Konfrontasi : rethinking explanations for the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, 1963-1966
Author(s)Chua, LuFong, 1978-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Thomas J. Christensen.
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This thesis is a study of the causes of "Konfrontasi" or Confrontation, the low-intensity war waged by the Republic of Indonesia, under the leadership of President Sukarno, against the Federation of Malaysia, which became independent in 1963. The Confrontation lasted between 1963 and 1966. The thesis compares three categories of hypotheses or arguments for its causes - threat, ideology, and domestic politics - and evaluates each type of argument in tum. The "threat" argument claims that Malaysia posed a security threat to Indonesia, and that the Confrontation was the outcome of a security dilemma between both states. The "threat" of Malaysia has some substantive elements necessary to justify Indonesian aggression, but it is shown to be largely an exaggerated claim, and does not provide a sufficient motive for the conflict. The "ideology" argument claims that the Indonesia Confrontation was driven by the ideology of the Indonesian Revolution and the central role of Indonesia in leading a struggle of New Emerging Forces against the Old Established Forces of neo-colonialism, colonialism and imperialism. It is shown that this argument has more substance than the "threat" argument, since Indonesian ideology traces its existence independently to earlier Indonesian historical experience, and Confrontation could not have been rationalized without recourse to ideological principles. However, this thesis also shows how the "ideology" hypothesis for Confrontation is over-determined, as Indonesian ideology did not necessarily make Confrontation an inevitable and necessary outcome. Ideology was necessary, but insufficient for motivating the decision to confront Malaysia. Finally, the "domestic politics" argument draws its claims from the idea that the Indonesian Confrontation was a "diversionary war" against the Malaysia, where the latter filled the role of "scapegoat," "bogeyman" or "safety valve." According to this argument, the Confrontation was started in order to contain serious internal disunities in the Indonesian government, most notably between the army and the ascendant communist party, and to unite these conflicting elements in a nationalist cause. This thesis finds the greatest evidence and theoretical support for this "domestic politics" explanation of Confrontation, and finds this account to be the most consistent and satisfactory argument.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 79-81).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology