MSN - Monday 07, July 2014
The Commander-in-Chief The World is Waiting
By Wibawanto Nugroho Widodo*
In 2014 Indonesia will vote for its new national leadership including the President, the commander-in-chief in the presidential system upon which the greatest political resources are bestowed. This moment is critical for our archipelago nation and Indonesia deserves no less than having its best commander-in-chief emerge from a free and fair electoral process. The essence of contestation in any presidential elections is about how a presidential hopeful manages to persuade and convince voters that what he has to offer is greater than that of his contenders. Nevertheless, it is much more important for the Indonesian people to realize that voting and having a commander-in-chief able to deal with and overcome the nation’s immense challenges is much more fundamental and determining for the fate of the nation than personal popularity. The huge challenge this nation faces is to secure and advance its national interests, potentially even save the Indonesian democratic political system and national economic condition and avoid Indonesia becoming a pseudo democracy. Indonesia cannot afford to be a nation of weak law enforcement, unfair election, and religious intolerance resulting in pseudo capitalism where economic imbalance is rampant. Numerous studies have analyzed the reason why democracies struggle and often collapse – typically determined by at least four socio-economic-political factors: institutional vulnerabilities; socio-economic cleavages; government instability; and foreign intervention. Unfortunately, Indonesia demonstrates many of these factors, thus the next commander-in-chief will be charged with saving the Indonesian democracy and economy. To meet this extraordinary challenge, we must establish our Indonesian national interests as the starting point for guiding significant reform efforts towards a more open, strong and stable democracy committed to free and fair market economic principles able to serve Indonesian national interests along the line a wider geopolitical calculation. Firstly, the new president must commit to assure that Indonesian democratic system is able to offer our citizens with the greatest access to equitable political, economic, and social resources. This endeavor is not an easy task, as the German sociologist, Max Weber, once said “democracy is like drilling the hard wood.” Second, the new president must be able to balance the condition of market capitalism in Indonesia. Our next commander-in-chief, through his leadership, grand strategy, and policies must be able to navigate the country in a way that shapes the marriage of democracy and capitalism through consistent development and implementation of big push strategy, public-private sector partnerships, and a government displaying compassion for its poor citizens. Having laid out these challenges, now we arrive at the needs to establish the presidential criteria that Indonesia needs in 2014. As a commander-in-chief, he must have a strategic, international mindset. There are at least four characteristics required by the next president as an effective and strategic political leader managing the national instruments of power such as military; intelligence; diplomacy; law enforcement; information; financial; and economic. First, the commander-in-chief must be well academically educated, self-reflecting and self-introspecting individual willing to acknowledge his bias and weakness, while daring to acknowledge the underlying problems of his nation and able to walk his talk. Second, the president must be a disciplined individual, open-minded to various inputs, and able to think and act from various perspectives. Third, he must have the long term vision to understand the second and third order ripple effects of any public policies made so that such policies do not produce a degenerative political condition that eventually cost us in the future. And finally, the president as a commander-in-chief, explained by Richard Neustadt (the former adviser of President John F. Kennedy and founder of Harvard Kennedy School of Government), must have clear statement and political positions; able to convince his administration, the local government, government coalition and political oppositions as well as judicative branch of government that by doing what he requests in terms of policy, these stakeholders are actually serving their own interests. The new commander-in-chief must have a respectable leadership authority, sympathy, clean record of any corruption, and acumen in exploiting his formal institutional power as well as persuasive power to convince all policy stakeholders within the entire national decision-making process. For this reason, it is not exaggerating to expect that the transitioning Indonesian democracy still needs a well respected and mature political leader to emerge as commander-in-chief, able to lead by example in the harsh reality of our multiparty system in Indonesia. Democratic Indonesia needs a strong, firm leader able to withstand hostile, political demands from various actors without crushing on democratic values we already decided to embrace. Indonesia has the potential to emerge as an “Asian Tiger” playing a constructive role in regional and global economic and political system. This year is the time and our nation deserves no less. Between Prabowo and Jokowi, who has the criteria and track record as laid out above? Whoever wins the election this year, Jokowi or Prabowo, the daunting challenges are waiting for him, and the criteria laid out here are a set of good predictors to measure the likeable success of his leadership from 2014 – 2019. --------- *Wibawanto Nugroho Widodo was the International Fellow from Republic of Indonesia at the War College Program of U.S. National Defense University in Washington, D.C. (Class of 2007); Fulbright Presidential Scholar in Washington, D.C. (2013); a member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society; and currently completing his Ph.D. in the field of Strategy and Security.
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