Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, its largest Muslim-majority country, its third largest democracy. Located astride the sea lanes linking the Middle East and the Pacific,Indonesia is key to the stability of the entire Southeast Asia region, and beyond.With more Muslims than the entire Arab Middle East, it will also have a substantial voice in determining whether the Islamic world will be a force for progress and prosperity in the 21st century, or as some fear, a more malignant power. Indeed, one might well argue that Indonesia today is the most consistently undervalued country in global politics.
For all these reasons and more, Indonesia is too important to be ignored, or to be treated with the casual disregard that has frequently been the hallmark of American policy. That argument informs each of the following essays —the first by one of Indonesia’s leading statesmen, the second by one of America’s most distinguished diplomats.