A week after the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence and hundreds of journalists and observers fled, one thing was obvious. The violence engulfing this half-island wasn’t just the work of a ragtag group of pro-Indonesian militia, but rather reflected a highly organized campaign. Although obvious to Western reporters, that fact nevertheless escaped the notice of most of Indonesia’s press.
On the surface, the story centered on two warring political groups. But this was mainly a convenient fiction, designed to perpetuate the idea that factions had been warring in East Timor since 1975. Conclusion: without the Indonesian army, the place would descend into civil war.