You have to hand it to "Fierce One." A man oversees the greatest crimes Nepal has ever experienced, and now he's being hailed as a peacemaker?
What has to be watched, of course, is what happens now that the paper has been signed. "Talk's cheap," as the saying goes.
This is how it was with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega was the smiling face, and behind the scenes the behavior of the Sandinista version of "Maoism" alienated tens of thousands by stealing their land and meager belongings in the name of "socialist" solutions. They poured into the resistance movement called the contras.
The left to this day tries to portray the contras as a creature of the CIA. They can’t deal with the reality: the Americans couldn't even run fast enough to keep up with the popular upheaval. Literally, say my friends (both American and Nicaraguan) who were involved in the campaign, the American effort simply could not arm all the peasants who showed up demanding the right to fight the regime.
In Nepal, a similar popular upheaval looms. For promises have been made to the Maoist cadres and militia which simply cannot be kept -- there aren't enough belongings to steal from those who "have" in order to pass out to those who "have not." The Maoists have already have displayed their way of dealing with this reality. Thus the rampant lawlessness which has afflicted the land.
Where does the crime come from? From grand promises that can not possibly be kept. Hence Maoist-inspired young people "take," following the violent methodologies that continue to be sanctioned by the movement itself.
At some point, reality always must set in. The Maoists are split, and they have, in positions of power and in command of rejectionist factions, some very ideological, very nasty types who continue to be purveyors of violence. In their minds, they haven't engaged in struggle to be consigned to the lower end of the pecking order. They expect positions, jobs, money – and they can only get these from others.
In other words, for Nepal, the question looms urgently: how to "give" when there's nothing to “give”? The Maoists have convinced their following that there really is gold "in them thar valleys," if only they assert the right of those from the hills to seize the "ill-gotten wealth" of those in the valleys – and to take the land in the hills themselves from those who have it now. That there are objective reasons for Nepal's poverty is a message lost in the Maoist cant concerning "exploitation."
Why should the beliefs of the Maoists matter in an era of loktantra, of "peace in our time"?
The phrase is that used by Neville Chamberlain as he waved his paper, signed by "Herr Hitler," in which the Nazi leader promised – for a mere country (it was Czechoslovakia) – that he would behave. He didn't, the world vanished in the flames of the Second World War, and Chamberlain died in disgrace.
There are many contenders for the Chamberlain role in Nepal. What to think, for instance, of the investigating committee who, gazing out at the charnel house their world has become, tries to lay the blame not at the feet of the Red Nazis but of the hapless monarch? Can it really be forgotten that it was the same “peace in our time” Koirala whose feud with Deuba incapacitated Nepali democracy, even as the Maoists ran rampant and destroyed everything there was to be destroyed, even the innocence of Nepali youth? What had the king to do with any of that?
Was his crime that he fought the criminals? True, “peace in our time” demands that no such awkward discussion occur. Editors in Kathmandu’s “periodicals of record” have ordered just this, lest “peace be endangered,” as one was heard to state. No one especially is to mention the heinous crimes committed by the Maoists! Or the disgusting pseudo-revolutionary verbiage of the UML! Instead, we are to focus on the lathi charges of the police during April!
Faced with the awkward reality that there are no laws that make the acts of the “202 and the monarch” crimes, the esteemed committee has suggested that appropriate statutes be passed hastily so that charges can be rendered. In such shameless action, we see the face of the looming new order. Not surprisingly, the same approach was used by Mao himself, who made Hitler look inefficient as a butcher.
As we have discussed before, the Maoists see themselves as accepting the surrender of the old-order, not as having reached a compromise agreement.
There will be no "demobilization" upon their part as we would interpret the word. There will be a thuggish infiltration of all elements of the system in an effort to neutralize the remaining power of the old-order from within, in particular to destroy the army.
The Maoists still have as a goal to cashier the entire NA officer corps and to replace the individuals with their own people. They give press conferences claiming this is an objective.
They are not sure what to do with all the NA enlisted ranks, but they do know they must integrate their own manpower into the existing forces in such manner as to be able to checkmate anything the government does.
What Nepal has stumbled into, of course, is an unwillingness to grapple with specifics. Instead, the demand is that vacuity be embraced, with specifics (aka “reality”) left until later.
What is necessary now, since the “peace in our time” deed is signed (turning over the keys to the house, so to speak), is for the government to have clear in its mind a framework into which actions are to feed – and a plan for what to do as the Maoist violations continue.
It must further make at least a feeble effort to move beyond the politics of personalism and to articulate a vision of democracy that stands in contrast to the worn socialist solutions being advanced by the Maoists.
As a useful start, “peace in our time” must be used as a political rallying point to hold the Maoists to account. Astonishingly, the Maoists keep claiming to see coup preparations by the old-order, when they should be looking to the streets and recognizing the self-defense wave that is mushrooming.
For they cannot have it both ways. Either they are "in control" and can "deliver" their followers to a peaceful solution. Or they are not in control. The claims that the rampant criminality is "exaggerated" or "concocted" only serve to tar them as powerless, clueless, or shameless prevaricators.
A coup is not the issue. "Civilian supremacy" is accepted by the security forces. But the way "the street" is playing itself out is very dangerous. For the government is not even talking to the security forces as it makes concessions that, should the present trajectory continue, ask the security forces to go as lambs to the slaughter.
That is being scripted by the Maoists, in speech after speech. For every attempt at soothing words, there is a chilling diatribe reiterating the themes of societal “reordering” that have been the Maoist mass line all along. It is significant that Prachanda in Nepali knows precisely what NOT to say in English, and vice versa.
Bhattarai is even more pointed, his message invariably boiling down to: "You fools of the old-order have demonstrated an inability to develop the country -- now it is our turn. Give us the power, and we will see what comes from it."
That's a pretty lousy basis for anything lasting.
The midwife of all this, New Delhi, I suspect is congratulating itself at having supposedly dodged the Sri Lankan bullet. Unlike the IPKF experience, South Block has avoided casualties yet to stand at last on the threshold of domination of Nepal. Formal absorption is not desired, with all its attendant problems, just a Bhutan-like lapdog with no irritating displays of independence: a "union territory" in all but name.
Neither can anything be expected from the international "mediators," any number of whom (in their role as "the foreigners who would be gods") are longtime, self-professed haters of the "old regime" -- and the NA, in particular. "Process" is the name of the game with them.
Regrettably, "process" is simply another way of using "hope as method." There are no t's being crossed, or i's being dotted. That is very bad -- unless one wants to be a Maoist and relive the dreary and nasty fantasies of the Cold War left.
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