BOGOR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Muslim nations should ultimately replace coalition forces in Iraq after a period of national reconciliation, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told a meeting of Islamic clerics on Tuesday.National reconciliation would presumably happen after some small semblance of security were established?
Yudhoyono, who is keen to see Indonesia take a bigger role in global issues and in particular in the Middle East, first floated his proposals on Iraq at a joint news conference with U.S. President George W. Bush last November in Bogor.No doubt President Yudhoyono found a very receptive audience! Considering how readily Boy George accepts the advice of others -- some of whom share his nationality, his skin color, his religious denomination, his political attachment and even his surname -- it's not difficult to imagine how he would have taken this absurd attempt at humor from an Indonesian Muslim whose name he can barely pronounce, let alone remember...
President You-Don't-Know, is that right?...especially since President Yudhoyono's take on the situation in Iraq is unremittingly shallow:
"The spiral effect of violence has dreadfully eroded the national tradition of religious tolerance and mutual respect. This is not the natural state of affairs between the Sunnis and Shi'ites of Iraq," he said in a speech to about 20 clerics from around the world gathering at the Bogor presidential palace to discuss Iraq.No, it is certainly not the "natural state of affairs", for Iraqi Sunnis and Shi'ites, who were living in relative stability until quite recently ... and Boy George must have smiled quietly to himself while listening to this particular mini-punchline, secure in the knowledge that the "sectarian" chaos the Americans have fomented in Iraq will not be easily quelled.
"The first and most vital track in this proposed solution is the launching and unrelenting pursuit of reconciliation," added Yudhoyono, a former general who spent years training in U.S. military bases.As the former general undoubtedly knows, US forces can handle launching and unrelenting pursuit, but he fails to recognize that, from a policy perspective, "reconciliation" is unthinkable. This doesn't stop him, however:
"Once the national reconciliation is achieved, the second track is the withdrawal of the coalition forces replaced by a new coalition of forces [from] like-minded Muslim countries," said Indonesia's first directly elected president.As if we needed more ways to tell that Indonesia's president is a practical joker, directly elected or not: (1) He imagines that national reconciliation can take place while Iraq is occupied by American (and perhaps allied) troops, and (2) he speaks of "the withdrawal of the coalition forces", but without answering the next most pressing questions: [A] What? [B] Without the oil? [C] What about our "permanent bases"? and [D] Are you out of your mind??
Since Yudhoyono outlined his Iraq proposal on Bush's second visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, there has been little evidence of it gaining much traction.Traction? Who can contemplate traction? It would be a miracle if the laughing recipients of this advice could lift themselves off the floor. The whole idea is so funny, their ribcages must hurt from convulsive laughter.
I may have said it was a bad joke, but I never said it wasn't funny.
Some Bush policies, especially in the Middle East, are deeply unpopular in Indonesia, where 85 percent of the population follows Islam. Jakarta has consistently criticized the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.And of course this is the final nail in the joke's coffin, because the only people who are now allowed to criticize the war in the US "national discourse" are those who supported it originally. Yes, "Flip-floppers" can now criticize the way the war has been conducted, but long-time opponents of this pre-emptive war are considered biased, having made their minds up long before all the relevant facts became available.
The Indonesian President certainly does evince a modicum of talent, but he may wish to consider honing his skills at at Yuk-Yuks-Bali, or perhaps the Jakarta Comedy Club -- at least for a while. And he should definitely keep his day job.
Until next time, remember the magic words: OIL, BASES, MONEY, POWER.