Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hope is Not a Method

Thanks Naag for the link to this story. Here's the latest from Thomas Marks.


Nepal: Hope is Not a Method
By Dr. Thomas A. Marks


As Nepal moves towards a new order, its governing parliamentarians would do well to heed that most fundamental of maxims: hope is not a method.

To date, events have gone reasonably smoothly, but there continue to be ominous signs that a rougher road lies ahead. Not least of the elements for concern is what has been at the heart of the matter all along: the motives of the Maoist insurgents.

Contrary to much ill-considered opinion, the Maoists have not opted for peace in our time. Instead, their forces remain intact, even as they encourage the Government to dismantle the only surviving force that stands between the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (CPN-M), and its ability to work its will, the security forces.

Their grudging moves towards negotiations notwithstanding, the Maoists have been very consistent. In their verbiage, in their briefings to their cadres, and even in their interviews given to members of the international media, they make clear that they do not accept the present state of things and remain convinced that they are riding the “will of history” that will see the complete ouster of the old order.

The Maoists view the present course of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) as an error of major proportions and are fearful that ‘the people’ will be ‘betrayed’. They certainly do not accept parliamentary democracy as the end-state, unless it emerges in a form of which they approve.
What stands behind their present tactical maneuvering is a willingness to go with the flow so long as the river does not leap its banks. If the SPA will do the work that armed rebellion could not accomplish – especially, dismantle the security forces and do away with even a figurehead monarchy – that is agreeable. But one cannot expect them, if things do not go their way, simply to shrug and say they had their moment.

There is a veritable cottage industry of historical falsification abounding, in Nepal and abroad, producing the fiction that the Maoists turned to insurgency only because they were not allowed to participate in 1991 parliamentary elections (as Masal). That is false. The machinations that led to one wing of Masal being allowed to run using party identification were an intra-Masal squabble, not something the system engineered. Likewise, the outrageous claim that the monarchy is somehow responsible for the violence of the Maoists is as astonishing as it is absurd. The Maoists first systematically laid waste to Nepal and its weak democracy, then systematically carried out a campaign to claim the reigning monarch had killed his brother and engineered what they, the Maoists, had in fact done – destroy Nepal. Having turned to armed insurgency, CPN-M methodically destroyed the structure of the state, in the process eliminating all who opposed the local presence of the Maoists. Having gained control of widespread areas, which they will continue to control during any proposed ‘elections’, they are not about to allow their rivals to freely contest within ‘liberated space’.

This is classic “machine politics”, as the Maoists claim the Nepal Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML, or simply UML) have been playing all these years. Since UML buys into this logic, at least partially, it is willing to front for the Maoists. The extremist wing of the UML does more than front – it works with the Maoists.
I
ronically, anti-communist India has ended up letting its own Marxists have their moment by unduly influencing New Delhi's Nepal policy. This should not surprise, given the realities of coalition politics.

With its dependency on the Left Front, particularly the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) in Parliament, compounded by divisions within its own ranks as to the proper policy towards Nepal, the Congress-led Government has acceded to the CPI-M demands. As a consequence, CPI-M figures such as Sitaram Yechury have become regular visitors to Kathmandu as they conduct the Indian Left’s ‘foreign policy within a foreign policy’.

The issue of Indian policy or intervention is not one that need detain any analysis at this moment. It will ultimately be decided, one way or another, as it was in Sri Lanka, by nationalism in the target state. Nepali nationalism, to be sure, is something which has rarely reared its head in anything save platitudes about “never having been a colony”. In fact, Nepal is as thorough a colony as ever there was (of India and of the international community through its utter dependence upon external aid).

Still, to be clear: first, India has no desire to become bogged down in the Nepalese quicksand, so having ‘democratic allies’ in power is the proper route to realization of its geo-strategic designs; second, there is a strong wing of Indian politics that sees the present policy towards Nepal as misguided, counterproductive, and downright dangerous, given India’s own Maoist threat. The claim that there are no connections between the Nepali and Indian Maoists is falsified by a wealth of evidence, not least the pronouncements and actions of the Nepali Maoists before they became more media savvy. The threat to Nepali sovereignty, then, is not from India per se but from the present situation that India has ‘enabled’. Its view is that it can ‘handle’ the situation. This remains to be seen – just as India proved quite incapable of ‘handling’ the Tamil insurgents in Sri Lanka.

