ppi.032-some Indonesia propaganda


Richard Moore

                               - - -
    a public service of CADRE (Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance)
                               - - -
                    ppi.032-some Indonesia propaganda
                               Eric Margolis
                       "Inside Track On World News"

                               - - -
                Republication permission granted for
                 non-commercial and small-press use
    with all sig & header info forwarded appropriately, please.

Publisher's note:

When events such as those in Indonesia occur, we get an opportunity to see
how the propaganda machinery of the elite works in an operational

There's a myth that says media propaganda isn't the result of specific
conspiratorial plans, but arises out of a general `social culture' of the
corporate media, which is admittedly aligned with establishment interests,
etc. etc.

But when you see rapid developments, as in Indonesia, followed by the
emergence, _immediately, of a unified party line in newspapaers, magazines,
and television, then it gives the lie to such a myth.  The mass media is
increasingly centralized, and gets its main wire feeds from centrally
managed channels, and the reins of control are kept short on critical
topical stories.

Personally I look at the entire mass media, not just the sitcoms, as
`theater'.  News shows are `theatrical presentations', with careful pacing
of material, as in drama, mixed with advertising technology, to sell
`responses' to `events'.  It is not so much that lies about _events are
sold, even though that's what's directly presented, but rather that the
`recommended _responses' are sold, by the intonation of the news-reader and
other subtle signals.

As regards Indonesia, did you notice that everywhere you read `future of
Indonesia lies with generals'?  No discussion (that I saw anyway) of any
political parties or movements, nor any word about the protestors / rioters
except the implication that they're a blind mob who don't like Suharto's
personal nepotism.

The _fact is that Indonesia is a client state of the US, Indonesia gets its
weapons from the US and the West, the leadership of the Indonesia military
has probably all received training in the US, and there is obviously a
direct line in operation from Washington to the various generals.  What
we're witnessing in Indonesia is a changing-of-the-guards among US stooges.

_That's a news story that would be of interest to US audiences, but it's
not one that will make it to the theater of `news'.

The propaganda message delivered by `news hour' is in cartoon form, big
bold statements, big bold omissions, and hammer-heavy instructions about
how to respond and what attitude to take.

For explications of the subtler intonations of the current party line one
must turn to the op-ed pages, and one of my favorite is Eric Margolis and
his humorous series, "Inside Track On World News".  `Inside track' is in
some sense entirely accurate: one can assume from his handy access to
insider details in all parts of the world that he is given routine access
to Western intelligence sources.

But "inside track" is a misleading banner, because that implies you're
going to get "the real skinny" on what's going on.  In fact what you get is
carefully designed disinformation; it takes into account that the reader is
not a complete dummy, and then weaves a more sophisticated fabrication, but
no less a fabrication, than the cartoon news hour.

Below we see an excellent example of this phenomenon.  Mr. Margolis is
himself no dummy, far from it, and he draws facily below from historical
facts, current personalities, cultural details of Indonesia, etc. -- all
the fineries one might have obtained from an email query to the CIA
research library.

And yet nowhere below do we hear anything about the arms, training, and
funding relationship between the US and Indonesia, nor any hint or even
speculation about what kind of pressure or advice Washington is pushing
down the various wires and fibers to the various generals.

If you want to learn how to decode propaganda, you need to notice these
kinds of blatant omissions.  Margolis shows us his range of expertise, and
then omits the most obvious observations that should be clearly visible to
him from that expert position.  Thus we have a staged presentation, not a
report, from his arrogant pen.

What does he offer as causative factors for Indonesian developments?  I
invite you to count the references to `primitiveness' of the Indonesian
people themselves, as if that any bearing on high-level decisions.  We
learn for example that `amok', the word, is of Indonesian orign.


