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Is the Bible historically accurate?
In this Argument for creation I am going about it differently than most. The main reason some Christians believe in Yahweh creating the universe is it says so in the Bible (Genesis 1). If the Bible is completely inaccurate and had no evidence to validate itself then, the creation account at the beginning would be greatly diminished in its strength as an answer to the beginning of this universe. The reason for testing the veracity of the claim, the Bible being a credible historical text, is to at the very least create some dialogue to if creation by Yahweh is possible. If the Bible throughout its writings has been consistently historically accurate, it is reasonable to assume the creation account has some credibility. I will be going through the Bible to see if there is any evidence to believe what the books in it say is true.
Firstly, at the end of Genesis and then continuing into Exodus, the first two books of the Bible, there are descriptions of the beginning of the Israelite nation forming. From Genesis 17 onwards a man called Abraham is promised to father the nation of Israel. At the end of Genesis two generations after him his great grandchildren are said to have resided in Egypt though this was not their promised land. According to geologies in the Bible, Abraham should have lived around 2000 BC. Then his great grandchildren descendants around 18th century BC resided in Egypt for around 400 years. The area is called Goshen and is meant to be very good land for crops and farming. After that they left because of Moses leading them to the promised land. All this comes from the book of Exodus. Now is there any historical evidence for this, outside of the Bible? In 1990 and onwards the esteemed Manfred Bietak discovered an abandonment phase in todays Tell el-Dab'a (ancient Avaris). The area discovered was a palatial district with a Royal Precinct and an Asiatic (Foreigner) district, (Page 2 of https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jaei/article/view/16915/16645) he found in the mid-15th century BC there was a clear abandonment phase during 18th dynasty. This was an important area that had military bases and may have been used to stage naval expeditions to the Mediterranean Sea. Why would you leave this area? The sediment below the abandonment phase is most probably Semitic and seems to be Semitic for over 300 years (https://www.academia.edu/37046281/M_Bietak_The_Many_Ethnicities_of_Avaris_Evidence_from_the_northern_borderland_of_Egypt_in_J_Budka_and_J_Auenm%C3%BCller_eds_From_Microcosm_to_Macrocosm_Individual_Households_and_Cities_in_Ancient_Egypt_and_Nubia_Leiden_2018_Sidestone_Press_73_92( says “Canaanite” which is where the Israelites came from in Bible before going to Eygpt). Now this is not concrete evidence to say the exodus is true, but It does bring some weight of trustworthiness to the book of Exodus. In addition, it brings evidence for the end of Genesis as it talks of Canaanites leaving their land long before going to Egypt and this is what we see in Ancient Avaris. Canaanites resided in Egypt for several centuries.
The God of the Israelites is called Yahweh and unlike many other ancient nations around them they only had one God. For example, the Egyptians had Horus, Seth, Isis and Anubis and so on. The earliest inscription for the name Yahweh is in the Soleb inscriptions. It was found in what would have been Ancient Egypt and dated to around the early 14th Century BC to the end of the 15th Century BC and another one in the 13Th century BC. There is no debate in what they say but some secular scholars hypothesize the ancient Edomites and Midianites worshipped Yahweh before the Israelites. However, there is no historical evidence for those nations worshipping Yahweh. There is some evidence of certain people from those nations but not the whole nation. People worshipping Yahweh from other lands during the Exodus would not be a problem for the Bible. It says in Exodus Moses Father in law, Jethro, was a Midianite who helped Moses figure out the Judicial structure of Israel. Yet there is plenty of evidence to show the Israelites as a nation worshipped Yahweh. For example, the Moabite stone shows the Israelite nation worshipping Yahweh. The Soleb inscription talks about a people saying the “Nomads of Yahweh”. The people are wandering around and do not have a city to identify them, so their God is used to do this. After the Exodus of the Israelites, the Israelites wondered the desert for 40 years before starting to conquer the cities of Canaan. This would count for Nomads as they did not have a land and were wondering around. How else to define them other than by the God they worship and identify with. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/07x6659z
In the book of Joshua, it talks of the conquering of many cities such as Hazor. If this were to happen the cities would likely tell their allies they were being attacked and request help. Well the Amarna Letters are Clay tablets, mostly from kings in Canaan to Egypt that they needed help as they were being attacked. These kings were subjected to Egypt. They date to the mid-14th century BC. This is quite inline with the Bible’s account. They mention the “Habiru” who were invading Canaan at the time and Habiru is very similar in sounding to Hebrew. Many scholars indicate this could be the Hebrew people. The Bible also accurately describes the conditions of the area at this time period having many city states in Canaan (https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1280&context=jats).
