October 6, 2011

Indonesia’s Uncertain Dance

JAKARTA—One of the mesmerizing dances performed here is Jaipongan, a style that mixes Indonesian martial arts with village ritual music. It features graceful arm movements and slow, lunging steps that create the appearance of forward momentum. While the dancer floats across the floor, you never really notice that she’s moving in a circle until the dance ends and she is standing back where she started.

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September 1, 2011

ASEAN The EU And The End Of Westphalia

BALI—Set upon a blue background, the flag of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations depicts 10 yellow rice paddy stalks drawn in the middle of a red circle with a white border.  The interesting thing about the banner is not merely that it represents the main colors of all ten ASEAN member state flags: Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines.  It is that 44 years to the day after ASEAN was founded, on August 8th—in a development that received little attention outside Asia—the flag was hoisted for the first time alongside the banners of all member states at hundreds of embassies and diplomatic missions around the world.

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August 15, 2011

The Mao Doctrine

JAKARTA—He studied law under Thomas Jefferson, served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War under John Adams, elected President of the United States in 1816, and was so fondly hailed that his eight years as Chief Executive were dubbed the “era of good feelings.”

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September 14, 2010

A Match in Heaven

JAKARTA, Sept. 14 (UPI) — If you say the words “presidential visit” and “Indonesia” together in political circles in any Western nation today, the conversation will quickly turn to the two visits to Indonesia that U.S. President Barack Obama postponed earlier this year.

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February 23, 2010

A First Step Toward Democracy?

YANGON — When British forces first floated up the Irrawaddy River in 1885 to depose King Thibaw of Burma, locals were startled to see a Burmese prince, in full regalia, sitting on the deck of one of the steamers. His presence reassured locals that the British planned to seat a new king, not overthrow the kingdom. As Thant Myint-U recalls in his book, “The River of Lost Footsteps,” it was only when a young student talked his way onto the ship and came face-to-face with the royal prince that the truth was discovered: The “prince” was an imposter, a former classmate of the student’s. By then, it was too late — the telegraph line to the palace in Mandalay had been cut.

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September 4, 2009

Indonesia’s Security Burden

JAKARTA—Locals here quip that while Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation—by definition, a nation of islands—it is not a maritime nation. Imagine, they say, a stretch of land covering the distance from Seattle to New York, or Lisbon to Moscow. And now, imagine having fewer than 100 police cars responsible for patrolling that entire area—to respond to emergencies and protect national borders.

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April 10, 2009

A System That Works is Democratic Enough

THAILAND – What do you call a democracy in which women cannot vote, slavery is openly practiced, elected office is reserved for wealthy white landowners, and national laws define an entire race of people as three-fifths of a human being?

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