Posts tagged Nepal

A Lesson from Nepal: China is a Friend

Prachanda and Hu Jintao

Probably the most relevant lesson from Nepal for revolutionaries in the rest of the world is that China is a friend of revolutionary Nepal.

We know that India has a long history of involvement in Nepal. In fact, the modern era of Nepalese politics was ushered in when India took it upon itself to install a constitutional monarchy in Nepal, and to create a Nepalese Congress Party patterned after India’s own governing party. We know that the cancellation of unequal treaties forced on Nepal by its neighbor to the south has long been a demand of the Maoists. We know that Indian politicians make pronouncements on the situation in Nepal which speak of the Nepalese like children who must be educated by their parents to the south. In short, we know that India is a major imperialist power in Nepal.

We also know that the United States is a major player in Nepalese politics. To people who have not made a careful study of U.S. behavior in the world, this may seem very odd. Nepal and the United States do not exactly share a border. There are no major U.S. interests in Nepal. Other than American tourists visiting Nepal, there are few economic ties between the two countries. Nepal has never invaded the United States. Nepal is, so far as I can tell, entirely free of al Qaeda terrorists. No one seriously tries to make the case that Nepal, like Somalia in the 1990s, is in need of a foreign invasion to put an end to an urgent humanitarian crisis. There is not even any oil in Nepal.

Yet, we know that the United States is deeply involved in Nepalese politics. The Maoist prime minister of Nepal, Prachanda, was forced to resign when a right-wing general won a power struggle with him within his own government. During the course of this power struggle, a delegation from the United States visited Prachanda with the bizarre purpose of supporting the general. Also, during this power struggle, the United States announced it would continue to keep the Nepalese Maoists on its so-called terror watch list, despite that, far from being terrorists, at that time they actually headed the government in Nepal. These are two examples in many of the United States’ involvement in Nepalese politics, always, of course, on the side of the right-wing.

It cannot be seriously supposed that the U.S. interest in Nepal is mainly economic. There is very little in Nepal worth stealing, but as any homeless person knows, you are never so poor that there is not someone willing to rob you. The larger problem is that India clearly has first dibs on whatever wealth can still be extracted from Nepal.

The U.S. interest is surely simply this: A new socialist nation, in this era when we are told that socialism is dead, would be a bad example. In the U.S. view there is no number of Nepalese dead which would be too high a price to pay to convince the world that socialism will not work.

But, what, then, of Nepal’s giant neighbor to the North? Yes, that’s right: Nepal’s northern border is with China. China is widely regarded in the United States and indeed among U.S. leftists as a capitalist and even an imperialist power. It is said to be involved in the exploitation of numerous African nations, the Philippines, and wherever else. It is considered rapacious, dangerous, an enemy every bit as serious as the United States… Or perhaps a valued partner of the United States in subjugating smaller nations.

But Chinese behavior is entirely lacking from the list of complaints of the Nepalese Maoists. To the contrary, it seems that China is one of only a very few nations that was willing to deal on normal terms with the Maoists led government of Nepal. Prachanda visited China during his time in office, and characterized the visit as very important.

The Nepalese Maoists have shown incredible sophistication and ability in reaching the point that they have. They have confronted many of the problems that have confronted revolutionaries for years, and they have solved them, one after another, with a high degree of success. There is no doubt that they are quite politically astute.

Furthermore, they are the people on the ground in Nepal. They have a degree of information about life in Nepal that foreign observers simply cannot have.

There is no reason to question their judgment: If you are a nation in Asia on the verge of revolution, the most valuable friend you will find is the People’s Republic of China.


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