Allís Quiet on the Timorese Front

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This time, apparently, this peacekeeping stuff is a piece of cake. Fanning out across Dili, the 2,300 Australian, U.K. and New Zealand troops of "Operation Stabilize" have encountered "absolutely no resistance" from the murderous militias and "quite a benign and cordial reception," said the forceís head, Australia's Major General Peter Cosgrove. What happened to the killing fields? TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell says itís a sign of how meticulously the violence was engineered from those rogue elements of the Indonesian military Ė and he expects the peace process to go reasonably smoothly from here. "Of course itís impossible to predict exactly whatís going to happen," he says. "But these militia groups arenít going to operate without funding, munitions and support. The people who were providing that ó the Indonesian military, or at least elements of it ó can turn the violence on and off, and it looks like theyíve turned it off."

To the outside world, East Timor may seem to be a place of madness, but there is a balance of interests at work here too. Now that the international community has gotten its act together and the Australians are on the ground, Dowell doesnít see that the Indonesians have much to gain by picking off peacekeepers. Itís the same realization that brought Gen. Wiranto (speaking through President Habibie) to relent last Sunday and accept the peacekeepers: Between the U.N., the IMF and the World Bank, the West can really pull the plug on Indonesia if it goes too far. Not to mention that Australia has been a major source of investment in Indonesia Ė Aussie casualties mean that money disappears. Now that the last spasm of damage has been done, the peacekeepersí work should be largely humanitarian. "The militias destroyed the infrastructure out of spite," says Dowell. "They were angry at losing. But thereís not much to be gained from fighting it now."