The temptation of Garuda
Hilary has done a great job. The Garuda was seduced by her charms and the lure of power and glory, military hardware and foreign aids, to become a regional power. F-15s, F-16s are on the way. So are frigates, battleships and battle tanks. Of course there will be investments and financial aids too. And Indonesia will be invited to all the grand parties organised by America. There will be more visits to the White House and more photo takings with the President of America. The Indonesian President will have his rightful place beside the infidel President. After the courtship and after being hooked, the hardware will no longer be free. The money from timber and palm oil will be needed to exchange for them in times to come. What would happen to Asean? For decades, Asean grew in strength under the banner of peace, freedom and neutrality. By keeping Asean neutral and staying clear from big power rivalry, Asean was able to carve out a bigger space to manouvre in the international arena. The big powers courted and wooed Asean like a pretty maiden but just enough, fearing that it would push Asean to the embrace of its rival. They treated Asean with tender loving care. No harsh words. What if Asean starts to take sides and sleeps with one of the big powers? When the chips are down, when the cards are open, the battle lines will be drawn. No need for any more niceties. The knives will be out. Will Asean regret the efforts put in all these years to keep the big powers at bay and the freedom to drive its own policies and interests? Or will it enjoy more the opportunities to engage and be full participants in big power conflict? Musharaff and Pakistan are living examples of what will happen when a country traded peace for glory. How would Indonesia transform itself while trying to be a member of Asean and a member of the Muslim brotherhood? Would Indonesia become another Iran, a Pakistan or a Saudi Arabia? And what would Asean become? Or would there still be an Asean?