Sunday, January 27, 2008

Free Blinders With Every Purchase

Suharto, the Indonesian tyrant, crook, and butcher, finally joined the well-over million dead he helped to exterminate, although unlike most of them, Suharto expired in a hospital bed, and not in a body-lined ditch or against a bullet-pocked wall. The wire services have performed their societal function, casting Suharto as the corrupt mass murderer he was, without, of course, emphasizing the crucial U.S. role in arming, advising, and backing Suharto's regime.

But when it comes to historical whitewash, we must naturally bow to the master of the genre, the New York Times. Marilyn Berger, assisted by the reliable Seth Mydans, skillfully airbrushes U.S. involvement in Indonesian affairs, including the genocidal assault on East Timor, employing the Samantha Power technique of softening the blood-stained focus. Oh sure, the Times tells us, the U.S. gave money to Suharto. But:

"In doing so, the United States, along with much of the rest of the world, showed a willingness to overlook the corruption, favoritism and violations of human rights, including the disappearance of opposition politicians, that came to characterize Mr. Suharto’s rule."

Well, if you mean pumping the Indonesian military with advanced weaponry while actively blocking attempts to stop the violence and corruption is a form of "overlooking" the brutality, then yeah, I suppose that's exactly what the U.S. did. From Ford to Carter to Reagan to Bush to Clinton. All averted their eyes, whistled random tunes while somehow, some way, the Indonesian state kept replenishing itself with U.S. weapons and continually found itself on the favorable end of failed diplomatic moves to end the repression and theft. It's not as if the U.S. and its corporate partners had any real interest in that part of the world, like, say, massive oil reserves. Nope. The U.S. funded Suharto because it specifically didn't want to know what was going on. This is what separates us from the Milosevics of the world. And thank Sulzberger that the New York Times is there to define the difference.