One of the most grotesque crimes the United States committed in its history as an empire was to support the overthrow of the government of Indonesia in 1965 and to back the junta that followed.
General Suharto and his forces proceeded to round up and kill about 500,000 Indonesians, with the CIA furnishing the murderers with thousands of names to target.
Ten years later, in 1975, Suharto invaded East Timor within 48 hours of getting the green light from Kissinger and President Ford, who had flown over to meet with him.
This invasion resulted in the deaths of 200,000 East Timorese—one third of the population.
So I suppose it’s fitting, but still disgusting, that the Bush Administration has decided to heap praise on Suharto after he died this weekend.
“President Bush expresses his condolences to the people of Indonesia,” said Gordon Johndroe, spokesperson for the National Security Council.
Bush should have expressed his condolences instead to the families of Suharto’s victims.
The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, Cameron Hume, was much worse. He hailed Suharto for helping Indonesia achieve “remarkable economic and social development.”
And he called Suharto “a historic figure who left a lasting imprint on Indonesia and the region of Southeast Asia.”
Well, he’s a historic figure like Pol Pot was a historic figure. And his lasting imprint is on graves all over Indonesia and East Timor.
The only hint that this hideous praise was unwarranted came in Ambassador Hume’s added phrase that “there may be some controversy over his legacy.”
Not just Suharto’s.