West Papua has been under a brutal occupation by Indonesia for over fifty years. This article tries to explain why this is, and why so few people know about it. In order to understand why, we must understand the lies of the media, and of our educational system. I claim both of these institutions have actively justified the crimes of Indonesia in the following two ways: One, the media have downplayed our own crimes and the crimes of our ‘ally’ states, and do not consider them to be acts of terrorism, even though they are by definition. Two, the educational system tells the lie that our foreign policy was guided by humanitarian values in East Timor, this is not true, and lies told about the past prevent people from understanding the present situation in West Papua. I start by trying to understand the true aims of the most powerful nations, those that are called the “West” that includes: America, Britain, a good part of Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. A good place to begin would be with the world’s most powerful nation.
The goals of Western foreign policy
The goal of American foreign policy following the events of world war two was expressed by George Kennan, a policy adviser. He said that “We have 50 percent of the worlds wealth, but only 6.3 percent of the worlds population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period. . .is to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality. . .we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation.” In order to “maintain this disparity”, it was recognized that the poor nations (that is, those in Latin America, Africa and Asia) would need to have “a political and economic climate conducive to private investment”, so that the US can have “access to vital raw materials”.
The Council on Foreign Relations is the most powerful think tank in the world, it’s had an important role in planning America’s foreign policy and its membership has included Presidents, Secretaries of State, CIA directors, rich people, professors and media commentators. There are two good books written about the history of the council by Laurence Shoup and William Minter. The first one, called ‘Imperial Brain Trust’ shows how the Council shaped policy on South East Asia during world war two until the mid 1970’s. By as early as 1943 it was seen by the council that South East Asia, and in particular the Indonesian archipelago (which includes West Papua) was a “cheap source of vital materials”, such as tin and rubber, and that “placing the political and economic control in hands likely to be friendly to the United States” was essential.
Indonesia was part of this group of poor nations who according to the US state department records, which in a report from an ambassador to president Johnson in the 1960’s said that “the avowed Indonesian objective is to stand on their own feet in developing their economy, free from foreign, especially Western, influence.”, while being unified under president Sukarno who characterized the West as “representative of neo-colonialism and imperialism” and will ensure that the economy is designed in a way so that “It is probable that foreign private ownership will disappear and may be succeeded by some form of production-profit-sharing contract arrangements to be applied to all foreign investment”.
Well, there were some people that were opposed to organizing the world in the way that open up the poor nations to foreign investors. Those people happened to be the large majority of the world’s population. This was recognized by the US state department. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, in private conversation with his brother Alan, the director of the CIA, deplored the Communist “ability to get control of mass movements,”
“Something we have no capacity to duplicate.”
“The poor people are the ones they appeal to and they have always wanted to plunder the rich.” A few years earlier, John Foster Dulles stated in a cabinet meeting that “We are confronted by an unfortunate fact. Most of the countries of the world do not share our view that Communist control of any government anywhere is in itself a danger and a threat.” So this presented two problems which a large effort was put into solving. The first problem was the majority of the world not sharing the values that the rich should plunder the poor instead of the poor plundering the rich, and the second was the rational view from third world peasants that the Russian and Chinese threat was not as large as it had been exaggerated to be.
It’s of great interest to find out how these problems were solved, at least partially. In Indonesia it was solved with Nazi style bloodbaths against the left. In the rich nations these problems were understood and solved near the end of world war one, which I will now give some background on.
The Usefulness of Propaganda
The use of fear ideology to achieve political goals is as old as political theory itself. In Aristotle’s Politics, he came up with the view that “States are preserved when their destroyers are at a distance, and sometimes also because they are near, for fear of them makes the government keep in hand the state. Wherefore the ruler who has a care of the state should invent terrors, and bring distant dangers near, in order that the citizens may be on their guard, and, like sentinels in their night-watch, never relax their attention.” That was the understanding of the usefulness of propaganda and in particular fear ideology in classical Greece and since then it’s become much more sophisticated.
