Indonesia's recently appointed Ambassador to the United States, Dino Patti Djalal, addressed a group of Asia Society Texas guests at a private breakfast last week. Ambassador Djalal focused on the US-Indonesian relationship following President Barack Obama's November visit to the nation, which Djalal described as the "best visit we've ever had by a Head of State."
According to the Ambassador, Obama's speech in his country "transformed grassroots perceptions of the US," and deeply resonated with Indonesians. Ambassador Djalal emphasized that the future partnership between the two nations should be forward-looking, equitable and multi-dimensional.
In addressing the inevitable rise-of-Asia issue, the Ambassador pointed out that the eventual power-shift to Asia does not dictate a win-loss situation between East and West. Rather, nations will "just have to decide what space and role they want in the new global space."
Speaking to the optimism underlying emerging nations in the East, Ambassador Djalal said 85 percent of Indonesians were confident their nation was heading in the right direction, with similar attitudes prevailing in India and China as well. This change in attitude and boost in self-confidence in the East marked a decidedly different approach from that espoused by past "revolutionary" generations, especially in Indonesia.
The Ambassador underlined Indonesia's belief in soft power, noting that his country has the lowest military budget in Southeast Asia. "The best way to ensure security is through good diplomacy," he said. He explained his take on conflict-resolution by saying that "the more problems you have with a country, the closer you have to become." He emphasized that diplomacy was the mechanism by which the Indonesian government and separatists in Aceh resolved their differences. He concluded by saying that Indonesia has demonstrated that democracy, Islam and modernity can work hand-in-hand.