do not happen. It is concerning that Chiang Wan-an’s security team had not learned the obvious lesson: Things do not happen in your own country until they do.

The protest was clearly at least partly performative, yet it showed the strong emotions that still exist among Taiwanese. Chiang Wan-an, aware of the disruption, initially looked over his shoulder, but then turned back to face the audience while his security dealt with the protest. Clearly uncomfortable, he smiled while he waited for calm to return. His uncomfortable smile was understandable, but observers who are less sympathetic to his circumstances could easily perceive it as a smirk. This was not a good look for a politician intending to convey sincerity.

Chiang Wan-an, who is not personally culpable for the 228 Incident, apparently thought it sufficient to apologize in his capacity as Taipei mayor for the killings of tens of thousands of innocent Taiwanese that began in the city’s Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area. This left him open to accusations of insincerity and political cowardice, not least from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Fan Yun (范雲), who accused him on Facebook of using “what he thinks is clever political language and rhetoric” to hide behind his political duties.

She said that Chiang Wan-an had sought to justify that he did not address his bloodline by relying on precedent set by former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who had apologized for the incident while serving as Taipei mayor for the KMT. Fan called on Chiang Wan-an to demonstrate his sincerity by removing symbols of his forebears’ regimes, such as bronze statues in front of schools and street names in their honor, and to express his support to the central government’s plan to repurpose the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which takes up prime real estate in the capital.

Chiang Wan-an should be aware of his obligations as Taipei mayor, as heir to his bloodline’s legacy and presumably as a future leader of the KMT. He should also be aware of the baggage he inherited from his forebears and his party.

However, he seemed as blissfully unaware of these as he was apparently unaware of the danger of the protesters behind him on Tuesday. He will have to address the combined weight of all of these, especially while cross-strait tensions continue to escalate and his party seems to be willing to collude with the Chinese government, risking a repeat of history.


The following article in the Taipei Times, which is close to the DDP is accusing the KMT of cooperating with the CCP and creating the conditions for a new 228 massacre.This also shows how deep this division still is.

“KMT laying ground for a new 228

By Paul Lin 林保華

History is not simply about the past; it has a hand in the present, too.

On the anniversary of the 228 Incident, year in, year out, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rolls out an apology for what happened on that fateful day and in the following years.

Every year, the apology from a major figure in the party falls short. They utter words that somehow fail to convince, just sounds strung together, meaning little and not coming from the heart. Behind this, of course, is the lack of sincere interest in realizing meaningful transitional justice or allowing the truth to emerge fully.

The weight of responsibility for this falls squarely on the KMT’s shoulders, because the 228 Incident was the product of the KMT regime’s rule over Taiwan, and all of the information and personnel involved were under its control.

Even though the silent revolution that led to Taiwan’s democratization avoided bloodshed on a large scale, it also gave the KMT the opportunity to cover up the history of what happened, to distort the events.

However, this state of affairs is becoming increasingly untenable.

More importantly, at the same time the KMT is trotting out its formulaic apologies for the 228 Incident, it continues to create the conditions for history to repeat itself.

The 228 Incident reflected the naivety of Taiwanese at the time toward the “motherland” and how much they misunderstood the nature of the arriving KMT regime. This is why they welcomed the Chinese regime with open arms, only to discover that the KMT’s embrace was cold, and that concealed behind its honeyed words was a dagger that it would use to cruelly cut down a generation of Taiwanese elites, silencing Taiwanese for decades.

To use a coarse Chinese saying, “the mighty dragon trampled the head of the snake on the ground beneath.”

It is a story that has been played out countless times over two or three millennia of Chinese history, such that it has become part of the sociopolitical culture. It is unthinkable that this might have escaped Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

The tragedy is that, even though the KMT is, of course, keenly aware of this saying and its implications, the party continues to work from the same playbook. Indeed, since 2005, it has been openly working with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to try to control Taiwan, inviting the latest “mighty dragon” to extend its talons across the Taiwan Strait.

Last month, KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) traveled to Beijing to prostrate himself at the feet of the dragon and discuss this very matter, to lay the foundations for a new 228 Incident. The party was delighted with the reception it received in Beijing.

Taiwanese achieved their silent revolution and secured a peaceful transition of power, and yet the KMT is working with a new representative of the “motherland” to threaten Taiwanese with a new 228. Naturally, the KMT would have us all believe that this is all in the name of maintaining peace, but what it is actually doing is aiding and abetting the CCP in its suppression of the independence movement to realize unification.