The use of propaganda became an essential part of liberal democratic societies during the end of world war one. There were some intellectuals who studied this phenomenon of ‘propaganda’, as they called it, and came to some conclusions. One was Harold Lasswell, a leading political scientist. In a short essay he said that “conventions have arisen which favor the ventilation of opinions and the taking of votes. Most of that which formerly could be done by violence and intimidation must now be done by argument and persuasion.” In other words, as the general population won rights against the use of state violence, the state could no longer resort to the use of violence to control the population. So it was seen as necessary to resort to the use of propaganda instead to control the minds of the population, as Lasswell put it.
The basic theory behind this, which Harold Lasswell wrote, was that “The public has not reigned with benignity and restraint. The good life is not in the mighty rushing wind of public sentiment. It is no organic secretion of the horde, but the tedious achievement of the few.” Thus, it was necessary once finding the “good life”, that the role of the propagandist, was to “make up the public mind to accept it.” This was a common view, similar theories were given by other intellectuals during the time, including Edward Bernays and Walter Lippman. I should say that the word ‘propagandist’ is longer in use for propaganda reasons. According to Edward Bernays it was replaced by ‘public relations’ after world war two, because propaganda got negative connotations from the Nazi’s.
Following world war one there were two liberal intellectuals that made a common observation. One was the aforementioned Harold Lasswell, the other was Bertrand Russell. Both made the observation that within any country the educational system is going to present a favorable picture of the world towards its own state and the allies of that state simply because of the natural psychological predispositions of those living in the same society. Bertrand Russell thought then that a solution to this would be for the educational system to “enable people to acquire knowledge and form sound judgments of themselves.” Harold Lasswell had the opposite solution. He said that the propagandist should exploit and increase these irrational biases and the self-deception of the educated class. As he put it, he could count on “a battalion of honest professors to rewrite history”, while the “propagandist is content to accept aid from his allies”, that he should busily “multiply the evidence of the responsibility of the enemy.” Bertrand Russell’s ideas weren’t that popular among elites having just come out of prison, but Harold Lasswell’s would become the essential element of democratic governance, now global in scale.
We can look back at history and see that from 1917 onwards, that a cold war ideology adopted by the West exaggerated the threat of communism towards the rest of the world, which was used as a pretext for every single post world war two US intervention up until 1990. After 1990 there needed to be new justifications invented, so two big ones that replaced the fear of communism were “terrorism”, and “humanitarian intervention”
My focus here will mainly be on how New Zealand international relations scholars remember East Timor, and exposing that particular lie. I should note that there has been some very good academic scholarship on it, and I don’t think the university is 100 percent subservient to state power. There are exceptions. I will also comment on how the New Zealand government financed state terrorism in West Papua, though I have read little on the scholarship of the topic of terrorism so I will limit to criticizing the media and the governments perception of terrorism here. I do not claim these scholars are insincere, rather for the most part I agree with Harold Lasswell’s proposition that they are self-deceptive but “honest professors rewriting history”. I don’t know how to give evidence for this, but that’s what I think.
The Media’s subservient role in reporting crimes of Indonesia
The CIA had wanted president Sukarno removed from power ever since he held the Bandung conference in 1955, where third world nations got together to strategise on how to make their economies independent from either the Western powers or the Communist powers. Over time the West had built up ties with the right wing Indonesian military and finally got their chance in 1965. General Suharto came to power in a bloody coup, with the CIA giving him a list of roughly 5000 people to kill, but he went a lot further and killed at least half a million. The CIA described it as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, and compared it to the worst crimes of the Nazi’s, Stalin and Mao.
After Suharto seized power the multinational corporations came in to divide up Indonesia. The Freeport- McMoRan company got their hands on the world’s most profitable copper and gold mine located in West Papua. One of the board of directors on the Freeport McMoRan company is the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who along with President Gerald Ford, had given permission to Suharto for him to invade East Timor.
