IO – Indonesia, being a country sandwiched between two continents and two seas, should establish a marine defense force. This is required not only to protect Indonesia’s maritime sovereignty and riches, but also to ensure shipping safety and marine security for all Indonesian ships as well as ships from other nations that sail through Indonesian seas from west to east and north to south.
Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto said that the Indonesian government is now focusing on increasing the country’s military might, particularly the capability of the Indonesian Navy’s vessels. He said that President Joko Widodo, had authorized and endorsed the greatest military budget allocation in Indonesian history.
For the fiscal year 2022, the Ministry of Defense earned the greatest budget among all ministries, totaling Rp133.9 trillion. According to Defense Minister Prabowo, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has also endorsed the strengthening of the Indonesian military.
With this backing, he guaranteed that the Ministry of Defense was given the go-ahead to make the Indonesian military the most powerful in Southeast Asia. In particular, he stated that the feet of combat ships will be strengthened through purchase over the following 24 months, bringing the overall feet to 50 battle-ready vessels.
As according Breaking Defense News, the loss of one of Indonesia’s outdated submarines last year, as well as continuous Chinese intrusions into the Indonesia’s economic zone, undoubtedly led Prabowo and Jokowi to expand military expenditure.
Babcock International struck a deal with Indonesia’s PT PAL last year to build two modified versions of the AH140 frigate in Jakarta. Prabowo has also inked contracts for six Italian FREMM multi-role frigates and two refurbished Italian Navy Maestrale-class light frigates.
Natuna Sea in Realism Perspective
Conflicts between countries are the primary kind of natural circumstances that are incorporated into international relations, according to the notion of political realism. As a result, laws, bureaucratic procedures, and inter-state organizations were established in an attempt to reduce disputes and losses for each side. The similar thing happened during the Natuna Sea conflict.
The never-ending confrontation between Indonesia and China over the Natuna Sea is heating up. Both claim control of the Natuna area. According to recent reports, China has demanded that Indonesia halt oil and gas drilling activity in the Natuna Sea because China considers the Natuna Sea to be part of its territory.
However, Indonesia refused to give up and argues that the Natuna area is a region belonging to Indonesia. The Indonesian government responded with a letter verifying that the drilling operation took place on the continental shelf, as required by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
To protect itself from possible sovereignty interruptions in the form of military threats originating in its external environment, a state will require military might. The notion of protecting its borders is based on classical realism, which emphasizes the self-help system. In other words, the concept of border security will have implications for deterrence and military force with other state actors. Realism also thinks that the state is a rational actor in which a country would think logically, which means that each country will always take the most profit while anticipating the least damage.
One of the most important national security objectives, even for a classic Realist like Hans. J. Morgenthau, is “to defend its physical, political, and cultural distinctiveness against invasion by other nations.” Furthermore, in order to sustain its territorial security and survival, every nation-state must achieve its “expressed in terms of power” national interest.
National interests are very important in the Realism assertion, and according to this concept, the security needs of a nation-state actor have a very close relationship between state sovereignty and international system characteristics such as anarchy and power distribution, with all foreign policies and actions taken by the state. State actors have intervened.
Meanwhile, anarchy, according to defensive realist Kenneth Waltz, motivates states to want security, which has a variety of repercussions. The first implication is that a state’s effort to improve its own security may result in a decrease in the security of other states as a result of the danger it offers, which is known as the security dilemma. It is preferable to develop mutual security through cooperation to eliminate security dilemmas. The second conclusion is that power is considered as a potentially useful tool for ensuring security rather than the ultimate goal by these regimes.
If international political realism is to be believed, the contact between China and Indonesia is a natural occurrence. Countries may be compared to people in the notion of international relations since they always pursue their own power and interests and therefore develop aggressiveness. Political realism views power as the primary issue in international relations, with each country playing a significant part in the battle for power.
Indonesia is not a claimant state in the South China Sea conflict since 1990, but Indonesia has a vital national interest to the jurisdiction of waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf which overlaps with claims 9 dashed lines of PRC.
As a result, from 1990 to 2000, Indonesia hosted informal discussions to resolve conflicting claims in the South China Sea between China and other ASEAN members such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines.
This initiative demonstrates Indonesia’s intention to resolve maritime boundary disputes in the South China Sea. However, Indonesia was obliged to become engaged in this conflict since China established a nine-dash line policy in the South China Sea in 2009, which includes the Natuna seas. Meanwhile, Indonesia maintains diplomatic ties that do not provoke confrontation. Indonesia’s goal has always been to settle maritime borders within the framework of the UNCLOS, even if China does not recognize it.
Indonesia opposes China’s belief in the nine-dash line because it lacks the legal force of international law. Meanwhile, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is utilized by the Indonesian government to claim ownership, has worldwide legal effect and is recognized by other states. China, on the other hand, is continuing to take forceful measures. Since 2019, Chinese ships have been increasingly present in the Natuna Sea.
This behavior is founded on Hans Morgenthau’s realism principle, which states that no act of international engagement can be isolated from economic interests. In this state of mind, being good takes precedence above economic interests, hence a country’s actions must still be morally grounded.
Indonesia and China have continued to strengthen military forces as a result of their geopolitical circumstances. Not just Indonesia, but China, too, is developing defense facilities in order to compete with major powers.