Finally, for this period I would like to introduce the Berlin pedestal. This is an artefact dated to mid-14th Century. It is an Egyptian name ring that lists 3 places, Ashkelon, Canaan, Israel. The ring for Israel is only around 2/3rds complete as part has broken away, however in 2001 Manfred Görg published that it should be Israel from what the rest of the symbols could be. This gives an inscription of the nation of Israel very early. This would indicate that it was not likely at all that Israel formed later in time as there is evidence to the contrary. These pieces of evidence are by no means exhaustive of an Early Israel formation date, in line with the Bible. Yet I have other periods to cover so will move on. https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jaei/article/view/83/87
Next, I would like to tackle the next few books of the Bible. Those being Joshua, Judges and the Samuel 1-2. I have already touched upon some evidence to suggest the Biblical account is not completely made up with the structure of the Canaanite political structure being made of city states. Now I will be looking at Joshua 11. It talks of Israel’s northern conquest of Canaan against the Jobin king of Hazor. In the chapter Israel prevails over Hazor who led a coalition of kings against Israel and burns the city of Hazor. Now is there any evidence for a City called Hazor in that time and that it was burn around the early 14th Century -late 15th Century BC. Well there are some Egyptian Execration texts, which name enemies of Egypt, that mention Hazor in the 18th century BC (https://www.academia.edu/25340113/Do_the_Execration_Texts_Reflect_an_Accurate_Picture_of_the_Contemporary_Settlement_Map_of_Palestine ) Page 13. Moreover, the Mari archives mention Hazor in the 18th Century BC as an actual place and shipments of trade to “Ibni-Addad king of Hazor”. This is Accadian but in West Semitic form it reads “Yabni-Haddad”. Jabin and Yabni are the same name, just one is shortened. (https://search.proquest.com/openview/688f4758a1fb7f3a55e7c4aaef134a3e/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=46246). In the Amarna Letters which I have already discussed it also talks of Hazor. Unlike many other communications in the Letters the king of Hazor does not grovel to the Pharaoh but mentions himself being a King. This aligns with Joshua as it describes Hazor’s king leading the collation against Israel suggesting he is the most powerful in that part of Canaan. Letters 227 and 228 refer to him as a king. There is also an ancient Babylonian tablet that mention Jabin and was found at Hazor in 18th century BC. So, what from these two conclusions can be surmised? Either Jabin was a title like Pharaoh or it was a name used many times such as Rameses. This all agrees with the Biblical account as it mentions Jabin twice, once in Joshua then in Judges. Judges being over 100 Years after Joshua. Joshua 11: 1 and Judges 5:6-11. The name being used for long periods of time in and outside the Bible is interesting. https://www.baslibrary.org/biblical-archaeology-review/20/5/14. Two destruction have been found at Hazor. On in the late bronze age so 1550-1400 BC and another in 13th century BC. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25609263?seq=1. Amnon Ben-Tor who leads digs even says this again in the Israel exploration journal 51 in 2001 page 238. There is evidence for temples being destroyed which if it were the Israelites makes sense, other religious temples were seen and unholy and would be destroyed. This does point towards this account be possibly historically accurate. Now there is a theory among secular scholars that Israel had a much later exodus date in the 13th century BC. But if that is true, Israel as a nation should only be mentioned after this time. Yet there is evidence of their God Yahweh which is written about over 6000 time in the Bible. And there is not enough time for an exodus and conquering on Canaan if the exodus is a later date. This is shown decisively with the Merneptah Stele. It is an Egyptian inscription mentioning Israel as a nation and dates to 1208 BC which means there is not enough time in those years of less than 100 years to have late exodus and the nation being established after conquering much of Canaan. This is all before 40 years wandering in the desert.
One key part of the books of Samuel is King David. In the 19th century and early 20th century secular scholars scoffed that he was historical but rather a myth like England’s king Arthur. Especially the fact that he had an empire and a dynasty that was considerable for its time. However, in 1993 the Tel Dan Stele was found. It is a victory Stele about most likely King Hazael defeating the king of Israel and his ally who is of the “house of Dave”. This is dated to around 9 century BC. This is historical confirmation that King David was indeed real, and he left a lineage. This is a largely undisputed fact that it is of the House of David. The Bible describes David’s Dynasty in it books Samuel 2 and kings 1-2 and Chronicles 1-2. This also reinforces the fact at the 9th century BC Israel indeed was a nation that its enemies had wars with. Furthermore, the Moabite stone also references David while recording the Events of 2nd Kings Chapter 3. It has been dated to around 840 BC and mentions the phrase the house of David. The Moabite stone has many alignments to the Bible. They both talk of the Moab’s God Chemosh, the tribe of Gad from Israel and the Israelite king Omri. If the Jews wrote the books of the Torah centuries after the events happened how could they know of the Centuries old Moabite god Chemosh? It is not logical to assume. https://brill.com/view/journals/vt/52/4/article-p483_3.xml . https://www.jstor.org/stable/27926300?seq=1 https://www.jstor.org/stable/1357179?seq=1
The matrix of evidence really points to the Bible not being some mythical tale, that has no basis but an account that is corroborated with non-Biblical texts. If the exodus was a late date in the 13th century or after it can not fit with other timelines of artefacts. It would mean in less than 350 years Israel left Egypt and wondered for 40 some years, then started slowly taking over Canaan. After that have judges and prophets protecting Israel. After this they would get the kings of which there were many and until you get to King Ahab. In the early 9th Century BC. There isn’t enough time if you believe in the dates of the Bible.
