U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
Deputy Secretary of State Richard
On Metro TV of Indonesia
October 17, 2001
9:30 p.m. Local Time (Indonesia)
QUESTION: Good morning, Secretary Armitage.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: How do you do?
QUESTION: How much has the anti-American sentiment in Indonesia, such as demonstrations and (inaudible) threats, affected the US investments here? If the situation deteriorates, will the US leave operations of US companies in the hands of local professionals?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, we've had, unfortunately for our friends in Indonesia, three years of difficulty -- economic difficulty and political difficulty -- and I haven't noticed a major change in the US investment profile in Indonesia. I think our major US companies have made the decision that Indonesia is a friendly place, it's a good place to do business, and that we'd like to do our best to stay there and be good partners.
QUESTION: All right. About three days ago, President Megawati Sukarnoputri has criticized the US military attack on Afghanistan. Because of this, where does the US stand for its military aid and training for the Indonesian military, as promised to her during her last visit in Washington, DC?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, when President Megawati Sukarnoputri came to Washington, President Bush was very pleased to receive her, and they had a good conversation. And it is our view that Indonesia has been generally supportive of the US activity. And we are counting on that to continue. I don't want to speculate on a hypothetical situation.
We certainly do want to have a relationship with Indonesia across the board to a breadth and to a depth that is comfortable for our Indonesian friends. And that breadth and the depth will be decided by Indonesia, and we will abide by the decision.
QUESTION: All right. What is your message for Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world? How do you convince Indonesians that your military strike is, as you said, against terrorism, not Islam?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think first of all I would have to say that we're trying to make the point that Islam is one of the great religions of the world. It is very respected here in the United States. You would note that our President, two or three days after the attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, went to visit the Islamic Center in Washington to make just that point. We're against terrorists and we're against murderers; we're very much for the great religion of Islam, and we are all people of the Book.
Moreover, I would ask our friends in Indonesia, whether you live in Jakarta or anywhere else, to think how you'd feel if this happened in your great country, if you had suffered this terrible attack. Perhaps, I think, if you look at it that way, then friends in Indonesia can see that the United States and the coalition have a right to act as we're acting.
QUESTION: All right. Well, the US recently mentioned that Usama's networking includes the ones in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. If the US is to do a (inaudible) operation, will it be doing that with the Indonesian Government or without Jakarta?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, first of all, the network and the cells of Usama bin Laden are in many more locations than the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Our friends in Germany and France and indeed Australia have been very active in disrupting bin Laden's cells.
More specifically, in answer to your question, I'd say that we'd prefer to act with the assistance of the government. We can't imagine any government which is intent on having terrorist cells thrive inside the fabric of society. So I suspect if we found terrorist cells and could identify them in Indonesia, that the Government of Indonesia would do the right thing.
QUESTION: Okay. Going back a little bit on that statement that you -- Usama bin Laden networking is in Southeast Asia, some of Southeast Asia countries. On what ground did you base this statement?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: On the grounds of having received intelligence from many countries around the world, and having particularly since the 11th of September very rigorously, alongside friends from the international community, sought further understanding of the bin Laden and al-Qaida network.
QUESTION: All right. I would like to quote Samuel Huntington. He said that after the Cold War and Communism ended, Western world's enemies are Islam. What is your comment on this, given the situation that the US strikes are against the Taliban, which represent certain Islamic values?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, let me try to answer your question in two parts. First of all, I totally dismiss the theory of Sam Huntington*. I think Professor Huntington* was looking for something to write about after the Cold War, and I think he made a big mistake. And I reject his thesis.
I equally reject the thesis that the Taliban represents Islamic values. I don't think it's an Islamic value to repress people. I don't think it's an Islamic value to use food as a weapon against your people. I think quite the contrary: the values of Islam are values of generosity and are values of spirituality, not of repression.
QUESTION: Okay. It's still in the context of his thesis, even though you disagree on that. How does the US see its role in creating a new peaceful world order after the Cold War?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: First of all, the United States, as a multiethnic, multireligious democracy, will try to be a beacon of hope and of friendship for all likeminded countries in the world. Regarding Indonesia, for instance, we are the second largest trading partner of Indonesia. And we realize that for Indonesians to have a very great future, which we want for them, that we have to find jobs for the more than 1.5 million Indonesians who enter the job force every year. We've got a role that we can play in this, if Indonesia is willing to be a partner, and we are certainly going to try to be a faithful and an energetic partner for Indonesia, as well as other countries of Southeast Asia.
I think this was evident by Secretary Powell's presence and participation at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi this summer.
QUESTION: Okay. After the strong critiques from President Megawati about the US strikes on Afghanistan, do you think the Indonesian and the American relations will be getting worse after -- should the US enter and do the land strikes in Afghanistan?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, without speculating on what we might have to do to complete our objectives, I think we are intent on having the type of relationship with Indonesia which befits the United States and the largest Muslim country in the world, your country of Indonesia. Now, we're going to be a good partner, and we'll be a willing partner. But I think it will be up to Indonesians to decide if they want to partner with us. And that's not a decision I can make from Washington; it's not a decision any American can make. You and your countrymen will have to come to your own minds about this.
QUESTION: Okay. The US said that it would limit its strikes in Afghanistan, but after almost two weeks of the air strikes, civilians and also the UN camps (inaudible) the Red Cross camp has been bombarded as well. What is your comment on this, sir?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: My comment is that that appeared to be a terrible and tragic accident, for which all of us are very sorry. I would note that we really mourn the death of any individual. However, more than 5,000 of our citizens died, and I might note that in the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings, hundreds of Muslims died as well. And though I'm sorry for the loss of innocent life in Afghanistan, I think the cause of this was the al-Qaida network, and unfortunately, the Taliban, which allowed the shark of al-Qaida to swim within their seas.
QUESTION: All right. That will be all, sir. Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to talk to you this morning. Good morning and goodbye.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, thank you for the honor, and goodbye.
(The interview concluded at 9:42 p.m. Local Indonesian Time.)