The Bali bombings on 12 October were not Indonesia's first encounter with international terrorism, but no attack on this scale had happened before, and no Indonesian believed that peaceful Bali would ever be a target.
The international community in the last decade repeatedly made a mess of handling the many demands that were made for "humanitarian intervention": coercive action against a state to protect people within its borders from suffering grave harm. There were no agreed rules for handling cases such as Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo at the start of the 1990s, and there remain none today. Disagreement continues about whether there is a right of intervention, how and when it should be exercised, and under whose authority.
In the aftermath of the 12 October bombing in Bali, Indonesians are convinced they have terrorists in their midst. They're just not sure who they are. Absurd, as it may seem, if talk shows and media commentaries are any indication, the most likely candidates in most Indonesians' minds are the U.S. government and the Indonesian army. Al-Qaeda is a distant third.
This week the Bush administration has been busy unveiling its new "road map" for a Mideast peace to Israelis, Palestinians and other nations. It is an exhaustive document that has a little of everything except what is needed most: a detailed blueprint of a comprehensive political settlement and a realistic, internationally monitored way of getting there.
The 20th century was by far the bloodiest in human history, and as the 21st begins we cannot have much confidence that we will do any better. Despite all the hopes we have been nurturing since the end of the Cold War more than a decade ago, the international community has been, with not very many exceptions, spectacularly unsuccessful in preventing mass killing and resolving deadly conflict within and between states.