This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post, 22 December 2016.
The Indonesian Military (TNI) has become increasingly obsessed with selling the idea that Indonesia is in the midst of a “proxy war”. Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo has led this charge since 2014, when he traveled around the country to speak about how Indonesia was in the middle of a proxy war. In 2015, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu joined the bandwagon, claiming that the LGBT movement is a form of proxy warfare that is even worse than a nuclear bomb. Recently, Gatot devised a media proxy war defense pact, signed by Nahdatul Ulama, the Teachers Union and the Association of Publishers.
Is a proxy war truly happening in Indonesia? Or is it just an attempt for the military – especially the Army – to regain its political relevance? With such fierce campaigning from the military and government officials, it pays to step back and revisit the concept of proxy wars and how they are waged.