Instability In Indonesia: Is It Inevitable? Part III


All told, there are seven pressure points inside Indonesia that could be organically activated or externally provoked either separately or in synchronization in order to destabilize the authorities and move the country ever closer to the autonomy-federalization model. The CIA’s history of anti-government activity in Indonesia bodes particularly worrisome for what the country’s future may hold if it doesn’t assuredly enough commit to the TPP and other Chinese Containment Coalition measures in the coming years. Other than situation-specific Color Revolution attempts that could be unleashed against the authorities, the rest of the Indonesian research will read as a curated summary of the conflicts that have been discussed thus far, conclusively putting them in the context of Hybrid War and explaining the nature of their danger to the state.

Wahhabist Terrorism In The Javanese and Sumatran Cores

This threat is the most obvious to all observers and with fair reason. Like it was earlier explained, these two islands form the core of Indonesia’s population and economy, and the high density of both (especially on Java) makes them extremely vulnerable to large-scale and highly effective attacks. The domestic Muslim community has been very useful in preaching the true tenets of the faith and dispelling foreign-proselytized (Saudi) misinterpretations, but it lamentably appears almost inevitable that sooner or later the country will be struck by a global headline-grabbing terrorist attack. If the state is caught off balance by this and/or if security shortcomings are later revealed to have been partly responsible for the magnitude of the tragedy, then it could provide a calculated spark for Color Revolution elements to begin their anti-government destabilization. Even if the scenario coordination isn’t taken to that far of a level, the perception that Indonesia has turned into a Wahhabist battleground could augur negatively for foreign investment and tourism, which by themselves could quickly lead to a compound effect of economic damage that might circuitously result in the said anti-government demonstrations after some time.

The worst thing that can happen in this possible eventuality is if an urban-rural caliphate is forcibly carved out in or near one of the main densely populated centers of Sumatra and/or Java. The government will do whatever it can to prevent this from happening, but if it comes to pass even for a brief period of time such as a day or two, then it would crucially illustrate the state’s weakness and might irreversibly encourage other terrorist groups (religiously and/or ethnically affiliated) to do the same elsewhere in the country. There is no solution more fitting for the government to apply in such a situation than the imposition of martial law, whether in the targeted areas or as further afield as the whole country itself, and although initiated in the interests of national security, it would undoubtedly damage the country’s economic security with time per the pullout/suspension of foreign investment and tourism as was earlier described.

Although this possible prognosis may seem unduly pessimistic for some observers, the symbiotic relationship that exists between the (media-influenced) international public’s perception of a given state’s security and that country’s external economic interactions is hard to deny, and just as it’s been the case with other previously stable states that have befallen regular large-scale terrorist violence (e.g. Algeria in the 1990s, Libya post-2011), the same will likely happen to Indonesia as well in such an event, no matter that it’s much larger in both economic and demographic metrics. Approaching the situation from the position of cautious optimism, investment and tourist flows might be diverted to other parts of Indonesia if the demand is high enough that Java- or Sumatra-based terrorism can’t severely curtail it, and while this would surely be a welcome change of economic priorities that could definitely benefit the distant and deprived provinces, it also comes with its own set of situational vulnerabilities. Chief among these is the state’s concern over whether or not it would be able to adequately defend any rapid influx of foreign soft assets (physical capital and tourists) from his part of the country’s own unique destabilization threats (i.e. becoming collateral damage or being outright targeted in ethno-religious riots), especially given what by that time and in the presumed context could be an already tense security situation in the prioritized western core.

The Anxiety About Aceh

In the present, it superficially appears as though all worries pertaining to Aceh have ceased and that there’s nothing left to be concerned about. In a sense, that’s technically true if one is speaking about the traditional separatist conflict that had been raging there for nearly 30 consecutive years, but over a decade afterwards a new type of threat has the potential to emerge. The population and provincial government seem content to remain part of Indonesia so long as they can maintain their 70% share of the natural resource revenue coming from their territory and implement Sharia law as they see fit, so there’s close to little or even no chance that they’ll reinitiate their anti-government insurgency.

