Shock and Rue

Ten years ago last week, the US military under President George W. Bush wreaked “Shock and Awe,” the merciless bombardment of Baghdad that launched the invasion of Iraq by an American-led “coalition of the willing.”

Indonesia had harsh words for the United States that time. Most outspoken was then Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, who said, “An arbitrary preemptive war has been waged against a sovereign state — arbitrary because it is without sufficient justification in international law.”

Continue reading

A Woman’s Job?

Hillary Clinton, the 67th US secretary of state, is a tough act to follow. Her successor, John Forbes Kerry, must have learned that soon enough, if he didn’t already know it before he became number 68.

He doesn’t have Hillary’s star power. He has admirers but he’ll never be worshipped by women all over the world who see in Hillary the promise of what they themselves could be.

Continue reading

A Solution for Sabah

A pundit who should know better asks in his column: If Malaysia owns Sabah, why does it pay rent to the Sulu sultanate? That’s because Malaysia recognizes the proprietary rights of the sultanate to Sabah. If a person has a private property in another country, that person has a right to some economic benefit from its use. But Malaysia reserves for itself the right of sovereignty — the right to govern Sabah.

To those who say that the sultanate of Sulu doesn’t exist, the government of Malaysia is too intelligent to pay rent to an imaginary sultanate. The Philippine foreign secretary isn’t so stupid as to apologize for a misplaced letter to a figment of the imagination. The sultanate is poor and might have made a tragic mistake in breaking Malaysian law by sending its people to settle in Sabah. But it exists.

Continue reading

Iran’s Iron Will

Once again, we see light at the end of the tunnel.

The negotiators of Iran and those of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (the P-5) — China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States, plus Germany — have just completed a round of talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The talks have been on Iran’s nuclear program, widely suspected to be aimed at producing a nuclear weapon. The suspicion first arose from Iran’s failure to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. On that basis, excruciating sanctions have been imposed on Iran.

Continue reading