President Obama Speaks at the University of Indonesia

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 10, 2010
President Obama at the University of Indonesia

Speaking this morning at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, President Obama said, "...Yesterday, President Yudhoyono and I announced a new Comprehensive Partnership between the United States and Indonesia. We are increasing ties between our governments in many different areas, and -- just as importantly -- we are increasing ties among our people. This is a partnership of equals, grounded in mutual interests and mutual respect.

"So with the rest of my time today, I'd like to talk about why the story I just told -- the story of Indonesia since the days when I lived here -- is so important to the United States and to the world. I will focus on three areas that are closely related, and fundamental to human progress -- development, democracy and religious faith.

"First, the friendship between the United States and Indonesia can advance our mutual interest in development.

"...America has a stake in Indonesia growing and developing, with prosperity that is broadly shared among the Indonesian people -- because a rising middle class here in Indonesia means new markets for our goods, just as America is a market for goods coming from Indonesia. So we are investing more in Indonesia, and our exports have grown by nearly 50 percent, and we are opening doors for Americans and Indonesians to do business with one another.

"America has a stake in an Indonesia that plays its rightful role in shaping the global economy. Gone are the days when seven or eight countries would come together to determine the direction of global markets. That's why the G20 is now the center of international economic cooperation, so that emerging economies like Indonesia have a greater voice and also bear greater responsibility for guiding the global economy. And through its leadership of the G20's anti-corruption group, Indonesia should lead on the world stage and by example in embracing transparency and accountability.

"...Above all, America has a stake in the success of the Indonesian people. Underneath the headlines of the day, we must build bridges between our people, because our future security and prosperity is shared. And that is exactly what we're doing -- by increasing collaboration among our scientists and researchers, and by working together to foster entrepreneurship. And I'm especially pleased that we have committed to double the number of American and Indonesian students studying in our respective countries. We want more Indonesian students in American schools, and we want more American students to come study in this country. We want to forge new ties and greater understanding between young people in this young century.

"...Now, this kind of development is inseparable from the role of democracy.

"Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the right of human beings for the power of the state. But that's not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see here in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another.

"...These are the forces that will propel Indonesia forward. And it will require a refusal to tolerate the corruption that stands in the way of opportunity; a commitment to transparency that gives every Indonesian a stake in their government; and a belief that the freedom of Indonesians -- that Indonesians have fought for is what holds this great nation together.

"That is the message of the Indonesians who have advanced this democratic story -- from those who fought in the Battle of Surabaya 55 years ago today; to the students who marched peacefully for democracy in the 1990s; to leaders who have embraced the peaceful transition of power in this young century. Because ultimately, it will be the rights of citizens that will stitch together this remarkable Nusantara that stretches from Sabang to Merauke, an insistence that every child born in this country should be treated equally, whether they come from Java or Aceh; from Bali or Papua. That all Indonesians have equal rights.

"That effort extends to the example that Indonesia is now setting abroad. Indonesia took the initiative to establish the Bali Democracy Forum, an open forum for countries to share their experiences and best practices in fostering democracy. Indonesia has also been at the forefront of pushing for more attention to human rights within ASEAN. The nations of Southeast Asia must have the right to determine their own destiny, and the United States will strongly support that right. But the people of Southeast Asia must have the right to determine their own destiny as well. And that's why we condemned elections in Burma recently that were neither free nor fair. That is why we are supporting your vibrant civil society in working with counterparts across this region. Because there's no reason why respect for human rights should stop at the border of any country.

"Hand in hand, that is what development and democracy are about -- the notion that certain values are universal. Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty. Because there are aspirations that human beings share -- the liberty of knowing that your leader is accountable to you, and that you won't be locked up for disagreeing with them; the opportunity to get an education and to be able to work with dignity; the freedom to practice your faith without fear or restriction. Those are universal values that must be observed everywhere.

"Now, religion is the final topic that I want to address today, and -- like democracy and development -- it is fundamental to the Indonesian story.

"Like the other Asian nations that I'm visiting on this trip, Indonesia is steeped in spirituality -- a place where people worship God in many different ways. Along with this rich diversity, it is also home to the world's largest Muslim population -- a truth I came to know as a boy when I heard the call to prayer across Jakarta.

"Just as individuals are not defined solely by their faith, Indonesia is defined by more than its Muslim population. But we also know that relations between the United States and Muslim communities have frayed over many years. As President, I have made it a priority to begin to repair these relations. As part of that effort, I went to Cairo last June, and I called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world -- one that creates a path for us to move beyond our differences.

"I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we do have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you -- no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we've done. And that is what we will do.

"Now, we know well the issues that have caused tensions for many years -- and these are issues that I addressed in Cairo. In the 17 months that have passed since that speech, we have made some progress, but we have much more work to do.

"Innocent civilians in America, in Indonesia and across the world are still targeted by violent extremism. I made clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Instead, all of us must work together to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion -- certainly not a great, world religion like Islam. But those who want to build must not cede ground to terrorists who seek to destroy. And this is not a task for America alone. Indeed, here in Indonesia, you've made progress in rooting out extremists and combating such violence.

"Before I came here, I visited Istiqlal mosque -- a place of worship that was still under construction when I lived in Jakarta. And I admired its soaring minaret and its imposing dome and welcoming space. But its name and history also speak to what makes Indonesia great. Istiqlal means independence, and its construction was in part a testament to the nation's struggle for freedom. Moreover, this house of worship for many thousands of Muslims was designed by a Christian architect.

"Such is Indonesia's spirit. Such is the message of Indonesia's inclusive philosophy, Pancasila. Across an archipelago that contains some of God's most beautiful creations, islands rising above an ocean named for peace, people choose to worship God as they please. Islam flourishes, but so do other faiths. Development is strengthened by an emerging democracy. Ancient traditions endure, even as a rising power is on the move.

"That is not to say that Indonesia is without imperfections. No country is. But here we can find the ability to bridge divides of race and region and religion -- by the ability to see yourself in other people. As a child of a different race who came here from a distant country, I found this spirit in the greeting that I received upon moving here: Selamat Datang. As a Christian visiting a mosque on this visit, I found it in the words of a leader who was asked about my visit and said, 'Muslims are also allowed in churches. We are all God's followers.'

"That spark of the divine lives within each of us. We cannot give in to doubt or cynicism or despair. The stories of Indonesia and America should make us optimistic, because it tells us that history is on the side of human progress; that unity is more powerful than division; and that the people of this world can live together in peace. May our two nations, working together, with faith and determination, share these truths with all mankind."

The full transcript of President Obama's remarks is available here.



Arlene T.
November 10, 2010

Arlene T. in Malaysia writes:

Beautiful remarks by President Obama.
I do believe it is important for the U.S. to work together with ASEAN considering the emergence of China and India as the powerful neighbors of S.E.A. Nations. A lot of the history & culture of S.E.A is shaped by China and India, thus this comes as an important moment for U.S. to rebuild the bond with the ASEAN bloc and create a sort of power stability in this region.

Patrick W.
Maryland, USA
November 12, 2010

Patrick W. in Maryland writes:

Well, what can I say, "I Like It, Sounds Good" :)


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