Home / Articles / Indonesia Returns to the International Stage: Good News for the United States
Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country, third largest democracy and home to the world’s largest community of Muslims, has returned to the international stage. Indonesia’s membership in a number of important global communities–it resides physically in Asia but is part of the broader Muslim world, the developing world, and the community of democracies–makes it an important international actor. Many Americans assume that common democratic values will translate into shared foreign policy goals and cooperation between the United States and Indonesia. The two countries do share significant interests, such as counter terrorism, maritime security, and a wariness of China, but also hold starkly different positions on the Middle East peace process and global trade issues. Democracy provides opportunities for the two-thirds of Indonesians who hold anti-American views to influence foreign policy, making it costly for Indonesian leaders to cooperate with the United States. Indonesia’s return is good news for America, but the relationship needs to be managed skillfully to maximize benefits for both sides.