Vincent BevinsJul 1, 2020
The Jakarta Method
Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade &
Public Affairs 2020
Why did the word “Jakarta” appear as graffiti on the streets of Santiago in 1973? Why did left-wing Chilean activists receive postcards in the mail with the ominous message “Jakarta is coming”? Why did a Brazilian general lose his temper in an interview with university students, threaten their safety, and yell the name of Indonesia’s capital city?
In The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade & the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World (Public Affairs, 2020) journalist Vincent Bevins links the history of the overthrow of Sukarno – a leader of 1960s Third Worldism –, the rise of the Suharto – one of the most brutal and corrupt dictators – , and the slaughter of 500,000 to one million Indonesians allegedly linked to the Indonesian Community Party (the PKI) to the Latin American “dirty wars”, including Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Central America. This is a major achievement and something that very few scholars have been able to do.
Bevins persuasively argues that the long-ignored and even silenced history of Indonesia 1965 was of truly world historical significance.
The Jakarta Method joins a growing body of scholarly work on what some call a “political genocide” and what a 1968 CIA report deemed “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century”. By showing how the overthrow of the radical Sukarno, the rise of the pro-American Suharto, and the brutal destruction of the largest Communist party outside of the USSR and the PRC impacted both right-wing generals and left-wing revolutionaries from the streets of Rio de Janeiro to the jungles of Cambodia, The Jakarta Method is a much needed and very welcome globalization of this history.
Vincent Bevins is a native Californian who attended UC Berkeley before he began his career as an international correspondent in Venezuela. He worked for the Financial Times in London, covered Brazil and the southern cone for the Los Angeles Times, and then moved to Jakarta where he reported on Southeast Asia for the Washington Post. He spoke to us from Sao Paulo, Brazil about The Jakarta Method. An excerpt of the book appeared in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford, 2018). When he’s not quietly reading or happily talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.