Williams writes that the United States was "certainly wrong" in failing to intervene to prevent the horrendous Indonesian crimes. That has been the standard line of apologists: We "looked away" instead of intervening to stop the crimes. But as Williams and others who resort to this evasion know very well, the United States and United Kingdom most definitely did not fail to intervene during the quarter-century of Indonesian aggression and atrocities. Rather, they did intervene, and massively: By providing decisive support for these crimes, continuing to do so as the crimes accelerated again in 1999, even after the destruction of Dili in September, which elicited from Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger the statement that "I don't think anybody ever articulated a doctrine which said that we ought to intervene wherever there's a humanitarian problem" — so therefore the United States and United Kingdom continued their crucial participation.
Even more remarkably, Williams writes that "Chomsky points out that it was Clinton's intervention that persuaded the Indonesian generals that the game was up in East Timor. Yes it was long overdue, but it was an American intervention, which deserves some grudging credit."
The intervention Williams praises was Clinton's termination of U.S. participation in the aggression and atrocities. By Williams' logic, he should praise Russia for intervening in Afghanistan by withdrawing its troops in 1989. It would be instructive to see if even the most extreme Communist Party loyalist stooped to that.
The nature of his apologetics becomes even clearer when we consider the statement of mine to which he is responding:
To end the atrocities in [East Timor] would not have required bombing, or sanctions, or indeed any act beyond withdrawal of participation. That was demonstrated shortly after Berger's reaffirmation of Western policy, when, under strong domestic and international pressure, Clinton formally ended US participation. The invaders immediately withdrew, and a UN peacekeeping force was able to enter facing no army. That could have been done any time in the preceding quarter-century. Astonishingly, this horrendous story was soon reinterpreted as vindication of R2P, a reaction so shameful that words fail.Williams' reiteration of this shameful stance leaves one truly speechless.
Response to Williams, Noam Chomsky, 1er septembre 2009