Australian Foreign Policy/ Foreign Affairs

Indonesia cancels its military cooperation with Australia

Earlier today, Indonesia suspended its military cooperation with Australia after a ‘training material insult’.

This action came despite our nation’s sincere apologies, and that reportedly the training material which so easily insulted our northern neighbour, was not an official document.

When dealing with reasonable countries, this sounds like an odd set of circumstances.

But Indonesia has a proven track record of being an erratic nation loaded with disdain for our own, so this isn’t surprising.

It appears that Indonesia has used this incident to serve a greater purpose: to intentionally diminish the long term strength of Australian- Indonesian relations.

But while Indonesia is busy screaming about the so called ‘training material insult’, what should our national response be?

Just as declined parental attention can ease a toddler’s tantrum, a similar comeback might be appropriate for Indonesia.

There is no need to express any Australian regret over this incident, or act to extend a hand of friendship for this ungrateful ‘friend’.

Whereas some might view these events as an unfortunate occurrence, this should be regarded as a positive occasion.

Indonesia’s abandoning of military cooperation with Australia and comparable controversies are useful in one particular sense; it illuminates which countries are genuine friends, and which are not.

Further, considering Indonesia’s diplomatic insult, there is no requirement to rush towards restoring or enhancing cooperation across any field.

Opponents to such views might argue; “But Indonesia is one of our closest trading partners. We cannot provoke our largest neighbour.”

True, Indonesia is a major destination for Australian exports. However, these trade deals are not pursued out of Indonesian idealism or affection for Australia.

Indonesia trades with Australia due to close geographic proximity, and the quality of our exports. Nothing more, nothing less.

The very moment Indonesia can reduce its trade with Australia, it will. The country has already taken steps, albeit modest towards agricultural independence, but the moment it can forget about Australian cattle, it will.

Given this reality, there appears to be no rush for our country to reestablish military relations with Indonesia.

In fact, a life of less involvement with our Islamist- leaning neighbour, seems far more desirable.

Moreover, while our political class wouldn’t dare, the elimination of Australian aid to Indonesia as I argued for in late 2015, seems increasingly fitting.

6 thoughts on “Indonesia cancels its military cooperation with Australia

  1. What’s their relationship with the Phillipines like? I know Duarte has not had any kind words for the US.

    1. Thats a very good question, of which I probably wouldn’t know. I guess the Phillipines focus has been more on the South China sea region whilst Indonesia is separate from that.

  2. This is intetesting. I just heard today that the Indonesian finance ministry would no longer use JP Morgan for bond underwriting and as a primary dealer of sovereign bonds due to an investment downgrade of its equity markets. Wonder if there is a coincidence.

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