This is no way to maintain peace.

The Chinese communists have always been better at “trampling on the head of the snake” than the KMT. After the KMT put down the Autumn Harvest Uprising led by Mao Zedong (毛澤東) in China in 1927, Mao was forced to seek shelter in the Jinggang Mountains with bandits Yuan Wencai (袁文才) and Wang Zuo (王佐). It was not long before Yuan and Wang met sticky ends at the hands of the communists.

After the Chinese communists arrived in Shaanxi Province in 1935 at the end of the Long March, Mao sent one of their commanders, Liu Zhidan (劉志丹), to the east to fight the Japanese, but before Liu could even set sight on the Japanese, he was shot, and — according to some accounts — the bullet that killed him came from his own men.

Mao then pushed for the rapid promotion of the CCP figure Gao Gang (高崗), but Gao was one of the first to first to fall afoul of communist purge not long after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Other CCP figures would suffer a similar fate, including Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) father, Xi Zhongxun (習仲?), who had been accused of anti-CCP activities for supporting the biography of Liu and attempting to rehabilitate Gao’s reputation.

In 1945, Mao joined the Chongqing Negotiations in the wartime capital, where he warmly greeted Chiang. Over the course of the negotiations, Mao regularly met with a senior figure and “democracy advocate” in the KMT government. Four years after the signing of the agreement on the conclusion of those negotiations, the KMT government was overthrown and military commander Zhang Zhizhong (張治中), who had been assigned by the KMT to Mao for the duration of the negotiations, defected to the CCP, along with the entire KMT delegation.

In the eyes of the KMT, Chiang was the savior of the nation, the helmsman of the age and a great statesman. Can figures such as former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) or KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) compare to Chiang in stature? Will Xi show Taiwanese any more mercy than Mao would have done?

The British controlled Hong Kong for more than 150 years, but in a few short years after taking the reins of the CCP, Xi has completely destroyed the territory’s rule of law and thrown many pro-democracy and pro-localization figures and media workers behind bars. This is what might be called “228 with Hong Kong characteristics.”

During the time of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), the CCP would talk of taking Taiwan by force. Are we to believe rhetoric of “peaceful unification” now? If KMT politicians are looking to sell Taiwan out with an eye on their own interests and are willing to create the conditions for another 228 Massacre, they are truly beyond rehabilitation.

Sat, Mar 04, 2023 page8


In addition to the question of the military in Taiwan, one also has to think further about other militaries worldwide and relations with the West. Another example: The military in Egypt, Pakistan, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and West Africa is a state within a state. It is interesting that general suspicion is now being raised in Taiwan against former KMT military personnel and those of Chinese descent, also out of the fear that the military loyal to the KMT could stage an inner-Taiwanese civil war or a pro-Chinese coup in the event of war, thereby opening the gates to Beijing. It is not just the KMT and the Taiwanese military associated with it, but also other military personnel who can counteract too much Western value orientation. E.g. Indonesia. Just as one can imagine in a Sino-American war the disloyalty of the KMT and the part of the military associated with it in favor of China, i.e. a kind of mixed national-communist Whampoo military academy tradition and the coup of the time by pro-communist KMT generals who brought Chiang Kai-chek to the common front against Japan, a military coup is also conceivable in Indonesia, if the USA wants to push it too much in terms of freedom and democracy, as in Burma, as the Heritage Foundation wants. Here, too, China has probably already made contacts, including to prevent an Indonesian Bongbong Marcos jr. as in the Philippines. Not the end of history, despite the USA’s much-celebrated Philippines deal. In the following Heritage Foundation post about the Indonesian military, I wonder if the author underestimates the possibility of a pro-Chinese military coup and could even drive the Indonesian military (TNI) into the arms of Beijing. Maybe a kind of Suharto coup in 1966, but this time anti-American.

“Too Soon to Resume Military-to-Military Engagement with Indonesia”


n short: As long as these states do not have democracy, respect human rights and control their military, no cooperation is possible. Value-liberal foreign policy, which is now to be narrowed and enforced again by feminist value-based foreign politics. On the one hand, the West has two disadvantages: That it has the colonial history that Russia and China do not have, yes, both under communist rule even supported the decolonization of the Global South or the colonies or the 3rd world. Second, because neither Russia nor China bother most autocrats or the military with ideas about human rights or civil society and demands for sustainability, but Russia wants only a kind of niche imperialism by means of Wagner and securing sources of raw materials including war criminal brutality, which is considered normal in these countries, as well as Russia makes a name for itself by the production of real military combat power against Islamist and separatist forces, exploits these countries with its small elite clique without the participation of the population, especially under brutal conditions beyond all fair trade or democratic participation or something like that.

