The Future of War, Peace, and International Relations

I was going through my files and found this particular piece, from around 2 years ago, sitting in a metaphorical corner. The piece was requested by one of the editors of my department’s student magazines (they have this column where profs are invited to write), but as far as I know, it never made to print. So, instead of letting it sit, I might as well upload it here. I haven’t made any adjustments; everything is presented as it was the moment I sent it off to the editor. As this was intended for an undergraduate audience in a magazine, the language has been adjusted as such.

What does the future hold?

That question is the very reason why analysts and researchers remain employed and relevant. But it is not the easiest question to answer. Nobody knows what the future holds; we can only make educated guesses. So, I would recommend against thinking of my following commentary as a definitive answer. Rather, think of it as a guide to think in this increasingly perplexing world, particularly on the issue of war, peace, and international relations.

Technological acceleration will continue to be the defining feature of future international relations, along with a rise in populism as a counter-narrative to globalism. In war, technology will continue to play a dominant role as unmanned technologies become more advanced. But this doesn’t mean we will be living in a Terminator scenario. In peace, the future will only bring about newer problems that require new ways of thinking. With this in mind, what does the future hold?

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In the Indo-Pacific, Jokowi needs to be more assertive and engaged

A revised version of this commentary has been published in The Jakarta Post, 22 June 2019. For citation purposes, please refer to the published version. This is a pre-submission final draft and should not be cited.

If Indonesia wishes to make any meaningful strides in advancing its Indo-Pacific Cooperation Concept, Jokowi would need to focus on engaging ASEAN leaders instead of focusing more on domestic policy.

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No easy way in the battle against misinformation

In light of the recent 22 May riots in Jakarta, the Ministry for Communication and Information (KOMINFO) enacted a “soft ban” on social media and messaging applications. Instagram and Facebook were blocked (surprisingly, Twitter was left alone), while WhatsApp users could not share images or documents (but could still receive and send text messages). The three-day ban was a preventive response to potential misinformation surrounding the Jakarta riots. However, despite the ban, as much as 30 pieces of fake news still fell through the cracks. The ban was also easily circumvented using VPN services. The ban has been criticized left and right on grounds of infringement of civil liberties.

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Fostering a healthier national security debate in Indonesia

The military needs to loosen their grasp on information so everyone is on the same page in the national security debate.

The Jakarta Post ran the following headline, “Indonesian Air Force to fly jet fighters to wake people for ‘sahur’”. This isn’t the first time JP has ran such a loaded headline, but this particular one is amusing as it ignited a short scuffle on Twitter between a national security academic and the official Twitter account of the Indonesian Armed Forces.

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The first Indonesian Presidential Debate of 2019: a review

The first Presidential Debate was concluded on 17 January 2019. In the debate, centering on issues of human rights, corruption, law enforcement, and terrorism, both parties did not perform satisfyingly, but Joko Widodo could be said to have won by a slight margin.

In this post, I’ll do a thematic blow-by-blow of the debate with added commentary.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #14: Assessing counter-radicalization? Some notes

This post is a note on how we could formulate a proper assessment on counter-radicalization efforts.

How can we measure the effectiveness and success of counter-radicalization efforts?

I had the opportunity to chat with Mr Suaib Tahir, an expert staff from the Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT). We talked about his work at the BNPT, which involved counter-radicalization. Here are some interesting points of our swift and informal discussion.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #13: What to expect for the 2019 Presidential Election

On 9 June 2018, both Prabowo Subianto and Joko Widodo, the two presidential candidates for the 2019 Election announced their running mates. Prabowo would run alongside Sandiaga Uno, who was until recently the Vice-Governor of Jakarta; while Widodo would run with Ma’aruf Amin, the leader of the Indonesian Ulema Council.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #12: Communist-phobia still going strong in Indonesia

Time and time again, Indonesia has seen many political outbursts due to the inflated fear of the Red Spectre of Communism. The most recent outburst occurred at a Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (Legal Aid Institute) in Jakarta following a seminar discussing the 1965 Communist massacre. The office was surrounded by protestors, entrapping the participants inside the walls. Most of those participants were the elderly – survivors and witnesses to the bloody pogrom that marked an important watershed in Indonesian politics. It was not until the following day that participants were allowed to leave, but the damage had already been done.

Involved in this incident were anti-Communist groups and a number of right-wing organisations, such as Front Pembela Islam. This incident indicates the continued stigma of Communism in Indonesia, a result of decades of indoctrination during the New Order.

The LBH office suffered some physical damage; however, I believe we can agree that the damage to Indonesia’s budding democracy should take centre stage.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #11: In a trial of tolerance, Indonesia fails

The Ahok trial has come to an end. The judges ruled Ahok guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison. The sentence was higher than the prosecution’s demands — 2 years of probation and 1 year in prison if Ahok reoffended — and was considered an unfair decision by many of his supporters and the general public following the trials.

Justice has failed. If Ahok’s trial did anything positive, it showed the world that Indonesia’s blasphemy laws belong not in a democratic and plural society.  It also showed that Indonesia may as well fall into extremist clutches.

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