 Instead, the new threat paradigm has to do with the selective exploitation of these administrative privileges by domestic and international Wahhabist-sympathizing actors. These terrorist enablers may have their own non-state objectives of exporting their regions governing model throughout the rest of the country, just as Darul Islam did before them and Jemmah Islamiyah currently endeavors for. Whether affiliated with the latter group or not, these local individuals, newly founded organizations, and/or foreign actors could use the province’s broad autonomy as a cover for evading the watchful gaze of the Indonesian central authorities and training terrorist groups and/or facilitating terrorist financing. For example, supposedly “local” ‘Islamic’ charities could become conduits for processing terrorist payments all across the world following the Saudi model, and the jungles and mountains of this small province could obscure covert training exercises.

Aceh’s territory could thus become an economic and militant node in a worldwide terrorist network, whether with the complicity of some of its governing figures or not, and Wahhabism could be exported from here either further into Indonesia or to the countries abutting the Bay of Bengal (India, Bangladesh, Myanmar [with particular attention paid to the ‘Rohingyas’’ Rakhine State], Thailand, and Malaysia). In all probability and from the Aceh-based terrorists’ ‘safest’ operational standpoint (as in delaying the neutralization of their operations as long as possible), they may opt to direct their focus away from Indonesia itself and in destabilizing comparatively weaker targets abroad such as Bangladesh and Myanmar. Additionally, if their actions serve some of the foreign policy goals of the US, Washington may enact pressure on Jakarta to delay its punitive operations there for as long as possible, perhaps even unearthing the buried threat that any central crackdown could revive the separatist threat. It may even be so that an Indonesian military response to a Wahhabist terrorist attack in Java and/or Sumatra (per the aforementioned scenario above) that turns out to have been planned or facilitated in any fashion from Aceh could also lead to the return of separatist tensions, thus embroiling Indonesia in two major and interconnected destabilization scenarios.

Identity Cracks In Kalimantan

Moving along in an eastwards direction, the next pressure point in Indonesia is its administered part of Borneo, formally called the “Kalimantan” provinces by Jakarta. It was previously touched upon only briefly how there has been long-running animosity between the local Dayaks and the Madurese transmigrants, with large-scale violence breaking out in 1999 and 2001 with the Sambas Riots and Sampit Conflicts in West and Central Kalimantan, respectively. The Dayaks’ grievances that Muslim transmigrants from Madura are elbowing them out of their own communities is still present, and it’s this retained resentment that can easily bubble over whenever the next structural opportunity presents itself (e.g. another 1997-like economic crisis that drastically weakens the state).

Since most of the Madurese escaped Central Kalimantan in 2001, it’s not likely that this province would be the scene of any forthcoming identity violence between them and the Dayaks, but their continued presence in West Kalimantan might one day form the basis for a continuation conflict, and if it does, then it could conceivably spread into Malaysia or even be sparked by events there. The reason this could happen is because the Dayak are very closely related to the Iban people who form the greatest plurality in Sarawak state, and statistically speaking, both native groups are gradually being sidelined by the non-native populations that have migrated into their region. Dayak and/or Iban violence on either side of the border, especially if it dramatically gets out of control, could lead not only to cross-border refugee flows, but might even have a destabilizing copy-cat effect.

Another notable incident and possible scenario to discuss when examining Kalimantan’s identity ‘combustibility’ is the 2010 Tarakan Riots between the native Tidung and the Sulawesi-originated (but not governmentally transmigrated) Bugi people. This conflict killed only a handful of people but led to the displacement of 32,000 others over the couple of days in late-September that it transpired. To add some context to the situation, the Tidung are also related to the Dayak and have a native presence in Malaysia’s Sabah state, which as was earlier elaborated upon, is strategically vulnerable to Sulu-based terrorist groups or Filipino “refugee” uprisings. Provided that either of these two scenarios occurs and Tidung find themselves caught in the crossfire, some of them may either fight back or flee towards their ethnic brethren in Indonesia. Similarly, a repeat of the Tarakan scenario between the Tidung and Bugi or any other non-Borneo-based migrants could lead to a similar situation of simultaneous fight and flight. Both instances, there’s a chance that the cross-border Tidung community would be affected, whether it be through housing refugees (which they may or may not have the capability to do), supporting their ethnic brothers-in-arms, or starting their own anti-migrant uprising.

