September 10, 2004

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Reactions and responses

The first part of the coverage of the Jakarta bombings is here.

Yesterday's bombing in Jakarta was the first clear attempt to attack specifically Australians rather than "Westerners" in general in Indonesia. Perhaps that explains why much of the blogosphere is dominated with another story: the likely forging of documents on George Bush's military service. In a coup for bloggers, it was quickly identified as a likely forgery through the work of LGF (who has extensive background with fonts), Powerline's prolific coverage, Kevin and In DC's forensic analysis. While that's an important issue, it somehow seems trivial compared to the deliberate attack on a staunch US ally in the war on terror in the world's largest Muslim country. As James points out, even within the context of the US election it doesn't seem particularly important, except for embarassing major media and proving the value of bloggers. Especially with both an Indonesian Presidential election next week and the Australian one in a month. Personally I think this is unlikely to have much impact on the Australian election for several reasons. Firstly no Australians were killed, and while the Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman I saw last night was correct in saying victims of terror have no nationality, it is a harsh reality that a lack of Australian deaths will make this play very differently to Bali. Secondly because it happened outside of Australian territory comparisons with Spain are further limited. Lastly this was not a surprise attack: there have been terror warnings for some time on Indonesia and this was the third bombing (after Bali and the Marriott) there in 3 years.

Also a clarification. As Michael points out my picture yesterday was of the Australian flag against an adjacent building to the Australian embassy. A broader picture with the embassy is here.

Let's round-up reactions:
* Roger L. Simon brings some perspective to this in the context of US politics.
* Tim Blair continues his excellent coverage with a set of links of reactions here and here.
* Yobbo notes the SMH didn't waste any time with a tasteless poll. He also notes some of the reactions from the left. As I predicted, it's all about "I question the timing." Even Mark Latham had the decency to halt politics for two days.
* I noted this yesterday but the comments string to Ken Parish's disgusting post is "interesting" in the worse sense. Especially the observation by "Gareth" that an instant straw poll saw the bombing having no change on 51% of voters, more Liberal on 25% and more Labor on 23%. As I said yesterday, net net this will not change the politics of the election. Gianna thinks it offers Howard a way out of Iraq...should he want one.
* I agree with Tim Dunlop and John Quiggin that hopefully the politicians will refrain from political opportunism, on both sides of the fence. There's no evidence at this stage of anyone trying to "cash in"...indeed Latham said Asked whether he thought the attackers were trying to influence the election, he said: "Seven or eight people have just died in the worst of circumstances. I'm not going to be making any party political observations ...Obviously in the circumstances, we will be suspending normal campaigning activities." Thank God for common sense.
* The Professor knew the reactions before they happened. He's not buying the SMH again, either.
* Arthur Chrenkoff has compiled a thorough summary with his worthwhile analysis of the situation. It beats anything I've read in the major media so far.
* Some links from non-Aussies: Dean, Kathy Kinsley, Jodi at Asia Pages with quote of the day, Rusty, Jeff Quinton, John (who says now is a time for anger), Blogs of War, Grupo Utopia, Captain Ed who thinks this was an attempt to sway Australian voters but it won't work, and Six Meat thinks this points to an even higher chance of an "October surprise" for the US elections.
* Gnu Hunter wants the SMH to stop hindering the police and also hopes (likely in vain) the usual pundits can withhold their bile for a few days like the pollies have.
* Mike Jericho has photos and notes that the usual right wing attack dog, FOX News, this time failed miserably, as did Drudge.
* Via Bernard Slattery comes Andrew Bolt's spot-on facing up to the reality of terror, and it was written pre-Jakarta.
* Currency Lad looks at the Left's reaction to the bombing: Within a few hours, yesterday's bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta was transformed by several left-wing commentators into a collective bout of callous and infantile rage over what it might mean for them, for their increasingly pathological desire to see the Prime Minister of Australia destroyed...

We're going to revert to regular programming soon.

UPDATE:: The daughter of an Australian policeman was critically injured.

Additionally there's been very little mention of Malaysia so far in all of this, despite the two main suspects being Malaysian nationals. This war doesn't respect international boundaries and the hunt for these terrorists will need the full co-operation of the Malaysians as well as Indonesians.

UPDATE 2: Some people don't get it. You cannot negotiate with JI for two reasons: they are coercing you to the table, by negotiating you encourage their actions and reward their terror, and most importantly there's nothing to negotiate. Not to mention what are JI's demands? Ending Westerner civilisation as we know it. Don't know about Mr Deegan, but I'm not really prepared to give that up. Ozguru's got more and so does Tim Blair, including a new SMH poll that is at least pointless rather than tasteless. At least the Australian public is clear on their thoughts...

