Mrs. Clinton Goes to Jakarta

In a hearty attempt to redress the harm the previous American administration did to the Muslim world, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was right to include Indonesia on her tour of Asia this week.

And the new chief US diplomat wasted no time in getting down to business, underlying how vital it is “to listen as well as talk to those around the world, to support a country that has demonstrated so clearly… that Islam, democracy and modernity cannot only coexist but thrive together.”

We hope that these cooling words will go someway to tone down the rhetoric in some quarters here, including those who gathered to demonstrate against Mrs. Clinton’s visit, one woman holding aloft a placard outside the American embassy that read “Islam Will Dominate the World.”

It was also regrettable that one of Indonesia’s foremost Islamic leaders snubbed the secretary of state’s visit, made all the more poignant because her boss, President Barack Obama, was part-schooled in this country.

Din Syamsuddin of the Muhammadiyah social organization that claims some 30 million members opted instead for an interfaith event in Australia, saying the proposed encounter with Mrs. Clinton would not be sufficient enough to warrant meaningful talks.

“If it’s only a dinner without dialogue it won’t be useful,” he said.

Undaunted, the secretary announced that Indonesia would be a key partner in a ruling initiative that would appear to be the exact opposite of what the preceding Bush administration engaged in.

“Building a comprehensive partnership with Indonesia is a critical step on behalf of the United States’ commitment to smart power,” Mrs. Clinton said.

When Indonesians have time to reflect on this important visit, those who are still skeptical may realize how it could go a long way toward advancing this vast nation, where the welfare of everyone outweighs those with vested interests. And we look forward to the day Mr. Obama returns to Jakarta to expound on what was said this week.

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