Indonesia Returns to the International Stage: Good News for the United States
Orbis, 53(1), 65-79., January 2009
Ann Marie Murphy, Ph.D.
School of Diplomacy and International Relations
Indonesia, the world's fourth largest country, third largest
democracy and home to the world's largest community of Muslims, has
returned to the international stage. Indonesia's membership in a number
of important global communities–it resides physically in Asia but is
part of the broader Muslim world, the developing world, and the
community of democracies–makes it an important international actor.
Many Americans assume that common democratic values will translate into
shared foreign policy goals and cooperation between the United States
and Indonesia. The two countries do share significant interests, such
as counter terrorism, maritime security, and a wariness of China, but
also hold starkly different positions on the Middle East peace process
and global trade issues. Democracy provides opportunities for the
two-thirds of Indonesians who hold anti-American views to influence
foreign policy, making it costly for Indonesian leaders to cooperate
with the United States. Indonesia's return is good news for America,
but the relationship needs to be managed skillfully to maximize
benefits for both sides.