There was considerable evidence Thurday that Bergerís fears were well grounded. Word on the street in Jakarta was that a group of generals had demanded President B. J. Habibieís resignation over the East Timor debacle, and although Habibie and armed forces chief General Wiranto hastened to deny those reports, Habibie aides have made clear that heís under tremendous pressure to hold on to East Timor. U.S. strategy now hinges on supporting General Wiranto, in the belief that the Indonesian military units fomenting chaos in East Timor are rogue elements. U.S. military officials are pressing Wiranto to rein in the mavericks and giving him time to do so ó an international peacekeeping force remains an unlikely prospect, unless Jakarta asks for one. Pity the poor Timorese, though, who at the prompting of the international community expressed their desire for independence in a U.N.-organized referendum, only to be abandoned in the face of a brutal backlash because of their tormentorsí higher ranking on the geopolitical food chain.
Itís official: East Timor isnít another Kosovo; if anything, itís another Tibet. "Because we bombed in Kosovo doesn't mean we should bomb Dili," National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was quoted as saying Thursday. "Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world. It is undergoing a fragile but tremendously important political and economic transformation, which the United States strongly supports." In other words, thereís a lot more at stake in East Timor than the fate of a tiny island nation with a population of less than 1 million, and Washington isnít about to jeopardize its relationship with southeast Asiaís key state over the Timorese quest for independence.