Especially since even many Africans consider democracy for Africa to be a utopia, especially since Russia and China also see the dictatorships and military as allies, as did the Western states during the Cold War, including Western exploitation. In addition, entire genocides in Africa such as in Rwanda or now from Europe ignorant mass deaths in the Ethiopian war with 500,000 dead and millions of refugees remain unnoticed by the West and therefore many Africans do not trust the West with its humanitarian phrases, especially since they always want to bring the AU against Russia and China, who have no colonial past, but rather a tradition of decolonization and have not yet (but still can) cause such massacres in Africa. Like Trump, the AfD also advises that no development aid should be given to the “shitholes” and to Africa, as was the case in the days of colonialism and the Cold War, just like Russia in Africa with Teutsch-Kongo-Müller instead of Wagner and Mobuto, Haile Selassi, Idi Amin , Bokassa, apartheid or other African despots, including such genocides as in Rwanda. Simply „German interests“ and neo-colonialism like the Russians and Chinese and not such humanitarian crap as the traffic light coalition, although it is also about raw materials and hydrogen technology and investment sites for renewable energies and  the African states should have their own processing stages and value chains in prospect. Therefore not bad.

Nevertheless, one has to realize that many democratic experiments have failed and that Islamists are putting so much pressure on Mali or Burkina Faso, for example, that the German or French military contingents did nothing to prevent a completely failed state, and as they are so humane and foreign democratic parliamentary armies without robust mandates, these states are  preferring to rely on the butcher-Wagners, who simply proceed as brutally as is necessary against Islamists. A war criminal Wagner mercenary who kills the Islamists is better than a German Bundeswehr that only trains the Mali armed forces, otherwise does nothing without a robust mandate and instead of buying the country’s raw materials prefers to send out PR images of fair trade as a water basket bearer into the world and visits women in villages for photo opportunities. Just like drilling wells in Afghanistan. And it is very obvious: If you want to fight Islamists, then that means going into combat zones and massacre entire villages controlled by Islamists, even if 30% civilians die in the process. The Africans are surprised because the kings of their old African empires never cared about the loss of human lives in tribal wars, yes they also got the slave trade going and the old colonial armies also carried out such massacres, their successors bodycount in Vietnam and the USA in Fallujah, Mosul or mass deaths in other areas or in the Korean War. In comparison the African military complain that the German and French troops are such wimps that were previously only known from Herero massacres and the history of the German Wehrmacht with 200,000 dead in Stalingrad. Now they do no such thing anyway in Africa and lay back and relax and don´t fight. What a disappointment. Let´s rely on Wagner, as this also sounds very German like

the valkyrie ride if the German can´t deliver “it”. That´s the total misunderstanding: That the Germans and the Greens believe that the German and French army would be too cruel. Just the opposite. Because of their weakness they are perceived as whimps and Wagner as the solution. Forget about human rights. That is definetlly not the criteria.

There is also the question of whether German foreign policy, which seems to want to be more and more German gender development policy, should focus on such decentralized Nobel prize-winning Yunus micro-credit approaches, which have meanwhile also received very negative criticism from many NGOs due to the over-indebtedness of most farmer’s wives, bankruptcy and exploitation, and since the development goals were realized, meanwhile even the opposite. It would be more important to finally communicate the importance of the mew American and European Silkroad B3W and Global Gateway and equip them with the appropriate strategies and finances against China’s New Silk Road and Russia’s niche imperialism in Africa, which is now also heading towards South Africa, Egypt and Algeria and South across the Sahel into the Congo and, if you don’t send your own troops there, equip a European Wagner or a German Wagner, including support from African military and arms deliveries, when the democratic forces appear too weak and are divided anyway. But Africa is a continent and there is no uniform foil, nor a uniform panacea, but one should differentiate there, support functioning democracies, but also support the military of states that threaten to become a failed state, if the democratic forces do not are strong enough. Conversely, you must also see that there are different forms of military and their rule. Downright despotic and long-term, which grow into the entire social system and which at best can only be supported so that they do not defect to China or Russia – according to Theodor Roosevelt’s slogan: „He is a gangster, but our gangster!“. Like Somoza. But there are also the militaries, unlike Videla, Pinochet or Suharto, who only stage a coup for a certain crisis situation and then resign relatively quickly or perhaps claim a say in a newly founded security council, such as the Turkish military that after the restoration of the public order retreated back to the barracks after 3 years and restored democratic elections and a democracy that lasted until Erdogan. So at least 2 decades.Therefore, an analysis of the role of the military in many states, as well as the criticism of quite naive value orientation, which is now narrowed into feminist foreign policy, should be considered.

