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06-05-2013
Assessing Russia-Indonesia strategic relations - in the perspective of geopolitics (Part-1)
Author : M Arief Pranoto, Research Associate of GFI

(Response to article: "It's time for Indonesia to turn to Russia for its  strategic interests" by Santos Winarso Dwiyogo Santos, Head of  International Relations and Bilateral Issues, Secretariat of the Vice  President in a roundtable discussion held by the Global Future  Institute, Thursday, April 25, 2013, Jakarta)


"The countries that form the" group of seven "(in the North) control  almost all the technological, economic, media, information and  military power in the world. Five hundred multinational corporations  (MNCs) account for 80 percent of world trade and 75 percent of  global investment. Less than five hundred billionaires own more than  half of the wealth of all the inhabitants of the globe.

With such concentration of the economic and technological means  of power, the mass media and electronic telecommunications have  served to Colonize the minds of men and women and to Plunder the  economic and intellectual wealth of the majority of the world's  population, especially in our so-called Third World, or South.  "(Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian Writer)

Trying to unravel the relationship between Russia - Indonesia on  several assumptions and perspectives, this study should firstly  breakdown some problems. First: how has the Red "Russia" Bear  implemented its national interest in the political dynamics so far?  Second: what Indonesia's real problems and national interests  (KENARI) are to be achieved? Third: where is the tangent point and  how to unite the two countries' national interest?

In a roundtable discussion (04/25/2013) held by Global Future  Institute (GFI), Jakarta, there were pointers about the Russian  "National Interest" especially when Vladimir Putin came to power,  among other things: 1) making himself as peace conflict catalyst; 2  ) global balancer; 3) out of the grip of the U.S. and its Western  allies, and 4) restoring Russia as a superpower.

Then the four national interests of the Red Bear had stocked up on  the global hegemony and raised perceptions that: "The Russia's  presence in Asia Pacific and the Far East is not to create a new  conflict, but rather it wants to decorate the conflict, making a kind  of interior design, so that the conflict will lead to a more positive  trend in the future ". Incredible. The raising question, how is the  pattern of 'decorating' more positive conflict designed by the Russia  in the future? This rhetoric does not need to be answered so that  this article can be further elaborated.

According to the writer, being balancer and out of the clutches of  the U.S. and its allies is only the target for playing the role of peace  conflict catalyst, while the ultimate scheme or goal is being a  superpower. In short, Putin wants to bring back his nation into such  a superior nation (like in the Soviet era) in the past!

The second breakdown in termsof the nation's problems and RI's  national interests. It is undeniable that the nation's problems are in  the upstream (system), while the frenzy of the political elite and the  dynamics of the nation are in the downstream issues which are  actually created by the system itself. So it leads to wrong target.  How could it connect? According to GFI, the absolute national  interests that must be fought for, protected, and defended by the  elite have even been removed by all national elements on the global  stage without "supervision" at all. Of course, the nation has been  trapped into the uncertainty of globalization ripples. This is what is  now happening.

The national interests scenario of any country inevitably leads to  food and energy security. Yes. Every country wants to have food  security and the security of supply in the domestic energy eeds. It  is inevitable. This will always be a priority program of any country.  But look at this republic, an agricultural country with high rainfall but  it has imported maize, rice, cassava, soybeans, sugar and others.  The (second) longest coastline country in the world has imported  fish, salt and others. It is a very sad reality that is not in line with its  nature. Indonesia is the country that lies in the fire ring which  undoubtedly has a great wealth of oil, gold and other mineral  deposits but since the past decade it has become a net oil  importer. Anecdotes were spread, that the political dynamics in the  country looks glamorous but meaningless for the national interests  (KENARI). It is ironic indeed, but that's what happened. The  question arises, while food and energy security have been ignored,  especially KENARI other sectors outside of food and non-energy?

Not to mention about the debt trap by the International Monetary  Fund (IMF), World Bank, and others. Indonesia's debt is said about  Rp 2000 trillion so that the nation's sovereignty was 'sold' to the  international financial institutions. According to Salamuddin Daeng  of the Institute for Global Justice (IGJ), Jakarta, that the era of 2013  is the year of the collapse of our economy. Two important facts as  an indication of the bankruptcy are the high foreign debt and private  debt, in addition to the high debt burden and principal repayments.  According to data from Bank Indonesia (BI), said Daeng, the  government foreign and private debt amounted to $ 251.200 million  or around Rp 2,400 trilion, while the INTEREST PAYMENTS and  principal repayments amounted to $ 169.118 million or around Rp  1,620 trilion. When the increase of the Indonesia's Gross Domestic  Product (GDP) from 2012 to 2013 was only Rp 819 trilion, then  logically the entire GDP results have been used to pay debts even  less!

