Stanley A. Weiss
February 21, 2019

Indonesia’s Game of Thrones Problem

by Stanley A. Weiss

GSTAAD – “Winter is coming.”

That’s the urgent message Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo delivered in a speech to World Bank leaders in Bali last October. It was a reference to the popular television series, Game of Thrones, in which seven kingdoms scheme and battle to claim the Iron Throne, the seat of power over all kingdoms, while ignoring a much more powerful army to the north that threatens them all. Snow and ice are said to follow in this army’s conquering wake – hence, “winter is coming.”

Jokowi used the reference as a metaphor to argue that the world’s major powers were battling to claim their own Iron Throne – competing fiercely with one another for economic and military dominance instead of cooperating to address more existential dangers, from climate change to global terrorism, that threaten us all. It’s not unlike the 57-year old Jokowi – known for his love of motorcycles, denim jackets, and heavy metal music – to use a pop culture reference familiar to millennials to make his point.

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