Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Double Whammy

It looks like the volatility of Nepal's political fluidity is going to be determined by how the Prachanda-James F. Moriarty posturing plays out.
In a recent barrage of interviews, the Maoist supremo has all but conceded that but for the Americans, his people already would have let a hundred flowers bloom across Nepal.
Looking past that unmistakable compliment from an unlikely admirer to the hyperpower's prowess, the American ambassador warned the mainstream parties to avoid the Maoist trap of forming a parallel government and army.
King Gyanendra, despite the sustained record of royal stubbornness, remains the best partner for Nepal's democratic parties.
But how might the posturing evolve? Moriarty's predecessor, Michael Malinowski, was far more intolerant of the Maoists. (Under his watch, at least two Nepali employees of the American Embassy, fell to Maoist bullets.)
Given Malinkowski's strong public condemnations after a few spectacular Maoist attacks in western Nepal, some expected the U.S. military to dispatch daisy cutters to decimate Maoists clustered in the caverns in midwestern Nepal.
Clearly, the CIA could have sent in precision-target unmanned drones without upsetting too many Nepalis. Instead, Malinkowski was replaced by a supposedly more consensual Moriarty.
Even consensus has its limits. We now know that Moriarty attended sessions in New Delhi that preceded the mainstream-Maoist 12-point accord against King Gyanendra.
All the while, he had been stressing that his presence in the Indian capital when Nepal's main opposition leaders were undergoing collective medical treatment was merely coincidental. He's been shuttling between Kathmandu and DC a lot more than he used to. Moriarty's latest admonition to the mainstream parties seems to stem from Washington's anxiety about the absence of a non-communist center. With Girija Prasad Koirala virtually reading from Prachanda's script, the resurrection of Sher Bahadur Deuba was only a matter of time.
It would be up to the UML to choose between the Maoists and the democrats. If they chose the latter, this time they would have to change their party flag and name.
It's somewhere around here that Maila Baje feels the mainstream parties are going overboard with praise for the Supreme Court's abolition of Royal Commission on Corruption Control, which led to Deuba's release from detention.
True, the bench dealt a heavy blow to an executive monarch's decision. By eulogizing the justices to such an obsequious extent, can opposition leaders retain their ability to oppose future decisions not to their liking?
What if the Supreme Court were to affirm that restoring a prematurely dissolved House of Representatives at a time when it would have completed its natural life would be tantamount to restoring the legislature King Mahendra disbanded in 1960?
What if the justices were to decide that the constitution did not envisage a constituent assembly election? (Believe me, there are any number of wannabe legal stars committed to public interest litigation.) Do the justices then expose themselves to demonization?
Yes, yes, I know I'm drifting here. Coming back to Prachanda, he must feel why the Americans hate him so much.
Washington, which can't stop equating the Nepalese Maoists with the Khmer Rouge, once supported the Cambodian radicals. Prachanda, for his part, was once on the employ of the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to sketchy biographies.
The Fierce One probably knows the answer. Remaining communist in the post-Cold War world is bad enough. Also being on the terrorist list of the prime global warrior against terrorism exposes the Maoists to a double whammy.