“Too Soon to Resume Military-to-Military Engagement with Indonesia”

September 21, 2000

Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world and a cornerstone of security and economic development in Southeast Asia, is a continuing source of international concern amid worries that President Abdurrahman Wahid is not in control. The September 14 car bombing under Jakarta’s stock exchange, which killed at least 15 people, is only the latest example of the instability in this nation of 6,000 inhabited islands. Just weeks ago, an Indonesian military-supported, militia-led mob killed three United Nations relief workers in West Timor, including one American. Yet the Clinton Administration, which has condemned Jakarta for not keeping order and controlling its military, is working to renew U.S. military engagement with Indonesia’s military, the National Armed Forces (TNI).1

The TNI is widely considered responsible for the September 1999 chaos in East Timor and the armed attacks that continue in that newly independent state. About 120,000 refugees who fled last year’s violence remain scattered in camps in West Timor. Militias continue to terrorize them as well as U.N. workers. All international aid workers were withdrawn from West Timor in September 2000 as a result of the continued presence and activities of army-sponsored militias. The TNI is also being held responsible for provoking bloody sectarian violence in the Moluccas islands and for the savage suppression of independence movements in the provinces of Aceh and Irian Jaya (Western Papua). It also retains important political appointments in the legislature, even after the government’s transition from an authoritarian dictatorship to a nascent democracy, and owns legal and illegal business ventures in all the provinces.

To remedy Indonesia’s numerous security problems, the National Defense University’s Institute for National Security Studies, in Washington D.C., recommended that the United States increase „the number of TNI officers enrolled in professional military education institutions in the United States.“2 This traditional solution to civil-military problems of increasing the number of Indonesian soldiers trained in U.S. military schools is unlikely to resolve Indonesia’s numerous problems. It is time for a new approach.

A better way to address Indonesia’s enduring problems would be to continue forgoing military-to-military training for Indonesia until the TNI is under Jakarta’s control and placed under civilian authority. The TNI must demonstrate that it respects the rule of law. Indonesian officers who have received training in the United States should be encouraged to use that training to build a professional armed force in Indonesia by sharing the values they learned about democratic ideals and the importance of a civil society.

Engagement with foreign militaries, especially in the form of military schooling, has become an increasingly important national security tool. It offers an opportunity for the United States to build important relationships with foreign armed forces, particularly those of its allies and potential coalition partners. It also helps small or poorly funded forces to develop institutional strength. Finally, military-to-military engagement helps to spread democratic values and respect for the rule of law.

During the Cold War, it was easy to argue that engagement with the Indonesian armed forces was beneficial. At that time, Southeast Asia was a hotbed of Cold War confrontation. In 1965, Indonesia had the largest communist party outside of the communist bloc; it received extensive Soviet military support; and its army was locked in a power struggle with the communists. In 1966, after a bloody purge of the communists, Suharto assumed the presidency, backed by the Indonesian army. Suharto’s reign ended in 1998 when he was forced from power in a democratic revolution.

Although the Indonesian government was authoritarian and undemocratic, the Cold War and the fact that the Indonesian armed forces shared America’s security objective of a non-communist Indonesia justified U.S. engagement with the regime. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of the Cold War, the U.S. Department of Defense did not reevaluate its strategy. Military-to-military engagement was still touted as the best way to influence the government of Indonesia.3

The results of this policy decision have been dismal. Indonesia’s military remains systemically corrupt, and the professional education of many of its officers in the United States did little to change the nature of the armed forces. Engagement, instead of fostering such American interests as political stability, economic development, and democracy, allowed the Indonesian armed forces to create or aggravate every security crisis in the country.