Should Kalimantan’s stability crack and the Dayak, Iban, and/or Tidung engage in some form of cross-border destabilization, the Malaysian and Indonesian militaries would be forced to respond in their respective areas of control. If the disturbances spread from the city to the countryside and into the jungled interior, then the conditions would be met for a possible guerrilla insurgency, provided of course that the political willpower is present, supplies and ammunition are available, and the either government is weak enough to not extinguish this movement right away. Projecting a bit further, this scenario might lead to jungle raids by both the Malaysian and Indonesian militaries that place both of them within operable distance of the other, potentially even resulting in (unintended) cross-border fire. If there were reason for one of the sides to believe that the other was benefiting from or might have even provoked the original destabilization using their cross-border counterparts, then bilateral trust would be damaged and the deterioration of political relations might even lead to a revived period of Konfrontasi.

Sulawesi Slides Into Instability

The oddly shaped island of Sulawesi might become the next hotbed ofethno-religious destabilization in Indonesia, and its crucial position between Borneo/Kalimantan, Mindanao, and the minor isles of “East Indonesia” means that its conflict potential could certainly radiate outwards to other territories that are already primed for unrest. To concisely summarize the Hybrid War situation in Sulawesi, it’s advisable that the reader reference this short report that describes the violence that broke out between 199-2005. The issue comes down to local conflicts between Christians and Muslims that have routinely taken on an ethnic cleansing tilt, and the 21st century has seen an upsurge in Wahhabist terrorism here, which has sometimes taken the form of gruesome beheadings.  Most of the attacks have taken place in Central Sulawesi province around the coastal town of Poso (such as bus bombings in 2002 and 2004), but the terrorists’ presence has also begun to spread to other parts of the island such as South Sulawesi. While the current dynamic of the conflict is overwhelming that of Muslim-on-Christian violence, it mustn’t be forgotten that the 2000 Walisongo school massacre outside Poso was a noticeable outlier of Christian-on-Muslim terrorism, and that similarly motivated hate groups once more form in the future, potentially as a symmetrical response to rising Wahhabism.

It’s impossible to completely predict the exact nature and location of whatever forthcoming terrorist attacks might happen in Sulawesi, but judging by the trend of Muslim-on-Christian violence, it might be tempting for the Wahhabists to attack North Sulawesi, the only Christian-majority province on the island. If the ‘caliphate’-creating influence of ISIL is ever transplanted onto Sulawesi by Jemmah Islamiyah or any other similar group, then it can be assumed that they’d inevitably put the North Sulawesi Christians in their crosshairs out of a matter of jihadist ‘principle’. Christians are an influential plurality in Central and West Sulawesi provinces, but attacking the territory where they’re the majority of its citizens would send a strong and fear-inspiring message to the rest of the world that the terrorists are serious in implementing their un-“Islamic State” agenda in the region. It would also place immediate global pressure on Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, to take immediate action in safeguarding the livelihood of its religious minorities, thereby abruptly putting it on the spot and potentially forcing the military’s hand before it’s ready to properly act.

Other than the possibility of lone wolf attacks disconnected from any larger jihadist movement, there are two distinct forces that could carry out this destabilization, especially on the level of organizational planning necessary in order to make it as bloody, large-scale, and globally news-inviting as possible. The first one is endemic to Indonesia and it’s the terrorist Santoso and his Wahhabist clique from the “East Indonesia Mujahidin”. He’s presently the most wanted man in the country, and the government had earlier devoted over 3,000 troops in trying to eradicate them from the Poso region back in March 2015. The operation was motivated in part by fears that Santoso’s group had become ISIL’s Indonesian affiliate, but regrettably the authorities were unable to catch him and he’s since remained elusive. They tried a second large-scale attempt at bringing him to justice in September by deploying over 1,100 personnel, but this too was in vain, as was the latest attempt in December. The longer that this high-value and ultra-violent terrorist remains at large, the more likely it is that he and his group will plot and eventually carry out more anti-Christian violence, although they could strike against their fellow Muslims as a fear-inciting gesture or as a distraction to divert the attention of government forces.