UPDATE 3: Currency Lad says Indonesian police had a bomb threat before the explosion.


posted by Simon on 09.10.04 at 02:35 PM in the


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I can understand the father's feelings regarding negotiantion, though I disagree with them. However, as a mom who will in the near future be sending two of her sons into the army, I can really understnad where he is coming from. Where one of my sons captured by the terrorist (and I know in this case it is a matter of his son being killed) I know that I would want the Israeli army to do anything to bring him back. But I know that would be wrong as well. My love for my children would most, if not overwhelm logic, give it a good run for its money.

So I don't want to critcize dads and moms for their emotional outbursts; it is the government that has to make the hard decisions, even if their populace disagrees.

posted by: Rachel Ann on 09.10.04 at 02:43 PM [permalink]

Excellent coverage, Simon.

posted by: BWG on 09.10.04 at 09:54 PM [permalink]

Hi Simon--I discovered your blog for the first time yesterday through trying to find out more about the Jakarta bombing which indeed was a story not given much prominence in the American press/ blogosphere. The reasons you give for why this event will probably, we hope, have little impact on the Aussie elections are the same as the reasons this event will probably not be a big story in America.

Also important, I think, is the impact this might have on Indonesian politics. So far I haven't seen this much discussed on English-language blogs or in the press.

The Bush NG documents thing does seem amazingly trivial on the surface but it is very important in the matter of blogosphere vs major media credibility here in the US. Dan Rather, to much of the American blogophere, is the very embodiment of big media arrogance.

posted by: Toppenish on 09.11.04 at 08:14 AM [permalink]

Great work Simon. On the Malaysians, its believed that the two suspects have been in Indonesia for quite a few years as their home country is no longer hospitable. Malaysia has been very cooperative in the War on Terror - even when that loonie Mahathir was condemning the US publicly its security forces were very active in trying to eradicate JI. Malaysia isn't a weak link in the War on Terror, in some cases it may have been a little too aggressive.

The ruling party UMNO, under Mahathir and to a lesser degree Badawi, hasn't been hesitant to use the internal security act. They've used it on domestic political opponents as well as on terror suspects. They've jailed several members of the PAS and DAP parties without the public production of any evidence that they were linked to terrorism. (Singapore's ISA arrests, by contrast, were followed by weeks and weeks of announcements detailing the detainees links to JI and actual terror plots).

The PAS are odious Islamist nutbars and it would be an economic and social disaster for Malaysia if they ever gained power - but most of them are more interested in things like banning interest-baring securities, alcohol and 'explicit' advertising than they are in fighting jihad.

posted by: myrick on 09.11.04 at 11:39 AM [permalink]

I just want to echo the sentiments of bloggers in asia and thank you for your excellent coverage of the '9 people who were killed on the 9th of the 9th' (hmm, a Christian conspiracy theorist could read a lot into that).

this evening i conducted a search of global terrorist attacks worldwide since 9 September, 2001 (three years ago today). I was saddened by the lack of information about the Bali bomb in 2002. Some lists and timelines - and a lot of bloggers - have neglected to even honour it a mention.

Now that I am living in Europe, I have a new perspective. Granted the Spanish should be more aware of the attack in Madrid on 11 March, 2004, but many people have little knowledge that a bomb in Bali claimed as many lives (approx) and should be remembered in equal measure.

The internet is a way to record and document our generation's history in a lasting way.

What you are doing is helping to record our history. Just make sure everything is backed up on your server :)

Finally, I want to say that one sad outcome, imho, of this so-called war on terrorism (why is it being fought in Iraq and not in the places which are actually suffering?), is that the world has become so horribly divided since 9/11. It's not just about Labor v Liberal or Democrat v Republican, but also essential alliances and world institutions that are being mocked and dismantled around the world.

In the words of Han Solo: "I have a bad feeling about this"

posted by: mikeyinbarcelona on 09.11.04 at 12:36 PM [permalink]


Great work you're doing here. This is blogging at its best. I've just gotta ask, though: Do you not sleep?

All the best,


posted by: Joseph Bosco on 09.12.04 at 01:37 AM [permalink]

Simon, Thank you for the comprehensive info and gathering of links, as there is not much in the mainstream media in follow up to the initial news.

posted by: michele on 09.12.04 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

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