The most pressing danger, at this juncture, is that SPA, dominated by NC and UML, will revert to form (on full display during the dozen or so years of full democracy) and lead Nepal into a ‘Kerensky moment’ for the Maoists, as occurred with the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917-18. The Leninists were not the strongest party in post-Czarist Russia, only the party with a preponderance of force at the decisive point(s). This allowed them to gain control of the state and then to do what was necessary to consolidate their hold. This is also how Hitler consolidated his hold on Germany, despite having only one-third of the Parliament (Reichstag). It is what the Sandinistas did in post-Somoza Nicaragua. One already sees the Maoist thugs threatening even UML politicians (who, in any case, have always been on the cutting-edge as victims of the Maoists). What all the cases preceding cases share is that the security forces had fallen apart.

This is not yet the case in Nepal. The key, therefore, is to make the new-order understand that the security forces have every intention and desire to serve democracy – and that they will not stand by and see restored democracy and Nepali sovereignty compromised.

The Maoists, however, have stated repeatedly that they have other goals: trials for those central to the old-order, especially for the monarch and the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) officer corps (the Maoist leadership has asserted both of these goals in its less guarded moments). This is also what they have been saying to their cadres.

They have rejected integration into the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) by any name and demanded a new force, which they will dominate by default. This is just how the scenario played itself out in Nicaragua, the result being the Sandinista dictatorship, which rapidly produced its own counterrevolutionary insurgency by abusing the people. (Contrary to the hoary left-wing myth, the CIA could not even arm all the contras, so abundant was the influx of peasant manpower demanding the right to resist the Managua Marxist-Leninist dictatorship). In this situation, what is both puzzling and counterproductive is how little realistic consideration has emerged concerning the future of the security forces, of which the RNA is the dominant element. This is puzzling, because the security forces are quite intact and – contrary to yet another theme pushed by both activist elements of the new regime and their international activist backers – exercised remarkable restraint during the recent mass agitation. Lathi charges and rubber bullets are not semiautomatic volleys, and the latter did not occur.

There are at least 150,000 armed Government security forces in completely intact units. It is naïve to assume that they are going to march off to oblivion, surrender, or slaughter. The last two options are what the Maoists envisage, and what they expect to extract from the ruling SPA as their price for ‘nonviolent participation’ in the state. To judge that this inevitably will lead to confrontation requires no analytical acumen – simply looking at the Nepali security forces with clear eyes.

What is now on the field is a force quite different from that which entered the conflict in November 2001, when the RNA was attacked by the Maoists. This is especially so in the key middle grades and extending even to the younger brigadiers. It is also true in the Armed Police Force (APF), perhaps to a lesser extent in the Nepal Police (NP). The RNA’s ‘field elements’ now accept parliamentary supremacy and seek a more professional, ‘21st Century military’. Officers know there are numerous friendly states with extensive experience in implementing and consolidating the proper mechanisms. Many of these younger RNA officers have even considered the passing of the monarchy, but they are worldly enough to see that this leaves open the question of what institution or figure would serve the referee's position. Hence, they believe it is preferable that a constitutional monarchy remain. What they do not accept is the position demanded by the Maoists and their left wing allies: ‘replacing’ one force by another, or of ‘purging’ one force only to install the cadres of another. Reconciliation, to their mind, demands amalgamation, even if this is accompanied by reduction in overall numbers. Under no circumstances will any force accept being disbanded in favor of Maoist replacements. To do so would guarantee left-wing dictatorship.

For their part, APF and NP are critical to the normal law and order of the state. Ironically, whatever the precise manner in which events unfold, the sitting Government is bound to find, in the months ahead, normal policing and security duties will assume heightened importance. A clear understanding must be worked out by the Government as to what is expected to arrest a dangerous societal drift that has set in. Armed thugs, often claiming to be representing ‘the people’ but invariably cadres of Maoist front organizations, roam all major population centers in Nepal and must be brought within the normal rule of law.

This is a job particularly for the Police, supported by the APF, but it is inevitable that RNA will be involved. The present situation, including the widespread intimidation of individuals and institutions, cannot go unchecked.

