THE YEAR OF LIVING ECONOMICALLY
INDONESIA, OFF ISLAM FOR THE MOMENT, GOES TO THE POLLS, COUNTING ITS' "CHANGE"
RADICAL FUNDAMENTALISTS TAKE ANOTHER BEATING;
VIOLENT ASIAN NATIONALISTS STILL IN THE ASCENSION
And Then There's Those Pesky "Black-Skins," The Indigenous Pacific Islanders
AKA "Melanesians," so called for their skin's pigment. And not so called by themselves. But that's life in the Last Continent, Oceania, the land of very little land, widely scattered. As in Micronesia and Polynesia.
As I live and work in the Pacific, I try to conceive of this vast, empty region in real terms, on a human scale. It's impossible. If you ever want to get a sense of how big our planet is, and how small we are on it, take a gander at El Mar Pacifico. Try to find Hawaii: We're the little dots way West of the Southern tip of the Baja Peninsula on the West Coast of Mexico, and way South of the Aleutian Islands that link Alaska to Siberia, up there in Russia. We're not precisely in the middle of the Pacific, or the North Pacific: It's a bit farther to Tokyo than it is to San Diego, thank Nimitz. But close enough, given that we're sitting in almost a mile of deep water, thousands of miles from any other land.
If you enlarge your computer map to check out our islands in any detail, or to really see them as anything but dust motes floating on an azure globe, you won't be able to see any other land at all. If you pull back to get some perspective on where we are in relation to the America's, Asia or Australia, you'll just see specks again, before you see LA, Santiago, Manila or Christchurch.
At that point, you'll have to start wondering how the Hell these Hawaiian dudes ever found this place. It's quite simple, really, once you know the secret: The "Trade Winds" and matching ocean currents make two huge circles in the Pacific Ocean. In the North Pacific, above the Equator, the winds and waters turn clockwise from the Filipines to Alaska to Panama and back again; in the South Pacific, they turn counter-clockwise, from Indonesia to New Zealand to Columbia and back. Once you know this great secret of the Polynesian mariners, you can float from the Filipines to Japan to Siberia to Alaska and down the West Coast of America until you reach the Equator, where the Trades will carry you back toward Asia. Or, you can ride the Southern currents, and brave the Doldrums around the Equator to reach the West-bound Trades coming back to the Filipines from old Mehico. Do a bit of skillful tacking, and you're in Hawaii. Screw it up, and you'll die of thirst in the middle of a bazilion cubic acres of agua salsa, undrinkably salty water.
So, we can't help but wonder where these incredibe seamen, the Hawaiians, and all their 'Nesian cousins came from. Speculation ranges from ancient Japan to some island in the Indian ocean; maybe Zanzibar, or Madagascar, or Sri Lanka. In any case, these island voyagers performed a remarkable feat: Sailing an entire civilization all the way across the greatest open expanse on the planet, and settling every single scrap of land that had sweet, fresh, unsalted water running in clean, healthy streams. (Ha' Wai'i means "Place of the Waters.")
Indonesia means sorta Indian Islands. The Island Nations, or 'Nesia's, as I call them, stretch from just East of the Indian subcontinent all the way East to Aotearoa (Maoriland,) and North to Easter Island, and North-West to our Hawaii Nei. These islands may have been the last lands settled by human beings, or they may be graveyards for much older civilizations. Atlantis? Perhaps mankind actually started out on them, after leaving Africa, and settled the rest of the world in a series of prehistoric naval expeditions. Linguistics, maritime archaelogy, geology and genetics will tell us, in the end. In the meantime, the Many 'Nesians and the Tiny Island 'Nesians and the Black 'Nesians and the Indian 'Nesians and the Malays and the Filipinos carry on in their ancient manner, adrift in a sea of history, subject to the Sturm und Drang of the outside world of dirt-farmers, land-grabbers and "awl-min"." Us. Mainlanders. Da f**kin' haoles.
Indonesia was grabbed by the Dutch, who called them the East Indies. By dint of first spice, then sugar, then rubber, and finally oil, the Hollanders extracted quite a bit of wealth out of the lands they grabbed. Royal Dutch Shell is the only non-Anglo-Saxon oil company amongst the fabled Seven Sisters who still control much of the petro-trade. Ironically, much of the Earth's remaining oil lies in territories colonized first by the mullahs, muezzins and Mahdi's of Mohammad. Indonesia is today the world's largest Muslim country, by population and, I suppose, by length or breadth. Indonesia comprises over seven thousand separate islands in the Andaman Sea and the Sea of . In the Wet, they are mostly Asian Mainlanders, descended from Malays, Indian, Chinese and Indochinese. In the East, they are Pacific Islanders, more closely related to Micro & Polynesians. Between them, there are vast gaps in language, religion, history and culture. The dominant Asian & Muslim cultures have sought to fill these gaps with 'Nesian blood. The Pacific Islanders have fought back with all the ferocity for which they are so well-known. Given the disparities in wealth and technology, population size and organization, the Islanders have long been the victims of hegemony and genocide by the Mainlanders. And now the U.S. backs those most likely to succeed and keep the oil flowing, regardless of the consequences.
Marching in lockstep with the oil companies, Indonesia has been led by pro-western, anti-Communist and anti-Islamist American-trained militay leaders since its' inception, after independence from the Dutch followed the oil-thirsty Japanese occupation of WWII. The current ruler is one of the few world leaders to have been educated in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, or Fort Benning, Georgia; where he learned to salute, parachute, and run a spreadsheet. Oh, he picked up an MBA while at General school, also. And he learned how to slaughter darkies right there in Georgia, where he himself might have been considered a bit dark. Bet he didn't go out much, at night. 300 million of him back home, yawl.
The East Timorese. as the Indo-Mico-Nesians are known, want out of the ginormously incompatible union of islands that rich Chinese and Muslims control today.
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