US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Jakarta June 6-7, 2006, where he met President Yudhoyono.The visit was to bolster US-Indonesia milititary relationships which was restored November 22, 2005 folowing the lifting of restrictions on sales of US-made defense equipment for the Indonesian Defense Force (TNI, Tentara Nasional Indonesia). Rumsfeld held a joint press conference with myself at the Indonesian Defense Department at 3pm June 6, following his call on President Yudhoyono.
Michael Gordon of The New York Times raised the issue of Indonesia’s participation to the PSI (Proliferation Security Initiative) of May 2003.
I responded that Indonesia understood the US concern about the dangers of prolifertaion of weapons of mass destruction and other hazardous materials related to international terrorism against US interests and US security within continental United States. However, as party to the UN Law of the Sea and fonding proponent of the Archipelagic State, it was impossible for Indonesia in strictly legal terms to accept the total package of the PSI, as it endorsed interdiction of vessels passing through Indonesia’s territorial waters in in the high seas.
I also explained that quiet apart from the legal and diplomatic debates, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have since mid 2005 engaged in a practical coordinated martime patrol scheme wherein the security and safety of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore would be enforced with the assistance of the major powers. This trilateral arangement meets in part the requirements of the PSI and at the same time ensuring Indonesia legal sovereignty and compliance to UNCLOS.
President Yudhoyono himself assigned Chief Security Minister Widodo to undertake “studies with regard to partial and ad hoc implementaion of some provisions of the PSI which may be adapted by Indonesia within the framework of Indonesia’s sovereignty.”
Press reports about the joint conference was unfair to Rumsfeld, who was depicted by one foreign analyst as being “brow-beaten” by me.
In fact, I provided a more sympathetic understanding of American military power and purpose, explaining that being a country with a USD 12 trillion economy and annual defense budget of well above USD 400 billion, it was inevitable that in many parts of the world__not just in Indonesia__ the US would be seen as being overbearing, omnipresent and over insistent. Paradoxically, the more powerful the US is militarily, the less influential it is politically in many contries of the developing world.