Now I will be going into the Kings of Israel. A key piece of historical evidence for there really being kings of Israel are the Assyrian inscriptions. The Assyrians named each year after a person calling them the Limmu. They are absolute dates and even have a solar eclipse mentioned in the year 763BC. This allows Biblical scholars to give absolute dates to the Kings of Israel. This helps in dating artefacts such as the Kurkh Monolith of Shalmaneser the 3rd who mentions King Ahab who fought against him in 853 BC. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27925486?seq=1 Then there is the Black Obelisk showing King Jehu giving tribute to Shalmaneser in 841 BC. https://www.jstor.org/stable/42613886?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Black%20obelisk%20king%20jehu&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DBlack%2Bobelisk%2Bking%2Bjehu&ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_SYC-5187_SYC-5188%2Fcontrol&refreqid=fastly-default%3A9bfe9ec30049e46ae79c452df027d1d8&seq=1 . These show that these books in the Bible are not completely made up and have some historical accuracy at the least. There are many other examples of historical evidence of other kings of the Bible, but I can focus on that in its own separate post.
After the Kings of Israel, the empires of the Persia and Babylon in the Bible are said to have taken over Israel and Judah the two nations of the Jewish people. Then In the reign of Cyrus the Great he sets the Israelites free to rebuild their temple and walls at Jerusalem. This occurs in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Many older secular scholars did not believe that any king would allows their slaves to go free as it did not make any sense. Why would you let your labour go? Well the Cyrus Cylinder which has been dated to 539BC depicts just that. It is a declaration that the exiles to go back to their settlements and rebuild their sanctuaries. This clearly aligns with what occurred in the Bible. There are also the Babylonian chronicles, which mention the sacking of Jerusalem by king Nebuchadnezzar and dates it to 597 BC. These tablets recount the History of Babylon. This is what is said in the Bible in the book of Daniel. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3268761?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=Cyrus+cylinder&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DCyrus%2Bcylinder%26filter%3D&ab_segments=0%2Fbasic_SYC-5187_SYC-5188%2Fcontrol&refreqid=fastly-default%3A43cce9af3298485f1830bcb23acd07de&seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1896-0409-51
Now the book of Daniel has had secular skepticism because it is quite a prophetic book. For a Biblical timeline he would have written early to mid-6th century BC. Some disagree, arguing that he wrote in the 2nd century BC, though there is evidence to suggest he was a real person writing in 6th century BC. Jerimiah 39: 3 mentions Nebo Sarsekim who was the chief eunuch. The Nebo Sarsekim tablet writes that the pottery belonged to a man with the same name. It is dated to 595 BC. Jerimiah was said to have lived in a similar time period as Daniel. Now if these books were written 400 years later then how would Daniel or Jerimiah know someone of the court of King Nebuchadnezzar II who lived in the 6th century BC. There was no internet and information was sparsely passed down, compared to the post printing press era. So, it is nearly impossible that his name was kept in Jewish records unless written at the time. Moreover, this book was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. If you look at the Aramaic used and Aramaic from the 5th century BC it is very similar. Here is a marriage certificate from 449 BC from a Jewish colony in Egypt https://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/wgre/highlights/marriage-document-from-ananiah-to-meshullam-aramaic for an example. Language changes over time. The Aramaic of the 2nd century would be different than the Aramaic from a few hundred years before. Another problem with Daniel in the 2nd century BC is the dead sea scrolls. Part of Daniel’s book which is in some of the earlier dead sea scrolls date to 150 BC. This is a couple of decades at most from when secular skeptics say Daniel was written. This would mean that the book was written, and then became widespread and popular in a mere couple decades. This is a very serious reach which is not logical. https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1541&context=jats. Lastly, in Daniel chapter 5 it talks of the King Belshazzar needing Daniel to interpret writing on a wall. Again, some secular scholars in the early 19th century did not believe that King Belshazzar was a real person, because for some time they could only find record of a man named Nabonidus as the king for this time period. It also is interesting in the chapter that Belshazzar says he will make anyone who is able to interpret the wall 3rd in command of the whole kingdom. Why would he say this if he is real and the king, why not second? Even ancient historians like Herodotus, Megasthenes, Berossus said that the last king of Babylon was Nabonidus. Well discoveries found that this chapter is telling the truth. For example, the Nabonidus Cylinder from Ur which says “Belshazzar, the eldest son—my offspring”, dated to around 550BC. Vindicating Belshazzar as a real person. More evidence is seen in the Nabonidus Chronicle which describes Nabonidus being generally living far away from Babylon and Belshazzar as crown prince. It is not unusual for a crown prince or someone high up governing the kingdom day to day to be called king. For example, King Herod in the new testament was not actually king in the Roman empire but was a leader for a certain region. If this were written centuries after the 6th century BC how would Daniel know Belshazzar was a real person, as even other ancient historians did not write of him? One last point to explore is the use of the name Nebuchadnezzar as father to Belshazzar. In the Bible when the word father is used, it does not always mean literal father but ancestor or someone occupying the same office. The prophet Elisha had Shaphat as a biological father but calls his mentor Elijah as “His father” in 2 Kings 2:12. Jesus was called the son of David even though he was only his descendent. So as Belshazzar succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to the throne it is possible, he was in the Bible called father.
