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Ceasefire And Democracy In Nepal

By Pratyush Chandra

06 April, 2006

The Maoists in Nepal have once again demonstrated exemplary resilience by declaring a unilateral and indefinite ceasefire on April 3, as proof of their commitment to their understanding with the "democrats". They ceased all military actions in the Kathmandu Valley considering "the requests from the seven-party alliance and from the civic societies".(1) It is too early to assess the exact impact.

During their last year's 4-month long ceasefire in the aftermath of the "Royal Regression" of February 1, 2005, they achieved a 12-point agreement with the "democrats", which gravely agonized the Bush regime. The US ambassador and commanders in the Indian Ocean became hyperactive in their words and deed. As reports indicate, the US rulers are eager to renew their military aid to the Big Boy on the Himalayas, which was solemnly withdrawn after his February naughtiness last year. For legitimacy, they are seeking a nod from the "parliamentary" parties. However, it is hard to tell if 'active cooperation' has not yet already started, we definitely have a history behind us, of Reagan's Irangate (Iran-Contra affair) and other covert operations in Latin America, of training and arming fanatic Talibans in Afghanistan.

The spread of the leftist 'menace' in the Global South seems evident, with Peru's forthcoming elections, the Maoists' ceasefire and the interesting possible comeback of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, against whom the US nurtured narcoterrorism and had a scandalous affair with Iran. The US is at loss for words to characterize this 'scourge', but
has begun to realize its deadly vigor. With regional powers in Latin America cooperating among themselves and the increasing Chinese economic support replacing the hollowed and debt-ridden US economy, which survives as the global hegemon only by displaying its militarist pomp and dollar seigniorage, the desperation of the US rulers is evident. They are forced to see the puncturing of the Monroe Doctrine (visualizing the US as the sole power in the Americas), founded on the basis of the self-confidence borne out of the domestic political economic prosperity and stability of the rising US in the 19th century, which ultimately fed on itself, destroying its own basis.

However, as it is well known, a devil is most dangerous when it faces its own death. The Bush administration mentions the threat from the "demagogue" Chavez, the "anti-American dictator" Castro and the "vicious" Maoists in a single breath in its National Security Strategy 2006.

It is not surprising that the US is deploying a Navy Carrier Strike Group "from the U.S. east coast to the Caribbean Sea to conduct Operation Partnership of the Americas from early April through late May 2006". Jorge Martin rightly sees this exercise for "enhancing military-to-military relationships with regional partner nations, improving operational readiness, and fostering good will" as "a strong message to Venezuela and Cuba. The commander of the US Southern Command General Bantz Craddock has on many occasions attacked the Venezuelan government. The decision to send this unusually large force to the Caribbean was announced just two weeks after General Craddok spoke at a US Senate committee hearing in which he called the Venezuelan government a "destabilizing force" because of its moves in the international arena, as well as ongoing efforts to purchase weapons, particularly from China."(2)

On the other side of the Global South, the Commander of the US Pacific Command visited Nepal on the anniversary of the last year's February "royal coup". Since it was an official visit, which could not have happened without the royalty's willingness to meet with him, we must presume the visit as marking the 'celebration' of the "coup". Admiral Fallon called for "national reconciliation" among the "constitutional" forces - parties and the King - to fight the Maoists, who must "not be viewed as a legitimate political actor". To attract the Nepalis, the US embassy time and again advertised this visit with an ostentatious short introduction for the commander - "as PACOM chief, the Admiral commands some 300,000 U.S. military personnel in an area reaching from the west coast of the United States to the east coast of Africa".(3) After that, every significant statement by the US diplomats on Nepal has displayed the US' desperation to renew the military help, begging the parties to break their outrageous alliance with the Maoists. In fact, one needs to just cursorily go through media reports to see US Ambassador Moriarty's daily media interactions, which are heavily concentrated on demonstrating the illegitimacy of this alliance and its dangerous consequences.

In fact there are "unconfirmed" reports in South Asian media about the likely resumption of the US arms supply to Nepal, which has been duly denied by the US embassy. However one needs to just know that there have been such repeated denials many times. Amit Baruah of a leading Indian newspaper, The Hindu (September 29, 2004) while reporting about "a private Bulgarian cargo company, carrying explosives and ammunition to "combat" the Maoists in Nepal"…sitting at an Indian airport", correctly noted, "Given the fact that governments do not want to be seen sending arms and ammunition to other countries, the use of a private charter aircraft would hardly come as a surprise. An element of "deniability" is built into such an arrangement, which governments could easily invoke if and when required."(4)

With the preparation for the 6-9 April showdown by the democrats and the Maoists' exemplary gesture by declaring a unilateral ceasefire, the anxiety among the international players is quite evident. There is definitely a crisis for the US-India imperialist coalition in South Asia. On the one hand, the economic fundamentalist China is busy mobilizing whatever space it can get for its own corporate expansion, unabashedly supplying arms to the King at the wake of the laziness on the part of the Indian counterpart. (However, India recognizes the complementary role of China in this regard, as its Foreign Secretary noted in December 2005, "to the extent that our objectives are the same [to preserve the monarchy], it is better for us to work together".) On the other hand, the EU powers, inconsistent and militarily irresolute as ever, see a good opportunity in the Nepalese "crisis" to aggravate the anxiety of the US-India coalition by giving support, although cautious, inconsistent and largely verbal, to the democratic alliance.

