In­done­sian leader pushes for Amer­i­can with­drawal from Iraq

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Joseph Curl

BO­GOR,In­done­sia—An­gryan­tiAmer­i­can pro­test­ers marched in the street­sonNov.20shout­ing“die,Bush, die,” as In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Susilo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono urged Pres­i­den­tBush­to­move­to­war­da­timetable for U.S. with­drawal from Iraq.

The­leaderofthe­world’smostpopulous Mus­lim na­tion stood side by side­with­theU.S.pres­i­den­tand­called for a “proper timetable” for “with­drawal and disen­gage­ment of U.S. forces from Iraq.”

But Mr. Yud­hoy­ono said that any with­drawal should fol­low a “na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” and come af­ter se­cu­rity is es­tab­lished and other na­tions join the ef­fort to aid Iraq in its ef­forts to es­tab­lish a democ­racy.

“We have to in­volve other par­ties. We have to prob­a­bly em­ploy [a] new setup of se­cu­rity forces in par­al­lel with some day, this on a proper timetable, the disen­gage­ment of U.S. mil­i­tary forces and other coali­tion forces from Iraq,” Mr. Yud­hoy­ono said­inBo­gorPalace,agrand­sum­mer re­treat built in 1744.

He said a “proper and re­al­is­tic so­lu­tion for Iraq” is not only the re­spon­si­bil­ity“oftheUnit­edS­tate­sand oth­er­coun­trieswhoarenow­in­volved in Iraq, but of course, is the roles and re­spon­si­bil­ity of other” na­tions as well.

Mr. Bush has re­fused to set such a timetable,ar­gu­ingth­at­do­ing­sowould em­bolden ter­ror­ists. Asked whether he would con­sider putting more U.S. troops into Iraq — as sug­gested on Nov.19bySen.JohnMcCain,Ari­zona Repub­li­can — the pres­i­dent said he would not do so with­out a re­quest fromhistop­mil­i­tarycomman­der­son the ground.

“I haven’t made any de­ci­sions about troop in­creases or troop de­creases,and­won’tun­tilI­hear­froma va­ri­ety­of­sources,in­cludin­gourown United States mil­i­tary,” he said, not­ingth­atChair­manoftheJoin­tChiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace “is in the process of eval­u­at­ing a lot of sug­ges­tions from the field and from peo­ple in­volved­with­theCen­tralCom­mand, as well as at the Pen­tagon.”

Mean­while, thou­sands of pro­test­ers flooded the streets of this scenic town 30 miles south of the cap­i­tal of Jakarta. The city’s cen­ter was locked down; most streets were cleared and some were blocked with ra­zor wire and­wa­ter­can­nons.Morethan15,000 po­lice­with­ri­ot­gear­linedthestreets, even­thoughthep­res­i­den­trodein­his he­li­copter to this hill­top sub­urb for a six-hour stay, all within the se­cure com­pound of the palace.

The­crowds­braved­mon­soon­rain­storms and light­ning to chant an­tiBush slo­gans in front of Bo­gor’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions cen­ter af­ter break­ingth­roughanouter­ringof­po­lice bar­ri­cades.

But Mr. Bush played down the demon­stra­tions that greeted him on his sec­ond visit to the is­land na­tion, say­ing dis­sent — and the free­dom to ex­press it — is a sign of a healthy democ­racy.

“Look, I ap­plaud a so­ci­ety where peo­ple are free to ex­press their opin­ion,” Mr. Bush said. “It’s not the first time, by the way, where peo­ple have showed up and ex­pressed their opin­ion about my poli­cies. But that’s what hap­pens when you make hard de­ci­sions.”

The pres­i­dent also re­jected the premise of a U.S. re­porter’s ques­tion on whether his Mid­dle East poli­cies should be viewed as “an­tiIs­lamic.”

“To say spread­ing democ­racy is anti-re­li­gious — it’s the op­po­site of that.Democ­ra­cymean­sy­ou­can­wor­ship any way you choose, freely. And so, look, peo­ple protest, that’s a good sign.”

In­done­sia, spread out over thou­sands of is­lands, has nearly 200 mil­lion mostly mod­er­ate Mus­lims, the most of any coun­try, but there are also mil­lions of Chris­tians, Hin­dus and Bud­dhists. The na­tion has in­creas­ingly grap­pled with ex­trem­ists, suf­fer­ing ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Oc­to­ber 2002 and Oc­to­ber 2005 in Bali, and in Jakarta in Au­gust 2003 and Septem­ber 2004.

In a brief meet­ing with mod­er­ate civic lead­ers at the palace, Mr. Bush ap­plauded the na­tion’s di­ver­sity.

“I ad­mire In­done­sia’s plu­ral­ism,” he said. “It’s very im­por­tant for the peo­ple­ofAmer­i­ca­tounder­standthat this­vast­coun­try­has­got­tremen­dous po­ten­tial,bu­tit’sgo­tapromi­nen­t­role to play in the world in show­ing how it’spos­si­ble­for­peo­ple­to­be­able­to­live to­gether in peace and har­mony.”

Agence France-Presse

“Look, I ap­plaud a so­ci­ety where peo­ple are free to ex­press their opin­ion,” said Pres­i­dent Bush af­ter a storm of an­gry protests wel­comed him to In­done­sia.

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