Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Diplo-Speak Revisited

U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty doing hand-strengthening exercises in anticipation of his next golf outing.

We haven't done this for a while, so let's look at some related events and some of the remedial ramblings of our diplomatic community. (blogdai commentary in blue)Here is U.S. Ambassador Moriarty, none too subtley, trying to condition Nepal on the main thrust of U.S. policy: GET RID OF THE MAOISTS. Anything else the Yanks say or do is designed to either placate world hysteria or soothe some special interest.

Moriarty's quote timeline:

December 2004, "There is a real possibility that there will be a Maoist government here."Nice, there, ambassador. Scare the hell out of everybody. His tone here suggests his relative newness in office, and that he is still pouting over the Nepal assignment; he really, really wanted to work in China, darn, darn, darn!

May 24, 2005: “If the government and the parties do not find ways to reconcile... There is a very good chance that the Maoists could find a way to turn all of this to their advantage and ultimately end up marching in the Singh Durbar [the central government secretariat]," Mr Moriarty told the BBC. Still the hysterical, desperate imagery but notice how the tone has softened a bit. This is a minimalist approach to diplomacy. Take U.S. policy and make unapologetic, absolutist statements from it. More childish tabloidisms.

June 6, 2005, “Nepal would have been at the economic take off without the Maoist conflict”Realizes people aren't responding to the political angle, decides to try economics. This is a subtle reference to U.S. economic assistance, implying the Yanks would have taken a greater interest in Nepal's economic situation withouth the Maoists.

June 24, 2005: "Should we give $2 million of security assistance this year, or $500 million to refugee camps scattered throughout India in the not too distant future?" Shows his impatience here. Tries to equate a very American argument about saving money to a situation where lives are lost and people are scared and panicked. A typical ham-fisted Moriarty statement. What do poor Nepalis care about the costs? They care about peace and safety. Moriarty thinks that by converting a humanitarian crisis into a potential budgetary crisis he will win more support back in the U.S.

So, after Moriarty's crude policy bombs, both Donald Camp, this week, and Christina Rocca before him, add fuel to the anti-Maoist fire:

June 28: Donald Camp, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs (Needs 2 business cards just for his title) said that the Maoists are the "most immediate threat to a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Nepal". Diplo-speak: The U.S. is going to deal with this "immediate threat" before anything else; democracy later. Using the word "immediate" means that this is the U.S.'s first priority.

Quoting US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Camp said, "Giving security priority over democracy gives us neither... Democracy is the only idea powerful enough to overcome division, hatred and violence." Contradicts his above statement. This is a placating statement designed to appease the world community. Typical American sense of hegemony here. Arrogantly states that democracy is some free-standing concept that is a cure-all for every culture.

Extra from Camp:

Also, From Kantipur Online June 28: "Commenting on the king's announcement of holding municipal elections, Camp said free and fair election is always important component of democracy. However, he added that during his meeting with Nepali Congress (NC) President Girija Prasad Koirala earlier on the day, the former didn't urge Koirala to participate in the municipal elections." This is the second time Girija has been told to sit down and shut-up by the Yanks. Christina Rocca did it as well, if you'll remember. The fact that two representatives of the U.S. Government took the time to tell Girija to get out of the way speaks volumes. Girija, for all his corrupt senility, is still the symbol of multi-party democracy in the eyes of many Nepalis. The Americans are saying that the old form of democracy is unacceptable. We want a new democracy with new people.

Epilogue: I can't find the article just now but apparently Surya Bahadur Thapa returned from India and breathlessly announced that (paraphrasing) "...India is ready to help with the Maoist problem." This is just fine, says blogdai. Where were they the last 10 years when Maoists were fighting and winning larger battles that they are now? No, this is India trying to beg its way back into the process: too little too late. Maybe they should ask China for permission?


Update: July 1, 2005. "Scoop" gets it right by publishing probably the best summary and analysis of the situation blogdai has read to date:

In the article,Madan Prasad Khanal gets it right as well; basically reiterating everything we've all been talking about here at blogdai, and, does the whole thing with more patience and aplomb than blogdai could muster on a handful of Paxil.

Is the media finally starting to think?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The King's Mistakes

Well, this is way-past due. It's no secret that blogdai feels the royal takeover was a necessary step, but it's time to get those "blogdai is a royalist" creatures off my back. Where the king is blowing it is featured below. -=blogdai

To King G,

1. Forget the haphazard Paras makeover. Listen G, you are telling the Nepalis that they are not smart enought to remember the past. If you want to do some good, take Paras completely out of circulation for a few years and then maybe we'll give him another chance. This new "sportsman" image plus his golf fiasco insults all of us.

2. Relax the heavy-hand on the media. Yes, we realize that there were initial tactical reasons for shutting up the press immediately after the takeover, but continuing to hound these guys is excessive and counterproductive. You want people on your side? What and who gives people in the world their ideas about you? That's right, the media. The lazy idiots of the Western media can't get past your press supression and therefore, won't give you a chance on other issues, so get your head involved in the world and let these guys be. They neither have the power nor the ability to organize anyone on behalf of your enemies so who cares? Sure, they'll always give front page coverage to every bowel movement Girija makes, but people no longer take the old goat seriously; he is a novelty story.

2a. Plus, stop the harrassment of demonstrators. Bust them up if they block traffic, sure, but hauling away "Maoist victims" gives the press fodder for calling you a despot. You want to stop demonstrations? Cut off the cash-flow from the organizations, like the Nepali Congress, who pay for them. Don't wait until it comes to the street where all the news-wire photographers are waiting.

