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How the US Military Improved Democracy And Economic Growth In Indonesia

How the US Military Improved Democracy And Economic Growth In Indonesia


It was an honor to meet and greet one of my heroes, His Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his family recently.  Why a hero?  When I was a child growing up 30 to 40 odd years ago in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Thailand, I was horrified by the living conditions the kids I played with had, or actually, didn’t have… living under huts made from hanging canvas over a tree limb.  They were kind, good, sweet people unfortunately born into dire conditions.  I knew in my heart, when I grew up I would do all I could to help them.  So I am grateful to President Yudhoyono.  Under his watch, times have changed drastically in Indonesia.  How did the US Military help make this happen?

After spending a year training at the Command and General Staff College here at Fort Leavenworth Kansas in 1991, President Yudhoyono said he “witnessed American politics. I observed the management of a democratic country, the various channels people could participate in politics: the enforcement of the rule of law: basically, the ways national interest is managed.  All the knowledge was useful when I began my political career.  It has also helped me to understand other countries better when working together.”   He went on to say “To me the democratization of Indonesia must be peaceful and the reforms must also be peaceful in order to avoid a large number of victims which would be too great a price for our country to pay.”  From
Global Arms of Collegiality. 

Firstly, when he served as a Four Star General he knew he had to reform the military to separate it from political power, which he accomplished.  Then as Indonesia’s President he implemented, as he put it, “a quiet revolution. All of the governors, regents, mayors throughout Indonesia are now directly elected, and therefore directly accountable to the people who elect them.  The political landscape has been turned upside down.  And all this happened in a smooth, orderly and peaceful way.” Global Arms of Collegiality.  

Aceh finally found peace from separatist fighting, Indonesia rebuilt after the tsunami and the economic growth, inflation and unemployment has been healthy in spite of a historic natural disaster, a terrorist attack that impacted tourism and the global recession.

So if Indonesia looks different over the past decade or two for those who have been following the country for a long time, you can conclude this is in part to President Yudhoyono’s time spent being trained by the US Military on best practices here in Kansas.  At the same military college as all five of our Five Star Generals were also trained. 

As I serve on the Board of Trustees for the Command and General Staff College Foundation, I feel in some way, I’m keeping my promise of helping people both in Indonesia and throughout the world as they raise themselves to a better way of living through an educated leadership.   120 International Military Officers attend here each year and go on to leadership roles in their respective countries.    We still have a long way to go, but when we look back, we need to appreciate how far we have come.

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ABOUT GABRIELLE REILLY 

Gabrielle Reilly, is an Australian American Correspondent and CEO of The Global Townhall.   For more about Gabrielle Reilly.

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