Evidently the ideology of "anti-terrorism" too, which was configured to replace the Cold War ideologies, of the fight against "red menace", is in crisis now. It is on the vehicle of the export of "representative democracy" that Western imperialism under the US has been trying to homogenize the world under its hegemony. This way they can definitely terrorize a few regimes, using democracy as a bargaining chip. In Nepal, even a moderate democrat and, sometimes considered as, a "royalist" among the democrats, ex-Prime Minister G.P. Koirala understands the hypocrisy of the West's "democracy" propaganda. In a recent interview when asked about his reaction to the US ambassador's "warning that the Maoists might take total control with the aid of the [ongoing] movement", he categorically replied, "In order to prevent that from happening, I have always wanted to bring them into the democratic framework. America and all the others have their contradictions here. They say that there is no military solution and we need to find a political solution but why do they fear when we try to bring the Maoists closer to the political solution?"(5)

But it is here that the crisis for global imperialism's post-Cold War ideology of "democracy propagation" lies, with the rise of a 'menace of more democracy' in Latin America and Nepal. Evidently, the democratic appeal of the major revolutionary forces in the world today is more powerful with the elimination of the hegemonist Soviet and Chinese burden. Even the formal bourgeois democratic institutions are increasingly transformed into red flagships. The revolutionaries, like in Venezuela, are aware of the inherent contradiction, as the "democratic representation" in these institutions is founded on the principle of "popular exclusion", of denying the people to directly rule themselves. However, remarkable is the self-confidence of the post-Cold War revolutionaries that enables them to establish "participatory democratic" practice right in front of the residential palaces and the representatives' talking shops, 'politically competing' with them. This competitive vigor of the 'new' democracy was evident in Venezuela in 2002 during the 2-day-drama around the coup against Chavez, eventually bringing him back to power. In the Venezuelan practice of co-management and in the Argentine "asambleas barriales" and "piqueteros' that openly defy the 'legitimate' political, economic and financial administration we find the heightening of this popular democratic consciousness in Latin America.

The same self-confidence is evident among the Maoists in Nepal, when Prachanda says he is ready for "political competition". This confidence is derived from the heightened political consciousness of the Nepalese poor peasantry, landless, the unemployed, women and the oppressed nationalities/identities, acquired during the decade-long armed struggle. The Maoists have succeeded in drawing this excluded majority to the center-stage of the Nepalese polity - integrating Nepal in real terms. It is the direct democratic practice of this majority in their daily life that will be decisive in the political competition that Prachanda talks about. Prachanda and other Nepalese revolutionaries question themselves, "What were the negative experiences of the 20th Century in which people who should have been more powerful and should have had more rights, could not get them?" And they stress "that - from the lessons of the 20th Century communist states - we want to move to a new plane in terms of leadership - where one person doesn't remain the party leader or the head of state."(6)

Today, the defiant resistance by Castro's Cuba, the possible comeback of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the resolution of the Nepalese 'problem' with an active Maoist participation re-establish the link between the present "Post-Cold War" revolutionary democratic movements and the revolutionary movements of the past. The Maoists' strategy and 'new democratic' program are radically different from what have traditionally characterized the revolutionary movements. However, by refusing to follow the universalist dogmatic voluntarism of radical idealism, they recognize that they are in "a catastrophic new constellation in which the old co-ordinates proved useless". They understand that "the idea is not to return to Lenin [or Mao and others], but to repeat him in the Kierkegaardian sense: to retrieve the same impulse in today's constellation", as Zizek would put.(7)


(1) CPN(M): Statement of 21 chaitra (3 April) declaring ceasefire within Valley, International Nepal Solidarity Network,

(2) Jorge Martin, US launches major military exercises in the Caribbean as a warning to Venezuela and Cuba (March30, 2006),

(3) PACOM Chief: Reconciliation key for Nepal's Security

(4) Amit Baruah, "Nepal-bound plane with U.S. arms in Indian airport", The Hindu (September 29, 2004)

(5) Interview with Girija Prasad Koirala (April 3, 2006),

(6) BBC's Interview with Prachanda (February 2006),

(7) Slavoj Zizek, 'Revolution At The Gates", Verso, 2002









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