By Prashanth Parameswaran
Darwin, December 25: The Indonesian military is keen on playing the role of big brother within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and beyond to promote order in the Asia-Pacific, the head of the countrys armed forces (TNI), General Moeldoko, said yesterday.
In remarks delivered before officially opening a meeting of senior Indonesian military leaders, Moeldoko said that he had used Indonesias rising power and influence in various regional fora such as the ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM) to advance the militarys goal of making itself a big brother in Southeast Asia.
As head of TNI, I have brought a strong mission for it [the Indonesian
military] to be the big brother in the ASEAN region. We
are now trying to do this and everyone [in ASEAN] has recognized the
militarys growing power,
Indonesias big brother role a more informal characterization of its status as first among equals in ASEAN given its heft tends to be viewed with mixed feelings in Southeast Asia.
Some see Jakartas leadership as useful in directing the region
and logical given its weight, while others regard it with suspicion
due to historical animosities and future worries about how Indonesia
may use its growing power.
Nevertheless, Moeldoko said that with Indonesias growing might and status being widely recognized within ASEAN, the Indonesian military was now seeking similar recognition in the broader Asia-Pacific region.
Moeldokos focus on the expansion of Indonesias role into the broader Asia-Pacific is consistent with his previous remarks on the subject.
For instance, in March this year, Moeldoko told the Singapore newspaper The Straits Times in an interview that he had proposed that the ACDFIM be expanded into an ACDFIM Plus to include counterparts from key players like the United States and China to better manage regional tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
Looking ahead, Moeldoko said that beyond the Indonesian militarys quest for big brother status within ASEAN, there would be other challenges for Indonesia and other ASEAN states as the Asia-Pacific becomes a region of focus in the 21st century and emerges as a global center of economic gravity.
One of those challenges that ASEAN states are grappling with now, and
which Moeldoko addressed, is the South China Sea issue.
While Moeldoko emphasized he was only conveying a message from ASEAN
military chiefs, he is also known to personally harbor a more hawkish
view of China.
However, in his remarks on Monday, Moeldoko also reiterated that Indonesia was looking to cooperate with China on several matters as well, for instance in exploiting potential synergies between the global maritime fulcrum doctrine that Jokowi has advocated and the Maritime Silk Road idea that China has advanced. Chinese and Indonesian officials and advisers have been emphasizing the compatibility of these two visions since Jokowi was inaugurated in October.
First published in The Diplomat 23 December 2014