Semtext #5: Brian Harding – Trump’s Asia Policy

This SemText is a recap of Brian Harding’s talk on Trump’s Asia policy, in which he attempts to generally explain what Trump has in store for Asia.

I just realized I haven’t updated this column for almost two years. Hopefully, that will change as I’ve tried to make a commitment to join at least one seminar every month. Anyway, as a re-opening of this column, these are some notes from Brian Harding’s talk on Trump’s Asia policy.

In this seminar organized by the Centre of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Indonesia, Harding, a Fellow of the Southeast Asia program at the Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, tries to explain what Trump’s foreign policy in Asia is like.

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THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #6: A case against the military’s newfound ‘proxy war’ obsession

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post, 22 December 2016.

The Indonesian Military (TNI) has become increasingly obsessed with selling the idea that Indonesia is in the midst of a “proxy war”. Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo has led this charge since 2014, when he traveled around the country to speak about how Indonesia was in the middle of a proxy war. In 2015, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu joined the bandwagon, claiming that the LGBT movement is a form of proxy warfare that is even worse than a nuclear bomb. Recently, Gatot devised a media proxy war defense pact, signed by Nahdatul Ulama, the Teachers Union and the Association of Publishers.

Is a proxy war truly happening in Indonesia? Or is it just an attempt for the military – especially the Army – to regain its political relevance? With such fierce campaigning from the military and government officials, it pays to step back and revisit the concept of proxy wars and how they are waged.

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Le’ Notes #22: A toolkit for approaching counterterrorism studies

This post is mostly a summary — with additional commentary — of Rohan Gunaratna’s talk in his first session of the Terrorism, Intelligence, and Homeland Security module at RSIS.

The first thing that we need to distinguish is that there is the threat of terrorism and the response to terrorism. Like any good strategist, we need to know what exactly the threat is before issuing a response. It’s the same like answering a question. If we don’t know what the question is or what it wants from us, we can never arrive at an answer. This was exemplified correctly and hilariously in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when the pan-dimensional beings created Deep Thought to calculate the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life and the universe. But it turns out that the beings gave Deep Thought the wrong question, which resulted in the answer “42”.

So, we need to know what we’re facing and the responses that we have in our toolkit.

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Semtext #3: Steven Metz – Deciphering the American Way of Warfare

This SemText is a recap of an impressive talk by Steven Metz, who attempts to “decipher” the American approach to war and conflict over the centuries and how the future would look like.

At first, I was not that interested in the topic of the seminar. The American way of war seemed to be such a bore. It’s about power projection, neo-imperialism, all that conspiracy stuff. However, Steven Metz delivered the topic in such an interesting way, I actually had an actual paradigm shift.

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Le’ Notes #13: Operations Other Than War in the 21st Century

This post discusses the change in the character of security threats in the 21st century and how states can possibly adapt to them.

So far, we’ve been mainly talking about war operations. Most of the time, I would show how states would prepare for facing traditional challenges, such as if China were to suddenly invade Indonesia.

However, we also have to acknowledge the changing character of security in our post-Cold War world. Security cooperation is becoming a huge boost in international relations, visible in some forms such as defence diplomacy. Security threats today rarely come from states, but rather from non-states, even nature itself. As such, militaries around the world have to learn how to adapt accordingly to remain relevant in the changing world. This entails a change in the role of militaries from being solely fighters to protectors of international order.

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