Date: Fri, 22 May 1998
From: •••@••.•••
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: ForeignCorrespondent EXIT SUHARTO

                        Foreign Correspondent

                      Inside Track On World News
            By International Syndicated Columnist & Broadcaster
                 Eric Margolis <•••@••.•••>

By Eric Margolis
20 May 1998

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, and largest Muslim
nation, may be about to explode. Or implode. Take your choice. Only the
astrologers, whom all of Indonesia's 208 million people seem to consult,
claim to know what will happen next in the `confrontasi' between President
Suharto and his angry people.

Suharto's 32-year authoritarian regime is clearly ending - the only
question is how soon.  I believe it will be within the next day, or two.
Much depends on Indonesia's 461,000 armed forces.  Power in the military
is divided between the able, popular Defense Minister and armed forces
commander, Gen. Wiranto, and Suharto's son-in-law, Gen. Prabowo.

Prabowo runs Indonesia's most powerful command, KOSTRAD, a 27,000-man,
elite, strategic army reserve cum Praetorian Guard. Its Jakarta-based
division, and airborne units, could prove decisive in a coup. So, too, the
7,000 troops of KOPASSUS, Indonesia's special forces. .

In 1965, Indonesian communists, backed by China, tried to seize power.
The armed forces crushed the coup.  In the ensuing orgy of national
violence, an estimated 500,000 communists, mainly Indonesians, but also
many ethnic Chinese, were killed by the army, or slaughtered by mobs run
amok (an Indonesian/Malay word). A year later, Gen. Suharto `reluctantly'
ousted the popular, but inept, President Sukarno, and took supreme power.

Suharto's fall might trigger another nation-wide explosion of anti-Chinese
violence.  Indonesia's 4 million ethnic Chinese, often called the `Jews of
Asia,' are only 2% of the population, yet own over 90% of all business.
Recent attacks by mobs on Chinese businesses are a grim foretoken of what
may come.

Wide-scale, anti-Indonesian Chinese pogroms might provoke China to launch
a military rescue mission.  India nearly invaded Fiji during a period when
the ethnic Indian community there was in conflict with the Fijian
majority.  But any Chinese intervention in Indonesia would cause a serious
crisis with the US.  China's ability to project power is severely limited
by lack of sealift and airlift.  Probability of intervention: low.

More probable: a period of serious instability across Indonesia, a nation
of 17,508 islands stretching, for 5,120 km, the distance from London to
Moscow, or Toronto to Vancouver.  So far, the military has continued to
back President Suharto. But as he and his family become increasingly
discredited, Indonesia's soldiers may ditch Suharto, lest they be tarred
by his unpopularity.

Another `reluctant' military takeover, most likely by Gen. Wiranto, is the
likeliest scenario. But the financial crisis that caused Suharto's
downfall is A dangerous, unpredictable situation - and absolutely the last
thing battered so grave, and the cures so unpopular and painful, many
senior officers don't want to assume power - and inherit the mess - right
now. So the military may allow civilian parties to take control, and catch
the flak.  Vice President Habibie, a Suharto crony, will probably only be
a transitional figure.

The most likely civilian leader to emerge could be Amin Reis, the moderate
head of Indonesia' s largest Muslim political organization. Indonesia has
all the organs of a functioning democracy. Under Suharto these
institutions were mere rubber stamps, but they could be vitalized, and
become a real government.  An election this summer would be the best

Meanwhile, more militant Islamic forces are stirring under Indonesia's
nominally secular fabric, particularly in the long-rebellious Aceh region
of northern Sumatra.  As in the Mideast, Islamists call for a state run on
religious principals, and vow to root out Indonesia's pervasive
corruption, cronyism, and nepotism.  Indonesia's elite, backed by their
western sponsors, denounce Islamists as violent radicals. As elsewhere,
the Islamists are badly divided.

There's also a real danger the nation's delicate political fabric could be
torn apart by powerful centrifugal, regionalist forces in far-flung Java.
Sumatra, the Moluccas and Celebes, Timor, and New Guinea.  A splintering
of resource-rich Indonesia could invite intervention by its neighbors, and
send out waves of refugees to Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the

A dangerous, unpredictable situation - and absolutely the last thing
battered Asia needs.

Copyright   eric margolis  1998

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