Influence In Indonesia Essay

793 words - 3 pages

Analysis of the rapid withdrawal of European influence from Indonesia shows that a decline in immediate political and economic dominance bred civil and political instability. Additionally it shows that while the withdrawal was destructive in nature, imperialism planted the seeds of nationalism and democracy. The swift withdrawal of both Dutch and Portuguese colonial power in the late twentieth century left a political power vacuum, incited a regional economic crisis, and caused civil unrest in the region. International intervention, and political compromise allowed for a relatively quick turn-around and reigning stability.
The Netherlands East Indies gained independence in 1949, and became the country of Indonesia. Political in-fighting and separatist movements plagued the fledgling island nation almost instantly. Authoritarian rule and constant military coups were the norm for years. Indonesia is a very ethnically and culturally diverse country. There are six major ethnic groups, with four languages commonly spoken on the more than thirteen thousand islands it makes up (CIA World Fact Book). In 1965, stability was finally achieved by General Suharto. He began to revamp the country’s economy by exploiting their enormous oil resources. While political stability had been won in the majority, pockets of instability would remain. The island of Timor, most of it occupied by the Portuguese, would be the stage for a major scene of political contention some years later.
The Portuguese military coup of 1974 left the European nation in political shambles. Almost immediately, the new government began withdrawing from their overseas empire. A political power struggle began instantly on the former colony of East Timor due to the power vacuum left by the Portuguese. Commando groups aligned by political affiliation emerged, and after months of tension a civil war began. Pro-democracy and pro-communist groups, as well as various conservative and labor parties fought amongst themselves for the right to govern. The pro-communist group Frente Revolucianaria de Timor-Leste Independente emerged victorious, and began to consolidate power in East Timor. The remnants of the pro-democratic groups merged and became the Movimento Anti-Comunista and sought Indonesian protection (Kilcullen 98). The Indonesian military, apprehensive of the communist regime building in their back yard, began providing clandestine support to the anti-communists. Eventually, even with logistical support, the anti-communist movement failed and Indonesia staged a full scale invasion of East Timor in December 1975 (Kilcullen 99). The Indonesian Army quickly gained control of the major coastal population...

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