The horrific bomb blast in Jakarta highlights important political issues for the working class in Australia and Indonesia. Howard’s strategy of linking Australian ruling class interests to those of the US has made its citizens enemy targets in the eyes of right-wing Islamic terrorist groups like Jemaah Islamiyah.
These organisations, once secretly supported by the Indonesian elite and CIA as an alternative to the leftwing secular opposition, are now biting the hand that once fed them. Their leaders represent a layer of the ruling class that oppose blatant imperialist exploitation of Indonesia and want a new order where they have a greater share of the wealth created by workers and poor farmers. The contempt for ordinary Indonesians is shown by the death of workers in and around the Embassy. It has also come to light that the Australian Embassy paid these workers less than $50 a month!
JI and similar groups internationally have been funded by the Saudi Royal Family and are they are mortally opposed to working class organisations. In the counter-revolution in Indonesia of 1965-66, these extreme Muslim groups worked with Suharto’s military to massacre the hundreds of thousands of organised workers.They want to drag society back centuries.
Such is the desperation of ordinary people (and with the weakness of the organised left), groups like JI can get a base of sorts. Ordinary Indonesian see imperialist economic exploitation, the corruption of their own ruling elite, and feel solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Iraq. JI exploits these feelings.
We have to say that JI’s terrorist methods are no solution and only play into the hands of Howard, Bush etc. This bombing could be a second Tampa for the Coalition government in Australia, although it is still early days in the election campaign.
Howard, learning from Aznar’s mistakes in Spain, has been careful in too obviously linking the bombing to his own political needs in the Federal election. Latham, in turn, has been careful not to link the bombing to Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war. In other words, neither major party is willing to get to the heart of the matter.
With continued support for the US occupation, with increasingly imperialistic methods in the South Pacific and PNG, and with support for every corrupt elite in the region, Canberra – backed by Labor – is laying the basis for more such attacks, including inside Australia itself.