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Dan Slater

Indonesia seems perpetually condemned to “live in interesting times,” as the famous Chinese curse goes. The past decade has seen the country attract global notoriety as a land of recurrent economic shocks, ethnic conflicts, terrorist bombings, separatist rebellions, and natural catastrophes. Political authorities have appeared too corrupt and inept to respond effectively. Thus, when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), a retired general, scored a landslide victory in Indonesia’s first-ever direct presidential election in September 2004, the political rise of a military man was widely portrayed as a small blow for stability in a highly unstable nation.