Today, the Indonesian military and its activities are the greatest threat to the security and territorial integrity of Indonesia. The TNI is heavily vested in both public and private power structures. It owns businesses throughout the islands. Members of the military have been appointed to the national legislature. And its officers show little respect for the law, despite decades of military engagement with the United States. Though various officials in Washington praise military-to-military engagement with Indonesia, they fail to show how engagement with Indonesia’s armed forces is complementing U.S. foreign policy objectives. From Aceh, Indonesia’s westernmost province, to Irian Jaya, the easternmost, the TNI has been intimately involved in civilian society; worse, it has instigated or aggravated nearly every security crisis.

„Sweeping Operations“ in Aceh
The chronic insurgency in Aceh seeks independence or substantive autonomy from Jakarta. Although the Indonesian government negotiated a „humanitarian pause“ for peaceful negotiations with the rebel group GAM ( Gerakan Aceh Merdeka ), both the military forces and the national police largely ignore the truce. Sixty-four people were killed in Aceh this year between the start of a truce on June 2 and August 21.4 Of those, 51 were civilians.

The TNI’s maneuvers in Aceh, called „sweeping operations,“ typically move troops into an area; these troops proceed to rob indiscriminately, burn villages to the ground, and shoot anyone engaged in suspicious behavior–which could include anything from raising an Aceh flag to sitting peacefully in a café. When a military unit moves into an area to conduct a sweeping operation, the inhabitants flee; consequently, there are now tens of thousands of displaced refugees within Aceh and neighboring northern Sumatra. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of people in Aceh would rather remain citizens of Indonesia than push for independence, but the arbitrary and cruel actions of the TNI have eroded that slim margin of support.

Inciting Militias in Irian Jaya
As in Aceh, the people of Irian Jaya fear and hate the military and the police. They are fighting for independence, but they are much less willing than the people of Aceh to seek autonomy. Indigenous leaders are willing to negotiate peacefully with Jakarta to gain a peaceful and just transition to independence; nevertheless, the TNI refuses to permit peaceful discussions of the future status of Irian Jaya.

Along with its brutal suppression of and disregard for human rights in Irian Jaya, the TNI has created a pro-Jakarta militia to provoke riots and other security-related incidents, which in turn are used to justify its repressive tactics. The TNI had used a similarly indirect method to attack the local population in East Timor during its 24-year occupation of that state. There, militia units terrorized the local population and were principally responsible for the destruction of East Timor after the people passed a referendum on independence in August 1999. Elements of the TNI are believed to continue to fund, train, and equip former East Timor militias to infiltrate that country and shoot at U.N. peacekeepers.

Violence in the Moluccas Islands
The problems in Aceh and Irian Jaya pale in comparison to those of the Moluccas islands, where more than 4,000 people have been killed in the past 18 months. This formerly peaceful province has been wracked with sectarian violence between evenly divided Christian and Muslim populations.

Many observers suspect that the TNI is inciting the fighting in the Moluccas islands, since no substantive underlying issues seem to be driving the combatants to battle. Compared with Aceh and Irian Jaya, there has been no insurgent uprising in the Moluccas. Leaders of both sides proclaim their desire to remain in Indonesia and to live together peacefully. Evidence of TNI involvement came after the initial rioting between Muslim and Christian communities began to ebb and new fighters from Java called the Laskar Jihad (Soldiers of Jihad) appeared. Their funding is widely believed to come from members of the TNI and the Suharto family.

President Wahid ordered the TNI to prevent the Java-based terrorist organization from deploying to the Moluccas islands,5 but the military claims it is powerless to stop them. More than 2,000 heavily armed Laskar Jihad fighters have been seen provoking instability in the Moluccas. For months, the TNI denied any involvement in the fighting, but the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) succeeded in filming an Indonesian army unit as it provided covering fire for Laskar Jihad fighters. Now representatives of the Indonesian army and the Ministry of Defense are blaming this problem on „rogue“ elements.

Repressing citizens is not the TNI’s only involvement in violent affairs. The TNI has been linked to a spate of bombings in Jakarta: The bombs and equipment used appear to be military in origin. Indeed, Akbar Tanjung, Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament, specifically linked these bombings to the military.6 The TNI’s motivation for its activities, especially in Aceh, Irian Jaya, the Moluccas islands, and Jakarta, seems to be a desire to retain political and economic power by holding hostage the security and territorial integrity of Indonesia.

Seeking More Power
U.S. foreign policy makers should understand that in Indonesia, the goals of the government and the TNI are not necessarily the same. The Indonesian military is an independent political, social, economic, and security entity outside government control; yet it has the strength to manipulate the instruments of political power. It is not responsible to the Indonesian government, and the president is the only figure with constitutional authority over the armed forces; yet presidential control appears to be more formal than real.