Politically, RNA is confronted with a Faustian bargain: It must serve the state even with the knowledge that the unity of SPAM (Seven Party Alliance + the Maoists) depends upon the SPA placating the Maoists. The Maoists see the victory as theirs and see themselves as dictating the terms of surrender – and envisage only trials for those who have resisted them. Hence, the security forces must keep order even as they are plotted against (in certain circles) and held up as a bargaining chip (in others).

Their logical advocates, the Indians, who have the most to lose from a Maoist-dominated Nepal, remain very much an unknown element, given the array of actors waging mini-foreign policies. One factor has not changed as any perusal of large segments of the Indian press reveals: New Delhi has been ill-informed by a good fraction of its so-called ‘Nepal experts’, in just the manner it was led astray, two decades ago, by its ‘Sri Lanka experts’. It cannot be said that Indian analysts have developed much actual knowledge of the workings of Nepali Maoism. The dominant position is that the CPN-M can be bought off or simply directed – an astonishing position given what India seems to have realized quite belatedly the Stalinist, anti-democratic essence of its own Maoists. The CPI-M, in particular, has little comprehension of Nepali insurgent ground realities. The Indian Left Wing political pilgrims to Nepal deal with their opposite numbers in the UML. If they meet a ‘Maoist’, they deal with personalities of their ‘own stratum’, who can be as engaging and sophisticated as any. They do not deal with what is in the hills, thus gaining no comprehension that there is an organization of LTTE clones, every bit as dogmatic and ruthless.

For those who have dealt with the Tamil insurgents, one conclusion is salient: the orientation of manpower is never the issue in a situation such as this. It is leaders who are the lynchpin, who produce the endless cycle of insurgent brutality in Sri Lanka, a struggle that has long since seen its original causes vanish. The situation in Nepal is similar. It is the Maoist leaders who are following an ideological play-book; their followers are thrown up by local grievances. Maoist manpower is just as eager for ‘peace’ as anyone else, but they expect to get something out of their campaign. They have been told consistently that the new order will belong to them and will bring justice and prosperity. There is no way to do that in the short term except by taking from the old and giving to the new.

That this is playing a losing hand has been made clear in study after study, most recently by the simple but telling calculations of Dr. Steve Gorzula. As he notes: divide the arable land of Nepal (22,627 km2) by the population (28 million in July 2006 estimates), and the result is a society that has exceeded the carrying capacity of the land. Lip-serve is paid to the only real possibility – development of hydropower – and the result is a vacuum in which Maoist coercive utopian solutions have no competitors.

Lenin would certainly be proud of his Maoist pupils. On the side of democracy, however, there is little worthy of praise. The stormy course ahead will require more steady seamanship than has hitherto been demonstrated in the short history of Nepali democracy. More than ‘hope (it all works out)’ will be required.

The role of the security forces will be paramount, for they are the only guarantee that Maoist violence will not be the trump card. Thus normal functioning of those security forces will have to be maintained at all costs, so as to avoid demoralization and possible desertion. Clear explanations of what is happening are imperative, with the emphasis upon ‘transition to parliamentary supremacy’. Any impression of ‘defeat’ must be banished, despite the concerted efforts of the Left Wing to push this claim in the ongoing struggle for control of the narrative describing recent events. Already, the Maoists claim their revolutionary forces were the key in the recent agitation (their cadres did incite violence and cache explosives in urban areas).
‘Reform’, then, must be the order of the day, as has long been called for by all interested parties, but this word finds no place in the Maoist vocabulary. Consequently, forces of actual democracy (as opposed to ‘people’s democracy’) will be called upon to face the inevitable backlash. It is for the politicians to deal with this reality, and the security forces can be their shield. It is possible that international mediation and even involvement may create new possibilities. For the moment, however, the Maoists have no intention of participating in a new version of the old-order. They are demanding and expecting that a constitutional convention will deliver a people’s republic in form if not in immediate practice. They are determined to exact vengeance.

They are not, in other words, seeking ‘democracy’ as we know the word. There is a strong thread of thought which claims the Maoists will choose the path trod by the ‘other’ insurgent groups in Sri Lanka (e.g., PLOT, TELO, EPRLF), groups that agreed, with certain misgivings, to work within the system. More likely, the Maoists will go the way of the LTTE that, after each hopeful pause, resumed its revolutionary project.

