Thursday, July 09, 2009

"Add to that the challenges of a part of the world that regularly explodes – physically. By dint of bad geographic luck, Indonesia sits on one of the most earthquake-prone, volcanic, hostile bits of the Earth that any human community happens to occupy. During the transition to democracy a string of natural disasters occurred – starting with the Indian Ocean tsunami, but continuing on to a second tsunami, two major earthquakes, and a volcanic eruption. More than one hundred and seventy thousand Indonesians died in the December, 2004 tsunami, only two months after the country had placed its first freely elected President, the same Yudhoyono apparently re-elected yesterday, into office. The rash of terrorist bombings occurred during the transition from a dictatorship. So did 9/11 – and with it the huge crash in international business and travel, which were important to Indonesia’s financial health. Then came Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Avian Flu. A drought began, killing the crops. Planes crashed with alarming frequency. Ferry boats sank with hundreds lost at sea. For years it seemed like the country simply would not catch a break. Every reasonable thing the Indonesians did led to another unspeakable tragedy. The country felt cursed. Imagine Katrina, plus 9/11, plus Mexican flu, plus the financial crisis, at the same time, in the America of 1780 or the Russia of 1989.

Countries have succumbed with less urging. But today few expect Indonesia to ever return to dictatorship. And, this all happened very quickly – in less than ten years. By comparison, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia was backsliding. Four years after a peace treaty, the Congo still isn’t peaceful. Ukraine struggled with a fragile democracy. Iraq is a disaster. Afghanistan’s 2010 elections are very much a question mark, and Pakistan’s government may or may not be in charge."
(Marc Herman) h/t AS

"If a country can overcome three decades of dictatorship, a financial crash as bad as the Great Depression, volcanoes, a tsunami killing nearly 200,000 people and destroying much of an entire province, three civil wars, and terrorism, in less than a decade, and emerge too gloriously boring to bother discussing, then there’s hope."

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