Indonesia: An Act Free of Choice

Indonesia, once a bastion of noisy self-righteous anticolonialism, last week formally took over a remote, primitive piece of real estate that can hardly be considered anything but a colony. By means of a blatantly rigged referendum, the Indonesians annexed West Irian, the western half of the rugged South Pacific island of New Guinea.

Why anyone would want the impoverished, California-size region nearly defies understanding. Indeed, the government of Indonesia's President Suharto, who commanded the forces ordered to "liberate" West Irian from Dutch control in 1962, long ago lost any real enthusiasm for...

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