It hardly needs highlighting that such a course of action by the Maoists would put them squarely at odds with the desires of the Nepali masses – just as LTTE cannot today be said to represent much more than the aspirations of its rump state. If the CPN-M is astute, it will realize this. Unfortunately, history does not provide grounds for optimism. There is no Maoist insurgency that has displayed such foresight. Neither do operational realities provide any more hope: the Maoists are not in any way standing down.

The up side? If the Maoists move as driven by their hate-filled ideology and resume their struggle, they will find themselves just where LTTE is – on the wrong side of history and facing a reasonably united, democratic society, amply assisted by friendly powers, including India.


This article was first published in South Asia Intelligence Review

(Dr. Thomas A. Marks is Professor of Insurgency, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism at the School of National Security Executive Education (SNSEE) of the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C.)

21 Comments:

At 12:53 PM, May 09, 2006, Anonymous manan said...

Fallacious premise. The author keeps coming back to his LTTE comparisons and that's precisely why the arguments suffer.

For starters, the LTTE is a much better organized, far richer organization than the rag-tag Maoists.

Also, I don't see our Maoists as being anywhere as zealous as Marks sees them. The LTTE pioneered suicide bombing and Prabhakaran's cult of personality is so strong that it makes Prachanda's seem cartoonish.

A much better comparison would be with the JVP, once very violent, now fully a part of the Sri Lankan political mainstream.

When Marks writes that India 'proved itself incapable of handling the insurgents in Sri Lanka', he conveniently avoids explaining how different the situation. For God's sakes, the LTTE even had a naval unit which was quite capable of taking on the Sri Lankan Navy and a serious thorn in the side of the Indians. Plus, our Maoists have never assassinated a single higher echelon Nepali leader on Nepali soil, let alone a potential Indian prime minister on Indian territory.

As a military force, the Maoists don't have the funding or the means to take over the country. Furthermore, they are about evenly matched in the overall with the RNA. The RNA has better guns, but they are more motivated. So its a stalemate.

As for Marks' Nicaragua comparison, suffice to say that he uses the phrase 'Sandinista dictatorship' quite freely. Actually the Sandinistas were quite benign compared to their predecessors. I mean type 'Nicaragua' and 'dictator' on the web and only one name comes up time and again, and that's not Sandinista. If Marks wants to make a credible case, he'd do better than to sound ideologically motivated. If my information is correct, the FSLN did win the 1984 elections, with most people but rightwing hacks denouncing the elections.

However, Nepal's Maoists don't appear to be as benign as the Sandinistas and so we better take them more seriously. Which is to say, lets bring them into the mainstream, hard to imagine now, yes, but possible. The RNA has shown them all the force it can muster and that hasn't made much of a dent. Now its time to do things differently. Its time to use intellegence, use politics, even a little force, and help them see the light.

It probably won't be as easy as I make it sound. But there is no other way. And Marks is as guilty of spreading false hope as anybody else.

 
At 6:36 PM, May 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Manan, you a SPAMmer will speak as much as he knows.

LTTE has a naval fleet because Sri Lankan army has a naval fleet. What does LTTE's naval fleet consist of is the question and is it's naval fleet equal in match to Sri Lankan army.
Maoists or anyone in Nepal cannot have naval fleet. But they have an army of people who can take on RNA with their guerilla warfare.

Second, when Prof. Marks does comparison of Maoists to LTTE, he does not mean that Maoists are equal to LTTE in might but they have the pottential to be equal.
For that matter RNA is no match to Sri Lankan army as well.

SPAMmer bullshitters.

LTTE controls much of north and east Sri Lanka. Likewise, Maoists control much of Nepal.

You cannot have an absolute comparison between LTTE (separate state) and Maoists (communist state. Their visions are different but their means (terrorism) are same. And in both the places India's involvement ruined the entire process.

 
At 8:13 PM, May 09, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Yes, perhaps that was Dr. Mark's intent all along: Show India's aloofness and faulty intelligence when it comes to such groups.

blogdai feels a direct comparison between LTTE and the Maoists was never intended.

Blogdai operative N is in Hawaii now seeking clarification from DR. Marks.

-=blogjackdaniels

 
At 3:42 AM, May 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Dr. Mark's comment-I wish he would expand more on how to tackle this growing problem.

Is there any chance to remedy this situation? I think its a fool's dreams to expect that problem will go away once Maoist are in the mainstream.

