What the US Ambassador Taught Nepalis
Recently, the United States has been anxiously trying to pre-empt every possible uncomfortable situation in South Asia. Its ambassadors are actively intervening in internal political debates in South Asian countries. Of course, it is nothing new for the US, but in order to understand specific implications of this activism in specific contexts, the peeping tom has to be caught red-handed at the site of the crime and interrogated. The ambassador in India was recently in the dock for threatening Indians to behave well on the Iran issue. Now it is the turn of the ambassador in Nepal, James F. Moriarty. However, for our convenience, Moriarty has been too explicit in his conduct.
In his speech to the Ganesh Man Singh Academy (Kathmandu) on February 15, 2006, Moriarty clearly stated that the US wanted "reconciliation and compromise" between Monarchy and parliamentary parties, and any other arrangement is unacceptable to it. And what is unacceptable to it needs to be checked with all its might. (1) Moriarty cleared away the confusion that the US statement after the royalty’s failed attempt to conduct elections to municipal bodies in the beginning of February 2006 engendered among a few people. They thought that the US seemed to be drifting away from its support to monarchy. Moriarty’s speech much be welcomed in this regard. He made clear that the US thought the elections could have been a successful exercise; "unfortunately" it was proved "hollow" and "yet another missed opportunity", with the Maoists’ violence and parties’ boycott being the main culprits. In the Question-Answer session of his speech, in answer to a particular question, Moriarty immediately tried to reinstall the ambiguity. Such kind of ambiguity allows a hegemonic power to opportunistically play various contradictory forces at the same time.(2)
Moriarty presented a comprehensive overview of the American perceptions of the Nepalese crisis. Firstly, for the US, the main task of the Nepalese politicians must be to eliminate the Maoists, not to bring in a stable democracy. The latter could be just an instrument in this regard. The "authoritarian rule" imposed by Monarchy per se was not wrong, If it had eliminated the Maoists, it would have been declared successful. Monarchy proved to be wrong in its "envisioning". Secondly, the US really thinks that the recent agreement between the "parties" and the Maoists is a result of the frustration of the former, who are trying to use the latter as "political leverage against the palace". In fact, within the US’ scheme of things, the King and the "parties" are equally obstinate "locked in a circle of mistrust" using the Maoists as "bargaining chip in their ongoing struggle of wills". Thirdly, in this struggle of wills and fancies, of course, "the Maoists will only continue to gain advantage". Fourthly, of course, speaking for the Big Brother (BB), Moriarty feels free to philosophise, "wishing that something were so does not make it that way, as we all learn in life". And with BB watching and judging, how did Nepalese politicians dare to make judgement on their own that the insurgents would renounce violence? BB thinks that the Maoists are "committed to violence to achieve political ends", so they must be; believe it or else you are doomed! Don’t talk about the revolutionaries of Nicaragua or El Salvador whose struggles contributed in stabilising democracy in those countries, BB knows better!
To teach the Nepalis, Moriarty makes a list of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) and, of course, supplied with answers, too. His first question is: "Are the Maoists truly committed to peace and democracy, as the 12-point understanding suggests?" Moriarty comes out with a "Bushy" style of argumentation. When Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai talks about "absolute democracy" and about attacking the "autocratic monarchy", can’t you see what he means? He means "murder, extortion, and intimidation". If you don’t see that, Uncle Sam sees that; hence, you must see that. Don’t you remember Bhattarai said something about the simultaneity of armed and unarmed struggle to achieve the goal of absolute democracy? Why did he call for an armed struggle to complement the unarmed? What if the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) and the police shoot at your demonstrations and protests? You must never defend yourself because Uncle Sam himself trained them to do that.
The second question, which Moriarty supplies with an answer, is "Are the Maoists committed to joining the political mainstream?" The argumentation is similar. Because he has found "that the insurgents seek to bring the parties further into their sphere, and to the Maoists’ advantage", so everybody must see the "common sense". How did he find that? Somewhere Baburam Bhattarai said, "since our working policy [with the parties] is now the same, we have forged this partnership," and also that "tomorrow if the nature of the political intercontradiction changes, the nature of our relations could change as well." So the conclusion is "icy". Actually, the parties didn’t have any mind when they signed the 12-point agreement with the Maoists. Look Uncle Sam has done the homework for them, he has "translated" "Maoist thinking" for these illiterate Nepalis, and it is icy because he himself was frozen by its implications. Did you say, even Uncle Sam changes his colours frequently as "the nature of the political intercontradiction changes" – that he supported all kinds of dictatorial regimes to eliminate nationalists, democrats and people’s movements all over the world? He fed Pinochet, Talibans, Osama, Saddam, literally everybody against whom he claims to wage the War on terrorism todayOh, boy! You can’t even understand that! Firstly, because he is big he can dare to do this; secondly, if you go on telling his own story to him, he might do what he did in Chile, beware!
The last FAQ is "If the parties and Maoists were ever able to topple the monarchy, what then?" Of course, "the answer here is particularly worrisome: The Maoists would be armed; the parties would be unarmed." Here comes a major revelation: "the Royal Nepalese Army" is "the parties’ one logical source of defense". So what if all these days it has terrorised you? Once you become the King’s compliant little brothers, you will find them handy and playful. Don’t listen to the Maoists! In fact, the RNA is the King’s private army and it is not professional because it is in the best interest of you and the Nepalese people in general. You all are very innocent and young; you could have misused the Army and its arms. BP Koirala (the first and only prime minister to serve during Nepal’s first fling of democracy (1959-60) was overthrown because he dared to support some land reform measures) was not in his mind when he questioned the compatibility of the democratic system in Nepal with the preponderance of the Nepalese Army. You must be happy with the "elections", that’s democracy. More regularly you are ousted by the King and his army, you will have more elections, and hence, more democracy You don’t understand the logic, boy! Moreover, "we like elections".
