US complicity in East Timor oppression Your Sept. 8 opinion article "Who are Timorese militias?" by former US Ambassador to Indonesia David Newsom, and your Sept. 10 lead article "New tug at America's conscience" are disingenuous and self-serving. Mr. Newsom should know how Indonesia's military got its armaments and the go-ahead to annex and brutally suppress East Timor. US support for Suharto started soon after 1 million suspected sympathizers or members of Indonesia's former Communist Party (PKI) were massacred by the military following the overthrow of Indonesia's first President Sukarno.
Over $1 billion in armaments have been supplied to Indonesia's military by several US Presidents, from Ford to Clinton. The Indonesian military has been extensively trained in US military schools and in hundreds of joint training exercises. East Timor was invaded by Suharto's forces in 1975 with the approval of President Ford and Secretary Kissinger, who were visiting Suharto.
Over 200,000 East Timorese have been slaughtered since then - nearly a third of its entire population. The utter hypocrisy of President Clinton's support of bombing Kosovo to "save" ethnic Albanians without Milosevic's "permission," compared to his refusal to issue anything more than mild admonitions to Habibie of Indonesia to end the massacre of Timorese because he does not have "permission" to intervene in East Timor, must stand out as the most shameful in modern history.
Secretary of Defense William Cohen claims the US cannot act as the world's policeman. This is astonishing given the number of times the US has intervened around the world, overtly and covertly, since World War II. The US maintains 500,000 troops in over 300 bases worldwide. US arms in the hands of US-trained Indonesian forces have butchered East Timorese.
American citizens, through their elected leaders, are culpable for global mayhem. It is time this was recognized and leaders were made accountable for their crimes against humanity.
Ashwinee Sadanand, New Britain, Conn.
The crux of political reform Jacqueline Salit suggests the Reform Party could nominate anyone from Pat Buchanan on the right to Warren Beatty on the left because the key issue for the party's voters is not ideology but political and electoral reform ("The Reform Party wild card," Opinion page, Sept. 7). Absent from her list of reform projects is the one idea that would most open up our political process to all voices: proportional representation.
By letting all ideologies gain a voice, proportional representation would neatly overcome the problem of disparate ideologies in the Reform constituency that Ms. Salit notes. Rather than being forced to fit themselves into the mold of traditional right or left, voters could be heard from wherever they may be on the vast spectrum of solutions for America's pressing problems.
How can a party seriously put reform on the "front burner" without advocating the one reform that would bring all those "back-burner" ideas into the political light of day? Matthew Shugart, La Jolla, Calif.
Respect for all religious holidays I was particularly interested in your news report of the American Civil Liberties Union suing Sycamore School District in Ohio for suspending classes during the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur ("ACLU sues school over Jewish holiday," Sept 7). This indeed is anti-Semitism. How about Christmas and Easter? Aren't schools closed during those holidays? Abe Kreutzer, Stroudsburg, Pa.
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