Is this the time for APPEASEMENT which SPA are doing, knowingly or otherwise? Newspapers like Kantipur have already started attacking Royal Nepal Army in its daily barrage of fabricated and unfounded news articles, so what is next. FM radio are putting out broadcast saying certain section of certain caste needs to be eliminated- what is all this leading to? quite scary but this is actually happening in Nepal.

Hope against hope but I see things going from bad to worse. The unleash of sectarian and vindictive flame is slowly being ignited, no telling where it will end.

Therefore, Dr. Mark's "Hope is not a Method" is quite relevant in this tumultuous time. I urge all to workout a method to nullify this Maoist intent, pseudo intellectual's skimming the surface analysis, and SPA's rudderless attitude in this time where the very nationhood in under attack.

 
At 8:09 AM, May 10, 2006, Blogger Nepali Blogger said...

Fine, if the maoists want to join the mainstream, let them. But with all the talk of "intigrating" the RNA or bringing them under the "parliament" etc, who is going to ensure that the Maoists don't blindsight everyone and simply take over? Far fetched? Maybe, but entirely possible.

Hey check out my blog lovesnepal.blogspot.com

 
At 8:45 AM, May 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prof. Marks is right on the money on the Maoists' strategy, but I am skeptical about his analysis of the Indian position.

Although the US had emphasized giving the Maoists a "bloody nose", even they have accepted the fact there is no military victory to the insurgency.

Raising the threat of the bloody nose (with "help" from Nepal's international friends as he puts it) all over again is not enough to resolve this insurgency. As Manan says, this time we have to use intelligence and politics just as much. Besides India, who else is even interested in meddling with the Maoists politically?

 
At 10:22 AM, May 10, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Check out Nepalibloggers new blog.
Along with Ians ondemocracy.blogspot.com, we are seeing a refreshing return to sanity in Nepal discourse.

-=blogdai

 
At 1:14 PM, May 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only viable way of nuetralizing the Maoist force is to bring it into the mainstream, integrate them into RNA (change the name if they don't want it), bring them together, sit down, discuss their demands and strike a negotiation. Maoists comprise a large chunk of Nepali population and there's no doing away with it.

Maoists this time neither were the central force organizing the political movement, nor were they instrumental in forcing the king to reinstate the parliament (which they wilfully claim to have done so). Nor were the political parties.

People did. Defying the curfew, thousands of civillians participated in a peaceful protest for 20 days- for one purpose- overthrow of monarchy. The demand for constituent assembly election is a fabrication from maoists and political parties alike, that came later, and people made no hullabaloo against it- constituent assembly is possibly the most viable way to reconstruct the potential situation of anarchy. So the support was massive, and the message was clear-we don't want the king.

Now, coming to the blame game we're playing- a few months back, SPA welcomed the Maoists' alignment. Why? Because SPA then could neither gain any attention from the king, nor gain any support from its people. So Maoists and SPA formed an alliance-for both their individual party interests. SPA needed attention, Maoists needed legitimacy. And they signed an agreement- the overthrow of monarchy, and the formation of constituent assembly, being their major agenda. Now that the parliament is reinstated, SPA is hesitant over what it promised to deliver- it is speculating over settling with minor changes in the constitution and having a ceremonial monarchy. No1- it betrayed the promise it made to the maoists, thus demonstrating its incapability to remain consistent and hence the possibility of a fair negotiation with anyone for that matter (if it cannot deliver what it promised, negotiations later will bear little fruit). No2- It is betraying people's trust again- it is compromising against the very objective people came to the streets for- overthrow of monarchy.

If the parties don't play it right this time, people will be more willing to support the maoists for the very cause- they are not willing to have a ceremonial monarchy and they'd like to see a constituent assembly elections being held soon. And maoists are cashing in on exactly that.

As I see it coming, lack of a clear vision, lack of intelligent diplomacy, and lack of statesmanship in political leaders, as well as the uncompromising nature of both the maoists and political leaders will keep peace out of question for a while- each will alienate itself from another, and play the demand and deny game.

As for negotiation, if we want to have a settlement between the maoists and the parties, the two groups have to feel politically secure, and fairly equal in power- so they are less defensive of their positions. When one is already in teh receiving end, and the other on the giving, there's a power imbalance- the receiving end will quickly resort to other means of bargaining once it perceives the other party's strength as a threat. For the very reason, I was hoping the parties would include maoists in its decision making from the very beginning of the formation of interim govt., so we dont see it as an alienated force laying out demands.