The reaction to these mass slaughters from Western leaders and the capitalist media was one of great enthusiasm. Time magazine called it “The West’s Best News in Asia”. A headline in US News and World Report read: “Indonesia: Hope. . . where was once none”. A New York Times columnist James Reston celebrated ‘A gleam of light in Asia’. The Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt said approvingly that “With 500,000 to a million communist sympathizers knocked off, I think it’s safe to assume reorientation has taken place”. The New Zealand media reaction has been studied recently. Before he was removed from power, President Sukarno had pursued a policy of aggression trying to unify the Indonesian Archipelago, annexing West Papua in 1962. He also pursued a ‘confrontation’ with Malaysia, which New Zealand sent troops to help defend the pro Western Malaysia and the foreign investors.
The reaction to this from the New Zealand media, according to a recent MA thesis written by Andrew Lim, was that “Sukarno was seen as another dictator like Hitler or Mussolini, whose fraternization with the Communists only damned him.” But after Suharto removed Sukarno from power, media coverage of the Suharto coup was scant, with little discussion of the coup attempt, the mass killings, or the rise of the New Order. However the Otago Daily Times welcomed the Army’s takeover as the end of the “troublesome” President Sukarno’s political career. With a subsequent editorial stating that Suharto’s political ascension as the beginning of a new era in New Zealand-Indonesian relations.
If one compares the indignation expressed at the enemies crimes compared to the crimes of an ally, you will find the capitalist media have overwhelmingly, at any reasonable comparison, always expressed more indignation for the enemy’s crimes while either ignoring or glorifying the crimes of ally’s or themselves. But those that write history portray the exact opposite image, that the media are cantankerous in their opposition to power and that the universities are training left-wing radicals. An Australian academic economist H. W Arndt wrote in 1979, during the peak of atrocities in East Timor, that the Australian media was blanketed with “virulent anti-Indonesian propaganda”, with “extreme left academics” in the universities who “even before 1975 [The invasion date of East Timor], were unsympathetic towards Indonesia under the present regime.”
When Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky documented US media coverage of East Timor during the period in the late 1970’s, media press coverage dropped to zero in 1978 as atrocities increased and western arms were shipped to General Suharto. While in Cambodia, there were comparable killings happening at the same time by a regime opposed to western elite interests, the Khmer Rouge. This received a large press coverage, furious indignation from the western media with some denouncing Pol Pot as ‘another Hitler’, as well as fabrications exaggerating the numbers killed. I won’t go into detail, but that’s a very short account of an otherwise voluminous study given in their various books about it.
During an important massacre in East Timor in 1991, where 270 people were killed including one New Zealander, it was witnessed and recorded by Western Journalists, so the event got reported around the world in the Western media. But one New Zealand journalist David Robie (now a professor of journalism at AUT) was offered a ‘kill fee’ for a story he wrote about it, which was suppressed from the Dominion post at the time. I don’t want to exaggerate that this normally happens, it is an extremely rare form of censorship. According to a study of Australia media coverage of the 1991 Dili massacre by Geoffry C Gunn, Not one word from the capitalist media reported the fact that Australia had been supplying Indonesia with arms and training. 
NZ’s history with East Timor
East Timor was invaded by Indonesia in 1975. The invasion had been given the green light by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his president Gerald Ford, who asked Suharto not to carry out the invasion until they had flown back to America, so that they could be distanced from the crimes.
New Zealand, along with other major Western powers, supported the invasion of East Timor right up until a few days before the West intervened to stop atrocities. According to a CIA desk officer Philip Liechty in an interview with the journalist John Pilger, “we sent the Indonesian Generals everything that you need to fight a major war against somebody who doesn’t have any guns…they got it direct, straight to East Timor. Without US military support, the Indonesians might not have been able to pull it off.” New Zealand itself, gave military support to Indonesia throughout the whole occupation, including training pilots for skyhawk’s (planes used for bombing and napalm). We also gave diplomatic support, abstaining from initiatives put forth at the UN by Algeria, Cuba, Guyana, Serria Leone and Trinidad Tobago which ‘strongly deplored’ the actions of Indonesia. Then after a visit to East Timor from a New Zealand diplomat during the atrocities in 1976, our policy from then on until 1999 that the situation was ‘irreversible’.
