Indonesia, the biggest economy in Southeast Asia and long the dominant strategic actor, is a country whose bilateral relationship with the United States has historically underperformed its potential. As I noted in a Council Special Report, U.S.-Indonesia economic and security ties lag Washington’s links with other leading countries in the region, though Indonesia is becoming one of the biggest consumer markets in the world, and wields the most influence over regional diplomacy.
But the country is drifting, in economic reforms and its commitment to democracy. Islamist groups have become emboldened, undermining secularism and targeting minorities. Unfortunately, presidential elections in Indonesia on April 17 are probably not going to revitalize Indonesian politics. For more on the upcoming election, and its possible impact on regional security and U.S.-Indonesia relations, see my new CFR article.