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. http://www.state.gov/p/2005/44764.htm. "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 http://www.spinwatch.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=807

Here's a typical ICG butchering, this time at the expense of Nepal. (Excerpted below) Full article: http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?l=1&id=3513&m=1 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?" http://ipcs.org/newIpcsSeminars2.jsp?action=showView&kValue=1748. 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.


-=blogdai

16 Comments:

At 7:46 AM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks very much blogdai - I didn't even know where to begin when I received notification of this ICG report today and read the press release...

I could not even bring myself to read the entire document - especially after doing some key word searches, such as 'deaths', 'casualties' and 'mine' and coming up virtually empty.

'Casualties' came up with 2 hits - in a 50+ page report. The fact that the report is subtitled "The Constitutional Issues" does not mean that consideration of these issues is irrelevant, particularly when the aim is for 'a lasting peace'.

It is beyond suitable adjectives for something which 'claims' to be a serious and authoritative report to advocate negotiating with the Maoists as a legitimate course of action for Nepal at this time. How can the ICG possibly state that the Maoists' call for constituent assembly will assist the road to peace, and not acknowledge the human cost (sorry, I mean collatoral damage - that's what the US call it isn't it?) of their atrocities (sorry, I mean their 'policies').

It is not the "Maoists' roadmap of an interim government, ceasefire and freely elected constituent assembly" that has "test[ed] Maoist sincerity" lately, it is the placement of landmines, the abductions and the killings...and the continued tolerance of such behaviour from the Maoist leadership.

But of course, you won't get that message from the ICG report.

For the ICG (regrettably with an Australian CEO) to issue such a report, full of grandiose recommendations omitting the extent of the human cost and ongoing suffering of the Nepali people would indeed be laughable if it were not for the fact that it will be assumed to be a well-researched and factual piece of work by people in the wider community.

Slightly off-topic - it's also disheartening to hear organisations like Amnesty come out and call for the US and other nations to withold military aid to Nepal, thereby compromising the ability of the security forces to deal with Maoists. Sure, Amnesty does call for the Maoists to cease their violent activities, but doesn't Amnesty realise that words don't have the power they used to in Batman comics - 'KAPOW' ain't gonna work.

Alison. South Australia

 
At 7:52 AM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Brit said...

I entirely agree that these guys don't know what they are talking about. Furthermore imo their ignorance only exacerbates the problems they claim to be aiming to solve.

btw - is there a copy (in English!) of the Nepal constitution (1990) on the web that you know of? - I keep reading assertions about it but can only guess at its actual content.

 
At 10:39 AM, June 16, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Would love to post some relevant provisions of the Nepali constitution here. I can't even find it in Nepali on the web.

Western NGO's and Media outlets like ICG and Amnesty International have large operating expenses. So, what should that tell us about the tone and content of their writing? One can surmise that both groups will continue to pander to their funding bases.

ICG will continue to splatter the news pages with perfunctory, boilerplate government-speak because they are funded by western governmental entities and their world agendas. AI will increase it's shrill hyperventilating tone that, most recently, accuses Britain of being a war effort supplier to Nepal because the bulk of their funding comes from UK based human rights reactionaries, I assume.

-=blogdai

 
At 12:17 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ivory towers and all that...

Had a bit of an inspired guess about the constitution by going to http://www.nepal.gov.np/

Some useful links here although can't vouch for the accuracy of any of the articles.

naagboy

 
At 12:47 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely off topic but..

What on earth is happening with a water shortage in Nepal when it the is 3rd richest water resource country in the world?

Barry 'the rich kid' Narain

 
At 2:01 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ICG-please go away and stay away. I was an intern in one of these similar western funded groups during my MPP days and I know how these work.

Santosh

 
At 5:21 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Welcome Alison, Santosh and Barry. Keep up the wonderful comments.

Santosh, our readers are an astute bunch and would love to hear of your experiences with that ICG type group you were involved with. Can you share any anecdotes? MPP days? Your perspective would be like gold around here.

"rich kid" barry, there is no water shortage in nepal. there is a distribution problem. Even with that, most Nepalis (80%) have at least some access to a water supply. Rural infrastructure is non-existent. There was a real concern with potable water and that created a shortage of sorts, but the most recent Nepal Multiple Indicator Study (2000) and an independent work from UNICEF have concluded that water is not the problem. Sanitation is the problem.

Big aid agencies like to show off by bragging about their "clean water" projects, when in fact, they should all be building toilets.

Naagboy, leave your e-mail address or give me a holler at blogdai@nepalimail.com I'd like to put you on as a contributor, let's discuss it.

-=blogdai

 
At 6:53 PM, June 16, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

To my friends Brit (are you English?) Roger, "An Englishman" and others:

You have been a loyal and relevant contributors to this blog, so I hope you don't take it personally when my next article takes a full cut at the British ambassador to Nepal.