3. Restore some form of democracy. Maybe you already tried this with the local election bit, but you just gave the old corrupt regime something to rant about. Come out with a nation-wide election plan, only don't invite anyone from the old government. Ask for fresh, uncorrupt citizens who want to form a new government. You can still kill Maoists if you want but at least you will have begun the democratic process again. Just the appearance of you trying to do everything yourself sends a bad message to the world. In fact, any autocratic gesture, no matter how benevolent will look bad for you. Any unilateral takeover sets a bad precedent. You're not the King of Thailand; he can get away with it.

4. Same thing with human rights activists. I know, I know, Amnesty International has called for everything but shutting off the oxygen supply to Nepal, but ignore them. They are doing what they do best: pandering. Turn everybody loose, let them try to organize. Who cares if they do? Your job is to restore peace and you've got the army; 'nuff said?

5. Tone down that new love-affair with China. If you were trying to embarrass India, it worked; but don't give the Chinese any more openings or you'll all be eating Peking duck and selling cheap watches on the street corner. And, so help us all, if Paras was involved with that Tibetan Welfare Office closing right before your takeover, we'll never forgive you.

Overall, G, you need to hire a good media relations person. Your mistakes are fundamental and show a lack of insight towards world sympathy. Hire a sympathetic westerner (not from the BBC) who can teach some of these fundamentals to the palace.


Everybody happy?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Everest Follies

Chomolungma, Sagarmatha or Mt.Everest, take your pick: It's worth all the trouble it takes to get here for this kind of view. Photo: blogdai from kala patar.

So now another spring climbing season is finished at Everest. The usual parade of hubris and idiots made it up and down.

Blogdai is no fan of climbers-- I find them a rather aloof and insular bunch, but our good friend and Everest climber JM took the time to send blogdai down some relevant stuff.

First, JM had to personally supervise some out-of-shape suicidal Indian girl who was not allowed to return to her village without conquering the summit. It was a matter of "village prestige" to her small Indian town. The expedition leader, although sounding like a spoiled-brat in saying she was "the worst climber on the mountain" wisely told her village that the only "prestige" they will receive is from the international media when they find out you have forced this girl to her death. They eventually got poor "Sukhi," as she was known, down the hill.

Another part of the circus was when those brave French pilots apparently swamped some tents with an avalanche they caused in attempt to land a brave French hellicopter on top of Everest. In typical French fashion, they poo-pooed the Nepali government and didn't pay for some permit to try their ridiculous feat. Now the government refuses to admit the landing was a success and denies ever giving permission. They are asking for proof. Blogdai can help!

It appears our intrepid JM was the only guy to witness and film the event. In an e-mail to him he writes blogdai with:

"The frogs landed, I was at 7700m when it happened and was the one that broke the story."

Good for you my friend. Blogdai hopes you get maximum bribery cash from the French to turn over that film footage.

So, we say goodbye to the Everest circus for another season. Here's to our climbers who boldly go--via short-rope and oxygen--where just about everyone now has gone before. We'll see you in the fall season where we'll follow the scent of your insular behavior and Gore-Tex underwear to base-camp once again. Until then, keep raising those bundles of money so you can realize your personal dreams of cocktail-party supremacy and cultural insensitivity on Everest!


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Don't Even Want to Think About It

Mohan Man Singh, Girija Koirala, Prachanda. Ain't love grand?

So, Girija and the Maobadis are finally getting married after all.

Blogdai has taken quite a bit of ridicule over the last five months for supporting the kings takeover. Quite clearly, it was never the takeover itself, nor the idea of an autocratic monarchy that appealed to me, it was simply just GETTING THOSE CORRUPT BUMS OUT OF POWER that found my favor. Nepal should restore parliament and return the deposed leaders to government you say? Don't even think about it.

So now that Girija has shown his true colors and has found political traction with the only group in Nepal, outside of the monarchy that has any influence whatsoever, you troglodites who claim that the monarchy has supressed a vibrant democracy really have no legs to stand on, do you? It has always been Girija's design to find, cultivate and wield as much power as possible in Nepal. He has often courted the Maoist block when it served his purpose of the moment. Now is no exception. So, if you believe that this alliance is a strategic move to get the Maoists to the Negotiating table: Don't even think about it. This is Girija's power play and has nothing to do with democracy.

It amazes blogdai that so many people sit up straight in their chair, puff out their chests and proclaim that democracy must return to Nepal at all costs. Well, the system that was masquerading as democracy prior to the takeover has already cost Nepal everything with its corruption: thumbing it's nose at accountability and the rule of law; this new alliance with mass-murdering-baby-killing thugs just provides deeper proof.

The world will never, repeat never negotiate with killers, even if they reform. As stupid as we Westerners can be, we did learn a lesson from Arafat and are slowly learning from Kim Jong Il: simple, violent people tend to stay simple and violent. No party that allies itself with the Maoists will ever be treated seriously on the world stage. Plus, Girija himself is a non-starter with the world community, so that's two strikes already. Do you think foreign aid contributions and diplomatic relations will improve under the spirit of this new "compromise?" Don't even think about it.

There is nothing in this move that makes Girija look good, statesmanlike, or even sane. The scary part is that he's doing this with India's permission. If we do some basic math we can draw some conclusions. A powerless and inept Girija allies with the Maoists, so what? Girija is still the lap-dog servant of Indian interests in Nepal, that's what, so technically, as Girija wishes, India wishes. This leads one to the conclusion that India, through Girija, is now allied with the Maoists. This is a typically sneaky and autocratic way for India to deal with an uppity King so no surprises here from the "worlds largest democracy." Trouble is, Indian support could mean the resumption of arms deliveries to Nepal--only this time to the Maoist/Girija side---I don't even want to think about it.

Lord Pashupati help Nepal


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Get Ready!