Snakebite.

PS- Apologies for diverting away from Mark's article- will come back to that later- quite interesting- but equally baseless. Analysis based more on perception than research. Like mine, Eh!!

 
At 3:13 PM, May 10, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Yo Snake, interesting stuff but ask yourself this:

What have the Maoists ever done that would lead you to believe they want to sit down and negotiate?

We've established their demands through talks in 2002 and 2003 and each time, re realized that the maoists have used talks as a tactical measure to regroup; when will we ever learn.

How many time does blogdai have to repeat: THE MAOISTS DON'T WANT TO WORK OUT A PEACEFUL COMPROMISE WITH ANYONE. Any why should they? Ask yourself again: Through this whole process have the Maoists offered to back down even one inch from their ideology and violent behavior? And don't hang your hat on these phony ceasefires either; they've been proven to be no more than a political maneuver designed to garner world sympathy.

And what type of analysis leads you to believe that "the people" took to the streets and effected change? Half "the people" don't know how a constituent assembly functions, and seemingly no one understands "absolute democracy;" the two main points of your "people's" protest.

You are almost right about your balance issues, except you've got the ideas turned around. The Maoists will never negotiate from a position of strength. You have to get them into a corner and weaken them before you will see some real cooperation from them. They've done nothing but increase their strength and further their agenda during this whole mess--why stop to negotiate, as Moriarty says, when you think you're winning. (I'll get to that treasonous bastard in my next column).

I can't conceive where some of you come up with the idea that the maoists will simply drop into the mainstream if we only meet their needs. It is the same logic you have that says the RNA will dissolve itself or let itself be usurpted by the Koirala's of the world. Is it part of the consciousness of a street protester to have such a fundamental disconnect with these two monumental problems facing your "people's" movement?

Start your re-education now....
1. You'll never control the Maoists or the RNA.

Lesson over.

-=blogdai

 
At 10:19 PM, May 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just picked it off from People's Review (without premission). Read, all those who believe in inclusion of maoist by any means possible, even if it means selling contry down the river.
-----------------------------------


RIM dissatisfied with Maoists
Kathmandu , 8 May: Maoists have highly influenced the government as it is bound to take its every decision with the Maoists' consent, writes Navarash weekly.

As seven parties are surrounded by the Maoists, similarly the Maoists are also surrounded by internationally affiliated communist organizations like RIM and CAMPOSA.

RIM is dissatisfied with the decision of Maoists and seven-party reconciliation to form the new Nepalese government. RIM has remarked that the Maoists betrayed their objective of uniting the South-Asian nations as a single revolutionary state with the support of CAMPOSA.

People’s News/Kumod

 
At 3:02 AM, May 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another lesson for Blogdai:

RNA will not remain RNA much longer.

 
At 11:17 AM, May 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai, if people were to head the govt. with attitude like yours, there'll be no peace. For how many years, if you're not aware, have the RNA been trying to 'corner' the Maoists??

Negotiating entails getting to the core of the issue- demands. And unless both parties feel secure enough to get to the core of the problem without individual/party prejudices, nobody will compromise. Blame maoists for their atrocities, blame them for their cunning tactics and cheap rhetorics, but this time around, don't forget it takes two to tango-if the parties had conceded that negotiation actually means heeding to some demands that the other is making, without clamoring about the other's (weaker) bargaining position, perhaps we could see a better Nepal today.

Maoists are power hungry- no doubt about that- but for the very reason that you mentioned, over-confidence on RNAs strength and under-estimation of the maoist stronghold on the govt.'s part, is one very reason the latter took it so easy on negotiation- each of their bargaining positions made the real issue invisible- thats negotiation 101.

So what was the demand both were so unable to come to a compromise? Constituent Assembly demands that the SPA and Maoists recently allied together for. Was it so hard to work on it then? No. So what was needed? A guarantee that both their bargaining positions are secure- and that the outcome of negotiation will benefit both.

Your view that maoists used 2002 and 2003 negotiations as a tactic to regroup is quite shallow (they did use the ceasefire to their advantage, but regrouping was not the main objective they came to the negotiating table for).

