In 1975, Indonesian forces overran East Timor, just days after it declared independence from Portugal. Canadian officials knew the invasion was coming and endorsed Indonesian rule in the ensuing occupation. Challenge the Strong Wind recounts the evolution of Canadian government policy toward East Timor from 1975 to its 1999 independence vote. During this time, Canadian civil society groups and NGOs worked in support of Timorese independence activists by promoting an alternative Canadian foreign policy that focused on self-determination and human rights. After following the lead of key pro-Indonesian allies in the 1970s and ’80s, Ottawa eventually yielded to pressure from these NGOs and pushed like-minded countries to join it in supporting Timorese self-rule. David Webster draws on previously untapped government and non-government archival sources to demonstrate that a clear-eyed view of international history must include both state and non-state perspectives. The East Timor conflict serves as a model of multilevel dialogue, citizen diplomacy, and novel approaches to resolving complex disputes.
Foreword by Robert Bothwell and John English
1 Introduction: Never a Lost Cause
Part 1: From Indifference to Complicity, 1975–83
2 Through Australian Eyes? Pierre Trudeau and the Indonesian Annexation of East Timor, 1975–77
3 Human Rights and the Humanitarian Impulse: Oxfam and East Timor, 1975–76
4 Changing Sides at the United Nations, 1978–82
5 Ceasefire and War Crimes, 1983
Part 2: A Clash of Narratives, 1984–91
6 A Counter-Narrative Emerges, 1980–85
7 Congruent Interests? The Mulroney Government, 1984–91
8 Canadian Catholics and the East Timor Struggle
9 The Canada Asia Working Group, 1986–91
10 Speaking Mouths: The East Timor Alert Network, 1986–91
Part 3: Trade vs. Human Rights, 1991–98
11 Santa Cruz and After
12 Human Rights and Diaspora Diplomacy
13 Recalibrating the Relationship, 1993–95
14 A Nobel Cause: Diplomacy and Activism, 1996–98
Part 4: Changing the Narrative, 1998 Onward
15 Canada Comes Around, 1998–99
16 Canada and East Timor in the Twenty-First Century
17 Conclusion: Diplomacies Seen and Unseen
Notes; Bibliography; Index
David Webster is a professor of history and global studies at Bishop’s University. He is author of Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World and editor of Flowers in the Wall: Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Melanesia. He worked with the East Timor Alert Network of Canada from 1987 to 1997, and is a member of the international advisory council of Centro Nacional Chega, the Timorese centre for truth and reconciliation.
David Webster's Challenge the Strong Wind: Canada and East Timor, 1975−99 is a significant scholarly work on Canada‐East Timor relations.
~Wu‐Ling Chong, Asian Policy and Politics
I read with avid interest David Webster’s Challenge the Strong Wind…this is a wonderful book.
~Ferry de Kerckhove, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa, International Journal