It looks like the Bush administration is making a new push to fully restore military ties with Indonesia. Those ties were cut back in 1999 when the Indonesia military and their drug-addled nutty militia proxy effectively burnt down East Timor.
I've spent a bit of time in Timor and Indonesia. And I just had a friend--an American journalist--write me from there, and offer a brief sketch of a few of the improvements in the military's human rights record in Aceh, scene of a long-running guerrilla war and an impending peace deal:
The human rights situation here is abysmal. Success of the peace deal is essential to renewing US/Indonesia army ties, because Aceh has been producing damning human rights cases. Even this week there are still mobile brigade teenagers riding around here in military trucks with 50 caliber guns mounted atop, sans uniforms, acting like a bunch of drunk thugs. At least one tsunami relief source said their drivers are still getting shaken down by the military at the point of assault rifles. Personally, I'm a little unsettled by the idea that the guns getting waved at the tsunami relief drivers are American M-16s. Local press, Jakarta-based Indonesian reporters here for the peace deal, and people I've interviewed outside Banda Aceh are still reporting firefights and disappearances.
Military-backed militia "acting like a bunch of drunk thugs." Ah, just like I remember it.