Indonesian Geopolitics in Facing Terrorist Ideology

President Soekarno in his supervision and first lecture in front of the participants of the Regular Course Batch (KRA) 1 of the National Defense Institute (Lemhannas) at the State Palace, Jakarta, on 20 May 1965, emphasized that the ideal democratic order for a developing country like Indonesia about what is appropriate with the level of progress of social thinking and national capabilities that have capabilities to increasing the welfare of the economy (Geopolitics and the Conception of National Resilience, editors: Ermaya Suradinata and Alex Dinuth, 2001).

The purpose of Bung Karno’s mandate is to supervise the political policy which must really be aimed at the ability to overcome and eliminate the influences of ideologies that is contrary to the ideology of Pancasila.

All of these is purposed so that the political and state life is based on what is required by the 1945 Constitution and democracy which is deemed most appropriate.

In this way, political activities that are inappropriate and are contrary to the democracy of Pancasila are not given the right to be existed.

To obtain this mental-ideological resilience, it is necessary to instill awareness which includes awareness of the Pancasila ideology, national awareness, state awareness and political awareness.

This is getting more relevant to the current conditions where there are widespread reports that fundamentalists, radicalists and terrorists have joined political parties.

On the occasion of national dialogue between BNPT, KPU and Bawaslu with political parties at The St. Regis Hotel Jakarta, Monday (13/3/2023), Head of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) Boy Rafli Amar revealed that there were parties affiliated with terrorist groups who were also members of national political parties.

Terrorists seem to be getting smarter these days. Initially they moved to scatter bombs. We still remember that 2000 and 2001 were tense and bloody years when the Bali bombings occurred.

This act of terrorism tore the peace and damaged the peace of the Indonesian nation, it was so terrible.

However, more than two decades after this incident has passed, (signs of) terrorism are still alive. Nevertheless, various efforts have been taken to prevent and eradicate terrorism. Among other things, through two policy approaches.

First, through law enforcement so that those dealing with criminal acts of terrorism receive punishment commensurate with their actions.

Second, an ideology-based policy approach. Indeed, eradicating terrorism in Indonesia must be supported by the awareness of all elements of the nation to play an active role.


Politics of Identity

In the realm of democracy, we are told that: competition is a necessity – so anyone can enter, as long as it is constitutional.

As a personality or political party, it has confirmed its identity, and this is practically a marker of the constitution. However, identity in the fight for democracy always holds ideas – this becomes a special status.

This phenomenon is examined by Carl Schurz as equal rights. So, according to Carl, “from equality of rights emerges identity as the highest interest.”

The highest interest is the basic idea of an identity. When “idea” was defined by the philosopher Plato as “something eternal and absolute”, at the same time, identity became eternal.

Then in the geopolitical constellation, identity is a characteristic of a country seen as a totality, specifically a country that is limited by territory, population, history, government, and national objectives, as well as the role played in the international community.

In an explicit language, the well-known activist Andrea Dworkin (1946 – 2005), she emphasized that “All personal, psychological, social and institutionalized domination on this earth can be traced back to its source: identity.”

And if all those definitions of identity are included into the political matters, it becomes identity politics. Then every person – and political party – has their own political identity. This is such a natural value.

But when these natural values are exploited, politicized, so that the level of the identity politics portion exceeds a healthy dose – it is certainly dangerous for the integrity of this nation.

This terrible history has occurred in the dynamics of Indonesian democracy, where identity politics has been ‘overdosed’ in the 2014 elections.

In this democratic party, it appears that there are groups that use identity politics to gain support – whether using issues, race, religion or ethnicity. Then in the DKI Jakarta’s regional head elections in 2017, and in 2019, identity politics was also strongly played.

Will identity politics also be played in the 2024 election? The problem is, in the context of practical political contestation, the usage of identity politics is considered one of the ways the politicians gain the public sympathy.


Early detection of threats

However, when identity is politicized as a means of resistance, which is represented in an extreme way to gain support from people who feel “the same” – whether in race, ethnicity, religion or other elements, it is clear that people are using terror methods.

Initially, these terror methods were used in plain view, including exploding suicide bombs, then they turned to subtle methods that were constitutional in nature.

So clearly this is a threat – an attempt to change or investigate policies conceptually from a political perspective.

This form of threat needs to receive attention, because all threats aimed at all areas of social life, whatever the type and form, no matter how negligible it is, it must not be underestimated.

This needs to be emphasized, because in general, traditionally what is considered as a threat is only those that are physical, military and threating externally.

In fact, a political orientation that ultimately changes the ideology of Pancasila comes slowly and subtly, and is a threat that could exist in political dynamics. Moreover, BNPT has informed that there are parties affiliated with terrorist groups who have become members of political parties.

This threat has a main mission and target, including: to treat weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the fields of ideology, politics, economics, socio-culture and defense and security. If opponents succeed in exploiting this vulnerability, Indonesia’s national defense will seriously decline.

The problem is that from here every vulnerability in our society can be used as an opponent’s social weapon system, so don’t pretend you don’t see these vulnerabilities.

In conditions like this, identity politics also emerges. And this identity politics always has the ambition of public opinion which emphasizes that people without an identity cannot be leaders.

This kind of deprives minorities of having equal rights in choosing to become leaders.

These methods or strategies of identity politics, therefore, focus on differences to continue to be exacerbated. And it always makes it difficult to strengthen equality and togetherness. The use of primordial ties is always celebrated as its foundation.


Pancasila rejects identity politics

Therefore identity politics is contrary to Pancasila. In the third precept, “Persatuan Indonesia” (Indonesian Unity), is the unity of the nation that covers the entire territory of Indonesia.

This great nation has more than 300 ethnic groups and there are 1,340 ethnic groups who really need unity, and whose recognition is stated in “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (Unity in diversity).

The ideology of Pancasila plays an important role against identity politics, because Pancasila is the basis of the Republic of Indonesia which is able to filter the politicization of issues of race and religion.

Thus this can be used as a guideline for achieving goals in accordance with the norms prevailing in society.

Political perspectives are also accommodated in Pancasila. The first principle, “Ketuhanan yang maha Esa” (Belief in One Almighty God), is a philosophy of transcendence that strengthens the guarantee of a person’s right to engage in politics while respecting religious differences.

Likewise in the second precept, “Kemanusiaan yang adil dan beradab” (Just and Civilized Humanity) is the spirit of political engagement so that politics does not eliminate human characteristics, and at the same time provides guidelines in politics so as it is not losing its dignity.

The third principle, “Persatuan Indonesia” (Indonesian Unity), is a political guideline to view differences in terms of ethnicity, race, ethnicity and religion in order to avoid divisions.

Meanwhile, the fourth precept, “Kerakyatan yang dipimpin oleh hikmat kebijaksanaan dalam permusyawaratan perwakilan” (Populist Led by Wisdom in Representative Deliberations) is a source of wisdom for political leaders.

Such political leadership is certainly not dictatorial, arrogant, and prioritizes superiority. This is a humane political philosophy.

Therefore, political leaders from the forging of this principle, apart from representing wisely, are also able to provide justice, as mandated by the fifth principle: “Keadilan sosial bagi seluruh rakyat Indonesia” (Social justice for all Indonesian people).

(Prof. DR. Drs. Ermaya Suradinata, SH, MH, MSI, is the former Director General of Social and Political Affairs of the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs, Chancellor of IPDN, Governor of Lemhannas RI, and currently the Expert Council for Geopolitics and Geostrategy of BPIP RI.)