Over this period, international activism grew against the occupation. The Western powers supported the atrocities right up until the last minute, when outrage from the Australian population put pressure on the government, and probably the social cost for western powers of supporting the occupation became too high. A US senior official responded by saying “We have don’t have a dog running in the East Timor race, but we have a very big dog running down there called Australia and we have to support it.”  Thus an international peace keeping force was set up to intervene in Indonesia, with President Bill Clinton adding a small contingent to this force, just enough to let Indonesia know that these orders came from Washington. Indonesia backed off without a fight. That’s the very short history of East Timor during that period, now let’s look at how these international relations scholars handle it.
Propaganda terms in foreign policy doublespeak
In the political discourse of politicians, the media and academic scholarship, you have to decode various terminology before understanding what it actually means. Key terminology always has two different meanings. One of the meanings has a propaganda function, while the other meaning has a technical function.
One is the concept of ‘stability’. The propaganda meaning of stability means something like ‘law-abiding society without any violent internal conflict’. The technical meaning of stability is more along the lines of the following: ‘Anything that New Zealand and the West in general does in foreign policy.’ There’s a corollary from this definition, which is that: ‘A poor country that obeys the western powers is also by definition contributing to stability.’ This follows since a third world country obeying the rich nation’s means it’s obeying a policy which contributes to stability.
For example, the establishment journal ‘The New Zealand International Review’ recently had an issue on New Zealand and the ASEAN region, in which a scholar Paul Sinclair claims that “New Zealand’s defense relationship with ASEAN has its genesis in the history of our commitment to the security and stability of South East Asia”. He gives two examples, East Timor in which the New Zealand government supported a genocide of 200,000 people from 1975-1999, and Cambodia, in which New Zealand gave diplomatic support of the genocidal Khmer Rouge from 1978-1990. But Paul Sinclair doesn’t focus on these phases of New Zealand history, instead choosing to ignore that part and focusing only on aid we gave to Cambodia in the 1990’s and the intervention in East Timor which stopped the atrocities.
An Auckland University political scientist Stephen Hoadley commentating on New Zealand’s stance it took on East Timor in a book called ‘South East Asia and New Zealand’, that “New Zealand idealism with regard to self-determination of colonized peoples was tempered by ‘realist’ concerns about regional instability, outside meddling, and incapacity for self-governance.” Now, Indonesia carried out a policy of aggression towards East Timor, so this might seem like it contributes to instability of the region. But it doesn’t, since East Timor was another colony trying to creating a sort of nationalist social democracy it was opposed to stability, and since Suharto obeyed the interests of the west, he is by definition contributing to stability by invading the country. One may also comment on the use of the term “outside meddlers”. Suharto is not seen as an outside meddler in his aggression, again, by the principle that the Western powers own the world and he was their servant.
When Suharto invaded East Timor, the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs said that “stability in the Indonesia archipelago would most likely be assured if Portuguese Timor was integrated into Indonesia” An Australian position referred to in a Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing paper was stated as “supporting self-determination while maintaining stability in the region,” then honestly adding “with an additional interest in maintaining an equitable share of the substantial oil deposits in the north-west shelf.”
Another concept is that of the ‘national interest’. Its propaganda term is something like: “the interests of the general population”. The technical use of the term ‘national interest’ is “whatever the elite interests of that country want.” So for example, in a poll 9% of New Zealander’s accepted their government’s contention that integration of East Timor was irreversible. But this was never considered to be the national interest. What was considered to be the national interest was the near opposite, and was stated in a briefing paper by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The crux of the problem of East Timor is to reconcile New Zealand’s opposition to the incorporation of East Timor by force, the subsequent human rights violations and repugnance at the sometimes brutal methods of the Indonesian army with the very considerable national interest in maintaining good relations with Indonesia…”
Also in a poll, more than 75% of Australians supported the right of West Papuan’s to self-determination, even if it meant independence from Indonesia. Prime Minister John Howard replied by saying that it is in “Australia’s interests that we keep a unified Indonesia”. It seems like a contradiction but it isn’t, since “Australia” means the elites within the country, and not the population.