Since 1966, the military has co-ruled Indonesia through a doctrine of its own creation, called dwi fungsi („dual function“). This doctrine postulates that the Indonesian military has a double role: defender of the country and sociopolitical leader. The doctrine legitimized the military’s self-promotion into politics, the government bureaucracy, and large portions of the economy. At its peak during Suharto’s presidency, the military controlled 100 seats in the national legislature, important cabinet positions, and the governorships of several provinces, while it also appointed representatives to every village in Indonesia.

During the Suharto era, the president and the army worked in unison, each supporting the other’s position. With the introduction of a democratic government in 1999, justification for military control disappeared, but the TNI’s pervasive influence did not. The security apparatus that had supported Suharto and effectively suppressed political dissension still exists and is unapologetically unreformed. President Wahid, to his credit, attempted to gain control over the military by reducing its presence in the legislature (abolishing all military presence by 2004), appointing a civilian defense minister, dismantling the territorial command structure, and prosecuting members of the military who were suspected of human rights violations. Sadly, most of these measures have come to naught.

Today, the TNI maintains its territorial command organization embedded throughout the country. The organization runs parallel to the government down to the village level, and in many cases the authority of the army supersedes local government authorities. Although there has been substantial discussion in Jakarta about the territorial apparatus, it is still very much in place. As Harold Crouch, an Australian observer of Indonesia, has said, „This territorial structure has given the army considerable capacity to intervene in local politics under the guise of maintaining

Through open intimidation and blunt threats, Indonesia’s army generals convinced the last parliamentary session to extend the TNI’s numbers in the national legislature until at least the year 2009. The parliament also granted them a blanket amnesty for past human rights abuses. Although there was an enormous public outcry against the extension, legislators afterward admitted that they had voted for it because of threats from the generals.8 Juwono Sudarsono, Indonesia’s first civilian defense minister, admitted that he is powerless against the TNI: „The Ministry of Defense is not directly in charge of the chain of command. I cannot order them around.“9 Most informed observers have concluded that the Indonesian military is, in fact, the most intransigent obstacle to the development of democracy.

Constraining the Economy
In Indonesia, government intervention in the economy through state-owned enterprises has skewed entrepreneurial choices and stunted economic development.10 The TNI now controls many businesses and „foundations.“ Ostensibly, this was a way to augment Indonesia’s tiny defense budget and improve soldiers‘ welfare, but coupled with rampant corruption, such involvement in the economy distorts economic incentives and impedes progress.

The military-owned enterprises date back to the 1950s, when many military units seized Dutch businesses during the decolonization period. They justified their larceny by citing political disagreements with their former colonial masters. Generally, businesses grew rapidly because of their relationship with the TNI.

The armed forces made liberal use of the resources they gained, including considerable political clout. Over time, the TNI’s dependence on these enterprises has grown to the point that today, the government’s defense budget covers only an estimated 25 percent of military expenditures. The rest of the military’s funding comes from the foundations and businesses it owns, both legally and illegally.11

There are about 50 military-owned businesses and seven foundations associated with each of the armed services and major commands,12 but it is almost impossible to measure the size of these foundations and businesses or their economic impact.13 The government began its first-ever audit of the TNI businesses in June 2000 and already has uncovered many irregularities, especially in the areas of bookkeeping and procurement. The government’s response: Under pressure from the army leadership, it relieved from duty a prominent reform-minded general who had pursued an investigation into the financial dealings of his unit’s foundation too enthusiastically. It appears unlikely that the government will prosecute any officer for mismanaging or stealing funds from these enterprises.14

Legitimate business activity has often served as a front for illegal business dealings, including unlawful logging and animal poaching in West Papua, fuel smuggling across the archipelago, and marijuana production and smuggling in Indonesia’s westernmost province. Army Chief of Staff General Tyasno Sudarto stands accused of coordinating the largest counterfeiting operation in Indonesia’s history, and many other officers are believed to be involved in illegal activities and innumerable questionable businesses independent of their military duties.15 Many observers regard this widespread corruption as a leading cause of the TNI’s rampant disorder and factionalism today.