The second militant possibility for attacking majority-Christian North Sulawesi province comes most realistically from the Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Philippines. This organization was discussed earlier in the research when examining the Hybrid War scenarios facing Manila at the moment, but as a refresher, it claims to be ISIL’s partner in the Philippines and is the most extreme Islamic group fighting against the government. In early January 2016 they even declared part of the country a province of the un-“Islamic State”, though their ties with the group still remain unclear. Nevertheless, it’s not for naught that a Filipino representative spoke about the terrorist threat of a “Mindanao-Sulawesi Arc” at the 2015 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, and considering this and what was earlier researched previously in this work, it’s possible that Abu Sayyaf may not only expand their operations to Malaysia’s Sabah state, but perhaps even to Sulawesi island (whether to attack North Sulawesi and/or link up with Santoso). Being sandwiched between two ravenous groups of Wahhabist terrorists, North Sulawesi might end up being attacked sooner than later, but even if it’s not, the link-up potential between the self-proclaimed ISIL-affiliates of Abu Sayyaf and the “East Indonesia Mujahidin” is enough to make Jakarta’s military and strategic leaders spend many a sleepless night.

The Maluku Mess

The dual crises in North Maluku and Maluku in 1999 were earlier identified as two of the most dramatic events of the immediate post-Suharto era, and it’s presumable that the destabilization they engendered could one day return. Looking at the causes of each respective conflict, it’s evident that their causes still remain in play today. Both spates of violence stemmed from local grievances brought about by the ethnic and religious differences of their transmigrated neighbors, and the resultant identity tension hasn’t gone away after 17 years. To a visible extent, it’s definitely been kept out of the streets, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t re-erupt the moment the ‘opportunity’ arises, which as the author expects, could either be the ‘right’ set of circumstances or more probably a repeat of the 1997 economic crisis that drastically weakens Jakarta’s central authority. Just as a gun without ammo won’t fire when the trigger is pressed, socio-political disturbances have difficulty breaking out unless there’s a destabilizing factor present on the ground already (whether naturally occurring or externally arrived), with the same principle holding true for the Malukus. An economic crisis by itself wouldn’t have been enough to spark the bloodshed of 1999 had there not be preexisting socio-political tensions just waiting for the right moment to burst, and a near-identical situation is thought to exist to this day.

The Malukus are important not so much because of the number of people present within them (which amounts to no more than 3 million between both of them), but due to their symbolism and their geopolitical position as a ‘buffer archipelago’ to West Papua. Addressing the first point, the Maluku violence of 1999 was representative of a brief period of peripheral anarchy that the government had difficulty efficiently putting down. Disturbances continued to break out all throughout the year in one of the two provinces, demonstrating that the post-Suharto authorities were either unwilling or unable to put the lid on it completely. The driving force behind the violence was the identity conflict between Christians and Muslims, locals and transmigrants, and these two identity pairs repeat themselves all throughout the lands of “East Indonesia”.

Therefore, a repeat of what happened in Maluku could become a trigger in the interconnected 21st-century reality of modern-day Indonesia for similar outbreaks of communal killings all throughout the country, thus making these demographically tiny provinces disproportionately influential ‘gateway scenarios’ for initiating copy-cat movements. Kalimantan and Sulawesi don’t hold as much of a chance in doing this because their corresponding destabilizations lasted for a shorter period and were generally more contained than the near-anarchy that overtook the Malukus for certain lengths of time. Back then, the conflict was chiefly an identity one which didn’t harbor any explicit anti-government objectives, but in a second possible iteration, it can’t be ruled out that the Netherlands-based “Republic of South Maluku” separatist organization won’t try to exploit the situation for their individual ends. If they emerge at a decisive time and manage to make inroads in disseminating their message locally and/or attracting international media attention, then it might encourage a chain reaction of other separatist movements (whether dormant or nascent) to rise up against the government as well, provided of course that the military doesn’t make a quick example out of them by immediately squashing the rebels.

In any case (but especially more so in the event that the “Republic of South Maluku” movement tries to exploit local events), any identity destabilization in the Malukus would create a strategic opening for the West Papua rebels and independence activists to promote their cause, mostly because the island chain lies along the maritime route connecting the western part of New Guinea with the rest of Indonesia. This makes it a critical zone for securing the sea lines of communication necessary for administering West Papua, and any extensive disruption of this could embolden the West Papua movement to intensify their on-the-ground and international information operations. This will be described a bit more in detail in the following section, but at this juncture and as it relates to the Malukus, it’s important to realize that destabilization in this island chain could become an enabling variable for spreading the anti-government and/or identity resistance activity further afield to Papua. Jakarta could still theoretically administer and control the territory even in the midst of a massive rebellion or ethnic cleansing in the Malukus, but it may have to immediately divert some of its Papua-based troops in order to do so, which by itself could also signal to the rebels that they have an historic but limited opportunity for launching a grand offensive.