We here at Blogdai have been calling this one ever since the King's takeover ("Blogdai and the Rumor Mill, Feb. 3, and My Favorite Rumor, Feb. 8) and now it looks like the most obvious of political alliances is about to stumble into being: Girija loves Mao. Ain't that sweet?

It makes perfect sense for the marginalized, irrelevant former politicians of Nepal to look for political traction anywhere they can get it. These are political animals who care only for power and leverage. They would make a deal with the devil if it restored their place at the trough of corruption.

So, old Girija finally fessed-up to meeting with the Maoists during his "medical" visit to Delhi. In perhaps the most ironic quote of the century Girija proclaimed:

"If they term the Maoist problem as a political problem and want it resolved amicably, then why should anyone object if we, leaders of political parties, take initiatives to bring the rebels to the dialogue table?" Koirala asked. "It is our duty - the government, international community and the parties - to bring the Maoists to the negotiating table."

This talk of duty coming from the man who single-handedly sabatoges the last nearly-successful peacetalks with the maoists by calling for a student protest. Should we be surprised? News accounts flourish where Girija openly contradicts his prior statements or actions; often within days of their occurrence. Girija never once showed any aptitude or desire to bring the Maoists to the table while he was in government. This latest action is his last greedy attempt at a power grab.

Yes, babu, let's reinstate you and all your cronies to government immediately. You cannot even agree on the procedures for holding a simple NC convention, but that doesn't mean we should doubt your ability to run a democracy, right? Hard to tell. It seems now that Democracy is not your cup of tea. The recently called municipal elections are a good baby-step towards figuring out what went wrong in the past; kind of a democracy do-over to wipe the slate clean and get it right, but, alas, you are now calling for a boycott of this restorative step. Wouldn't want any new fairly-elected officials sticking their clean hands in your cookie jar would you?

Blogdai feels we are getting closer to an actual Congress-Maoist merger date. Since China is starting to dump some heavy military metal in Kathmandu, our NC/Maoist heroes must be feeling the pressure. Prediction: Look for something approaching a formal agreement between the Parties and the Maoists within the month. The parties have even begun to set up sort of a Maoist dialogue office in Delhi. Yes, our boys are serious now. Everyone knows that decisions affecting Nepal can only be made in India, right?

Even the Yanks are worried. After being roundly criticized for playing golf with Paras, U.S. ambassador Moriarty's office expressed concern about this new potential alliance saying that such an alliance could "plunge Nepal into further chaos." So, if this gets the dull-witted Moriarty's attention then the Maoist/NC alliance must be far along indeed, as the U.S. embassy is usually about a month behind the intelligence curve on such matters.

So, here it comes. At least now we can group all the bad-guys together for less confusion.


Note: blogdai is getting tired of using terms like, NC, congress, the Parties, corrupt former government officials, etc. From now on, for accuracy and brevity, we will refer to anything concerning the former government as: "Girija" -=blogdai

Update: June 20, Step one:

Prachanda directs cadres not to take action against civilians

KOL Report
KATHMANDU, June 20 - Maoist supremo Prachanda Sunday directed all his party cadres not to carry out any physical action against any unarmed civilians, even if they were “criminal” a statement said.
Prachanda’s statement comes one day after the seven parties called on the Maoists to abjure violence and support their agenda for restoration of democratic process in the country.
He also said he supported the decision taken by the seven parties to boycott the local polls and not to recognize the appointments made at local levels. (hb)

Update: June 21, Another Step: blogdai almost got the formal alliance he predicted one month early. All parties talking nicey-nicey now and talking about the inevitability of the alliance.

July 21, Update: One More Hurdle Cleared: Well, now that they pesky issue of maoists laying down their arms before talks can begin is over, we can now call the parties an official armed resistance.

Friday, June 17, 2005

More British Irrelevance

british ambassador keith bloomfield

In an increased effort to sound as aloof and callous as his U.S. embassy counterpart James Moriarty, British ambassador Keith Bloomfield blows a lot of worthless hot-air into Nepal's issues. (Article reprinted from kathmandu on-line; blogdai commentary in blue)

Democracy pre-requisite for peace: UK envoy
KOL ReportKATHMANDU, June 16 -

British Ambassador Keith Bloomfield Thursday said that democracy is an essential pre-requisite for a successful peace process. No, you fool, peace is a prerequisite for peace. Democracy only assists in maintaining the peace. Better add "functional" democracy to your statement or people will think that you are not talking about Nepal.

“The rule of law and democratic system is essential for ending conflict through peaceful negotiations,” Bloomfield said at a programme in Bhaktapur today. Democratic systems arrive after the rule of law is established. "Peaceful negotiations" tells everyone that you haven't been paying attention to Nepal's core issue: Maoists don't want peaceful negotiations.

Bloomfield said that the United Kingdom has always stood for flexible, selfless and result-oriented peace talks to bring an end to the conflict in Nepal. Bold and courageous there, Keith.

“The United Kingdom believes firmly that democracy is far more likely to produce the answers we want,” said the British envoy, “and end violence to negotiated measurable solutions to the conflict and fundamental reforms.” So nice of you to tell Nepal what you "want." What about what the Nepalis want?“We think that the alternatives which are intolerance, autocracy or further violence are much less likely to deliver the answers we want,” he saidBloomfield also made it clear that British military aid other than bomb disposal equipment remains suspended. (dds) "We think...we want... do you get the impression that this guy misses the good old days when the sun never set on the British empire? Typical useless fluff from the British ambassador... follow lock-step with the U.S's disengaged Nepal policy and try not to sound repetitive. The U.K. has sent a blistering L110,000 in military aid to Nepal over the last 4 years---basically, nothing. Why should we even bother to listen to their pronouncements? -

Update: June 21. Busted! Seems old Keith got himself into trouble with the government over his remarks. Like we've said, the best and the brightest stars of the diplomatic community seldom make it to Nepal. It is considered a "hazard" posting that is usually staffed by diplomats who's careers have stagnated. -=blogdai


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

To The International Crisis Group: Please Go Away!

