Journal Article

Indonesia's foreign policy after Soeharto: international pressure, democratization, and policy change

Kai He

in International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

Published on behalf of Japan Association of International Relations

Volume 8, issue 1, pages 47-72
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1470-482X
Published online August 2007 | e-ISSN: 1470-4838 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/irap/lcm021
Indonesia's foreign policy after Soeharto: international pressure, democratization, and policy change

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Indonesian politics opened a new phase of democratization after Soeharto stepped down from his 32 years of authoritarian rule. In this paper, Indonesia's foreign policy changes after Soeharto are systematically examined through an ‘international pressure–political legitimacy’ model derived from neoclassical realism. This model specifies that Indonesia's foreign policy during democratization is mainly influenced by two factors: international pressure and the political legitimacy of the new democratic government. Four cases of foreign policy decision-making from three post-Soeharto presidencies are examined: (i) Indonesia's East Timor policy under Habibie; (ii) Indonesia's ‘silence response’ toward China's protest on the anti-Chinese riots under Habibie; (iii) Wahid's ‘looking towards Asia’ proposal; and (iv) Megawati's anti-terrorism and Aceh military operation. The results show that political legitimacy shapes the nature of state behavior, i.e. balancing or compromising, whereas international pressure determines the pattern of state behavior, i.e. external/internal balancing or compromising in words/in deeds.

Journal Article.  10508 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations ; East Asian Studies

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