Friday, December 29, 2006

Gerald Ford's "Green Light" Dirty War in East Timor 

You won't hear our popular star studded corporate pampered celebrity network and cable tv nooze knob polishers cooing and burbling and generally holding forth with salutary abandon over this slice of disappeared presidential foreign policy legacy (as if any of 'em could even find East Timor on a map).

Even that amphibious-like fruit Alexander Cockburn is saluting rhapspodic on behalf of our recently parted-out Ford mustang (Farewell to our "Greatest President" squeals Alex!) over at Counterpunch (Good God!):
The fact that this rabid crew were only able to persuade Ford to give the green light for Indonesia's invasion of East Timor-- an appalling decision to be sure -- is tribute to Ford's pacific instincts and deft personnel management.

Oh, yes... "pacific instincts" (whatever that means) -- like a Dick Dale gee-tar solo, or sumpin' -- it was an "apalling decision to be sure" - but let's hurry along past that old grisly blood-splattered boneyard plot shall we... ya, ya... nothing to see...

But, then again... (no thanks to the wowser at Counterpunch):

East Timor / 1975:
"It should be noted that the Catholic Church is the only Timorese institution. All others have been obliterated on orders of the army high command. There are no Timorese unions or press, peasant leagues, political parties, or student groups. Their leaders have been executed and their existence banned. Timorese have been jailed and tortured for reading newspapers from overseas or attempting to listen on shortwave to Radio Australia or the BBC. Social organization can only take place under the army's control. Public speech and assembly are prohibited by army fiat. This means that the civic life of the East Timorese must be conducted underground


"As the [Indonesian] soldiers were doing this [shooting indiscriminately at people who turned up for a funeral], they were beating me and Amy [Goodman]; ... grabbed Amy by the hair and punched and kicked her in the face and in the stomach. When I put my body over her, they focused on my head. They fractured my skull with the butts of their M-16s.

"The soldiers put us on the pavement and trained their rifles at our heads. They were shouting, "Politik! Politik!" We were shouting back, "America! America!," and I think that may have been the thing that saved us. They had taken my passport earlier but Amy showed them hers, and the soldiers seemed impressed when they realized that we were indeed from the States. We were, after all, citizens of the country that supplied them with M-16s. ... The soldiers were still firing as we left the scene, some five to ten minutes after the massacre began."

See Alan Nairn's entire account at here [ www.motherjones.com/east_timor/evidence/nairn.html ].

Continued here and here:
[December 12, 2001 Update: Recently declassified documents from the U.S. and available at by the George Washington University's National Security Archive project web site confirm that "[Former U.S. President Gerald] Ford and [former Secratary of State Henry] Kissinger Gave Green Light to Indonesia's Invasion of East Timor, 1975"]

National Security Archives / George Washington University:
The New Evidence

The Indonesian invasion of East Timor in December 1975 set the stage for the long, bloody, and disastrous occupation of the territory that ended only after an international peacekeeping force was introduced in 1999. President Bill Clinton cut off military aid to Indonesia in September 1999—reversing a longstanding policy of military cooperation—but questions persist about U.S. responsibility for the 1975 invasion; in particular, the degree to which Washington actually condoned or supported the bloody military offensive. Most recently, journalist Christopher Hitchens raised questions about the role of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in giving a green light to the invasion that has left perhaps 200,000 dead in the years since. Two newly declassified documents from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, released to the National Security Archive, shed light on the Ford administration’s relationship with President Suharto of Indonesia during 1975. Of special importance is the record of Ford’s and Kissinger’s meeting with Suharto in early December 1975. The document shows that Suharto began the invasion knowing that he had the full approval of the White House. Both of these documents had been released in heavily excised form some years ago, but with Suharto now out of power, and following the collapse of Indonesian control over East Timor, the situation has changed enough that both documents have been released in their entirety.

Other documents found among State Department records at the National Archives elucidate the inner workings of U.S. policy toward the Indonesian crisis during 1975 and 1976. Besides confirming that Henry Kissinger and top advisers expected an eventual Indonesian takeover of East Timor, archival material shows that the Secretary of State fully understood that the invasion of East Timor involved the "illegal" use of U.S.-supplied military equipment because it was not used in self-defense as required by law.


Although Indonesia was a major site of U.S. energy and raw materials investment, an important petroleum exporter, strategically located near vital shipping lanes, and a significant recipient of U.S. military assistance, the country—much less the East Timor question—barely figures into Henry Kissinger’s memoirs of the Nixon and Ford administrations. Gerald Ford’s memoir briefly discusses the December 1975 visit to Jakarta but does not mention the discussion of East Timor with Suharto. Indeed, as important as the bilateral relationship was, Jakarta's brutal suppression of the independence movement in East Timor was a development that neither Ford nor Kissinger wanted people to remember about their time in power. That the two decided on a course of action of dubious legality and that resulted in the slaughter of thousands of Timorese may well have also discouraged further reflection, at least in public. No doubt the omissions from Ford's and Kissinger's memoirs also reflect the low priority that East Timor had during the Ford administration. For senior officials, the fate of a post-colonial East Timor paled in comparison to the strategic relationship with the anti-communist Suharto regime, especially in the wake of the communist victory in Vietnam, when Ford and Kissinger wanted to strengthen relations with anti-communists and check left-wing movements in the region.(1) But it is not simply a matter of omission; on several occasions Kissinger has explicitly denied that he ever had substantive discussions of East Timor with Suharto, much less having consented to Indonesian plans.(2) The new evidence contradicts Kissinger's statements: Indonesian plans for the invasion of East Timor were indeed discussed with Suharto, and Ford and Kissinger gave them the green light. As Kissinger advised Suharto on the eve of the invasion: "it is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly" but that "it would be better if it were done after we returned" to the United States.

Well, hey, ya know, the fun never ends.

4 More, read: FORD, KISSINGER AND THE INDONESIAN INVASION, 1975-76 Ford and Kissinger Gave Green Light to Indonesia's Invasion of East Timor, 1975: New Documents Detail Conversations with Suharto.


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