27 January 2008
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
President Suharto, who was de facto dictator of Indonesia in everything except title, has died. He controlled Indonesia, which became the fifth-most-populous nation in the world, from 1966 to 1998. Many in the US are probably unfamiliar with his regime, but he truly was one of the most significant figures in world politics of the latter half of the twentieth century. Suharto rose to power as part of a prominent anti-communist movement, ousting the more leftist Sukarno from power with strong support from the US. Being hopelessly mired at the time in Vietnam, US leaders were all too eager to gain an anti-communist ally in Southeast Asia, and so colluded with and/or did not protest Suharto's often ruthless and corrupt regime. But hey, that's how politics play out much of the time.