The decision to liberate the people of East Timor, to take a stand on behalf of a small fledgling nation that cried out for help' was trumpeted recently by John Howard as one of his governments proudest achievements. But what precisely was Australia's role in the independence of East Timor? Over the years, successive Australian governments had worked to preserve Indonesian sovereignty over the territory and so it was surprising when in September 1999, the Howard government took the lead in assembling a multinational peacekeeping force to guarantee East Timor's independence. "Reluctant Saviour" explains why. Clinton Fernandes exposes the role of the socalled Jakarta Lobby and argues that under their influence, the Howard government worked to support Indonesia's occupation of East Timor.
Clinton Fernandes is a major in the Australian army and a leading expert on Australian/Indonesian relations.