Now there are many more pieces of evidence for the old testament being historically accurate, but I can make more writings on those at a later date. This is all good but how do we know the translations of the Bible over the millennium can be reliable. There are two prominent texts that I would like to explore. The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls and the Dead Sea scrolls. The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls reveal to be a very early piece of scripture. It was found in burial chambers and has the writings of Numbers 6: 24-26 which is the 4th book in the Bible. These date to the 7th century BC which is much earlier than some secular scholars claim the Torah was written. This would suggest that the writings occurred much earlier than the 7th century BC as they were only burial amulets. This also shows the accuracy of these verses being the same in todays Bible with something over 2600 years old. The dead sea scrolls are very important as they have basically every book in the Bible in scroll form and are dated from 3rd century BC onwards. There are 230 manuscripts that are completely biblical texts. For example, the great Isiah Scroll. Before this the earliest copy of the oldest complete Hebrew Torah was the Leningrad codex and dates to 1000 AD approximately. There is very little difference between these two writings showing over 1000 years of time not much has changed and the Biblical writings are reliable.
This last section will be focusing on the latter part of the Bible the New Testament. I have often heard people scoff that the central figure of the Bible, Jesus, was even real. It shows how little people know about him. His is one of the most documented ancient figures of his era, with similar historical evidence as Julius Caesar. There are multiple accounts of him being real from Christian sources, the Bible and its accounts from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. There are Jewish historians such as Josephus and roman Historians such as Tacitus who all talk about Jesus being a real person. Josephus was a Jewish historian who was not a Christian and describes that Pilate condemned Jesus who claimed to be the Messiah to a cross to die. He writes in around the year 93 AD. His book is called antiquities of the Jews. Tacitus a roman senator, also not a Christian, and historian also write of a man called Jesus who was killed on the cross by the orders of Pilate. Written in 116 AD in his book Annals. In addition, Babylonian Talmud writes about Yeshu being hanged for practicing sorcery and apostasy, Yeshu is Jesus. Lucian of Samosata also a Greek wrote of Jesus in the second century. Writing that he was a man worshipped by Christians who was crucified.
There are also many pieces of evidence that corroborate the text in the new testament. In John chapter 9 Jesus heals a blind man in the pool of Siloam. This very pool has been found to be real in Jerusalem. Pottery dated it around the pool is from old testament to new testament times. In the book of Romans 16:23 mentions a man called Erastus who in the Bible is the city’s treasurer or city official for Corinth where Paul wrote Romans. There is the Erastus inscription found in 1929 which said Erastus in return for his aedileship he paved with his own money. It is dated to 1st century BC and likely the same. There is also the Pilate stone which says Pontus Pilate, the man allowing the romans to kill Jesus, was the prefect of Judea from 26 AD to 36 AD. This is the time period when Jesus was killed. Another figure that is prominent in the death of Jesus is high priest Caiaphas. Archaeologists have probably found his Ossuary with his bones inside. Jewish Historian Josephus says high priest Caiaphas full name is Joseph Caiaphas. The box had on it, Joseph son of Caiaphas and had a 60-year-old man’s bones in it. This is another person in the Bible seen to be most likely real. In the book of Acts 18:12 describes Gallio was proconsul of Achaia. In Delphi, Claudius the emperor at the time inscribed Junius Gallio as a friend and proconsul. It is dated to 52 AD which is when the Apostle Paul would have lived. All these show the new testament to not be a fairy-tale but texts with real people in it.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/300013.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A9c11775a00371e0feab60357dfc9cd2b page 144
The resurrection of Jesus is one of the biggest parts of the Bible. It has some evidence at the very least that people of the time claimed that it was true. Firstly, if we look at the Gospels they describe Jesus being buried in a tomb that was just for him. This was after he was crucified and was not in a mass grave for criminals. There have been a couple concrete discoveries to prove people were indeed crucified along with the many writings. The heel bone of Yehohanan is a heel with a large nail driven in it by romans to crucify. The bone was found in a family tomb like what Jesus was buried in. This shows the possibility of the Bible’s account for Jesus having a dignified burial. Furthermore, the Nazareth Inscription heavily suggests that people at the time thought he had resurrected. This is because it describes a penalty of death for people who caught robbing bodies of family tombs and dated to the first half of the 1st century AD. Its language is directed towards the Jews and not the Gentiles according to Dr. Clyde Billington. Why do people care about taking bodies, normally it was the treasure with the bodies people would steal? This what happened to the Pharaohs. In the Bible it describes that the Jewish leaders made up the story the disciples stole Jesus’ body. It seems likely that there was talk at the time that his body was stolen. It is reasonable to indicate there is a link and possibly a strong one between this inscription and Jesus. Some people may also say that he never was actually killed. If you look at who was killing him it does not make sense. The Romans we thoroughly trained and did not want to lose their job or life. They would have made sure you died on the cross, 1000s of people died during the first century from crucifixion. Even driving a spear to your side to ensure it. After that Jesus’ body was guarded by Roman soldiers who would not have let anyone steal the body. Who can survive 3 days without water, that is the length of time Jesus was dead in the Bible before he arose? In John it talks of water and blood coming from the spear hole in Jesus, which is a medical phenomenon, what would have happened to someone after taking such a beating from the floggings and other torture. Fluid would build up around the heart and lungs and come out from a hole with blood at the same time. How could someone 2000 years ago know this if they did not see it?