Another pointer in the GFI's roundtable discussion is that the  Russian political symbol (philosophy), namely "double-headed  eagle". It is a sign that Russia could turn to the left and / or right. It  means also it could turn to the West and/or to the East. Seeing the  West because it is part of the European races, seeing the East  because most of its territory is in Asia, the Far East and  Pacific.  This is inevitably a fact of geopolitics but is realized as political  destiny. Compare with Indonesia. The existence of meshes on  import of food, energy and debt trap here and there is ultimately a  new colonization and a mirror in which the Indonesian elites are  very ignorant of their own national geopolitics.

At this point, it could be concluded where will the Russia's direction  and starting point lead?. Then not surprisingly if Putin was not  squandered on various global and regional forums related to his four  national interests. Eg APEC, held in Vladivostok (2012), the city  which is predicted prospective (economic) capital in the future  because of Russia's geo-strategic position. And apparently in  coming September 2013, Russia will hold the G-20 summit. This  implicitly means that Russia does not want to lose its focus on  foreign policy in the midst of global annunciator, that the direction of  APEC and other institutions has deviated from its original purpose,  and even been the scene of the interests of superpowers such as  the U.S., Western Europe and Japan.

According to Santos, the tendency of geopolitics shifts from  Atlantic to Pacific. However, the GFI analysis is more detail about  the geopolitical shift since the its focus is on the shift of conflict  from the Middle East to Southeast Asia in particular "South China  Sea", including issues and provocation probably scattered by the  West regarding the disputed territory, and / or THEMES to be fired  surrounding intrastate conflicts (conflicts between states) and  interstate conflict (internal conflict in the country), either vertically or  horizontally. The scheme to be plugged in, is most likely resetting  power in Asia Pacific as the U.S. and allies' scheme that is out of  control on the Silk Road through the Arab Spring because of the  phenomenon of Islamic revival here and there.

At least there are three paradigms when talking about geopolitics in  Asia Pacific and the Far East, among others: (1) Asia Pacific and  Japan, (2) Asia Pacific and China, and (3) Asia Pacific and the  U.S.. So, where is the role of Russia? This is now condensed to  proceed. Russia exists and is real. We have known its existence,  how strong its desire to play an active role in the Asia Pacific  region, because in addition to being a step closer to the national  interest, especially global balancer and its will to be freed from the  Western grip, it is also related to the implementation of the  "Strategic Triangle Doctrin" of Primakov, former Russian Prime  Minister, namely shaft alliances of Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi  in order to stem the influence of Uncle Sam and allies. Including its  commitment with China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization  (SCO) that is allegedly not only economic ties but also joint  defense pact in order to face the Western hegemony in Asia  Pacific.

Then, why Russia does not want to free Turkistan, Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asia or Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia  and others in the Caucasus, because it did not want to weaken its  influence in the region, particularly in the energy and food. This is  the main national interest of any country in it bases itself on  geopolitics. Inevitably, globalization is giving birth twin realities that  can not be bargained, namely geopolitics and geo-economics. That  means discussing geopolitics will in turn discuss economic, as well  as talkling about economic, its corridors and frameworks are  definitely geopolitics. That's the twin reality.

Then through nearby approach, the Red Bear has embraced the  neighboring countries, managing all areas of cooperation, and so  on. The approach seems relatively effective. It could be seen that   Eastern Europe is highly dependent on gas supplies from Russia,  and certainly a gas weapon for Russia to Eastern European  countries. And in the Putin's era anyway, Russia turned into a net  oil exporter, a self-sufficienct (autarky) country that is brilliant in  implementing its geopolitics. It seems it understands, if neglecting  the importance of geopolitics is the same as destroying its country  as the story of Soviet Union that broke in pieces.

Once again, the National Interest!

Relating to the prologue at the beginning, how many RI's national  interests that need to be fought by the elite and various national   elements, but here it is referred to two taken from the four points of  the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution. First, the pattern of security  and defense as the state implementation in protecting the whole  country. Second, how the pattern of government in promoting the  people welfare. While such points as creating an enlightened  national life and participating in the world order are not discussed in  this article.

In accordance with the Constitution, the economy as a means of prospering the nation should be based on a family basis in order to realize the people's economy or economic democracy. But in practice, our system of economy has plunged into a capitalist economy which only considers profit, based on the interests of sertain parties. According to Revisond Baswir (25/04/2013), economist from the University of Gajah Mada (UGM), the principle of economic democracy should be encouraged to maintain the sustainability of economy based on economic welfare priority.

