Solidarity with Indonesia
Most people have made up their minds already about the way the US, Australia and other Western countries should respond to terrorism, and I’ve stated my own views plenty of times, so I’ll focus on a different issue.
The latest terror attacks, although directed at foreign tourists, are first and foremost an attack on Indonesia and the Indonesian people. It seems pretty clear that Bali is a favoured target in part because the local population is largely (though by no means entirely) non-Muslim and the killers regard any of their fellow-citizens who do not share their religious beliefs as worthy of death. Their aim, along with groups like the unlamented Laskar Jihad is to promote civil war and the overthrow of democracy in Indonesia, so that they can implement their idea of an Islamic caliphate.
Fortunately their actions have been counterproductive. The Iraq war has been highly unpopular, but the great achievement of JI has been to make themselves even more unpopular. The Indonesian people have, with few exceptions, rejected terrorism and radical Islamism and the Indonesian government has responded effectively. In both the Bali and Jakarta bombings, there have been numerous arrests and convictions. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t nail Abu Bashir for his most serious crimes, but it was better to stick to the rule of law than to make this evil man a martyr by violating it (and of course a conviction would have been much more likely if his main lieutenant, Hambali, had been handed over to the Indonesians, instead of being held by the US ).
The outcome we’ve seen is all the more impressive when we remember that only a few years ago, Indonesia was a corrupt dictatorship riddled with religious/ethnic strife in Ambon, Aceh and other places.
Whatever our differences with Indonesia, this is a time for solidarity with its governmetn and people.