The Disciples themselves imply some validity of the resurrection. Not just because in their writings or their eyewitnesses who claim to have seen Jesus but for what they did after. 10 of the original disciples, after definitely knowing if it was a lie or not that Jesus was resurrected as they would know if they made up the story, all were killed brutishly for their belief in the resurrection. Some were beheaded or impaled or crucified upside-down. Why would you live your life persecuted and killed for a lie you made up? There had been many other self-proclaimed Messiahs before and after Jesus but if they got killed every time their following would either diminish or find a new leader. This is not what happened to Jesus. Paul writes that 500 people other than the disciples saw and met a resurrected Jesus.
About New Testament historical reliability to be the same as today I have seen a video that talks about it much better than I could. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ksvhHEoMLM&ab_channel=RaviZachariasInternationalMinistries.
Finally, how does all this relate back to creation vs evolution. Well I have tried to layout a series of evidence for the Bible being historically accurate. You may disagree with a few, but I would be very hard pressed to believe everything I have said is false. With so much pointing towards this text being historically reliable it brings up the possibility that we could start believing it. Especially give some thought to the possibility of its very beginning being true. I am not writing this to tell you, you must believe every word of the Bible. Rather that people should take it more seriously than a complete fiction. I also know that for some of my evidence there are skeptics that deny links I have proposed which is their freedom. I would just ask the question is that 100% because that is what the facts are telling them or is their disbelief in God being real what drives them in a certain direction. To conclude this is not a direct argument saying evolution is incorrect but that the book from where Biblical creation comes from is worth looking at as more non-fiction than fiction. Meaning that creation does not come from a fairytale and should be looked at the very least with some possibility with the rest of the book being historically accurate.
Thanks for reading.
Indonesian State Formation and its Geostrategic Posture
submitted by weilim to geopolitics
INTRODUCTIONI decide to write this piece because there is a lot of misperception and clichés about Indonesia in the media and even many think tanks. Often people remark that the country isn't cohesive and will balkanize. Many Australian observers have been saying this since the 1950s. This post will explain geographical and historical coherence of Indonesia.
First, Indonesia must be understood as a West-East Thalassocracy orientated around trade much like civilizations in Mediterranean. The trading concern transitioned into a plantation economy, and from this arose the plantation-settler state. The Indonesia's geostrategic drive even before it became independent was furthering the territorial expansion and exploitation (ie furthering the plantation system). Indonesia's foreign policy throughout much of its history involved advancing this form of nation building -- securing Indonesia's independence, recognition for Indonesia's "territorial expansion / consolidation"
The post will be organized as follows
INDONESIA'S GEOSTRATEGIC DOCUMENTIndonesia's geostrategic document is Wawasan Nusantara or ARCHIPELAGIC OUTLOOK. It states Indonesia's geography. the Indonesia's geographical challenges, and how to deal with them. Wawasan Nusantara is based on the Djuanda Declaration which recognized:
Over time, four main themes emerged out of this conception(1) an enduring concern over geographical location; (2) a suspicion toward extra-regional powers; (3) an aspiration for regional activism and leadership; and (4) a concern over national unity in the wake of fragmented geography.
