The U.S. Sacrifice at the Indonesian Altar
excerpted from article
APEC, the US, and East Timor
by Mathew Jardine
Z magazine, January 1995
Whether by coincidence or design, President Ford and Secretary
of State Kissinger were visiting Indonesian President Suharto
during the two days preceding the December 7, 1975 Indonesian
invasion of the newly-independent East Timor. There is little
doubt that the U.S. gave Suharto the green light to invade. In
Jakarta the day before the invasion with President Ford, U.S.
Secretary of State Kissinger told reporters that "the United
States understands Indonesia's position on the question"
of East Timor.
According to columnist Jack Anderson, Ford admitted that, given
a choice between East Timor and Indonesia, the U.S. "had
to be on the side of Indonesia." Suharto was eager to obtain
U.S. support for the invasion because of ABRl's (the Indonesian
Armed Forces) heavy reliance on U.S. weaponry which, by U.S. law,
could only be used for defensive purposes. Since Ford and Kissinger's
departure from Jakarta, well over 200,000 East Timorese-about
one-third of the 1975 population-have lost their lives as a result
of the invasion and ongoing occupation of the former Portuguese
According to the State Department, U.S. companies supplied some
90 percent of the weapons used by ABRI during the invasion. When
it looked as if Jakarta were actually running out of military
equipment in late 1977 due to its activities in East Timor, the
Carter "human rights" administration responded by authorizing
U.S. $112 million in commercial arms sales for fiscal 1978 to
Jakarta, up from U.S. $5.8 million the previous year (an almost
2,000 percent increase). U.S. arms sales to Indonesia peaked during
the presidency of Ronald Reagan, exceeding U.S. $1 billion from
As in the case of arms sales, military assistance also increased.
In the year following the invasion, the Ford administration more
than doubled its military assistance (to U.S. $146 million) to
Jakarta. Similarly, U.S. military aid increased during the Carter
and Reagan administrations, during which the bulk of the killings
were taking place in East Timor. Since the invasion, over 2,600
Indonesian military officers have received military training in
the U.S. under the International Military Education and Training
(IMET) program. There is even strong evidence to suggest that
U.S. military advisers were present in Indonesian-occupied East
Timor in the late 1970s.
The U.S. policy of complicity with Indonesia's occupation of East
Timor remained essentially the same through the Bush Administration.
As for [President]Clinton, East Timor supporters around the world
saw some hopeful signs in the candidate who promised to put human
rights in the center of U.S. foreign policy. Thus far, these signs
have proven to be of little substance.
from Z magazine, January 1995
For more information contact:
East Timor Action Network / U.S., P.O. Box 1182, White Plains,
914-428-7299; Fax: 914-428-7383. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy and Pentagon