The unfortunate events unraveling in East Timor underscore the ineffectiveness of the United Nations organization in resolving conflicts around the world. It becomes abundantly clear that it neither has the ability nor the resources to back up its responsibility to ensure international peace.
The Indonesian government has for over a quarter century been thumbing its nose at the UN when it unceremoniously grabbed that small, helpless Christian nation right after it was granted independence by Portugal in 1975. The gutless, timorous Indonesians waited until Portugal had ended its jurisdiction over the little Christian enclave before they took possession of it. They did not have the courage to provoke the ire of a European colonial power being themselves colonial subjects of Netherlands for centuries.
Such colonial mentality, however, did not save the East Timorese from the brutality of a Muslim nation in its passion to eradicate their archipelago of the "Christian infidels." President Suharto lost no time in systematically decimating the East Timor Christians during their 24 years of struggle for their freedom.
Over 250,000 courageous East Timorese perished in that struggle and the carnage is still going on. The struggle is not only about their country's sovereignty as an independent nation, but more importantly, it is about their inherent right to enjoy freedom of worship.
The Indonesians have no right to take those away from them. Such travesty of justice should never have been tolerated by the UN from its inception. But the East Timorese were and still are considered insignificant as a political entity compared to the wealth and power of the fourth largest country in the world. Consequently, the UN has been looking the other way all these years and the Indonesians naturally have gotten used to it. They even got so cocky as to agree to a lame and tongue-in-cheek suggestion by the United Nations to hold a referendum on East Timor's independence question, feeling pretty confident that they could intimidate the East Timorese from going to the polls, and if they did, rig the poll results in their favor.
The Indonesian government has very little respect for the UN and its effectiveness as a police force to stop them from frustrating the objective of the referendum. Consequently, it has not made preparations to cover any eventuality other than to crush the East Timorese, should their efforts for independence prevail. The UN as well as the Indonesian government have both underestimated the courage and resolve of the East Timorese in their quest for freedom. Even under extreme pressure and brutal coercion from the Indonesian military and their militia terrorists, the East Timorese exercised their right of suffrage and resoundingly voted in favor of independence.
With an over 98 percent voter turnout and over 80 percent of votes cast in favor of independence, it was impossible to rig the referendum results. The Indonesian leadership had to stop all pretenses and did what they had all along planned to do. It was time for cleansing. They did as the Christian Serbs did to the Muslim Kosovars. They were pretty confident that they would succeed where the Serbians failed because NATO would not stop them. NATO, under the leadership of the U.S., ran the show there. In East Timor, the UN is running the show, but without the enthusiastic support of the U.S., knowledgeable observers can tell that the results will be different.
Uncle Sam bombed the Serbians back to the Stone Age when they insisted on cleansing Kosovo of Muslim Kosovars. In the case of East Timor, Uncle Sam is even providing the logistics in support of the Indonesian aggression against the Christian East Timorese. The U.S. and Indonesia are just too comfortable with each other to do anything that will disrupt their cozy relationship.
This explains why Uncle Sam is resorting to all kinds of posturing and lip service when it comes to exerting its influence on Indonesia to resolve the East Timor question judiciously. This explains why without the support and leadership of the U.S., the UN efforts in East Timor are half-cocked and ineffective. Uncle Sam apparently has no direct self-interest in the resolution of the East Timor problem and is not willing to antagonize its most powerful ally in Southeast Asia simply to protect the human rights of a handful of hapless Christians stubbornly trying to co-exist in a society predominantly ruled by Muslims who are inherently hostile to them.
It is funny how the whole civilized world has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Indonesia takeover of East Timor in 1976, but has for 23 years been reluctant to right that wrong. Now that time and circumstances have finally presented an opportunity to do so, it still insists on seeking Indonesia's permission before taking the proper action.
This situation can be compared to a Hollywood movie scenario where a helpless young lady is cruelly being raped inside the cage of a sex-crazed gorilla while the whole civilized world is watching. And when the poor girl had the chance to scream for help, the people around the cage, including a policeman called to rescue the girl, simply stood by the door of the cage, asking the rapist ape for permission to enter. To make the scenario even more ridiculous, the gorilla, who apparently is a pet of the policeman, signals his master not to come in until he is through with his sex orgy and the poor girl is rendered crazy or dead.