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Bankrolling the Indonesia crisis

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The $40 billion taxpayer bailout of Indonesia has gone from ugly to disgusting to obscene to perverse.

Start with "ugly." The economic collapse in this sprawling nation was caused by international bankers and speculators who shoved billions into high-risk, get-rich-quick schemes there. These speculators made a killing until last year, when their boom went bust. They then went running to Uncle Sam and the International Monetary Fund crying for a bailout, which they got. That's right -- the Asian bailout is not going to the people of these countries, but to Chase Manhattan and Goldman Sachs, as well as high-rolling individual gamblers.

Now comes "disgusting." While everyone was making money, the financial elites and the world's governments played footsie with Indonesia's ruling Suharto family, which gained power by butchering hundreds-of-thousands of Indonesians, and which holds onto power only through its repressive military dictatorship. The bailout puts even more money into the Suharto family, while it imposes severe, new hardships on Indonesia's ordinary people.

This brings us to "obscene." Guess who is training Suharto's military forces? The Pentagon. Millions of our tax dollars are being spent to improve the repressive skills of Indonesia's Red Berets, as well as a commando unit called Kostrad, and even the presidential palace guard of Suharto. These are troops known to have tortured and murdered civilians and who are now being deployed against citizens protesting the rampant injustice and corruption.

Finally comes "perverse." In 1992, Congress banned the spending of Pentagon training funds on Indonesia military. But the Pentagon got cute, saying its current training of these thugs is coming from "a different pot of money." From ugly to perverse, the whole thing stinks.


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