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US knew of invasion plans

The US knew well in advance of – and explicitly approved – Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975, which led to a brutal, 24-year occupation of the former Portuguese colony, according to newly declassified documents.

Released this week by the independent Washington-based National Security Archive, the documents showed US officials were aware of the invasion plans nearly a year in advance and adopted a "policy of silence", according to the documents.

East Timor voted in favour of breaking away from Indonesia in a United Nations-sponsored ballot in August 1999 before gaining independence in May 2002.

But the path to independence was bloody. Militia gangs reportedly directed by Indonesia's military went on a killing spree before and after the East Timorese referendum, killing about 1400 independence supporters.

Released 30 years after the Indonesian invasion, the formerly secret US documents showed how multiple US administrations tried to conceal information on East Timor to avoid a controversy that would prompt a Congressional ban on weapons sales to Indonesia.

"I'm assuming you're really going to keep your mouth shut on the subject," then national security adviser Henry Kissinger told his staff in October 1975 in response to reports that Indonesia had begun its attack on East Timor.

President Gerald Ford's administration knew that Indonesia had invaded East Timor using almost entirely US equipment, and that the use of that equipment for that purpose was illegal, the documents showed.

In 1977, officials of the administration of Ford's successor, Jimmy Carter, blocked declassification of an explosive cable documenting president Ford and secretary of state Kissinger's meeting with Indonesian president Suharto.

At the December 1975 meeting, they explicitly approved of the East Timor invasion, the documents say.

The National Security Archive had provided more than 1000 formerly classified US documents to help an East Timorese commission of inquiry into human rights abuses between 1975 and 1999.

East Timor president Xanana Gusmao handed the commission's 2500-page report to the East Timorese Parliament last Monday.

Brad Simpson – director of the National Security Archive's Indonesia and East Timor documentation project – said he expected the commission's final report to show that Indonesia's invasion and resulting crimes there "occurred in an international context in which the support of powerful nations, especially the United States, was indispensable".
 

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We did look the other way. This was right at the end of the Vietnam war and the American public was tired and didn't want any more involvements in the S.E. Asia area. There are many countries in Africa (e.g., Rwanda) that not only the U.S. but everyone else writes off as just not worth the effort.
 

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Desert-Lad said:
...There are many countries in Africa (e.g., Rwanda) that not only the U.S. but everyone else writes off as just not worth the effort.
I can understand not wanting to get involved in a current conflict. However, standing back and allowing it to begin, using weapons that were purchased from you, is completely immoral.

I think it would be fair to say the US would not have allowed it happen if it were a bit closer to home.

But hey, it was thousands of miles away and it's only affect on the US was more arms sales...
 

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Cookee, I think internal American politics of the era had far more to do with our not getting involved vs. arms sales. We were ready to back Israel all the way in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, we jumped in the middle of the Turkey-Greece dispute over Cyprus 1974, both of which may have escalated into a U.S. - Soviet confrontation, and Nam was slowly going away.

The country was divided over Nixon until he resigned. Some American cities had pro and anti Nixon rallies that almost came to violence. Ford becomes president knowing the American public was sick of all this and all that everyone wanted was to just get things back to normal. This is why Ford pardoned Nixon --- to put an end to it so prosecutors wouldn't be going after Nixon for the next 3 - 5 years. I remember those days very well (aside from ocassional short term memory loss :rolleyes: ) and no one wanted any more "issues" to deal with. So I think that was why the U.S. became a bit introspective. Something would have to be a major threat for the U.S. at that time to get much attention.
 

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I was only a few years old in those days, so I'm not really up-to-speed on the politics of it all, especially the US involvement (or lack thereof).

Your view of it sounds reasonable, so I'll just let it rest. Thanks for your input.
 

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The American public still supports our troops in Iraq, as I do, but I can see the familiar patterns from 30 years ago. The Iraq election in about 2 weeks should open a door for the U.S. to start exiting. If things aren't much better a year from now, there will be a MAJOR change in the American public's tolerance about Iraq. Time will tell.
 

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Desert-Lad said:
The American public still supports our troops in Iraq, as I do, but I can see the familiar patterns from 30 years ago. The Iraq election in about 2 weeks should open a door for the U.S. to start exiting. If things aren't much better a year from now, there will be a MAJOR change in the American public's tolerance about Iraq. Time will tell.
The change will be towards the politics.:2cents:
 
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