Dr. Dugis started the lecture with a question of how particular set of ideas have played role in shaping the feature of Indonesian Foreign Policy. He focused on the particular set of ideas that have given influence on overall development of around 70 years of Indonesian foreign policy since 1948.
On an overall covering of basic thoughts on the previous literature of ideas, Dr. Dugis quoted Weber saying that “Ideas matter in determining policy outcome and it’s the ideas that move the world in a particular direction.” He also mentioned the works of Goldstein and Keohane who described Ideas as beliefs held by individuals and according to them there are three types of ideas, particularly ideas as world views, principled-beliefs and casual-beliefs. Campbell, Goldstein and Keohane in their other works have also described that how ideas and interests have causal weight in explanation of human actions. Bringing up the arguments mentioned, Dr. Dugis argued that once institutionalized, ideas often become a roadmap or guidance for policy implementation.
However, Dr. Baiq in his argument also mentioned that a ‘unique’ history of independence often leads to the birth of ‘sacrosanct ideas’ that become basic principles in certain nation’s foreign policy which functions as guidance for foreign policy implementation – this situation was experienced by Indonesia.
Indonesia’s foreign policy could be majorly described in three different sections, first is the Free and Active Policy (sacrosanct ideas) and the architecture for such ideas was Vice President Mohammad Hatta in 1948, he was famously quoted in one of his speeches “Mendayung di Antara Dua Karang (Rowing Between Two Corals)” here the term Corals meant the two superpower bloc which was formed during the Cold War Period, one bloc was led by U.S.A and the other was by Soviet Union and it was Indonesia which has to follow its own path of free and active foreign policy. The word “Free” meant Indonesia should at its own liberty should decide and determine position on world issues based on its national interests and “active” meant Indonesia is committed to participating in constructive efforts to build and maintain a just and peaceful world. Second was the historical context, as Indonesia was under Dutch rule for a quite long time, the struggle for independence and the cold war situation which occurred right after the independence of Indonesia. Third was the Free & Active foreign policy doctrine; which was to have basic suspicions of all major powers & desire to chart an independent course.
In breaking down the meaning of “Free and Active” Foreign Policy of Indonesia, Dr. Baiq mentioned the following characteristics, first is the Independence of judgment and freedom of action. Second, was free to responds any international issues, third, not to form joint military alliances or security pact. Fourthly, participating with the world community via bilateral, regional and multilateral forums and at the last able to project Indonesia’s Nationalism and identity.
However, Indonesia’s Foreign Policy has undergone several major changes with changing of different adopted political systems which affected the values, perceptions of threats and priorities. Under President Sukarno (1945-65) first came is the revolutionary period (1945-1948); second was parliamentary system (1950-1959); third was guided Democracy (1959-1966); fourthly under President Sohearto fourth was New Order Regime (1966-1998) and the present reformasi Era/Reform Era (1998-now).
Since, Indonesia’s independence there has been significant fundamental changes in international and regional orders which affected Indonesia’s foreign policy, such as, end of the bi-polar cold war system, rise of globalization leading to rise in regional cooperation and emergence of multi-polarity by other major powers in the region and also the world.
With the rise of traditional & non-traditional security threats and also the conventional & non-conventional threats in the region and the world, such as Rohingya refugee crisis and also the volcanic ash which affected the Southeast Asia’s air traffic, it has made a significant effect on rethinking of Indonesia’s engagement with the world not to forget the rise in radicalization of youths through social media and the danger of terror groups. Having suffered itself the brunt of terrorism especially the 2002 Bali bombings which left a deep scar in the policy makers and also the life of Indonesians, Indonesia needed to cooperate with other nations in curbing such incidents to happen again.
Dr. Durgis Indonesia’s core foreign policy cornerstone lies mostly among the ASEAN countries, and the Indonesia’s relations can be kept in studied in concentric circle (Figure 2, obtained from the presentation). Dr. Baiq mentioned that, very recently early this decade Indonesia had started recognizing the Pacific as their inner centric area. As Indonesia is wary about some Southern pacific countries supporting the Papua movement in Indonesia who have been asking for independence.
Both Prof. Durgis and Prof. Baiq covered and answered many questions related to Indonesia’s Foreign Policy raised by the students and professors attending. To conclude, both Professor’s admitted that though Indonesia has Free & Active principles as its sacrosanct ideas, various variables or issues have also colored the feature of Indonesian foreign policy in the last 70 years.