How East Timor is remembered by International Relations Scholars.
According to Professor Hoadley, and Auckland University political scientist writing on the history of New Zealand’s foreign policy in East Timor “New Zealand can claim its policies are untainted by commercial interest. Its initiatives sprang from a desire to be a good international citizen and contribute to a UN effort; they were motivated also by humanitarianism and justice, and spurred by domestic public opinion. If there was self- interest amongst this idealism, it lay in an enlightened perception of common security…” Similarly, the textbooks that are prescribed in school portray it as a “humanitarian intervention” from the west. But the evidence shows that the Western powers. There is only one thing correct about Hoadley’s statement and that is that yes, it was spurred by domestic public opinion.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument, that a humanitarian intervention does not require noble intent. Then by this assumption the East Timor intervention was humanitarian, as it stopped the killings and was welcomed by the Timorese population. But if we were to ask whether the New Zealand government was in principle in favor of this kind of humanitarian intervention, then we could try to find out how they reacted to other cases of humanitarian interventions. Like for example, the Vietnam invasion of Cambodia in 1978, which stopped the Khmer Rouge atrocities, and was welcomed by the population.
The major western power, the US, allied with China and Thailand decided to go from denouncing the Khmer Rouge to supporting it as a punishment of Vietnam’s intervention, by the “my enemy of my enemy is my friend” principle. According to the former national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the D.K. [Khmer Rouge government-in-exile of Democratic Kampuchea]. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.” New Zealand was part of this alliance with the US, China, and Thailand, and gave key diplomatic support to Pol Pot. When asked by the media why New Zealand was supporting Pol Pot at the UN, the Foreign Minister Brian Talboys replied that “that the approval of the DK’s credentials was mainly an expression of disapproval by ASEAN, New Zealand and the others involved, of Vietnam’s actions.” According to the historian writing on the topic, this was “a fine point of diplomacy that was doubtless lost on those appalled by the genocidal nature of the Khmer Rouge while in power.”
Later on when Pol Pot’s forces were repackaged with other ASEAN allies, Talboys commended the policies of the ASEAN grouping, which had showed itself to be ‘a constructive force and positive force for regional peace and stability’. The Khmer Rouge’s Vice President Khieu Samphan sent a telegram to the Minister of Foreign Affairs thanking us for our “unswerving support given by New Zealand to our struggle for national liberation, survival and independence is of vital importance.” So, in my view this whole argument of “humanitarian intervention” by Stephen Hoadley and a good part of academic opinion has no evidence to back it up.
West Papua and the ideology of Terrorism
West Papua was annexed by Sukarno before he was thrown out of power by Suharto. Suharto set up an “Act of free choice” in 1969, but the West Papuan’s call it “An act of no choice”. 1025 Papuan’s were rounded up and told to vote for integration with Indonesia or be killed. Since then at least 100,000 Papuan’s have been killed, along with other various acts of violence that were similar to those in East Timor. After East Timor gained independence and everything was back to normal, the Western powers started to re-establish military support. In a visit to a university in Jakarta, Helen Clark somehow held a straight face while praising Indonesia as a “peaceful and tolerant nation”. One could wonder what the reaction would be if she said the same about ISIS.
I haven’t read much literature on terrorism, so I’m going to stick to the principles given by the government, which I will accept. I’m going to talk a little bit about the Terrorism Suppression Act and how I think it relates to West Papua, since that’s the main fear ideology that’s been used since the end of the cold war.
Terrorism is defined in this act as “the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause”, and with the several intentions, including “to induce terror in a civilian population”, where “terror” is has several outcomes, including “the death of, or other serious bodily injury to, 1 or more persons”. Between 2009-2014 New Zealand spent $6.3 million financing Indonesian ‘community policemen’, but they were really “killing teams” in West Papua, which beat up Papuan’s and threatened to bury them alive. We also educated a captain at one of our universities in ‘security studies’, so he could go back to West Papua and torture more effectively. To their credit, the capitalist media reported this.
