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Indonesia's Iran Problem: The Double-Edged Impact of Democratization on Foreign Policy

  • Michael Malley

How has Iran become the most serious foreign policy issue in Indonesian politics? Since democracy was restored to Indonesia in 1999, governments there have had to balance public demands for a strong, independent foreign policy against the reality that the economic and political crises of the past decade have limited Jakarta's influence in global politics. Earlier in this period, presidents and foreign ministers faced little more than sporadic challenges over issues that stood little chance of affecting Indonesian foreign policy beyond Southeast Asia. More recently, however, Iran has actively courted Indonesian legislative and civil society leaders, and they, in turn, have pressed their government to oppose international efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear programs. They sharply criticized the Yudhoyono government for failing to oppose a motion in the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran to the UN Security Council in 2006. This year they triggered a heated debate by opposing the government's decision to join a unanimous Security Council vote that broadened sanctions on Iran. Prof. Malley will examine these trends and assess their implications for Indonesian foreign policy and international security.

Michael Malley teaches comparative and Southeast Asian politics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Before joining the School in 2004, he taught at Ohio University. He earned a PhD in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MA in Asian Studies at Cornell University, and a BS at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

This is the Southeast Asia Forum's fifth seminar of the 2006-2007 academic year.