INDONESIAN GEOGRAPHYIndonesia rest between Pacific and Indian Ocean, and between the Asian and Australian continents. As shown on the map there are four access points from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean that across Indonesia - Malacca Strait, Sunda Strait (ALKI I), Celebes-Lombok Strait (AKLIII), Banda Sea (ALKI--III)
According to a Rand Report published in 2013 Employing Land-Based Anti-Ship Missiles in the Western Pacific
Both Indonesia and Malaysia have robust arsenals of medium-range ASMs that, if these countries were willing, could effectively engage targets anywhere along the strait’s approximately 730-km length... would be difficult to defeat without employing land forces to locate these missile systems, which are mobile and relatively small in size ... Ships coming from the Indian Ocean could simply use the next-closest waterways, the Sunda and Lombok straits. However, the narrowness of these passages means that they could be easily covered with short-range missiles as wellThe archipelago of 18,108 islands comprises 2.8 km2 (92,877 sq. km of inland waters), 1,826,440 km2 of land, and if the EEZ is factored in, the country’s area stretches to 7.9 million km2. Below is a map of Indonesia super imposed on Europe.
However. despite the vast expense, East-West orientation means its aligned with the trade winds, which provide conduit for trade and migration much like the Mediterranean
AUSTRONESIAN THALASSOCRACYAll the large states in Maritime Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia) are Austronesian Thalassocracies.
Roughly 97% of Indonesians are Austronesian/Part Austronesian. Indonesian as well as 400 other Austronesian languages are spoken as the native tongue by 98% of Indonesians.. Indonesia is the world's largest Austronesian country. Below are a maps of ethnic and religious distribution However, the map only shows the geographical spread based of their region of origin.
The first reason why I introduce Indonesia as an Austronesian entity, because there Austronesians elements in Indonesia's national symbols.
Secondly, it helps to understand Maritime Southeast Asia. The basic cultural identity of Maritime Southeast Asia is Austronesian. The salim gesture is found across the region, whether in the Philippines (referred to as Mano in the Philippines), Malaysia and in Indonesia from a governor,jungle nomads in Sumatra to Papuans living in coastal areas.. The non-Austronesian influences like Hindu-Buddhist, Muslim or Christian are layers of culture on top of the Austronesian core.
Lastly, Austronesian culture influences settlement and ultimately Indonesian geopolitics. According to Eurasianist Petr Savitsky, a civilization or group of people, have a specific mestorazvitie or place of development. This is to answer perrendial question whether Indonesia is going to invade Australia. The answer is no For Austronesians their mestorazvitie has been islands, particularly ones with volcanos. Austronesian civilizations are primarily found on sub-tropical/tropical volcanic islands. 90% of Austronesians live on volcanic islands, the volcanic soils compensate for the lack of large river basins.
WEST EAST THALASSOCRACY
Indonesia is the only major Island country aligned longitudinally. The foundation of longitudinal thalassocracies is trade, because of the alignment with East-West trade wins.
In the Mediterranean, Phoenician traders created the network of ports that eventually became the Carthaginian Empire. In the Baltic, it was German traders from Northern Germany travelling and setting up shop in various ports that laid the foundation for Hanseatic League.
In Indonesian archipelago, various migratory trading communities like the Malays in Western Indonesia and Bugis / Makassarsse in the Eastern Indonesia created a network that the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) grafted onto.
Another similar characteristic was the development of trading lingua franca, during the Iron Age in Mediterranean it was Phoenancian, Hanseatic League it was Middle Low German(MLG) and in the Indonesian archipelago it was Malay. In Indonesia, the influence of Malay was established even before it was adopted as Indonesia's national language. Malay creoles are spoken as the main language stretch from Jakarta to the Papuan Bird's Head.
CORE AND PERIPHERYThe main geostrategic dichotomy in Indonesia is the Java (Core) vs outer islands (Periphery), it informs Indonesian debates on development, defense-security, and socio-political.
The island of Java was the population center of Maritime Southeast Asia. In 1800 it had a population greater than the rest of Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines combined. Even today, Java has only 6% of Indonesia land mass, but 57% of its population.
What made Java attractive for human habitation was the highest density of active volcanoes of the major islands in SEA, comparatively few earthquakes since its 500 km away from kilometers from major fault lines. Java resembles the Italian Peninsula in the Mediterranean, another location that benefited from volcanic soils.
A major debate in Indonesian discourse is the developmental inequality between Java )particularly Jakarta) and the rest. There have been accusations of Javanese Imperialism (the dominant ethnic group in Indonesia), that natural resources from the rest of Indonesia support Java. Reality is per capita incomes on Java are the same as the national average. This perception remains large because Java had a head start on development during the colonial period and it attracts a lot of investment relative to its physical area (50% of Indonesia's foreign investment ends up on Java)
From a defense viewpoint, the hard core and hallow periphery has been a characteristic vulnerability.
The Mongols in 1292 and Japanese in 1942 sailed right into Java with little resistance in the outer islands.
Japanese Invasion Route
The Java vs Outer island divide also translate into political differences. The Javanese (96% of who are Muslim)( vote for left wing secular / moderate Islamic parties / candidates, while non-Javanese Muslims vote for more right wing secular / hardline Islamic parties / candidates.