Blogdai has always enjoyed traveling the world, and I always seem to hook-up on the road with people from the U.K. They have always been joyous travel companions (at least until "Train Spotting" came out).

So, this is a first for blogdai: a pre-apology, but I feel you all deserve this out of respect for you and your postings.

-=blogdai

 
At 9:48 PM, June 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, get the hell out of Nepal! You are only abetting those that are ravaging my country! ICG - International Crisis Group. The name says it all. Why not International Crisis reporting group, or Intl crisis Watchdog? Why International crisis group? The answer is simple. They subtly promote and protact the conflict inorder to funnel in funds for their sustenance. Rather than advocating policy solutions to crises, they create more international crises by publishing distorted reports. The premise of their business lies in the emergence of new conflicts and prolongation of the old ones. Why would they be interested in solving Nepal's crisis when they can actually profit from it?

 
At 2:12 AM, June 17, 2005, Anonymous Brit said...

Fire away Blogdai!

I have been deeply ashamed of the reactions and behaviour of our ambassador in Kathmandu ever since 1st Feb.

ps I'm not actually English!

 
At 8:41 PM, June 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

blogdai,
I thought you'd like to read this comment posted on www.samudaya.org.

In reponse to the entire report (40-something pages), blogdai seems to have only five counter-arguments. Here is a step-by-step analysis:

The first argument he makes is a personal attack on Rhoderick Chalmers's list of credentials and "linguistic intellect", and on ICG for its office in Kathmandu not being listed.

In response to his attack: firstly, that ICG has faced several obstacles in registering itself in Nepal officially is common knowledge and the fact that their office is not listed is hardly something to be ecstatic about. Secondly, the only other thing the governmnet could possibly do to stop "proper research" is give ICG workers visa problems, which it has continued to do.

The second argument is entirely subjective. It is his personal interpretation that the king had allowed an open floor for the politicians to negotiate with the Maoists. If we remember clearly, it was during this time that the politicians emerged the strongest as "royal puppets," and the reason for disagreement between parties was precisely that the king's interests were exerting too much influence on the "royal puppets", which is what ICG has hinted at. Blogdai's comments are in bold:

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.

And the third claims that the hypothesis in the hypothetical situation is wrong (a hypothesis itself can never be wrong because it is an assumption by definition, and in this case the hypothetical statement itself ICG makes has already proven to be correct). Again, blogdai's comments are in bold:

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 fourth argument he makes is that if the king wanted to consolidate power, he would've never released Girija - this is a little far-fetched. There was tremendous international pressure to at least release the prominent names India was familiar with, and if the king does not wish to consolidate power, why are the uncorrupt politicians - not hated by the people - still behind bars? And why are textbooks being re-printed Panchayat style?

Finally, the fifth argument is simply invalid: Just because Robert Templer "has never been within a thousand miles of Nepal" does not mean his opinions are wrong. And the price of "dhal bhat down at Dili Bazaar" has nothing to do with the "value" of Templer's comments.

Blogdai further suggests that Nepal's constitution is a "fine document" - but Nepal doesn't really need an ICG to tell us that this document is a can of worms. ICG only needs to tell international policy makers and donors this, who unforutnately do not care enough about Nepal to do their own thorough research, and instead have to be provided with a concise document such as ICG's.

ICG is also conducting a research on the role donors have played in creating a little mishap known as Nepal, so we'll have to wait and see how much of their aims are focused on pleasing the donors.

Conclusively, no real arguments here (or arguments for the sake of arguments) in response to a report that is filled with specific details and information. So much for blogdai.

(ps. I have more to add on Rhoderick's "Legal formalism is not essential" comment in a little while - so don't attack me for not addressing that just yet).
*****

I only realized after posting that long comment that blogdai probably hasn't even read the full report. He seems to responding to an article about it (his quotes are pulled from this article, and not the report itself). For someone so eager to do quick background searches on quoted individuals and ICG, I'd expect him to at least read the document before posting an entire entry on its judgement.

Anyway, blogdai has pitted these two comments from Rhoderick Chalmers against each other to imply a contradiction (and I can understand why they may appear to be contradictory at a first glance): "Constitutional changes and the political means by which they are delivered are crucial to a peace process" and "Legal formalism is not essential. In fact, even the current Constitution in Nepal can work."

The latter comment, however, was an answer to the question of an "ideal Constitution." The current Constitution, on its own, may have the potential of working without legal formalism, but if we are talking about the peace process (which additionally includes coming to agreeable terms with Maoists and the parties), then a Constitutional change is necessary to get process started in the first place.

