Media Coverage from The Jakarta Post – 1 December, 2019

Indonesia must find a panacea for the “hot peace” simmering as a result of growing tensions among the world’s strategic rivalries, foreign policy experts said on Saturday as the government called for global collective leadership to maintain peace in the community of nations.

Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) founder Dino Patti Djalal defined “hot peace” as a 21st-century condition of geostrategic rivalry between countries with a zero-sum mentality, a clear reference to the ongoing competition between superpowers China and the United States.

“The Cold War is behind us, but there is something new coming that will [destabilize] the peace. This is indeed the consequence of hot peace,” Dino said in his opening remarks at the Conference on Indonesian Foreign Policy (CIFP) in Jakarta on Saturday.

The conference, the largest of its kind, is an annual event attended by thousands of students of international relations, academics, as well as foreign policy experts and practitioners from around the world.

Dino said the ongoing trade war between the US and China was just one of the economic consequences of hot peace and adds to a sense of strategic insecurity among major powers, with less cooperation and heightened tension, proxy wars, conflict and fractured regionalisms.

Unlike the Cold War era of the 20th century, defined by geopolitical tensions between the US and the former Soviet Union as well as the threat of all-out nuclear war, the era of hot peace sees major powers meet more frequently in summit diplomacy to exert influence, Dino said.

As a consequence, the threat of World War III is “almost nonexistent”.

This time around, Indonesia has far more leverage than before, the former diplomat said, but it also had to offer more than what the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) ever did during the Cold War.

Already one of the world’s most populous nations at the time, Indonesia played an important role as a pioneer of the formerly colonized world, having hosted the 1955 Asian-African Conference that laid the foundation for the establishment of NAM as a rejection of the Cold War, which had split the world along ideological lines in a zero-sum game.

Dino said Indonesia should actively discourage strategic zero-sum rivalry and foster better relationships with all major powers while carefully maintaining balance and impartiality.

Indonesia should also go beyond promoting ASEAN centrality and champion “ASEAN versatility”, which means that ASEAN can, as a central player, actively engage in many fields and in a much larger diplomatic space, the former deputy foreign minister said.

Delivering a keynote speech afterward, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi mostly concurred with the assessment, saying that Indonesia would at the very least make every effort to “cool the hot peace”.

However, she insisted that the country would not be able to do it on its own.

“For Indonesia, whatever new rule of the game is adopted by […] big global players, values such as democracy, promotion and protection of human rights and rule-based order must continue to be upheld. As such, the big players will not become a threat,” Retno said.

“The big players will be an engine of peace and prosperity and this hot peace into a productive peace.”

Retno has for the past year set out to promote an ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific, a region straddling the Indian and Pacific oceans that is increasingly becoming the new battleground for exerting geopolitical influence, whether by China, the US or other regional players. She has argued for the harnessing of “building blocks” that underpin the Indo-Pacific concept, which include linkages with various regional organizations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Meanwhile, former top Indonesian diplomat Marty Natalegawa said it was important to identify key geopolitical dynamics beyond the US-China rivalry, such as Japan-China and China-India relations, and decide what to do with them going forward.

“In my personal view, one of the challenges that we face as we deal with this uncertainty [and] geopolitical shifts is how can we avoid the potential for miscalculation, for countries to misinterpret one another’s intentions,” Marty said during a panel discussion on Saturday.

Crisis management capacity, he said, was urgently needed in Southeast Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific region, pointing to the strengthening of the “institutional capacity” of the East Asia Summit forum, an ASEAN-led summit convening the regional powers, as a good start.

“I feel that ASEAN itself has yet to fully utilize this forum. It has become almost like a ‘hello and goodbye’ forum; leaders meet toward the end of the year and there is not a lot of actionable, relevant impact on the ground,” he said.

Also present and making his first big public speech in front of the diplomatic community was Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who insisted that Indonesia would not take sides with any major competitors and would rather cultivate defense relationships while remaining impartial.

Prabowo took on a more insular and pragmatic approach to the hot peace debate, saying Indonesia would continue to modernize its military so it would be capable of defending the nation from external and internal security threats.

“I see defense not as a national burden; there can be no prosperity without peace [and] there can be no peace without security. We will continue to invest in our officers and soldiers and to keep up with the relevant defense technology, which is continuously evolving and developing at a very fast rate,” the former army general said in a recorded statement.

See the Article here

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