MATARAM SULTANATE AND THE DUTCH-INDONESIAN CONTINUAMThe foundation of the Indonesian state starts with the reign of Hanyakrakusuma (Sultan Agung) the third ruler of the Mataram Sultanate,1613-1645,
During his reign he expanded the Sultanate from Central Java to cover almost all of Java. Prior to his reign, kingdom in Indonesia were sea based trading kingdoms, with direct control over small pockets of land. It postulated that Sultan Agung believed you needed to conquer Java first, before conquering the rest of the archipelago. The Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit tried to do this, without bringing Western Java under their control.
Sultan Agung introduced a centralized administration to manage conquered territory, in contrast to the vassal system of a Mandala polity used before . He assigned adipati (Dukes) to rule provinces called kadipaten. In the past defeated enemies often continued to rule their fiefdom as vassals of the conquering kingdom; under Sultan Agung they were held as "prisoners" in the capital. As a result of the centralization and treatment of defeated enemies, the reign of Sultan's Agung and his successors was one of war. and rebellion
When the VOC took over Mataram territories in the mid-1700s, they kept this structure while only changing terminology. Adipati became Bupati (Regent or Regenten ) and kadipaten became Kebupaten (Regency or Regentschappen).. Indonesia still uses this structure, but with the province replacing the residency.
Until its bankruptcy in 1796, the VOC remained primarily a maritime trading concern, However, the plantations it setup in West Java in early 1700s, became the economic justification for territorial expansion and conquest that continued into late 20th century.
What made this expansion possible was the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, which resolved the long standing disputes between the Dutch and British, and set clear sphere of influence. It divided the Malacca Strait down the middle and established the borders of British Malaya and Dutch East Indies, and by extension modern day Malaysia and Indonesia.
THE PLANTATION-SETTLER STATEIndonesia is a plantation-settler state, with the plantation and settler aspects separating and merging throughout history
The first Dutch plantations were built in West Java in the late 18th century
However, in 1800, much of Java was still jungle, but within a century Java was viewed by many as the world's most modern plantation economy. New lands were opened up, and peasants were forced to grow cash crops. Farmers allocated converted irrigated rice fields for cash crops, and marginal lands was used to grow corn, cassava and sweet potato. As a result Java was plagued by famines until the 1970s, when Suharto transitioned irrigated lands back to growing rice,
By the mid-19th century, the Dutch had opened up coffee and rubber plantations in Sumatra, and by 1880s they begin to import Javanese coolies.
From 1900-1960, plantation crops made up about 50-60% of Dutch East Indies/Indonesia exports. While Java transitioned away from plantation economy in the 1970s, the economies of the outer islands are still plantation economies. Palm Oil and other cash crops still make up 30% of Indonesia's exports.
Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines had government human resettlement programs. However, Indonesia's was the most extensive, 20 Million people and their descendants are products of the transmigration program.
There are four commonly cited reasons for the resettlement:
TRANSMIGRATION SETTLEMENTS UNDER SUHARTO 1967-2000
Under Suharto from 1967-2000, Indonesia sent over 5.5 Million transmigrants, and during the peak from 1979-1984, they sent 2.4 Million. The majority were landless agricultural workers, Here is a map of all the transmigrant areas since 1905.
There were four categories of transmigrants. Transmigrants who migrated from another region (usually Java and Bali), those who moved from one settlement to another, those who were moved because of natural disasters and spontaneous migrants who funded their own expenses for the move.
Transmigrants were from one region (ie Java or Bali), but not from one particular village. In this period they usually settled non-Muslims in non-Muslim areas, largely to avoid conflicts over raising pigs.
Settlement were usually built away from the local villages/towns to avoid conflict. While in colonial and Sukarno era settlements transmigrants cleared the land, by 1970s infrastructure, housing and support facilities built before transmigrants arrived. The cost in 1977 to move a family of five was US$1200 and by the early 1990s it increased to US$4200 The cost included transport, land, housing materials, tools, seeds and initial food supplies. This is a significant sum given the country's per capita income was only US$500 in 1990. Indonesia funded this from government revenue and loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB)
ISSUES WITH THE PLANTATION-SETTLER STATE
Indonesia's plantations and settlements have been associated with Land Disputes and Environmental Destruction, Patronage and Corruption and Ethnic and Religious Conflict.
Land Disputes and Environmental Destruction
Most of the land disputes involving local inhabitants were with plantations and spontaneous migrants, Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria (Consortium for Agrarian Reform, KPA), an Indonesian NGO, documented more than 650 land-related conflicts affecting over 650,000 households in 2017 ( 502,000 Ha ).
Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, with more than 74 million hectares (285,700 square miles) of rainforest, an area nearly twice the size of Japan - logged, burned or degraded in the last half century, according to Greenpeace.
Corruption and Patronage
The opening of new lands is a corrupt process even by Indonesian standards. Embezzlement is higher because new infrastructure is being built and due to distance from Jakarta.
