A story about protests to Bushâ€™s visit in Jakarta:
President Bush is still scheduled to arrive in Bogor, Indonesia, for a visit with Indonesian President Yudhoyono following the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum later this month. I was there just a few weeks ago, and the serenity of the famous national Taman Bunga, flower gardens, gave no hint of today’s activity as thousands of people, including protesters, police, and construction workers prepare for the visit. Simply meeting the demands of the US president’s security detail has required the alteration of roads, the construction of new helicopter pads and other infrastructure, and the import of thousands of security personal from around Indonesia.
It is worth asking, I think, if the situation is different than it was two days ago, before the midterm elections in the US cast doubt around the world about Bushâ€™s strength as the leader of America?
American ambassador Lynn Pascoe said that the US wants Indonesia to succeed. This proclaimed desire is manifested in several of the points on the agenda of the meeting, such as the plan to talk about poverty reduction and corruption in Indonesia. These are indeed crucial issues for Indonesiaâ€™s success and indeed its very survival.
The meeting should also be viewed as very important to the interests of the United States, as well. The US recognizes that Indonesia can play a key role in dealing with the nuclear issue with Iran and North Korea, for example.
One of Bushâ€™s largest challenges in coming to Indonesia is facing the sentiment that his policies have reflected aggression towards the Islamic world. Although Islam in Indonesia is traditionally very moderate and very unique from that of the Middle East, it is no less the religion of over 90 percent of the countryâ€™s population. The past week has already seen multiple large public protests here, as well as Islamic leaders from certain groups demanding that Bush not be allowed to touch down on Indonesian soil.