And why can't you conceive the idea that maoists will come into the mainstream if their needs are met? Needs=interests (political interests in this case- lets say Constituent Assembly)- once the interim govt. agrees for it (the very SPAM alighnment was based on it for that matter), we're half there. CA will decide their fate. Complications will arise, of course- and they might actually come up with another demand, like try the monarch in the court or we'll resort to arms- so you've to tackle that now- is it important to try the monarch in court, the cost/benefit analsys- why do maoists want the monarch to be tried in court- benefit, govt. agrees, otherwise they negotiate- may be on implementing a law, that covers their demand and at the same time targets the ills of society- which will bring maoist cadres to trial too.

But my main point is, both the parties have to attain that level of confidence and sense of strong mutual trust-so when SPA actually does decide to hold CA elections, there has to be a pre-agreement that whatever the decision of elections, both will oblige. To gain that level of trust, to reach to that 'pre-agreement' level, Maoists have to be given a sense of inclusiveness, not alienation- it is never possible when you alienate one party from power, corner it, and ask it to come to negotiating terms. Bullshit. They won't even be ready to give up arms.

About people- people in nepal don't know what in your terms, 'absolute democracy' is, i don't know- many americans here dont know. More than half the population demonstrating in DC against the Darfur genocide don't probably know what absolute democracy is- but does that bar them from fighting against oppression? People in Nepal walked on the streets for what they wanted- a republic nepal- they wanted the king to abdicate his throne (and we can start another discussion on why the monarch isnt a necessity for Nepal). This could have been instigated by SPAM, but if people were not genuinely motivated by it, it wouldnt last 20 days with a massive overflow of ppl in all parts of Nepal- not just ktm or rolpa- and don't come up with another shallow observation that all were maoists (maoists claimed it, and there were some quite powerful rebuttals in newspapers against this cheap tactics of theirs).

Control the Maoists or RNA? You can't control them, you can't control any one party or people and you simply don't- that is dictatorship- you let interests define roles- and that is how things play out in reality. Clash of interests, political hegemony, bargaining positions, these all place the players in certain roles.

As for my part, I never said control the maoists, i said, bring them in a position to negotiate, make them comfortable in their skin (as they were during the SPAM alliance) and discuss interests, not positions. If played carefully, I think it can very well be considered diplomacy.

Snakebite.

 
At 11:37 AM, May 11, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

RNA will not remain the RNA much longer? Gee, why is that? Do you mean to say that you HOPE the RNA will not remain the RNA much longer, even though you have no clue as to the METHOD of their removal.

We see living proof of Dr. Mark's statement in your words, saati. You really are lost about the whole method thing, aren't you?

Snake, your stuff is full of good logic. but I'm afraid track history trumps logic when it comes to dealing with Maoists. There is just no historical precedent for Nepal's maoists acceding or compromising with anything. They have momentum and they've played the Alliance like string puppets. Why in the world should we believe they will do anything but continue with their successful methods?

I don't know where you were when the demonstrations started, but it is as plain as the nose on blogdai's face that the single most vociferous rallying cry--the one that kicked-off the entire mess--was that the demonstrations wouldn't stop until "absolute democracy" was achieved. CA kind of worked its way into the mix later. So, if half the world and most Nepali's, as you imply, don't know what absolute democracy is, then how can it be the main point of a "people's" movement?

-=blogdai

 
At 3:48 PM, May 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Absolute democracy" has been the rallying cry of the SPA, not the Maoists. By your own admission then, the credit of the movement goes to SPA, not Maoist. I will agree with you on that one.

 
At 6:50 PM, May 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SPAMmers make no sense to me. We can count their popularity and strength on our fingers.

By the way, news is that Girija babu is going up. When will Sujata and Madhav be going up?

 
At 12:12 AM, May 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snake bite, you sound like a snake in the grass. You speak with forked tongue or may be it is your naiveté. Do you mean to say just for sake of Maoist inclusion, we should be prepared to sell our soul.

Kantipur is India Funded, the 8th member of SPAM, has a front page news on Chief of the Army daughter's wedding- now this a national daily newspaper. Is it a national scandal, to have a wedding of a daughter, lavish it may be. I guess with your snake eyes, you should know better.