But more importantly, the latter comment was probably used to elaborate on the proceeding sentence, "On the question of a new Constitution, it is important to understand that any Constitution will have to interact with the socio-economic structures of Nepal," which is reiterated on page 12 of the report:

"Eliminating constitutionally-granted royal prerogatives could not in itself establish a functioning constitutional monarchy. Legal change alone will not erase the familial connections and ties of caste and patronage which shape the distribution of power in Nepal, as the experience of the 1990 CRC suggests. A transition to a genuine constitutional monarchy would require more fundamental change but Nepal's history suggests such a shift will prove difficult."

 
At 10:06 PM, June 19, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

Thanks for the heads-up anonymous.

Readers, help! I'm having trouble figuring out what points this person is trying to make.

Chalmers does in fact directly contradict himself, that much I can argue back at this fellow.

Let's see: Didn't get my dhal bhat joke so there might be some conceptual issues here... hmm, what else:

Will just have to mosey over to Samudaya.org for a little chit-chat

-=blogdai

 
At 11:26 PM, June 19, 2005, Blogger blogdai said...

OK, HERE'S THE BEST THAT I COULD COME UP WITH ON SHORT REBUTTAL NOTICE. THE FOLLOWING WAS JUST POSTED BY BLOGDAI ON SAMUDAYA.ORG AS A RESPONSE TO THIS THING THAT ANONYMOUS JUST POSTED:

Thanks for reading, saati.

I was not aware that "only five counter-arguments" was insufficient for critical analysis of a 40 page report. I will work on less concision next time. But for now, I can't help myself, so here:

I would never attack Chalmer's credentials. They are wonderful. They are also totally unrelated to the type of work he does for ICG.

If ICG has no field office in Kathmandu, why say so in their literature? Visa harrassment is pure bunk. They get into Nepal on a maximum 180 day tourist visa just like everyone else doing "proper research." So all of this is "common knowledge" to whom? ICG has been turning out their reports from Nepal both before and after the takeover.

Koirala spats with Deuba, asks king to invoke article 127 of the constitution to help get rid of Deuba, King does this. Koirala yells and demands king reinstate Deuba's government, king does this. Who's the puppet?

Girija is the single biggest thorn in the King's side, Western governments refuse to deal with him as well. World pressure or not, no "consolidator" would have let this man out. Maybe you could explain the RCCC to me as well. Would a "consolidator" take the time to set up a bogus corruption review board if he were'nt trying to fix a broken system. The release of 250 politician plus Ram Poudel and Madhav Kumar Nepal not enough for you? the minute they were all let out, they called for anti-king protests. Some "consolidation" of power, king-g.

Socio-economic whatever, Nepal's constiution can work. Chalmers said it a month ago and changed his mind in this latest report. All of your ideas about retooling Nepal's constitution will be invalid until you realize one thing: NO constitution will work without the competence of government and the trust of citizens. nepal had neither. Re-writing a document and placing it in the hands of the same idiots as before will get you nowhere.

Sorry you missed the dhal bhat joke about Robert Templar. It was meant to be analagous to the central problem of ICG and probably why you are missing the point: You cannot adequately judge policy, politics or human endeavor of any type in Nepal from a distance. Nepal defies western models and attempts to classify its structure and culture. A Robert Templar has no way of conceiving what this (admittedly unpopular) monarch means to the people of Nepal or how a group of India-advised politicians stole the country blind under the banner of democracy.

Over at nepalnow.blogspot.com, our readers are constantly frustrated by people who constantly get off-message when they over-analyze and over-write. I cannot say exactly why, but overall clarity on the concept to which one is arguing helps to move the debate forward. Without this clarity, writing is a mere self-esteem exercise. We encourage good editorial summarization, but trite phrasing and overworked cliche's accomplish nothing and are a disservice to our readers.

I've found that, instead of defending some sham agenda-driven organization like ICG by pouring over their reports line by line, the best way to write, debate, and understand the issues facing Nepal is by going out in the street and talking with actual Nepalis--give it a try.

Me, I think I'll have some dhal bhat.

-=blogdai

 
At 7:25 PM, June 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three cheers for the above comments. I used to read some of the lengthy crap here and think to myself "am I the only one who sees some of these remarks as being self serving and way off the point?" Honest, after some of these things I truly believed people were just practicing their English skills and showing off their command of big words (no matter how improperly they were used)

 
At 9:55 AM, August 09, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a little off topic, but I'm fairly sure Bob Templer lived in Nepal as a kid. His dad was a doctor there. He also lived in India. And he's Kiwi by citizenship. Just so you can have all your facts right before you discredit people which then diminishes the validity of your other arguments however salient they may be, because it looks like you didn't do your homework.

 
At 7:48 AM, September 15, 2015, Blogger blogdai said...

Thank you and I was aware of some of these points, but nothing you say gives any indication that Mr. Templer has any sense of policy, polity, or strategic thinking capabilities relevant to the region. Mere residency does not an expert make.

-=bd

 

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