Today's Story Line

A little over three decades ago, at the height of the cold war, the US spent a good deal of resources building up Indonesia's military as an antidote to the Communist threat in Southeast Asia - China and Vietnam. Today, in an ironic twist, Indonesia is trying to deal with the US-trained rogue elements of its military as President Clinton smoothes ties with Vietnam (page 1).

Faye Bowers Deputy world editor

BEARING WITNESS: Dan Murphy was in the East Timor capital of Dili in August 1999 when the territory's landslide vote for independence was announced. He visited the moldering Hotel Tropical, headquarters of the Aitarak militia to interview the group's leader, Eurico Guterres.

There, two uniformed Kopassus captains were organizing and giving instructions to the militiamen that a few hours later began to terrorize the population and drove most foreigners from Dili. "What's always stuck with me is that the Kopassus officers didn't seem to care that I saw them - that I had clear evidence of their role. I guess they'd had their way for so long, they thought it wouldn't matter."

HOT WHEELS IN MOSCOW: Fred Weir bought his first car in Russia 12 years ago, a Moskvitch. But he has almost never driven it. "My wife uses the car, while I generally ride the Metro," Fred says. "She grew up in Soviet Moscow, where the metro was the only option for most. Once we got the car, she swore she'd never ride public transport again."

But now, whenever they agree to meet somewhere, they have to calculate that it will take her two to three times longer to reach the place than Fred. "While my wife loves the feeling of independence a car gives, she is increasingly disgusted with Moscow's hours-long traffic jams. A few times in the past couple of years she's agreed to leave the car at home and take the metro with me."

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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