As I start typing this George Bush II is just arriving at nearby Halim Airport. He's going to have a chat with the USA Ambassador in an anteroom before boarding a helicopter and flying down to Bogor where, presumably, SBY is waiting and it's raining.
That last point is important because it's put off the waiting demonstrators."They are just making noises playing to the gallery
," Juwono Sudarsono, the Indonesian defense minister, said of the protesters
. "Anti-Americanism is a high-tech industry
." (High-tech umbrellas? I want one!)
One of the things they've been protesting about, ignoring the American adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the building of two helipads, costing about $650,000 each
according to the Jakarta Post, in historic Bogor Palace grounds. Helipads which they've just discovered won't support the weight of the American chopper he'll be in - codename: Chopper 1? - and the other one presumably carrying his security detail and chef.
GB has arrived from Vietnam where he didn't do much
at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.The primary focus of Bush's trip to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam is to increase American business and trade involvement in Asia, and to explore mutual efforts to pursue energy alternatives to fossil fuels and to combat disease.
He harped on about fighting terrorism without considering the socio-economic factors underpinning its causes. Which is just as well, because although the Indonesian armed forces, known as the TNI, have long been seen as the only institution capable of preventing the country of 7,000 disparate islands from fragmenting along geographical and ethnic lines
, there will apparently be no discussions about increased military ties.
Nope, he's going to be Mister Nice Guy. In a joint press conference with SBY, Bush is expected to stress a U.S. desire for stronger ties with Indonesia and promise that U.S. friendship goes beyond the help Americans gave the country after the killer tsunami of nearly two years ago.As proof, he will cite $55 million in U.S. aid for anti-corruption and child immunisation programmes.
How generous. (I wonder how much of the anti-corruption aid has been siphoned off.)
It was originally said that he'd be in Indonesia for ten hours; now it's said to be only six. The town of Bogor has stopped working for the day, with all schools and many businesses shut and a no cellphone zone around Bogor palace. Who knows what the cost to the economy will have been? "$55 million"?
Here in Jakarta, all police leave has been cancelled judging by the numbers I've seen today. I hope they get paid overtime. Extra special security is in force, including, as seen on live TV, snipers.
Once all the palaver is done, Bush and his entourage fly off to Hawaii making for one hell of a long day. This leaves the one obvious question: if nothing of substance is going to be achieved here, why wasn't a meeting arranged in Hanoi on the sidelines of the APEC summit?