Prosperity is prioritized  for the wider community not just individuals. In the context of achieving prosperity the principle of  togetherness is a must. The recovery of democratic economy in Indonesia can be pursued by proclaiming the democratic economic system through Article 33, paragraph 1 of the 1945 Constitution. Oil and Gas Law that the rule of fuel pricing in the market mechanism can be removed. It is necessary for the reinvigoration of cooperatives, labor struggles, as well as the improvement of the state economy. If only based on the orientation of the capitalist economy without focusing more on the people's economy in accordance with Article 33 above, "Our government is, we can say, unconstitutional," said Revisond. That's the outline proposed by the UGM through its expert, Revisond Baswir.

On one side, one of the starting points of our economic  system in the upstream is misguided for deifying the non-real  sector (monetary) than the real sector so it is dependent on index /  exchange. This is the great weakness of national security. The 1997 monetary crisis is a clear example, by buying dollars as exampled by George Soros et al due to the debt payment of the  government and the private sectors, the Indonesian economy was in ruins. Dollars disappeared then prices soared. Like dominoes, initially it affected only in imported products but then spread everywhere, raising prices, making thousands of companies bankrupt and creating millions of unemployed. On the other  hand, 6.3% of economic growth is not directly proportional to the level of welfare of the majority of the nation because the growth  turned out to be driven only by a few people, especially in the non-real sectors, while the rest are confused in the real sector, almost  untouched by the BI assistance.

In the "KENARI" discussion forum led by Dirgo D. Purbo, petroleum expert and lecturer at several universities it was often voiced how important the use of rupiah in any transaction within the sovereignty of Indonesia. Once again, that's one of the national interests in the monetary sector. If rupiah could be "host" in its own country, it will not necessarily weaken as it often happens, because the rupiah will be searchable by anyone having an interest in the Mother Earth. Thus the BI assistance amounted to trillions if rupiah weakened in the capital markets (non-real sector) it could be transferred to the real sectors that need empowerment in order to uphold the dignity of the nation, especially energy and food sovereignty!

Govt neglects geopolitics

How Indonesian natural resources overflow, as well as its  geography strategically stretches in between two oceans and two  continents undoubtedly it has a "big role" in the global interaction. But it seems this nation is not able to manage the geographic location, and the position of its natural wealth. The science and geopolitical insight in this republic are fooled, so that people and the elites do not understand, seem ungrateful, and are not able to manage so that people as the owned of sovereignty have actually been marginalized in the abundance of natural resources.

Look at Syria. Although its oil is not as rich as Libya, Iraq, Afghan and other countries, it has been the target of the superpower solely because of its geopolitical pipeline and geostrategic possition on the Silk Road. Iran also, it is able to maximize its geopolitical aspects so that when Ahmadinejad threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz then the world was worried, because of many interests of the superpowers and other countries in the strait.

Imagine if Indonesia could shut down the Strait of Malacca, the Straits of Lombok or Sunda Strait frequented by foreign ships "freely". Indonesian archipelagic sea lanes (ALKI) I, II and III are now like a backyard disturbed by neighbors but the owner is silent. It is not because of fear, rather is because our elites have known nothing about the urgency of geopolitics. Once again, the importance of empowering the geopolitic leverage because sometimes it can be converted into geopolitical weapon, as Putin's  "nearby approach" in the surrounding region.

When the majority of people are ignorant of their own geopolitics, then the elites tend to spend time and argue to and fro in the corridors
of derivatives with different paradigms and political theories that turned out to have been hegemonized. Roar of discussion at the level of (skin) surface will put aside implicit things, forgetting what lies beneath the surface. Values ​​of right or wrong is my country are considered obsolete. In turn debatism of various elements is actually knitted by foreign parties and interest  groups (compradors) into "democratic industry" through  manufacturing dissenting opinion, demonstrations, street parliament, ego sectoral fabrication and others. As if the dynamics of the nation is clamorous but unclear, because it is stagnant. It looks glamorous but meaningless!

Honestly, besides the nation has neglected geopolitics, for decades, especially since the reform era as the people agreed to leave the ancestral dogma and local wisdom that proved twice brought the glory of the archipelago (Sriwijaya and Majapahit), the  government has even accommodated foreign (global) values in various policies while they have not proven their worth to the nation journey even tend to divide unity through such issues as democracy, freedom, human rights, regional autonomy  and others.

Dependence on foreign debt and imports either oil or some food  commodities has put Indonesia into a country that is not independent both economically and politically. This is the real importing country that has the potential to be a producer for having raw materials and abundant oil resources. Unfortunately the outsiders and even a group of people who feast on the abundance of various natural resources that are under the protection of the state systems and rules that favor them.



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