INDONESIA: Djago, the Rooster

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On the tide of nationalism that swept the world after World War II, no young nation swam more proudly than Indonesia. Its 3,000 islands were rich with oil, bauxite, rubber, tin; its 85,000,000 citizens made it the world's biggest Moslem nation, sixth in population among all the nations of the world. In five years of fighting and negotiation, it had shaken off 350 years of Dutch rule and installed a working democracy pledged to merge its dozen ethnic groups and 114 different languages into a new "unity in diversity."

Last week Indonesia, racked by civil war, was in dire danger of splintering apart. Guns cracked in the jungles of West Java; government bombers winged over Pakanbaru in Sumatra and Menado in the Celebes, blasting radio transmitters and telephone exchanges; government patrol boats, cleared for action, blockaded rebel-held ports.

This was no rebellion by fanatical diehards. Its leaders were some of the army's most respected officers, flanked by some of the nation's most respected politicians. From their mountain headquarters in the Padang Highlands of Central Sumatra the voice of the rebels sounded calm and collected, and urged compromise. All the rebels asked was that Indonesia's President 1) behave himself constitutionally, 2) abandon his partnership with the Communist Party.

President Sukarno has never been a man who liked to take orders or even suggestions, however calm and collected the voice. From the start, he has held a mystic faith that he, and only he, speaks for the Indonesian people. "Don't you know that I am an extension of the people's tongue?" he demanded of a critic once. "The Indonesian people will eat stones if I tell them to." His charm can lay ghosts, his oratory stills critics, his famed "luck" has led him safely through imprisonment, exile, uprisings, attempted assassination and narrowly averted coups d'état. When he tours the country, hundreds of thousands stand for uncomplaining hours in the tropic sun to glimpse him as he passes; when he speaks, they roar "Hidup Bung Karno!" (Long Live Brother Karno). "I don't like to be told that I am wrong," he storms.

Circling Islands. Indonesia's rebellion is less a revolution against Sukarno than a last attempt to shock the self-intoxicated President into a state of sober reason, and a hope that the appeal for a new government may lead him to cleanse his own.

Whether Sukarno listens is of major concern for the free world. Of the string of islands that half circle the great continent of Asia—Japan, Okinawa, Formosa, the Philippines, Indonesia—only Indonesia is not committed to the West. If, as seems possible, Sukarno leads his nation into Communism, the Communists will have made a gigantic leap across a strategic barrier. To the nations of SEATO, meeting in Manila next week, what happens in Indonesia is of vital importance.

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