The second type of corruption is the payment of bribes for permits, licenses and titles. Here is a list of recent cases
In respect, to the military, this participation is an offshoot of operating legitimate businesses from 1945-2010, and has been effectively phased out, The military involvement in business arose during the War of Independence 1945-49. when it had raise money to support themselves. In 2009, it was estimated the INdonesian military businesses had about US$350 Million in assets, and generated a profit of US$ 29.5 Million / year.. Because these enterprises no longer exist and also due to rise in retirement age, the Indonesian Army has hundreds of colonels and general with no functional position.
ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS TENSION
Given the scale of the program, the consensus among scholars is there has been relatively little ethnic and religious conflicts between transmigrants and local inhabitants,. Most of the violent incidents had occurred in Sukarno era projects where they put non-Muslim migrants in Muslim areas and vice versa like with Balinese Hindu migrants and Lampung natives in Sumatra (2012). Post-Sukarno era projects avoided this by trying to settle non-Muslim settlers in non-Muslim areas.
THE HARDWARE OF THE PLANTATION-SETTLER STATEIn this discussion, I will talk about physical infrastructure, and the government instruments used to secure control -- civilian bureaucracy and the military.
From the late 18th century until recently, the transportation network (roads, railways and ports) and irrigation systems were prioritized. The transportation networks were designed to transport crops(and later on natural resources from plantations and mines to nearby ports for export markets. At the moment only Java has a islandwide rail system and expressway. In all the other major islands, there is no expressway, just a series of roads connecting to each other, which may or may not form an island wide system.
Export manufacturing industries setup starting from the 1980s followed a similar pattern. Most export industries, like in the rest of Southeast Asia, are house in industrial estates
The focus of Power generation is to supply industry and industrial estates. As a result of this focus on industrial power generation, as recently as 2004 electrification was only 50% (now its 99.8%)
As a result of this estate focus, nationwide connectivity is still poor. Logistics sectors is plagued by long delivery times and unreliability.
After Reformasi, infrastructure spending dropped from 9% of GDP in the mid-1990s to 3.6% in 2014. However, as a result of big infrastructure push under the current President, Joko Widodo, as of 2019 its 6% of GDP. Since 2014, the focus has been to address issues of distribution and connectivity. Long delayed infrastructure projects like Trans Java expressway, Trans Papuan Road Network and Jakarta MRT have been completed
From the colonial era to 2003, the Indonesian state was centralized, the regional governments, provincial and district (regency) only controlled 14% of government expenditure. The center controlled nearly all capital expenditure. and executed programs based on centralized five year plans
The centralized bureaucracy was necessary to settle large numbers of people from one part of the country to another, because you have end to end control. In Indonesia, transmigration was handled and coordinated by Department of Transmigration.
After 1998, the Indonesian government implemented a big decentralizing push. The centralized Five Year Plans were scrapped, budgets, some revenue collecting authority, personal and assets were devolved to regional governments. 60% of central government bureaucracy had been transferred to regional governments (2.1 Million people)
At the core of Indonesia's military doctrine is Abdul Haris Nasution’s Fundamentals of Guerrilla Warfare (1953) who served as Army Chief of Staff from 1949-52 and 1955-66. Nasution, having fought on both sides, saw insurgency and counter insurgency as two sides of the same coin. Secondly, given the weakness of Indonesia navy and airforce, the external defense of Indonesia would be organized as a people's guerilla war with the military taking the lead role.
In addition, Nasution was a key proponent in the Indonesia's Army adoption of the Prussian Wehrkreis (military district) as a method of territorial defense and troop mobilization. The Indonesian Army has 15 KODAM (Komando Daerah Militer or Regional Military Commands) Each Kodam is divided smaller territorial units, with the smallest being village level command (BABINSA). At the center there is the Strategic Reserves (KOSTRAD) and the Special Forces (KOPASSUS)
There are three extra Kodam formed since the map was produced, Kodam Trikora has split into Kasuari and Cenderawasih, Kodam Wirabuana split into Hasanuddin and Merdeka.
Nasution also came up with the Military's dual function (Dwifungsi) role in 1955, which the government implemented in 1966. It stipulated beside the military's defense functions, the military should participate in every effort and activity of the people in the field of ideology, politics and economics. The military was given reserved seats in Parliament, as well as important positions in the civilian bureaucracy, state owned companies and regional government (city mayors and provincial governors).
The democratic transition had a major impact on the military in three ways. First the military no longer adheres to dwifungsi role. Reserved seats in parliament have been eliminated, and no longer parachuted into civilian positions like mayor. Secondly, the focus of the Indonesian military is now external defense. Thirdly, the budgets of the Navy and Airforce has been increased. Fourthly, the Armed Forces Chief of Staff is rotated between three branches, before it was held by an army generals. Since 2019, the Indonesian military has been organized on a joint command system Kogabwilhan (Komando Gabungan Wilayah Pertahanan) with a Western, Central and Eastern Joint Command.
CONTINUED IN COMMENTS