Developing an effective defensive strategy and force structure is entirely predicated on understanding near and possible long-term threats. Unlike the past, the acquisition cycle of materiel, training and subsequent deployment of new technologies and weapons systems is a long-term commitment, perhaps 30 years. This means we have to try to predict and cater for all possible threat scenarios that might eventuate in the next thirty years. Historically we barely get the next twelve months right. WWII is an excellent example. Despite the ravings of Hitler for over ten years, we were not prepared, indeed it seems most politicians were surprised. It appears we are burying our heads in the sand once again. As war clouds gather, our defence department is preparing our forces to combat close to shore and unsophisticated threats. Our government is blind to the threat.
Our next-door neighbor is the world most populist Muslim nation, over 180 million of them. Despite giving them billions in aid money we have received little to no thanks. Publicly, Australian politicians, defence and security staff, either cannot see or are unable to annunciate the possible Indonesian threat in the public domain through fear of increasing already strained relations with Indonesia. Subsequently the threat scenario being used as the basis to develop Australian defence forces doesn’t mirror the actual threat and is grossly inadequate.
As previously iterated, a recent survey of Indonesians confirmed that almost half supported the Bali, Marriott and Australian Embassy bombings and like radicals Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Azahari. These same attitudes, post the Lebanon conflict and the rise of Hizbollah will have hardened. This is not a country that at its heart is our friend. The conflict in the Middle East will worsen, deepening Muslim resentment to the west. This is an inevitable process we have no control over. Islam in Indonesia will become increasingly hostile to us. More and more Indonesians will see us as the enemy, and Iran and Hezbollah as leading lights in the Islamic world.
When the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Jakarta and his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono he said. “We regard Indonesian progress and power as our own. Progress and power of the two nations are at the service of peace and progress of the world,” He added that, “the two countries condemn the massacre of Palestinians in the occupied lands, that Iran and Indonesia have common stances on regional and international issues,” and that, “Iran upholds the rights and views of the Indonesian nation and government on regional developments.”
Yudhoyono stated this meeting “as a turning point in mutual relations.” Indonesia has much more in common with Iran than Australia. Indonesia shares ideology, beliefs and now a common hatred of the west with Iran. Yudhoyono’s western persona does not reflect the true face of his country.
It is well known that many ministers in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet are Islamic fundamentalists, some of whom oppose religious tolerance. Ironically, it appears the adoption of democracy is what paved the road for fundamentalists to spread their message of hate. While Australian politicians played down the possibility of fundamentalism in Indonesia, the reality on the ground is creeping theocracy. In 2005 Aceh, South Sulawesi, and the Cianjur province, had already implemented Syariah law, many others followed. The enforcement of these laws was made possible through an enactment of by-laws, or perintah daerah, by local heads of government under regional autonomy laws. This process was cultivated by Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI). The MMI wanted full implementation of the Syariah, including hudud, also covering non-Muslims. The creeping change to Syariah law up until 2006 was given rapid acceleration by the cartoon wars and other world events perceived ‘anti Muslim’. In February 2006, cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual leader of MMI, was released from Jail, quickly becoming the rally point for hard-line Indonesian Muslims whose numbers were swelling by the day. Funded by Iran and exploiting almost daily events that they portrayed as insults to Islam, the MMI is quickly transitioning its extremist popular support base to politics.
How much proof does the defence establishment need to understand the real nature of the threat? It is written that Jihad is a central duty of every Muslim. Modern Muslim theologians have spoken of many things as jihads: defending the faith from critics, supporting its growth and defense financially, even migrating to non-Muslim lands for the purpose of spreading Islam. But violent jihad is a constant of Islamic history. Many passages of the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad are used by jihad warriors today to justify their actions and gain new recruits. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrines of armed jihad. The theology of jihad, which denies unbelievers equality of human rights and dignity, is available today for anyone with the will and means to bring it to life.
The Asian Muslim Youth Movement (AMYM) claims it has thousands of jihadists who are prepared to join the fight against Israel. The Australian newspaper reported that about 200 of these supporters would be sent to attack Jewish targets in countries that support Israel. AMYM leader Suaib Bidu said his group would also be closely monitoring Australia’s reaction towards Israel’s current military occupation in southern Lebanon. “We have a lot of support, including in Australia, from people who don’t believe Israel’s attack (on Hizbollah) is just,” he told The Australian. AMYM is capable of organising such an attack. The plot is believed to be funded in part with cash donations from two unnamed Australian-Indonesian businessman. This is just one of many groups.
Indonesia has a history of violence. In May 1998 in Jakarta, mobs went on the rampage, looting the shops and houses of ethnic Chinese Indonesians. The riots left 1,200 people dead. Subsequent attacks have taken on an increasingly religious character with clashes in places like Kupang in West Timor, where rival mobs attacked churches and mosques. In November in Jakarta, 25 churches were burnt down and 13 people killed in rioting.
The rioting spread even to the island of Ambon in the Moluccas, a place where Christians and Muslims had lived in harmony for centuries. Around 150 people died. Whole villages were burned to the ground.
Indonesia killed up to 180,000 East Timorese through massacres, torture and starvation during its 24-year occupation, a U.N. investigation reported. Napalm and chemical weapons were used to poison food and water and some victims were burned or buried while still alive, and others sexually mutilated. The Australian newspaper quoted. It said 90 percent of the 180,000 deaths — almost a third of the pre-invasion population — were caused by starvation and disease, saying starvation was used as a weapon. “Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters,” a paper quoted the commission saying.
The 2,500-page report by the United Nations Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation is based on interviews with 8,000 Timorese, refugees in Indonesia’s West Timor, Indonesian military papers and foreign intelligence sources.
“Widespread and systemic executions, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and sexual slavery was officially accepted by Indonesia,” the study said. “The violations were committed in execution of a systematic plan approved, conducted and controlled by Indonesian military commanders at the highest level.” Many of the same leaders that authorised and led these killings are still in power today.
Our defence must be based on managing internal attacks but also needs to be balanced by our ability to reach and touch the enemy where ever they might be. Which is why it is so important that the F111, with its extreme range, speed and payload, remain in service and be upgraded.