The United States-Indonesia relationship has assumed an increasing importance for both countries for a variety of reasons. Besides being the world’s third-largest democracy, possessing the world’s largest Muslim population and having the seventh-largest economy in the world in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, Indonesia also borders the South China Sea, which, given its maritime traffic and geostrategic location, is of prime importance to the United States.
The United States was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Indonesia in 1949 after it gained independence from the Netherlands. The country’s increasing turn towards democratic norms after 1998, when President Suharto was removed from office, has seen its political institutions stabilise and its economy grow more or less steadily. It has, thus, become a prime target for the US to further develop their bilateral relationship. As this paper will demonstrate, however, both countries have their own visions of what form that relationship should be, based on their individual objectives and goals.