The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2005

J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 5 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 7 Regimes Change Ed McWilliams is wrong. In his May 2005 Speaking Out column opposing United States military assis- tance for Indonesia, he confuses the “sins of the father” with renewed efforts to reform and strengthen civil- ian control of the armed forces, improve professionalism and make progress on redressing past abuses. An initial review of U.S.-Indonesian defense relations issued by the U.S.- Indonesia Society in December 2004, which will be buttressed by full studies coming out this summer, shows that it is imperative that the U.S. administra- tion and Congress act now to bolster the democratic and reformist govern- ment of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (colloquially known as SBY). IMET and other forms of assis- tance in critical areas, such as maritime security and counterterrorism, should be increased in order to achieve the changes McWilliams wants to see. Further boycotting the Indonesian armed forces would only negate the progress already made in eliminating the armed forces’ constitutional role in national governance, placing the mili- tary justice system under the Supreme Court, and implementing the law to divest civilian-type businesses of mili- tary control. Cooperating with the government of President SBY offers the best hope in more than a genera- tion to move toward the objective of creating a more professional and mod- ernized military force under capable civilian authority that is respectful of human rights and fully accountable to the democratically elected govern- ment and ultimately to the people. My views are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States-Indonesia Society or of its board of trustees. Alphonse F. La Porta President, United States- Indonesia Society Ambassador, retired Washington, D.C. Commerce for Today Charles Ford presented an excel- lent summary of the current state of affairs, as well as the critical issues fac- ing the Commercial Service, in his April article, “Commercial Diplomacy — The Next Wave.” I came to the Commercial Service after considerable time in the private sector, which hopefully helps me to see things from outside the Washington context. To me, the challenge is to improve how the U.S. government advances and protects U.S. commer- cial interests, as seen and experienced by our U.S. business clients. The recent State-Commerce coordina- tion/planning agreement is a positive and important step in the right direc- tion, but a move destined to be inade- quate unless there is genuine senior leadership commitment. Coordination of macro with trans- actional trade responsibilities is essen- tial to make our commercial diploma- cy focused and effective. The lines between domestic and international business have blurred. For a first- hand perspective, talk with business- people about challenges they face competing and developing their busi- nesses, both small and large. While the American “can-do” spirit shines in moments of adversity, the people with the most at risk are the countless employees and companies competing in today’s world of business. Most would agree that there has never been a better time to abandon the stovepipe model. In the end, the employees and the companies we serve, who are waging business in a tough global environment, care little which agency was the provider of sup- port that helped them to sign a con- tract; they rely on the content and effectiveness of the actions we collec- tively deliver. Today’s hyperspeed global econo- my will quickly outpace any nuts- and-bolts approach to invigorating our commercial diplomacy. At this moment, we need to be fully prepared to confront the trade challenges of the 21st century, not the 1990s. We are being outspent, and in several instances outmaneuvered, by many competitor nations advancing their own commercial objectives with strategies more in tune with the increasingly global economy. This reality should resonate well with Commerce’s accomplished pri- vate sector-bred senior leadership. Their next steps can either shape pro- found advantages for U.S companies or solidify the status quo. Nicholas Randal Kuchova Commercial Attaché Embassy Madrid L ETTERS