In October 2011, I wrote a blog posting trying to demistify our current foreign policy slogan of “Million Friends, Zero Enemy”. It received a few hundred hits, thus making it my most read blog posting. Then, my good friend, Astari Daenuwy, told me that I should send the article to The Jakarta Post.
The article was finally published by this leading English-language newspaper on Sunday, October 2, 2011 with the title of “A Million Friends Zero Enemies The Facebook Way”. I figured, who’d read the newspaper on a Sunday. But, I guess I was wrong, and the article apparently enjoyed significant readership, both in-print and online.
Since then, there have been a number of comments based on the argument I proposed. Some have expressed an understanding of what I was trying to convey, while others prefer to criticize not only my article, but more so, the basic of my point, which is, an appreciation of President Yudhoyono’s foreign policy perspective of a million friends and zero enemy.
In a piece in Sinar Harapan Newspaper titled “Politik Luar Negeri 'A Million Friends, Zero Enemies', Apa Mungkin?”, Mr. Asrudin, a researcher with Lingkaran Survei Indonesia (LSI) argues this foreign policy slogan is utterly wrong because it does not take note of the fact that some countries act as “enemies”, and therefore should not ever be considered as “friends”. Thus, such a slogan would in the end condemn Indonesia’s foreign policy to eternal weakness, always at the mercy of its international counterparts.
Meanwhile, a more positive reception of my article could be found in the blog of Mr. Fuad Hasan, who claims that “Millions Friends and Zero Enemies, Bukan Cemen”. Mr. Fuad exclaimed that the foreign policy slogan serves the purpose of projecting an image of Indonesia as a “low-profile” worker, cooperating with the international community towards greater peace and stability.
Of course, I would have a tendency to favor with Mr. Fuad’s argument over Mr. Asrudin’s. I guess it’s only human nature to feel more sympathetic to those who show appreciation. I am guilty. But more so than that, I actually believe that Mr. Fuad was able to get more out my article than Mr. Asrudin. That, in the end, Mr. Fuad was sharper in reading between the lines of my analysis, instead of resorting to rhetoric.
Nevertheless, in the end, I should thank both of these writers for allowing the discourse on “million friends zero enemy” to grow. This is exactly what I wanted to happen; for the people in Indonesia to discuss about our foreign policy in a critical, yet constructive way.
In today’s era of reform, our foreign policy making is becoming more democratic. There is greater room for the participation of people, importantly opinionated people such as Mr. Asrudin and Mr. Hasan. However, participation should come in the form of thoughtful analysis, instead of emotional sentiments expressed to a dimwit reporter from a national television with a red logo.