Partnership and promise: The US and Indonesia
October-December 2016
By: Robert O Blake

There has never been a time when the Republic of Indonesia’s positive internationalism is more needed. We are living in a time of increased uncertainty around the world. Many of the policies that have underpinned global prosperity and security for decades are being called into question. Slow economic growth has challenged the trust that many countries had placed in mainstream economic policies. Surging numbers of refugees and immigrants have magnified concerns of those who have not benefited from growth experienced by industrialized nations and fueled populist, sometimes reactionary, movements. We are seeing more assertive behavior from countries such as Russia and China.

Britain’s “Brexit” vote has given rise to questions and concerns about globalization and free trade. Millions in my country have lost their jobs, giving impetus to the populist presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Economists have pointed out that those who are out of work put the onus of the blame on free trade agreements. In fact, one study found that technology and productivity growth accounted for 85 percent of job losses from 2000 to 2010, while trade was responsible for only 15 percent and created many more jobs in other sectors. As President Barack Obama has said, the benefits of global trade can be diffuse – people don’t always recognize that the lower prices they’re paying at US malls are a direct benefit of expanded and freer trade.

The bottom line is that, now more than ever, the world needs countries that are willing to step up to help ensure global security and prosperity. The United States is certainly prepared to do more than our share. As President Obama has said, “While America has never been able to right every wrong, our leadership is necessary to underwrite the global security and prosperity that our children and our grandchildren will depend upon. We do so by adhering to a set of core principles. We do whatever is necessary to protect our people. We support our allies when they’re in danger. We lead coalitions of countries to uphold international norms. And we strive to stay true to the fundamental values – the desire to live with basic freedom and dignity – that are common to human beings around the world. That’s why people all over the world look to the United States of America to lead.”

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