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Allan Nairn – Prabowo, Part 2: “I was the Americans’ fair-haired boy.” The Nationalist General and the United States

July 1, 2014


Prabowo, Part 2: "I was the Americans’ fair-haired boy." The Nationalist General and the United States

By Allan Nairn

When we met in Jakarta on June 21 and July 2, 2001 General Prabowo spoke at length about his work with and for the United States.

Prabowo told me "I was the American’s fair-haired boy."

He said he had been "very good friends" with US intelligence, reporting to them "maybe weekly or more," had served as a go-between to convey US messages to Suharto, and had even gone so far as to help bring US troops into Indonesia for exercises the Pentagon used to prepare its’ "contingency plan for entry to Indonesia," i.e. "the invasion contingency."

But at the time we spoke Prabowo had recently been denied a US visa.

His sense of grievance about this was palpable.

It was easy to understand why.

Prabowo had served Washington through years of torture and massacre. The US had backed him warmly, with sponsorship, weapons, and public praise.

Prabowo was not just Indonesia’s single most intensively US-trained officer, but, so far as I can tell, he was Washington’s closest Indonesian armed forces protege ever. Much of Prabowo’s power came from the fact that he was Washington’s man as well as Suharto’s.

But the instant he lost an inter-army power struggle in 1998, the US had jilted Prabowo in favor of his most hated rival (Wiranto), and now they were piously criticizing him for crimes he had committed with US support, and, to top it off, had added the indignity of the visa denial.

When Prabowo — by way of complaint — went on to me about his years of loyal service to Washington, it was clear to me he was not boasting. He was simply stating the facts.

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