War, famine, pestilence and death

As most of the world tries to help those stricken by the tsunami disaster stave off starvation and disease, the most depressing news for me is that the Indonesian army is still fighting Acehnese rebels. If ever there was a good time for a unilateral ceasefire, this would surely be that time. I hope that the new Indonesian president will act firmly to put a halt to this, and more generally to bring the army under proper civilian control. I hope also that the rebels will realise that their energy would be better directed towards rebuilding Aceh than towards an almost certainly futile struggle for independence. Much the same could be said of Sri Lanka where the aid effort is being hampered by the long-running civil war there.

9 thoughts on “War, famine, pestilence and death

  1. Surely there is now a more pressing battle to wage for both the Indonesian government and the Acehnese rebels… unfortunately the actors involved are probably not the rational actors we would like them to be.

  2. Very much a Black Knight situation ( Holy Grail) . Outside efforts ( the U.S. or U.N.) is needed to intervene to estabilish a truce

  3. an almost certainly futile struggle for independence

    I’m not sure why its almost certainly futile but doesnt the arrival of large amounts of outside aid possibly reduce their (and the indonesian army’s) incentive to do something to rebuild the nation themselves?

    Depressing, but I can’t think of many disasters that have brought warring sides together as oppposed to exacerbating the conflict e.g. Ethiopia and Somalia.

  4. I cant see why its an inevitably futile struggle, but doesn’t the arrival of large amounts of outside aid reduce the incentive of the Aceh insurgents (and the indonesian army) to rebuild the place?

    Depressing but I dont remember the famines in Ethipia and Somalia bringing the warring sides any closer together..

  5. It isn’t an easy one to judge. Aceh arguably has no greater claim to separatist status than any other province in Indonesia. And their greater desire for it is likely to come from 2 things:
    1) Possession of so much oil wealth; they could keep more of it to themselves, rather than allowing it to be shared around Indonesia, and become another Brunei.
    2) A desire, partially implemented in the past under regional autonomy concessions, to put in place strict Sharia law.

  6. More bad news – Islamic militants are also heading into town. Apparently to head off any “Christianising” that might be going on by the overseas aid workers. Go figure.

  7. Unfortunately, JQ, the rebels and the Indonesian army don’t seem to have read your posts pointing out that war is a negative sum game.

    Also, as others have pointed out in recent posts on other threads, generals like being at war, because it justifies their existence and increases their power.

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