Indonesia: The Greater Threat Wears Combat Boots


October 5, 2007: Islamic radicals have a lot going against them in Indonesia. First, there are the social attitudes shared by most Indonesians. By law and custom, polygamy is discouraged, with a man only able to take additional wives if the first one gives permission. Lawsuits to change this restriction go nowhere, and legislative relief is impossible because half the population are women. Drinking and night life are popular, and Islamic militants have run into violent opposition when trying to shut down these entertainments. Not surprisingly, Indonesians are very much against the use of terrorism. What Indonesians fear more is their own armed forces. For decades, under the former dictator Suharto, the military had special status. This included permanent seats in parliament, and the ability to own and operate businesses. This made the military a separate, and above-the-law, entity within the country. Three years ago, laws were passed demanding that the military dismantle its business empire. This has not been done yet, and the government fears the generals may attempt a coup. Then again, the generals know they are unpopular, and such a coup attempt might result in a general uprising against the military, and even rebellion by troops unwilling to kill their fellow Indonesians.

Unrest in East Timor continues, and escalated a bit when someone threw a grenade into an Australian military compound, causing no injuries.


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