Moriarty himself found all these trivial questions "provocative, which is their aim". To "provoke" more he finds that "if ever the phrase ‘politics makes strange bedfellows’ was appropriate, it is in Nepal in 2006". Did all these provoke you? No, but they must, they were meant to be provocative. Look, Uncle Sam has caught you in bed, too! So what if every night he himself has strange bedfellows! You are still young and struggling. You must not sleep with bedfellows whom he finds strange. Don’t sleep with his enemies! Do you know how much you have aggrieved the Big Boy Gyani, because of your "lack of leadership and unwillingness to compromise"? He too was at fault, agreed, but he is the Big Boy. Moreover, you were the one who aligned with "a separate violent force" and isolated the Big Boy, maddening him. Further don’t you see Russia, North Korea, China, Cuba and others, the Maoists, Marxists etc found totalitarian states? Don’t talk about Allende, Chavez, Ortega and others? It is good that Uncle Sam and his cronies fund local criminals, drug pedlars, mafias to check them or eliminate them before they are successful in building totalitarian states. And that is why you don’t find totalitarianism flourishing there. You talk about Pinochet and his ilk, you must understand the logic of tit for tat. Choices are before you – decide what you want to become. Now stop provoking Uncle Sam. But are you provoked, or not?
In the speech, Moriarty clearly comes out with a warning: Behave yourself or you will impair your "democratic credentials" by aligning with the Maoists. It does not matter whether the ‘demos’ supported your boycott and the Maoists’ General Strike, what matters is that you have not behaved according to the ‘democratic’ recipe that Uncle Sam proposes. Your partnership with the Maoists is "uneasy", because it makes him uneasy. It is wrongheaded, because he has been wronged. Worse for you, Uncle Sam has started believing that what you have done "is fraught with danger"? You know what this means. You have enraged Uncle Sam, and you don’t know the results that are in store "for the political parties themselves, and for the future of the Nepalese people". So, start rethinking.
It is clear from the speech that the Maoists’ coming out openly in the media and rising popular sympathy and support for them have forced the US to prepare for its last ditch attempt to save monarchy and buy back at least the inconsistent elements in the democracy movement. The US game plan is to downplay the Maoists’ genuine stress on an effective Constituent Assembly that can decide upon the nature of the political system for Nepal in a genuinely democratic manner. Moriarty’s jugglery with facts and statements by the Maoists taken out of context is meant for this. The US and its allies know quite well that the Nepalese royalty, which they fed for more than 50 years, is almost doomed, if this demand is honestly met. The royalty is their only stable agency that can keep the political economic aspirations of the enlightened Nepalese population in check, from ‘harming’ foreign interests in Nepal – both security and business. The royalty’s doom is Nepal’s complete independence, its freedom to decide its own destiny.
Moriarty uses all kinds of attacks that can make the Maoists look like the simple mindless terrorists whom the Americans trained during the Cold War and whom they utilise today to legitimise their invasion of "non-compliant" ("rogue") free nations. In the name of chasing the terrorists they can freely bombard innocent people. Of course, in order to pre-empt the rise of a future ‘terrorist’, they must slaughter the whole generation, as Herod "slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof" (St. Mathew, 2:16).
They themselves know that the Maoists are not like those terrorists whom they brainwashed for their own Cold War loots. That is why the Ambassador shows his desperation by evoking the logic of "common sense" so many times, without telling what sense it is. Don’t you see the common sense that "the King and parties" are natural allies? Don’t you see the common sense that the Maoists are violent? Don’t you see the common sense that "There is no other practical, workable solution to your constitutional crisis and to effectively face the most immediate, as well as the most serious long-term, threat to your peace and prosperity the insurgency", except that "at some point, for the sake of Nepal, senior party and palace leaders must gather together in a room and begin hashing out the hard details of the way forward. No one else can do it for them". So party leaders must gather in a room, not on the streets, not like Zapatistas in Mexico, who go in thousands when they go for negotiation.
Throughout the speech Moriarty is trying to entice the Democrats and the King to be ready for "hard compromise, tough give and take". "The United States, for one, would look eagerly for ways to assist a new Nepal government that respects and supports democracy, human rights, and freedom. This also could include renewing assistance for the Royal Nepalese Army." So don’t you see that Uncle Sam will now onward protect both the Big Boy and the little ones, if you behave well with each other? This is the common sense. And if you don’t believe Moriarty’s "common sense plea", then you must listen to "the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command". You know, what it means
[Note: Most of the quotes here are from US Ambassador in Nepal, James F Moriarty's speech. Its text and audio versions are available at http://kathmandu.usembassy.gov/. The audio includes the Question-Answer session. A partial transcript of the Q-A session is available on the website of International Nepal Solidarity Network for Democratic Peace (insn.org) at http://188.8.131.52/?p=2772. The Q-A session shows the desperation of US diplomacy in Nepal, as its Ambassador in his answers had the audacity to break the basic diplomatic discursive ethos, using phrases like "with the middle fingers"]
PRATYUSH CHANDRA can be reached at: email@example.com