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136 8 Yudhoyono’s legacy on internal security: achievements and missed opportunities Sidney Jones Managing internal security affairs is one of the most vital policy portfolios for any president, especially in countries with a long history of communal, political and separatist violence. For Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono , this area should have been his primary area of expertise, given his military background and his many years as the key government minister in charge of security affairs. Nevertheless, his commitment to find solutions was not always accompanied by direct personal involvement or the necessary expenditure of political capital. Three of the biggest internal security problems confronting Yudhoyono when he took office in 2004 were the insurgency in Aceh, violence in Papua and terrorism. Generally , he has been given high marks on the first and the third, and credit for at least trying on the second (MacIntyre and Ramage 2008). On all three, however, he could have done much more. He was generally reactive rather than proactive, letting external events force policy changes rather than providing clear strategic direction. He liked setting intellectual guidelines, but rarely did any of the heavy lifting himself. The opposite of a micromanager, he was happy to leave implementation to subordinates. He was often more interested in form than in substance, using the creation of new institutions as proof of commitment without the necessary follow-up to ensure they actually worked. At no point during his two terms was there any attempt to step back and look at security policy in a way that assessed overall needs and developed capabilities accordingly. Yudhoyono has received the most praise on Aceh, not only for the 2005 peace agreement but for also ensuring that the peace was mainUpdate book 2014-15.indb 136 19/04/2015 11:39 am Yudhoyono’s legacy on internal security   137 tained. Indeed, his first vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, had for some time been actively seeking contact with the leadership of the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM). Yudhoyono, as president, was open to pursuing international mediation, and it could be argued that he was proactive during his first few months in office. But without the 26 December 2004 tsunami to give peace-making a new impetus and urgency, Yudhoyono’s habitual dithering would almost certainly have led to endless discussions without a clear resolution. Instead, with Kalla in charge of the government negotiating team, an agreement was signed in Helsinki in August 2005 after just five formal meetings. This peace accord, in turn, ended the conflict and eventually brought the old diaspora GAM leadership to power in the province. The Aceh agreement remains one of the most significant achievements of the Yudhoyono administration, but once it was achieved, the president seemed unwilling to press GAM leaders on a range of ongoing problems, including extortion, corruption and bad governance. Rather than demanding that GAM relinquish its old habits, he capitulated to their demands, apparently out of fear that to do otherwise would risk a return to conflict and place his reputation as peace-maker in jeopardy. The various Papuan conflicts—separatist, interethnic, electoral and land- and resource-related—were largely an afterthought during Yudhoyono ’s first term, as Aceh dominated the agenda. A steady stream of violence and the recognition that special autonomy, granted in 2001, had led to very little change, motivated Yudhoyono to propose a ‘New Deal’ for Papua that would try to speed up economic development without addressing political issues. Even within its limited framework, he did little to make it work. When it failed, Yudhoyono still wanted to leave office with a lasting legacy on Papua, so in mid-2013 he suggested introducing ‘enhanced’ special autonomy. It proved to be more controversial than he expected, and he left office with Papua’s problems as intractable as they were when he entered. In the area of terrorism, Yudhoyono basked in the reflected glory of the police counterterrorism units, especially on trips abroad. However, he showed little inclination to risk political capital with conservative Muslims by actively encouraging the development of a counterradicalisation policy. It took the 2009 Jakarta hotel bombings to spur him to set up a national anti-terrorism agency—but this was largely because he himself had been targeted. Even then there was no urgency about drafting a national strategy. If terrorism casualties remained low, it was more because of effective law enforcement, cooperative neighbours and the lack of major local drivers than any successful preventive initiatives. This chapter discusses Yudhoyono...


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