Indonesia and the Muslim World: Between Islam and Secularism in the Foreign Policy of Soeharto and Beyond

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by Anak Agung Banyu Perwita

Popular hostility in Indonesia to US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq seem easily understandable, as is the ambivalent attitude of Indonesian governments to the US-led war on terror. After all, Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country. But this analysis fails to address the complexity of Indonesia. Much like in Turkey, military and bureaucratic elites since independence have worked to create a more secular nationalist Indonesian identity out of the country's multi-ethnic and multi-religious mix. However, often there has been tension between such a secularist course and elements of the majority Muslim population. This dynamic has especially shaped how Indonesia faces the outside world.

Perwita explores Islam as a domestic political variable in Indonesia's foreign policy under Soeharto and argues that the foreign policy toward the Muslim world was increasingly based on domestic political struggles between local actors, particularly the Muslim community and the State. Chapters cover Indonesia's behaviour toward the Organization of the Islamic Conferences and the Middle East conflict, the role of Indonesia in facilitating a peaceful settlement of the conflict between the Phillippines government and the Moro National Liberation Front, and Indonesia's policy toward the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. An epilogue discusses how Indonesian foreign policy is still shaped by the same forces.

Anak Agung Banyu Perwita, born on 6 February 1967, is a Professor of International Relations, at the Department of International Relations, Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung-INDONESIA. Currently is Vice Rector for Relations and Cooperations, at the same university. The writer obtained MA in International Relations and Strategic Studies from Lancaster University, UK (British Chevening Scholarhsip, 1994) and Ph.D from Flinders University-Australia (Australian Development Scholarship, 2002).His subject interests are foreign policies and strategic studies.

Publication year: 2007
238 pp / 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-87-91114-92-2, Paperback

NIAS Press