By the principles of the Terrorism Suppression Act and Clark and Key governments, this is a typical example of financing terrorism. But you won’t find anyone in the capitalist media saying this obvious truth, or even being able to think about this truth. The definition of terrorism is one that is only ever applied to the enemy.
How can West Papua gain Independence?
One way would be for the media to focus on the crimes of our own leaders, instead of focusing on the crimes of other nations while ignoring our own crimes. Another way would be to tell the important and critical parts of history on East Timor and how our government supported the atrocities, and that they were only forced to intervene from public pressure, not on humanitarian values. Both the media and academia largely fail at these roles. If we are to prevent the crimes of terrorism in West Papua, and in other places from happening again we must also punish our leaders in accordance with the law, otherwise they will play the same game they did with East Timor and do it all over again. These would be key steps towards having a civilized foreign policy in general.
P101 The New Rulers of the World: John Pilger.
 NSC 5432/1, 1954
P255 Imperial Brain Trust: Laurence H. Shoup and William Minter.
 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968 Volume XXVI, Indonesia; Malaysia-Singapore; Philippines, Document 121.
Eisenhower to Harriman, quoted in Richard H. Immerman, Diplomatic History (Summer 1990). John Foster Dulles, Telephone Call to Allen Dulles, June 19, 1958, “Minutes of telephone conversations of John Foster Dulles and Christian Herter,” Eisenhower Library, Abilene KA.
P124 Killing Hope: William Blum
P209 Politics: Aristotle
The Theory of Political Propaganda, The American Political Science Review, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Aug., 1927), pp. 627-631
P4-5 Propaganda Technique in the World War: Harold Lasswell
P53-54 Propaganda Technique in the World War: Harold Lasswell. For Bertrand Russells observation see P21 of Free Thought and Official Propaganda
P54 Propaganda Technique in the World War: Harold Lasswell
P71 Indonesia 1965 -The Coup that backfired
P62 Negligent Neighbour; New Zealand’s Complicity in the invasion and occupation of East Timor: Marie Leadbeater
P35 The New Rulers of the World: John Pilger
P113 The Kiwi and the Garuda: New Zealand and Sukarno’s Indonesia, 1945-1966: Andrew Lim
December 1979 Timor: Vendetta against Indonesia, Quadrant
The full record is documented in The Political Economy of Human Rights, volume 1 and volume 2.
 P229 Don’t Spoil My Beautiful Face: Media, Mayhem and Human Rights in the Pacific: David Robie
P175 A Critical View of Western Journalism and Scholarship on East Timor: Geoffrey C. Gunn
P63 Negligent Neighbour; New Zealand’s Complicity in the invasion and occupation of East Timor: Marie Leadbeater
P195 The Independence of East Timor: Multi-Dimensional Perspectives-Occupation, Resistance, and International Political Activism: Clinton Fernandes
2015 volume 4 New Zealand International Review New Zealand’s Defence Relationship with ASEAN: Paul Sinclair
P265 Manufacturing Consent: Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky reference a study carried out by the Finnish government.
P127 South East Asia and New Zealand; A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations: Edited by Anthony Smith
P65 Negligent Neighbour; New Zealand’s Complicity in the invasion and occupation of East Timor: Marie Leadbeater
P130 South East Asia and New Zealand; A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations: Edited by Anthony Smith
Reluctant Indonesians; Australia, Indonesia and the future of West Papua: Clinton Fernandes
1999 volume 2, The Devil You Know The New Zealand Journal of History: Anthony Smith
P111 South East Asia and New Zealand; A History of Regional and Bilateral Relations: Edited by Anthony Smith
19 July 2007 PM Clark lauds RI’s move to democracy: The Jakarta Post
 Jan 25 Kiwis accused of providing ‘aid that kills’ New Zealand Herald
Douglas Renwick is an anarchist and an undergraduate student at Victoria University studying mathematics and philosophy. He spends half of his life reading voraciously about politics. His interests in politics include the history and political economy of corporate propaganda, western imperialism, and intellectual history. As well as this he is critical of neoclassical economics and neoliberlism in general. He can be contacted at email@example.com