Seminar: Making Sense of Indonesian Foreign Policy Under Jokowi


In October 2014, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was inaugurated as Indonesia’s president, succeeding President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Jokowi had no personal, career, class, or political ties to the outgoing administration. He was viewed from a national policy-making perspective as a newcomer, thought to be uninformed and ill-prepared, lacking the attributes and requisites considered necessary for the leader of a self- and internationally-labelled “rising middle power.” This paper explores one policy area – foreign policy – in which particular concerns were raised about the future directions and constancy of Indonesian foreign policy and the suggestions that Yudhoyono’s outward-looking, globalist internationalism would be replaced by Jokowi’s inward-looking nationalism. The prospect of an Indonesian policy discontinuity and unpredictability in post-Yudhoyono foreign policy raised concerns for Indonesia’s neighbours and international partners. The argument presented here is that Jokowi’s foreign policy, while conducted in a lower key than its predecessor, does not appear to be fundamentally different in objectives or deviating from the general course of foreign policy in post-democracy Indonesia. There are changes in style and priorities but the bedrock foundations for policy remain unchanged, and in the conduct of policy, Indonesia still adheres to the principles of bebas dan aktif (independent and active). Under Jokowi, Indonesia continues to be a responsible, cooperative international partner, sharing interests in economic growth and regional peace and security.


DONALD E. WEATHERBEE is Visiting Professorial Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. He is also the Donald S. Russell Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina, and has been described as the dean of the American scholars of the International Relations of Southeast Asia. The various versions of his book, International Relations in Southeast Asia: The Struggle for Autonomy caps more than four decades of teaching, writing, and analysing politics and foreign policy in the region. He was awarded the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service medal for his contribution to strategic planning for post-Vietnam War Southeast Asian international relations. Professor Weatherbee is a close Indonesia-watcher. He has lived and taught in Indonesia for about four years and has been a frequent visitor. He also sits on the board of advisors to the United States-Indonesia Society. In addition to Indonesia, Professor Weatherbee has held teaching and research appointments in universities and institutes in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, England and South Korea. He received his PhD in International Relations from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 4 April 2016.


Apr 05 2016


10:30 am - 12:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2