To the Editor

In his recent article, "Facing Reality in Indonesia", Owen Harries does paint an accurate picture of the fragility of the civilian government and the considerable challenges that it faces.

In his recent article, "Facing Reality in Indonesia", Owen Harries does paint an accurate picture of the fragility of the civilian government and the considerable challenges that it faces. It is wrong, however, to suggest that the best way to fight terrorism in that country is to strengthen the role of the military and subordinate the cause of democracy. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that much of the violence in Indonesia is instigated by the very military institution Owen Harries proposes as the solution. As Jeffrey Winters is quoted in the Q&A section of Foreign Policy Association, November 21, 2002, "The world's attention was caught, obviously, by the enormous explosion in Bali, but in the year 2000, there was an explosion in the basement of the underground parking garage of the Jakarta Stock Exchange that was huge and it turns out it involved Indonesian Special Forces Red Bureau Soldiers." Suharto himself was always careful to balance the power and interests of the Islamists and the military. The question therefore needs to be raised whether or not increased support from the West for Indonesia's military will make the fight against terrorism easier--or whether it will only add fuel to Islamic propaganda. Would it not be better to strengthen the democratically elected central government with economic support, and through that government utilize the power of the Indonesian military?