News Release

Suharto’s Death


Available for a limited number of interviews, Winters is author of Power in Motion: Capital Mobility and the Indonesian State.

The AP reports that “critics say Suharto squandered Indonesia’s vast natural resources of oil, timber and gold, siphoning the nation’s wealth to benefit his cronies and family like a mafia don. Jeffrey Winters, associate professor of political economy at Northwestern University, said the graft effectively robbed ‘Indonesia of some of the most golden decades, and its best opportunity to move from a poor to a middle class country.’

“‘When Indonesia does finally go back and redo history, [its people] will realize that Suharto is responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity in the 20th century,’ Winters added.”

Winters said today: “Suharto is mistakenly seen as a father of development, when in fact he destroyed the country’s foundation to move forward.”

Director of the Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project and assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Simpson just wrote a piece titled “Suharto’s Deadly Legacy — And Ours.” He is also author of the forthcoming book Economists with Guns: Authoritarian Development and U.S.-Indonesian Relations, 1960-1968 from Stanford University Press.

Simpson said today: “Suharto’s death should prompt some self-reflection about the long-term consequences of backing dictators, whether in the name of anti-Communism or fighting terrorism, over the consistent and principled promotion of democracy and human rights. …

“In a 1977 meeting with General Suharto, for example, then Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke (now an adviser to Hillary Clinton) offered no criticism of the dictator’s human rights record and actually ‘applauded’ his policy on East Timor. Until virtually his last moments in May 1998 the Clinton administration stood by Suharto before concluding that, like Marcos and other dictators before him, his continued rule threatened to unravel the country and bring it down with him.”
More Information

National coordinator for the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, Miller said: “Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 with the support of the U.S. government. Kissinger and Ford were actually in Indonesia the day before the invasion. As a result, up to 200,000 people were killed during the occupation that followed.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167