Problems In Papua

Indonesia’s administration of West Papua continues to be plagued by scandal and controversy even nearly half a century after it began. The long-running and still-contentious dispute has galvanized a simmering international activist community and inspired many Papuans, both civilians and rebels alike, and it’s predicted that this issue could one day become patronized by foreign forces. While one is entitled to their own opinion about whether this is a just cause to adopt or a convenient cover for preplanned geopolitical designs, it’s indisputable that increased foreign involvement in the conflict, even if it’s initially limited solely to supportive information operations, could unexpectedly tilt the strategic balance against Indonesia. Also, just as how the US has absolutely no track record of supporting legitimate independence movements and other humanitarian concerns all across the world for their own sake, so too would it have cynical reasons for covertly intervening in West Papua if it eventually decides to do so. It should also be remarked that the US obviously wouldn’t do this alone, but in coordination with its Australian “Lead From Behind” ally, whom it would undoubtedly contract to assist in this endeavor.

Before going further, it’s necessary to speak about why or how this could even come to be in the first place. As it stands, Western companies have spoiled access to the region’s mineral and natural resource wealth, but if this were to be impeded for whatever reason, then there may be a strategic incentive to react via limited patronage of the Papuan independence movement. It’s not expected that Jakarta would voluntarily restrict their access, and if the rebels did something independently on their own to accomplish this, the US would have more to gain by supporting a punitive military expedition from the center (as they historically did) than they would in backing the periphery’s separatist ambitions. ‘Betting on the wrong horse’, as they say, isn’t something that the US wants to do in this case, nor can it strategically afford to when it comes to the Pivot to Asia and the Chinese Containment Coalition (CCC).

However, there are two scenario developments that could dramatically change the US’ calculations. The first one is quite general and is the entire reason why the author has gone to such lengths in elaborating on the Hybrid War potentials for Indonesia, and it’s that Washington may seek to punish Jakarta for not fully committing to the CCC (or even worse, completely turning its back on this design) or enact what it believes to be semi-controllable asymmetrical ‘pressure’ in order to get it to comply. The second scenario is slightly more complex and could also be connected to the first one in some aspects, and it’s that tribal violence in the independent nation of Papua New Guinea next door crosses the national divide and begins to enflame Indonesian-administered West Papua.

Most readers may not be aware of it, but Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s poorest, least developed, and most violent countries – in many ways, an actual failed state – but which largely stays off of the global radar due to its quasi-functioning government’s submissive attitude towards all Western companies’ natural resource and mining requests (with the Bougainville Conflict being an extenuating anomaly). Nonetheless, the international (Western) community largely avoids drawing attention to or dealing with the hinterland’s tribal conflicts, which are essentially ignored so long as they don’t impede with the mining and energy extraction profits being made. This produces a socio-‘political’ environment (if the latter term can even be used to apply to actors unaware of or disinterested in modern political traditions) that opens up the possibility for a conflict spillover into West Papua. This unforeseeable cascading series of event that this may lead to could change the US’ calculations in unexpected ways, or it might even be purposefully provoked as part of a ‘managed’ chaos theory attack on Indonesia’s most peripheral and contested domestic interest, but seeing as how it’s possible for this to happen (although the chances are presently quite low), it’s worthy to have explained this to the reader. 

However it happens to come about, if West Papua becomes to the Western world what East Timor was to it back in the early and mid-1990s, then a climate of inevitable independence could settle over the region and embolden the locals to more substantially rise up against Jakarta, regardless of the very real risk to their lives that this would predictably entail. It may be that the US decides to back down or never even intended to get directly involved in the first place. Using the Papuans as cannon fodder would be similar to how the Americans used the Hungarians in 1956 by offering them false hopes of a supportive intervention, but only to let them down after the fact. The strategic reason for the US setting the Papuans up for failure would be to punish the Indonesians with an offsetting domestic destabilization but not carried through to the point of full geopolitical punishment, either in accordance with the US’ own predetermined limitations or because of a deal of sorts that eventually gets made with Jakarta in exchange for abandoning support for the rebels.