Those wise sages at the International Crisis Group (ICG) are at it again. They say it is time for Nepal to throw out their constitution and start over. Who are these idiots? Well, ICG is made up of a bevy of detached "intellectuals" that seems to think that they need to hold forth on all world issues. A seven-member group of east African nations called their meddling on Somalia "damaging." But these are not just independent hacks. They receive a large amount of funding from the U.S. government to press the most unrestrained wishings of the U.S. State Department. In essence, they stir the pot on behalf of Bush's less diplomatic leanings toward world policy. In a speech noted on The U.S. State department's website, R. Nicholas Burns, Undersecretary for political affairs, speaks in a tone of clear affinity for ICG and looks forward to future "collaboration" with the Brussels-based group. "SpinWatch" one of blogdai's sources for well-researched venom has written the ultimate piece on ICG where they state that:

The general ICG report does not seem to be based on any consistent theoretical or conceptual framework pertaining to conflict analysis, early warning or world system/international relations schools. While ICG reports are certainly not without information and knowledge, much remain on the level of commentarism and piecing together data from interviews with representatives of formal power, such as politicians, and readings of newspapers. Check out the full article for all you need to know about IGC

Here's a typical ICG butchering, this time at the expense of Nepal. (Excerpted below) Full article: Blogdai commentary in blue.

Kathmandu/Brussels, 15 June 2005: "Nepal needs constitutional change to address the root causes of its devastating conflict and produce lasting peace. "

"Constitutional changes and the political means by which they are delivered are crucial to a peace process", says Rhoderick Chalmers, Deputy Director of Crisis Group's South Asia Project. "Unfortunately, there is little sign of agreement between the king, the political parties and the Maoists on any of the key points". That's funny Rhoderick, didn't you just hold a seminar this May where you said "Legal formalism is not essential. In fact, even the current Constitution in Nepal can work?" It seems the best that ICG can come up with for their Nepal "analyst" is a man who spends the bulk of his intellect on linguistic issues. He is listed on ICG's site as posessing a myriad of political and intermediary skills, yet none of his degree work or credentials supports anything but his linguistic background. It's nice that ICG mentions it's Kathmandu "field office," but blogdai has checked the listings and has found nothing under the name of ICG in Kathmandu

Even before the royal coup, the 1990 constitution had been undermined by the May 2002 dissolution of parliament and King Gyanendra's repeated dismissals of prime ministers. Subsequent governments had little chance of conducting successful negotiations with the Maoists as long as real power rested with the palace. WRONG! Past governments barely acknowledged the need for talks with maoists. Who sponsored the last nearly successful talks under the watch of blogdai's friend Naryan Singh Pun? The king. Who sabotaged those same talks? The parties. Also, WRONG! Those repeated dismissals were partially at the behest of the political parties themselves. If the king hoped that his unambiguous seizure of full executive authority would bring the Maoist to talks, he was mistaken. WRONG! The king seized power because he knew talks would be fruitless. Right or wrong, he is seeking a military solution, he no longer cares for talks.

The reintroduction of democratic institutions remains central to establishing a government that can negotiate with the Maoists and initiate a consensual process for constitutional change. But the palace is more concerned with consolidating royal rule, while a broader alliance of Kathmandu-centred interests has long opposed a more equitable distribution of power. WRONG! Would the King release Girija if he were trying to "consolidate?" Would the King form the powerful RCCC if he were trying to "consolidate?"

"A comprehensive settlement of Nepal's conflict cannot be achieved by military means alone nor by cosmetic changes in the government", says Robert Templer, Director of Crisis Group's Asia Program. "Ultimately, sustained negotiations will have to allow a full range of representatives to deal with the major questions. While initial negotiations to prepare the ground for substantive talks may have to be conducted discreetly, the primary condition for successful revision of the constitution will be the participation of the Nepali people". Robert Templer has never been within a thousand miles of Nepal. His credentials include writings on Viet Nam, and he has done some time in Hong Kong and Afghanistan. If he had been in Nepal he would have realized that he has just described the parameters and conditions present in all past, failed attempts to negotiate with the Maoists. Bob, if you're out there, what's the price of dhal bhat down at Dili Bazaar these days?

Nepal's constitution is a fine document. For ANY constitution to be effective it must have the complete loyalty and service of those in government who are charged with protecting and enforcing its provisions. Plus, a government must have the trust of its citizens in order to administer its constitution effectively. Nepal had neither.

To The International Crisis Group: Leave Nepal and its constitution alone. If any of you would have taken the time to realize the actual nature of your "crisis" in Nepal rather than spouting the "democracy at all costs" line, you would have seen that it was not the document, but the idiots in charge that were responsible for Nepal's current state.

To the people of Nepal: The International Crisis Group does not care about you. They publish their reports in order to maintain funding from government sources. Do not believe anything you read from the ICG regarding Nepal. The ICG's coverage of events in Nepal is innaccurate, poorly researched, and an agenda-driven fraud.

I challenge them to prove me otherwise.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Nipping "Spin" Journalism in the Bud

Blogdai feels compelled to comment on Sanjay Upadhya's article below. This is a typical example of a U.S. based journalist (in this case, Nepali as well) who is a little out of touch. Throw in a few questionable sources and "voila" the story can unfold any way Mr. Upadhya sees fit. This article was reproduced from the usually very good out of New Zealand. (Blogdai comments are in blue) People write this way about Nepal because they know no one will bother to check their facts. UNTIL NOW!