Don't you see, Nepal is being prepared as "Dashain to Boka" by India to make it into Bhutan- under what is called "India's Security umbrella."

May be Snake bite, you should be a marriage counselor- I know you'd be out of business in hurry.

Iam quiet miffed with your logic such as "CA will decide their fate" & "But my main point is, both the parties have to attain that level of confidence and sense of strong mutual trust-so when SPA actually does decide to hold CA elections, there has to be a pre-agreement that whatever the decision of elections, both will oblige." Just tell me this- are you in this world or in some suburbia in US comfortably numb to state this " nonsense, illogical, hyperbole.

Wake up, Dude before its too late. Next time, disclose what you understand when you say CA.

a. Is it just a SPAM prerogative
b. Is it based on existing constitution?
c. Is it Mob/Maoist dictated Charter
d. Does it require referendum?
e. Are you willing to accept even if you do not have your say on it?

 
At 12:34 AM, May 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for all those nitpickers-SPAM believers.

No newspaper or papers in Nepal can write anything against India. Verified & confirmed. And Yo! keep talking about Democracy, nickle and dime, and spinmeisters.

Maoist are demanding Ministry portofolio- Water Resources, labor,Tourism and one more, dang it, just escapes my mind. FYI.

Think out of the box, all. Time is turning sour day by day.

 
At 3:39 PM, May 12, 2006, Anonymous Brit said...

Snakebite - It is perfectly obvious from your views that you were nowhere near Kathmandu during the '20 days'. I was there. What I saw reported in the English language media was, in my view - being there, a gross distortion of the actual situation. No Nepali I spoke to had any good word for any of the politicians. All were aware that to be seen to go against the 'movement' was likely to bring about dire consequences for the individual daring to do so. I saw no signs of antagonism between army or police personnel and non-uniformed Nepalis - admittedly I kept away from stone-throwers. I keep away from such incidents in any country I might be in - people always risk injury if they attack armed security personnel or are nearby when it happens. I am only surprised at the low level of such injuries.

You say: People in Nepal walked on the streets for what they wanted- a republic nepal- they wanted the king to abdicate his throne - Bullshit - they wanted an end to the continuous disruption of their lives by whichever political group.

 
At 1:19 AM, May 13, 2006, Anonymous dialogue said...

Always suspected more maoist presence in India, than we were informed of through the media, and the policy may have been that it is wisest to not pay so much attention to it. Like in Nepal. And it would finally explain the unclear attitude of India. Then I have no doubt about the maoists final agenda, more and more mess. Still change is needed, was needed, but look who you are dealing with. Then certain elements in society love violence, not peace, as hard as it is to understand why. Mostly I saw so many angry young many on all those protesters' photos, hardly any average nepalese family with cute children.
nepalese democracy, interesting process.

 
At 12:58 AM, May 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all the SPAM believers- check out this piece taken out from an article " Question of Legality" by Bipin Adharakri. I post this because of Historical Significance
-----------------------------------

Throughout the 19th century, Russian reformers demanded the setting up of a democratically elected Constituent Assembly. After King (Czar) Nicholas II abdicated on 1st March, 1917, the new provisional government announced it would introduce a Constituent Assembly. A total of 703 candidates were elected to the Constituent Assembly in November, 1917. This included socialist revolutionaries, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, and Constitutional Democratic Party. The position of the Bolshevik was not better. They were bitterly disappointed with the result as they had hoped it would legitimize what they proclaimed as the October Revolution. Thus, when the constituent assembly rejected Vladimir Lenin's Bolshevik programmes, he announced its dissolution asserting that the October revolution stands higher than the formal rights of the constituent assembly, and its attempt to disregard the class struggle and civil war would be a betrayal of the proletariat's cause, and the adoption of the bourgeois standpoint. Soon afterwards all opposition political groups were banned in Russia.

Expect this to come near to you within couple of weeks.

 
At 5:26 AM, May 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd suggest to Kantipur and the other news houses to do us a favour and start publishing the cumulative stats of Maoist bombings, killings, injured, extortions, threats, robberies etc since their "ceasefire" on a daily basis. Perhaps in a panel prominently on the front page.

So far today (14/05/2006) on Kantipuronline we see the headlines:
1) One killed, two seriously injured in bomb explosion
2) Maoists beat man to death
3) Maoists threaten two FM stations

naagboy

 

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