East Timor Time Bomb

The last Hybrid War scenario that could predictably strike Indonesia comes not from the country itself, but from its formerly occupied territory of East Timor. The work had earlier explained how much of a mess East Timor is, as it’s strictly divided along tribal and geographic lines. The 2006 destabilization that occurred was sparked by a mutiny among soldiers from the country’s western enclave and was calmed down only after an Australian-led “humanitarian intervention”. Looking at recent history, this somewhat mirrors the 1999 destabilization, albeit in a more endemic manner. Back then, it was Indonesian-affiliated militias that were sowing chaos throughout the country, but this time, the problem clearly came from society itself. In both cases, the violence was quelled because Australia took the lead in pushing for an “humanitarian intervention”, which provides a template for projecting future scenarios.

Currently, East Timor has all of the indications of a failing state, although to be fair, some of these factors such as the lack of social and physical infrastructure are likely part of the inherited legacy of brutal Indonesian occupation. Although there’s natural resource wealth around its shores, the money isn’t being properly invested into the country’s development, and East Timor still remains heavily dependent on foreign aid. The ethno-tribal divide still exists, and there’s no guarantee that violence won’t re-erupt once more in the future, especially as government revenue declines due to the global energy glut. Seeing as how identity conflict is on the rise all across the world, it’s foreseeable that East Timor may repeat the domestic carnage of 2006 in some iteration or another, be it of another ethnic-motivated military mutiny or an all-out ethnic cleansing campaign. No matter how it starts, one can easily predict that yet another Australian-led “humanitarian intervention” would be called in to stop it, and herein lies the strategic challenge for Indonesia provided that the conflict occurs in a certain geopolitical context.

If East Timorese violence breaks out concurrent or close to the time that Indonesia is caught up in its own domestic destabilization, then it might present the intervening “humanitarian coalition” with the possibility of projecting influence deeper into “East Indonesia”, whether directly or indirectly. In the even that West Papua and/or the Maluku Islands are embroiled in their own identity and/or anti-state conflicts, an “humanitarian intervention” into East Timor could provide the US’ “Lead From Behind” Australian partner with the momentum to issue vague yet understandable threats of further intervention into Indonesia proper. Canberra is in absolutely no military position to do this on its own, of course, which necessitates that it be backed up by Washington and the regional naval assets that it’s deployed as part of the “Pivot to Asia”. If the two Western allies coordinate their activities and bring in the multilateral participation of other affiliated Asian states (e.g. “peacekeepers” from the CCC states of Japan, the Philippines, and perhaps even Vietnam), then they may be in a position to exert predominant pressure on Jakarta under the pane that it acquiesces to their CCC demands or risk being isolated in its region.

In an extreme scenario, the “humanitarian intervening” CCC in East Timor would take unilateral Australian- and/or American-led action in “pacifying” some of the conflict ethno-religious actors in “East Indonesia”, although it’s not predicted to ever get to this point. But, a heavy CCC presence in East Timor under the guise of an “humanitarian intervention” could place pressure on Jakarta to West Papua or even influence the rebels to intensify their anti-state/liberation campaign there, giving them the implicit understanding that they will be supported in one way or another (e.g. covert weapons shipments) by the forces stationed nearby in East Timor.

There’s also the possibility that East Timorese tribal violence spreads to the Indonesian-administered portion of West Timor in the state of East Nusa Tenggara, which would be catastrophic for national unity if the country is already experiencing ethno-religious tumult in Sulawesi and the Malukus, to say nothing if a full-blown Wahhabist insurgency is raging in the Sumatran and Javanese cores by that time. In summary, East Timor’s role in any prospective Hybrid War scenario against Indonesia is to act as a trigger for inviting a multilateral military force onto Indonesia’s doorstep, possibly even traversing its waters en route to their destination. This would raise the strategic alarm of Indonesian military strategist who may feel that the passing of numerous naval assets through its territorial waters or nearby sends a signal of state weakness in an already ethno-religiously tumultuous region. It would be a case study of irony if formerly Indonesian-occupied East Timor becomes Jakarta’s Achilles’ Heel and catalyzes a conflict contagion in the eastern part of the country, and using Indonesia’s historical-demographic matrix as a guide, it doesn’t seem all that impossible either.