Republicanism: How About A Real Public Debate?By Sanjay Upadhya

Amid the flurry of political activity in Kathmandu and New Delhi in recent weeks, the myth surrounding the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1990 is being dispelled. From the outset, it was clear that the tripartite agreement among the royal palace, the Nepali Congress and a disparate alliance of communist factions was an uneasy one. The main communist faction, the Marxist-Leninist, had officially expressed qualified support for the new constitution. The party’s objections primarily centered on the role and privileges of the monarchy. It was hardly a secret that the communist parties’ acceptance of constitutional monarchy was a tactical decision. The comrades, not too surprisingly, saw the palace as a useful counterweight to the Nepali Congress’ ambitions. (Not necessarily true. CPN-Marxist/Lenninist seemed to have no trouble playing ball withing the new system. CPN-Maoist came later and never made a real attempt to fit in. They were only communists in the most liberal sense of the word. A lazy journalist hears the word "communist" and automatically thinks about scheming "tactics")

In the aftermath of King Gyanendra’s February 1 takeover of full executive powers, the Nepali Congress, too, has signaled that its support for constitutional monarchy is, at best, driven by expediency.
Ever since King Gyanendra dismissed the last elected government in October 2002 for failing to hold elections, Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala has been warning that the king’s political ambitions would compelled him to contemplate an alliance with the Maoist rebels to abolish the monarchy. This is surely a leap of faith for a man who headed the government that inaugurated the unleashing of state power against the rebels, who have been fighting since 1996 to establish a communist republic. (A big innacurate guess. It's Koirala's ambition that kept him flirting with the maoists all these years. Also a leap of credibility to blame the King on the dismissal. Remember Deuba's first dismissal was precipitated by a petty feud with Koirala, who, in the end requested that the King dissolve the government.)

Now Koirala’s one-time deputy, Ram Chandra Poudel, has gone a step further by asserting that King Birendra was not satisfied with the powers granted him under the constitution. For a party that proclaimed that King Birendra was the paragon of virtue when it came to adherence to the constitution, Poudel’s disclosure was revealing departure. Moreover, Poudel must have had to summon much antipathy to speak in the way he did against the former monarch around the fourth anniversary of the palace massacre that wiped out most of the royal family. (This is just political maneuvering by Poudel. Birendra was the most "hands-off" monarch in the history of Nepal. He was a "paragon of virtue" during the time that Koirala and Poudel were stuffing their pockets with rupees, so they wouldn't dare speak ill of him during that time. This is a cheap shot against a dead and popular king that is crudely designed as a pretext to begin agitation against all forms of monarchy in Nepal. )

The monarchy, to be sure, could not have been satisfied with the restricted political role the two major parties envisaged for him in the new constitution. What King Birendra announced on the night of April 8, 1990 was merely the lifting of the ban on political parties. (If he was unhappy with his new powers, why did he lift the ban on political parties? It takes real talent to contradict yourself so thoroughly in the same paragraph the way our author does here) The ensuing days witnessed a struggle for power on the streets and in the media. The scales were tipped against the palace, already weakened by a crippling trade and transit embargo imposed by India. Fifteen years later, the palace stepped in to claim a role it believed it never had relinquished under the tripartite agreement. (Nope, India acted because it's de-facto control under the Panchayat was finished, and nope, King G would have gladly ceded power to a competant and less corrupt parliament. He stepped in because nepal was spiralling towards anarchy at the hands of Koirala's idiocy and the Maoists brutality)

Among the leaders still detained by the royal government after the lifting the state of emergency on April 30 are leading proponents of a constituent assembly. This is a key demand of the Maoists, who expect the elected body to transform the kingdom into a republic. The detentions indicate that the palace is ready for a showdown regardless of the quarter it emanated from. (Maoists love a constituent assembly because they know that they can pressure election outcomes in their favor in those distant, unsupervised districts and thus, insure a Maoist majority)

Koirala, the leader of the seven-party anti-palace alliance formed last month, is currently in India for medical treatment. He has been holding talks with sympathetic Indian leaders in an effort to consolidate the democracy movement in Nepal. Advocating a “fight to the finish for full democracy”, he may be contemplating some kind of alliance with the Maoists, who have acknowledged opening their own contacts with key Indian leaders. It remains unclear, though, whether the latest consultations would help clarify the republican agenda. (It is no co-incidence that old Girija lands in Delhi on the heels of Babu Ram Bhattari's consultation with Indian spooks. It seemed that during his tenure as PM Girija was always going to India for "medical treatment." He is India's lap-dog and their last hope for regaining any kind of political control over life in Nepal. Blogdai has been predicting a Maoist-Seven Party alliance since the day of the Royal takeover.

