It seems that someone or other has bombed the Australian embassy in Jakarta. The latest reports put the death toll at seven, with a hundred or so injured. It seems that a car pulled in front of the embassy and exploded, and that all of the dead are Indonesians either milling about just outside the gates of the embassy or employed as guards at the embassy.
The US embassy in Jakarta has released a statement telling Americans to continue to lay low in Indonesia, avoiding “identifiably Western” locations. This is actually quite reassuring, as we have no plan to spend any time at any Western-oriented locations (Western chain hotels, tourist bars, Tony Roma’s A Place For Ribs on Jalan Hasyim, etc). Our hotel is a small Indonesian one frequented by businessmen from the Middle East. The only “identifiably Western” location we would spend any time is the US Embassy, which is protected by a gigantic reinforced concrete wall courtesy of the Clinton administration. This news is scary, but we can proceed with caution.
The question on everyone’s mind is naturally, Why? A number of possible answers exist. First, Australia has the dubious honor of being the only country besides Britain to have sent troops to invade Iraq. Second, the Australian general elections take place soon. Australians also have a reputation in Indonesia as “Lager Louts,” treating the islands sort of like Las Vegas. Remember, it’s only a three-hour plan ride from Perth to Bali.