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Australia’s involvement in the liberation of East Timor, a mission launched on September 20, 1999, was the most decisive demonstration of Australian influence in the region since World War II, and the nation’s largest military deployment since the Vietnam War. Australian diplomacy and leadership shaped the events that led to the birth of Asia’s newest nation. But was it destined to be a success? And have we learnt the right lessons?
The East Timor crisis tested Australia’s ability to respond to a regional incident like no other event before or since then. For the first time, Australia was expected to lead in forming a 22-nation coalition and in conducting a delicate and complex mission in the face of a resentful and emotionally charged residual Indonesian force and associated militia elements that remained in East Timor. Things could have gone horribly wrong with the insertion of troops.
Read Seventeen years on, East Timor intervention remains a success by John Blaxland published in the Canberra Times.