Indeed, precious little has been heard so far. Considering the Nepalese political parties’ propensity for polarization while in power – a trait preponderant during the two phases of multiparty democracy in 1951-1960 and 1990-2002 – the contours of a republican future need to be drawn clearly. The process needs to begin with a precise definition of the relationship between the head of state and head of government, including role, functions and powers.
To some extent, a United States-style presidential system might help avoid conflicts. Since such a model would be seen centralizing power in one branch, legislative and judicial checks and balances acquire special attention. (Right, finally! Only that blogdai wrote this months ago.)
An Indian-style prime ministerial model would envisage a titular head of state. Since the president would be the supreme commander of the armed forces, the command-and-control conflicts the mainstream parties see under the monarchy would still exist. This issue acquires additional urgency in view of the heavy politicization of the police force and bureaucracy under successive elected governments. (Nonsense. This "politicization" did exist, but it was one of the factors that helped trigger the royal takeover. There is no "urgency." These types of bureaucrats are now gone and would not be allowed to resume thier business under any new government. an "Indian style" bureacracy model is what got Nepal into this mess in the first place)

Irrespective of the model, effective safeguards against potential conflicts between the executive and legislative branches must be put in place. Questions relating to the president’s tenure, including impeachment, must be addressed vigorously, considering the frequency with which no-confidence motions were introduced against the prime minister in the past.
The prime minister’s prerogative to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections, a subject of much divisiveness in the past, must be clearly addressed. There are legitimate issues concerning the judiciary, especially since each prime minister that dissolved the House of Representatives was eventually challenged in the Supreme Court.
In the case of direct elections to both offices, the issue of power-sharing by a president and prime minister representing rival parties becomes crucial. French-style “cohabitation” under which jurisdictions for foreign and domestic policies are clearly laid out, might provide some insights. (Mr. Sanjay mentions French-style cohabitation while illustrating an American model of bicameral legislation. He's been in the U.S. too long. No western model of democracy will adequately fit the unique needs of this rural Asian culture. A Nepali form of democracy is the only long-term answer. Everything else, as we've seen before, is just a license to steal.)

Awaiting greater clarification, though, is the precise mechanism of ushering in a republic. The current discussions on a constituent assembly remain superficial. Worse, they presume that the popular verdict is already known. Will voting be conducted along the present first-past-the-post system or proportional representation? How can traditionally underrepresented groups expect their voices and concerns to be heard? Would the people’s representatives elected on diverse platforms assemble to vote on a future model? Or would the issue be put directly to a referendum? Considering the deep divisions in the electorate, how would each of the alternative outcome scenarios be addressed? Who exactly will be drafting a new constitution? Discussions have focused too narrowly on how the palace might react to an adverse result. How would the mainstream parties and the Maoists respond to an outcome not to their liking?
In the case of a republican victory, how would the ambiguities contained in the Maoists’ commitment to their ultimate goal of establishing a communist republic be addressed? This question becomes all the more important in view of the growing interest and influence of external powers in Nepal. (Sanjay starts to go nuts here. If the model held, Maoist concerns would have already been addressed through the republican process. The best that we can garner from the above paragraph is that Mr. Upadhya has completed some kind of introductory U.S. government course. He's throwing out terms that are unrelated to the discussion and far past the issues in Nepal today. Boilerplate verbosity.)

India, United States and Britain, among other countries, the monarchy has been the pivot of stability since the 1950s. Public support, tradition and continuity have conferred special legitimacy to the institution, which external powers have acknowledged and incorporated in their policies vis-à-vis the country. (Yes. the U.S. knows only two things about nepal politics: King stable, Koirala senile.)

A full Maoist takeover would hardly be acceptable to them, albeit for different reasons. The United States, which sees its victory over communism as a seminal event of the last century, would hardly countenance such a brazen reversal of that reality. Moreover, Washington has designated the rebels a terrorist group.
The Maoists, who have carefully calibrated their postures in keeping with the exigencies of the moment, may be ready to shed some of their doctrinaire policies and rhetoric in exchange for legitimacy. However, it remains doubtful whether they would be ready to change the party name and flag in exchange for western support, especially when the far more moderate Unified Marxist-Leninists have not been able to do so. (Sure they're ready, Sanjay. That's why they blew up that bus in Chitwan, right? Even a cursory understanding of diplomacy will tell you that Maoism, in any form, will never get western support for any reason)

Despite misguided attempts to portray a Chinese hand behind the insurgency, it is clear that Beijing would hardly acquiesce in the emergence of a hard-line Maoist government in Nepal. The Nepalese Maoists continue to espouse aspects of the Cultural Revolution -- including class conflicts and retribution – which modern-day Chinese communists would prefer to forget. Moreover, at a time when economic reforms have left a huge rural-urban income divide in China, the communist leadership in Beijing cannot be unaware of the destabilizing effects of a homegrown yet antiquated ideology in a volatile part of South Asia. (Misses the point entirely. Maoists and China are like apples and oranges. China has already publicly rejected Nepal's Maoists. To imply that Maoist destabilization in Nepal could somehow effect rural Chinese is alarmist and infantile. Nepal has no influence whatsoever on any aspect of Chinese life or culture. No, China wants other things. No hand in the takeover? What about Paras's return to kathmandu from china just days before Feb. 2? What about the abrupt closure of the tibetan welfare office in kathmandu during that same time? What about the carefully constructed Chinese statement praising Nepal's attempt at "ethnic pacification" and vowing to stay out of the "internal affairs" of nepal released almost concurrent with the King's takeover? Only two things will ever drive China's Nepal policy. First, harrass the Tibetans at all costs. Second get nepal out of India's sphere of influence. How? An unstable Nepal, either by Maoists or Koirala reinforces Nepal's traditional and cultural dependence on big brother India. A stable nepal, either by monarchy or functioning democracy, promotes nepal's independence from India and a willingness to engage China more on an international level.

As for India, extreme left-wing insurgencies grip some 40 percent of the country’s 593 districts. A full-fledged Maoist takeover in Nepal would serve to energize these groups into forging their wider compact revolutionary zone in South Asia. Considering the long and porous border between the two countries and the peoples’ longstanding links, sections in the Indian establishment might be willing to contemplate a Maoist-dominated republican Nepal under the presidency of, say, the Nepali Congress. (keep pushing that alliance, sanjay. He's slipping fast here. He's saying that India wants a Maoist controlled Nepal that is run by the Nepali Congress. Come to think of it, after a second reading, this man is either insane or has stumbled onto the key to the whole thing, hmm..)

