Not only Americans.How many Europeans know much about S.E.Asian recent history, other then when and where British, Dutch, French or American interests and/or forces were involved?
Sukarno was a great freedom fighter and Father of modern day Indonesia, but his policy of self-reliance and his dream of greater Indonesia, incl. everything from Burma to Papua New Guinea was a sign of Grandiosity and his narcissism. Yet he was a great statesman and are still revered by many, both in Indonesia and beyond.
Him being friendly with Communist China and Russia was seen as a treat by USA, who liked the strongman Suharto better, even though he ruled as a Dictator and caused the death of anywhere from 2-4 million, mostly Chinese, during the first years of his reign.
Once he had full control, which took abt. 5 years, he did a lot of good for Indonesia, but when he lost that control in the 1990’s to his greedy wife, known as “Madam 10%”, his offspring and cronies, he became irrelevant and sacrificed on the alter of “Democracy” and “Humen Rights”. He was no longer wanted and seen as an embarrassment to the power that be.
Yes, Indonesia has great potential, both in natural resources and as a market for manufactured goods from more developed countries. But corruption and lack of infrastructure is holding it back.
There are a growing middle class with good education and skills, who are not hung up in the old ways and aligences and a large trainable workforce.
It is still a long way to go, but for us who have seen the changes, especially in the last few years, we can see the day when Indonesia will take it’s rightful place as a major nation.
Not least a major Maritime nation, which was the dream of vice President Adam Malik already in the late 1960’s. Unfortunately it has still not materialized, but the natural foundation for such a development is in place, with a long seafaring tradition and huge territorial waters, not to mention their EEZ. It is not a question of if, but when.