John Howard’s covert East Timor independence plan

As replied to elsewhere, there are two points that need to be responded
to here:

1. The US might have threatened Indonesia if its soldiers attacked the
INTERFET force in 1999, but the real decider was the US having the IMF
to agree to withhold Indonesia’s following tranche of bail-out funds
for its crippled economy if it did not allow in INTERFET without a

2. Howard’s ‘secret support’ for East Timorese independence was so
secret, in fact, that it was unknown by any of his government
colleagues, any government departments (including Foreign Affairs and
Defence) or any of Australia’s allies. To illustrate, Australia’s
military had made NO preparations for intervention in East Timor until
after the 1999 ballot. This has all been well documented. Indeed,
Howard’s suport for East Timor’s independence was so ‘secret’ that only
he ‘knew’ about it.

Another way of understanding this is that this ‘secret’ is as a total
fabrication, and part of Howard’s claim to the history books citing him
as East Timor’s ‘saviour’. In short, he was not, and only acceded –
very reluctantly – to intervention because of a massive upsurge and
demand for intervention on the part of the Australian people.

Associate Professor Damien Kingsbury
A/Director, Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights
School of International and Political Studies
Deakin University, Melbourne
CRICOS Provider Code 00113B


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