Indeed, New Delhi’s recent decision to open direct channels of communication with the Nepalese Maoists, purportedly under the auspices of leftist supporters of the ruling coalition, could be aimed at facilitating such an alliance. Would the vociferous Hindutva element in India accede to the destruction of the world’s only Hindu kingdom? (what could they do about it? a tangenital issue. this is space filler)

Despite the much-hyped bonhomie between China and India, New Delhi’s enthusiasm in defining a new state structure in Nepal would clearly sensitize Beijing. Growing cooperation between the world’s two most populous nations cannot mask the reality that they are also competitors. The limits to conciliation have been on display for some time.
Despite India’s full recognition of Tibet as an integral part of China, Beijing has hardly shown unequivocal reciprocity on the issue of Sikkim, the Himalayan kingdom India annexed in 1974. China’s reticence on India’s candidacy for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council provides yet another illustration of this complex relationship.
In keeping with its massive economic expansion, China has decided to deepen its strategic influence in the region, especially with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. According to a report published in April by Washington DC-based Jamestown Foundation, Nepal’s strategic location makes the kingdom an important part of South Asia. Nepal's borders meet China's restive western province of Tibet on the one hand, and Naxalite-dominated Indian states on the other. (Fine, Sanjay, but how does this material relate to Republicanism? Why don't you write another article about China/India relations and stop confusing us with this extra material?)
China has traditionally viewed the monarchy as the cornerstone of its Nepal policy. Weeks after describing the royal takeover as an "internal matter," China sent Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to Nepal in a clear gesture of support. Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top advisory body, reaffirmed his country’s support during a meeting with King Gyanendra in April on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia conference in Hainan.
In return, the Jamestown report says, China wants the Nepalese government to stay clear of any foreign (Indian or the U.S.) influence that could make trouble in Tibet. To further the goal of status quo in Tibet, China is integrating Nepal into the Tibetan economy, and laying a highway that will connect the two. Chinese President Hu Jintao, who served as Communist Party secretary in Tibet from 1988 to 1992, perhaps best understands the importance of this integration. ( Blogdai has read the Jamestown Foundation's report and has found it refreshingly accurate. A bit lightweight, but accurate. Nowhere in the report, however, is the language found in Mr. Sanjay's assertion above. This is pure lazy, inaccurate and phony journalism. The closest the report comes to the above paragraph attributed to it is: "Greater American involvement in Nepal may add to Beijing's anxieties in this regard." Read it. See for yourselves.

This cuts to the core purpose of our blog. We must be constantly vigilant towards misstatements, exaggerations and outright lies emminating from the western media. Nepal is not El Salvador. Nepal is not North Korea. The King is not Idi Amin. Nepali culture is a unique entity; the operation of which does not fit snugly into some Westerner's definition.

The United States, which joined India and Britain in arming and training the Royal Nepalese Army in its fight against the Maoists, has embarked on a deft policy. While the other two countries responded to the royal takeover by announcing a suspension of military assistance, the United States adopted a watch-and-wait policy. Publicly, Washington continues to emphasize policy coordination with New Delhi and London. Behind the scenes, Washington has engaged with Beijing, already is a key intermediary in the North Korean nuclear crisis.
The Bush administration, aware of China’s recent moves to fill a vacuum in Asian leadership, has assigned Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick to head a permanent U.S. delegation to talk with China one a variety of international issues, including Burma, Nepal and Sudan.
In a 2002 report, the U.S. research organization Stratfor wrote that Washington has relatively little interest in Nepal's insurgency. However, it added, the Pentagon likely would not mind having another emergency air base or logistics center close to Pakistan and Central Asia. “In looking toward the longer term, the United States definitely wants as much of a presence on the border with China as possible,” the report said.
Beijing is well aware of Washington's intentions and is no doubt concerned about the U.S. encirclement that is already taking place, Stratfor said. “The U.S. military has bases in Pakistan, throughout Central Asia, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, and it has relations with Mongolia, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. Nepal is another link in the chain,” it added.
Referring to India’s strategic decision in the mid-1990s to move closer to the United States, Stratfor said New Delhi hoped to benefit from increased trade, eventual access to U.S. weapons systems and the formation of a strong alliance to counter China. “However, American involvement with Nepal and Sri Lanka raises conflicting impulses. On one hand, New Delhi is glad to see Washington trying to clean up the insurgencies that have spilled over into its borders for years. On the other hand, there is a visceral reaction against foreign involvement in India's backyard, especially when those foreigners maintain strong ties with Indian rival Pakistan.”
The report added: “Many in India's foreign policy circles are concerned that Washington may replace India as the dominant power in South Asia, assuming that Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan prefer the freedom that comes with casting their allegiance with a distant giant rather than one close to home.” This, according to Stratfor, has dampened India’s hope of becoming the dominant power in the Indian Ocean and interacting with Washington as a near equal.
In an earlier report, Stratfor underscored Nepal’s strong geo-strategic value to world powers. “The power that stations its space-linked surveillance, intelligence and navigation systems on Nepal's high mountains gets geo-strategic leverage over several Asian regions, from Central Asia to South-East Asia,” the report said. (STRATFOR is one of those ridiculous, agenda-driven policy "think tanks" similar to the International Crisis Group. They hail from that great international hub of policy, Austin Texas. Blogdai has had many personal exchanges with Nathan Brown, the man who wrote the article mentioned above, and have refuted most of his claims. It is actually quite comical. Brown has the whole China/Nepal/India diaspora spinning wildly out of control to involve U.S. ships in the Indian ocean, Myanmar and the tibetans. All pure foolishness. Or is it? Comics sell faster than novels so who cares about accuracy, right? It's exciting to stimulate your dull-witted conspiracy-obsessed subscribers with wild speculation; STRATFOR does this to perfection)

Clearly, Nepal must brace for new domestic and international challenges. Proponents of a republican agenda need to persuade the people that the new model would be more effective than the monarchy in address these challenges. Rhetorical threats must not be allowed to take the place of substantive discussions. The accusation that King Gyanendra in this day and age is bent on reviving autocracy is an insult to the intelligence of the Nepalese people. (Absolutely right! Sanjay, why didn't you support this argument in any of the paragraphs above? As a nepali, you surely must also realize that doing away with the monarchy would be an even greater insult to the intelligence of the Nepali people, don't you?)