Washington should reevaluate U.S. policy toward Indonesia based on U.S. national interests, such as enhancing security, bolstering economic prosperity, and promoting democracy and human rights.16 To that end, the United States should support Indonesia’s nascent democracy and bruised economy while working to isolate the errant Indonesian military. It should assist Indonesia’s process of democratization and support its newly elected president.

However, the Clinton Administration has chosen another path. It is rewarding the TNI with renewed military engagement even as it condemns the government for not keeping order. For example, in May and July 2000, Indonesian military officers and units participated in military exercises in Thailand and Indonesia, respectively, at the Pentagon’s invitation. These exercises are a prelude to a much larger military-to-military engagement program that the Clinton Administration hopes to send to Congress soon.17 Then, in September, when Indonesian militias reportedly backed by the TNI killed three U.N. aid workers in West Timor, President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright criticized Jakarta for neither meeting its obligations nor restoring order. The President also dispatched Secretary of Defense William Cohen to Jakarta to tell Indonesia’s leaders that if the government did not restore order, it might lose international support, economic assistance, and military ties.18

Support for Indonesia’s government is not equivalent to military-to-military engagement with the TNI. For professional military organizations such as the U.S. armed forces, it is practically inconceivable that officers who are duty-bound to protect and defend their country would act as officers of the TNI have acted. While the TNI is a large and sophisticated institution with a national monopoly on the use of force, it is not a professional military.

Therefore, in order to increase security in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, the United States should encourage the subordination of Indonesia’s military to the legally constituted civilian government. Specifically, the United States should:

  • Cut off military-to-military contact at all levels. TNI officers are likely to view any contact with the uniformed members of the U.S. military as American military validation of the TNI and its activities. The only way to convince Indonesia’s military officers that there is no latent sympathy for their activities and to impress upon them the importance of democratic values is to restrict all TNI contact with uniformed American officers. The current policies toward the Burmese military should serve as a model.
  • Review the necessity of having a TNI representative accredited to the Embassy of Indonesia in Washington, D.C. As long as the Indonesian military retains a direct political role and acts as an obstacle to democratic reform and a cause of regional instability, there is no reason to credit the TNI with an official representative to the United States.
  • Use current assistance dollars to train Indonesia’s legislature to conduct proper legislative oversight of the military. After decades of the legislature’s rubber-stamp acquiescence to the regime and fear of reprisal, Indonesia’s new democratic parliament is not increasing oversight of the military. In one respect, it is unfamiliar with appropriate means and methods to oversee military activities. Providing U.S. expertise on legislative oversight to members of the Indonesian legislature would enhance civilian control, increase respect for the rule of law, and create necessary transparency in the TNI’s activities. Experts from other Asian parliaments that have armed forces oversight committees could be included in these training sessions.
  • Train a cadre of civilian defense experts to staff a future Ministry of Defense. The creation of a civilian-led Indonesian Ministry of Defense should be a priority for U.S. policy. An immediate obstacle is the lack of a cadre of indigenous civilian experts on defense management, budgeting, and acquisitions that could staff a Defense Ministry once it has been put in place. The United States should use current security assistance to train a cadre of civilians who could be selected to occupy positions in a Ministry of Defense.
  • Resume military-to-military training only when the TNI is firmly under civilian control and is disengaged from political activities. Reform of Indonesia’s armed forces, following more than 40 years of corruption and political association with authoritarian dictators, will be a Herculean task. At a minimum, the TNI should be subordinated to civilian authority; otherwise, professional military standards will have no meaning. As long as the Indonesian military has a direct political role, any assistance rendered by the U.S. military would prove to be little more than giving assistance to a specific, albeit heavily armed, political party.

Thus, no training program should begin until (1) the Indonesian military has surrendered all seats in the legislature, (2) the Defense Ministry is legally superior to each of the services and functions as the commander in chief of the armed forces, and (3) members of the military are subject to civilian courts. Milestones for restoration of military-to-military engagement with the TNI should be attainable and worthy, but not mobile.

The problem of controlling the military in Indonesia stems in part from the lack of political will in Jakarta. The United States can help by showing disfavor toward the unrestrained behavior of members of the TNI and showing support for the democratic government of Indonesia. American leaders should look very carefully at any proposal to expand military-to-military engagement with the TNI; in fact, U.S. policy leaders should refuse to work with the TNI at all levels unless it is fully subordinate to civilian authority. Not only will this benefit the citizens of Indonesia, but it also will support U.S. interests over the long term.

Dana R. Dillon is a Policy Analyst on Southeast Asia in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.


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