So, this article gets a low grade on our scale. What information that is correct is old news and perfunctory in nature. Like so many of his peers, however, Mr. Upadhya spins wild tales of "what could happen" under the cloak of ingnorance and obscurity that makes up the bulk of Nepal reporting. We at blogdai love catch these people and call them into account every chance we get. Stay tuned for more...


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Prachanda: "A Man in Control"

Blogdai found this excellent article in today's kathmandu post. we do occasionally reprint good articles to facilitate their greater exposure. It reiterates perfectly what we mentioned below (blogdai: "the beginning of the end"). Seems like "The Fierce One" has a fierce public relations problem on his hands. Looks like he spends quite a bit of time apologizing for maoist mistakes. -=blogdai

Apology notwitstanding, Maoist excesses continue

By Tilak P. Pokharel

KATHMANDU, June 8 - Maoists have attacked innocent civilians umpteen number of times and made several "pledges" not to repeat such "mistakes". Yet, civilians continue to fall victim to their barbaric acts.

Most recently, Maoist Supremo Prachanda again issued a statement on Tuesday "repenting" the June 6 attack by his cadres on a passenger bus in Chitwan, killing at least 38 civilians, the highest civilian casualty in any single incident since the rebels launched the armed insurgency in 1996. In the statement, Prachanda said that the attack contravened "party policy" and pledged that the findings of an "internal probe" into the incident would be made public.

Prachanda had issued a similar statement on November 16 after a passenger bus in Dolakha hit a Maoist-laid landmine on November 13, 2002, killing two civilians. In his statement, Prachanda had said such an attack was "beyond their imagination". At that time too, he had pledged to probe into the incident and had said the outcome of the probe would be made public. However, that never happened.

And yet another "beyond-their-imagination" incident occurred in Sarlahi on April 9 where a public bus hit another land mine in which five passengers were killed.

Likewise, when the Maoists went on a rampage attacking leaders and cadres of the People's Front Nepal (PFN) in September-October last year, Prachanda, in a statement on October 6, had said that the attacks were against "party policy". However, attacks on PFN members continued unabated for several months even after this.

The cold-blooded murder of journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa by the Maoists in Dailekh in August 2004 was also followed by an apology by Maoists Spokesperson, Krishna Bahadur Mahara. Mahara had said that his party had no policy of attacking or persecuting journalists and indicated that all attacks on mediapersons by the rebels were "aberrations".

Likewise, the Maoist cadres had set fire to an ambulance in Dhankuta on May 17 last year, besides torching a private vehicle. Incidentally, the incident occurred just a couple of days after a statement by Prachanda in which he had said that his party didn't have any policy to attack civilian targets.

The first ever public apology from the Maoist leadership came during the 2001 cease-fire when Prachanda had said the "forceful collection" of donations by Maoist cadres was against the party policy. That, however, didn't stop the Maoists from extorting common men and women.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Beginning of the End

36 people are killed when their bus is blown up in Chitwan by those "defenders of the people" the Maoists.
(AFP photo)

Seems like our Maobadis have a real image problem now. In front of every scrutinizing agency in the world, they’ve gone and blown up a bus full of civilians. To top it off, their lack of organization and command structure was also finally on display for all to see. First comes a resounding denial for the attack, half-heartedly blaming "infiltrators" for killing the civilians; then immediate responsibility and regret is claimed by none other than Prachanda himself.
So, let’s see, the world is watching, you blow up a bus, and none of you knows how to handle the aftermath? No grand statements of “revolution” and party unity? Only claims of a "mistake" in targeting, regret and fingerpointing?

Blogdai has said this before and will repreat it now: THERE IS NO COMPREHENSIVE, UNIFYING PHILOSOPHY OR HEIRARCHY THAT CONTROLS MAOIST BEHAVIOR. They are no more than roving gangs of thugs acting semi-autonomously. If Nepal were as flat as Kansas, Maoists would have never gotten this far. As it stands, Nepal affords many places for violent, impoverished, ignorant little boys and girls with guns to hide. The geography is so rough, even their commanders (if there is such a thing) cannot find or control them.

This is not going well for Prachanda’s strategy of seeking an alliance with the deposed political parties. To his credit, Prachanda has succeeded in accomplishing what no one else in Nepal had been able to do. He has united the parties, the King, the people of Nepal, and the international community in a resounding chorus of condemnation against their move. Very few groups (even the most ham-fisted of western journalists) will be able to salvage a noble “people’s struggle” angle from this latest Maoist blunder.

Prachanda knows this is serious. Maoists have publicly backtracked before when one of their typically out-of-control military units has killed the wrong person, but this round of apologies from "The Fierce One" has a note of desperation and finality.

To any remaining Maoists: Very few people view you as anything more than terrorists now, so give it up Maobadis before the rest of the world arrives to take care of business. It won’t be long before even the dull-witted U.S. intelligence apparatus either finds or creates a link between you and Al-Quaeda. When that happens, you may not be able to get to India fast enough.