Nestled in the rugged Himalayas, the little known mountain kingdom of Nepal could not seem to be more removed from current geopolitical concerns. Yet on its frozen mountains a revolutionary battle rages. For seven years, Maoist rebels have sought to establish a second totalitarian state in central Asia, at the price of thousands killed and an entire nation left ravaged by its violence.
Beginning in February 1996, Marxist-Leninist-Maoists led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -- CPN(M) -- and its leader “Comrade Prachanda” (his real name is Pushpan Kamal Dahal) launched an ongoing effort to overthrow the Kingdom of Nepal’s constitutional monarchy and replace it with “a doctrinaire Communist dictatorship.”
Various news sources confirm that as a result of the ensuing violence almost 8,000 people have died to date. To make matters worse, the guerrillas recently initiated new attacks yet the government remains committed to a January ceasefire agreement and an ineffectual and misguided “peace process.” (Sound familiar?)
Despite the determination of Prachanda and his followers over the last seven years to build a Communist state, the government of Nepal remains convinced that negotiations with the Maoist rebels will cement a lasting peace and ensure a more democratic future for the people of Nepal. However, after taking into account what is known of the CPN(M) and the brutality of its self-proclaimed “people’s war,” it is certain neither democracy nor a cessation of violence will come via a government sanctioned peace process.
Prachanda’s own words offer damning evidence of his radical and violent intentions, signaling his long-held conviction that the constitutional monarchy must be overthrown. For instance, during an interview on May 28, 2001, Prachanda admitted that “the [people’s war] would not be discarded until the final construction of Communism.” He confirmed, “Our talk of negotiation [with the government] is a revolutionary tactic advanced in a conscious and balanced manner after drawing lessons from the same negative experience in Peru.” It seems he hopes to avoid the same fate that befell the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist movement in Peru. These statements alone forewarn of a miserable future for the people of Nepal and for the “peace process” naively hoped to end the Maoist insurgency. But when complemented with additional facts, it becomes obvious that the government’s current course of action vis-à-vis the rebels may lead to a strategic catastrophe.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is a member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), a radical organization whose “guiding ideology is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.” In a revealing February 1, 1998, “public statement” to the Central Committee of the CPN(M), the Committee of the RIM made the following statement:
“The participation of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the concern and assistance given by your Party to the advance of the Communist movement in the South Asia region and throughout the world, even at difficult moments in your struggle, inspire us. The Committee of RIM and the CPN (M) will continue to march forward as in the past-united by our all-powerful ideology, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and determined to accelerate the development of the world proletarian revolution.”
In 2001, Prachanda in turn thanked the RIM for its uninterrupted support over the years: “The present rapid pace of development would have been inconceivable without the support of Communist revolutionaries and freedom-loving people of different countries, and particularly the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, during the period of the historic initiation of the People's War.”
RIM’s extremism is evidenced by two of its notable founding members: the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) – also known as the Shining Path, a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization; and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP), led by Not In Our Name “peace” activist C. Clark Kissinger.
According to Dr. J. Michael Waller, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at the Institute of World Politics, Shining Path “was the most violent guerrilla and terrorist organization ever seen in the Americas…[It] waged a Khmer Rouge-style war of extermination against entire rural populations.” It is precisely Shining Path’s tactics that are so revered by Prachanda, Nepal’s Maoists and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
If the Maoists of Nepal are to be judged by their American comrades, they must be a violent aberration, indeed. According to Dr. Waller, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA is so extreme “even other Communists think [it] is off the charts.” The RCP’s national spokesman Carl Dix is a convict who “believes in world revolution.” He is also “a staunch supporter of the Maoist people’s wars in Peru, Nepal and the Philippines.”
RCP Chairman Bob Avakian is equally radical. During an interview conducted by Dix and published by RCP’s Revolutionary Worker on June 16, 2002, Avakian denounces the U.S. repeatedly as one of “the biggest terrorists in the world by far, far and away” and states this terrorist regime, the U.S. government, should be “toppled and replaced by a revolutionary system.” Nepal is merely putting into practice Avakian’s deepest desires.
A further caveat to the government of found in a letter sent by the RCP, USA to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to commemorate the “One Year Anniversary of the People’s War in Nepal” (February 13, 1997). It reads in part:
“It is a great testimony to the strength of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and is an important victory and source of inspiration not only for the CPN(M) but for the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, of which we are proud to be a participant together with you and other comrades all over the world…”
“The CPN(M) has declared its intention to carry through the armed revolutionary struggle until the complete defeat of the reactionary regime… (emphasis added).
“Comrades, the Revolutionary Communist Party fully supports you. The revolutionary warfare in your country is every day more a shining beacon for the oppressed masses in the United States and the world over, pointing to the path of People's War, which alone can bring about the defeat of imperialism and reaction and open the door to the bright new future of socialism and Communism.”
Two years later in a letter to the Central Committee of the CPN(M), the Central Committee of the RCP, USA exposed their common bond as members of RIM:
“What you have achieved over the course of three years is not only a victory for the CPN(M) but also for the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement in which we are joined together. We are united in a common cause for a Communist new world.”
Finally, the incriminating bill of particulars would not be complete without mentioning that the CPN(M) is a recognized terrorist group. The State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002 notes that:
“The Maoist insurgency poses a continuing threat to U.S. citizens and property in Nepal. Repeated anti-U.S. rhetoric and actions suggest the Maoists view Western support for Kathmandu as a key obstacle to their goal of establishing a doctrinaire Communist dictatorship. Furthermore, the Maoists have forged cooperative links with extremist groups across South Asia. In 2002, Maoists claimed responsibility for assassinating two U.S. Embassy guards. In a press statement, they threatened foreign missions, including the U.S. Embassy, to discourage foreign governments from supporting the government of Nepal.”
Despite these facts, RCP’s Avakian has urged support for “the Maoists in Nepal, waging a war of liberation, [a] People’s War.” Moreover, he condemns the United States Government for its decision to describe the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as a terrorist group, and instead he contends that the insurrection is a “military struggle.”
As prophetic as it is timely, William Shakespeare’s admonition “‘Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss” offers a sound basis against which to judge the long term strategic consequences of a successful Maoist insurgency in the Kingdom of Nepal.
The insurgency may seem inconsequential in light of other world events, but its significance is noteworthy. As Richard Fisher, Asian Security Studies Fellow at the Center for Security Policy told me recently, “The larger context for the U.S. is the ongoing contest for pre-eminence in the Eurasian land mass. Events from NE Asia, SE Asia, South Asia to the Middle East will be determined by who is the prime power in Central Asia. Nepal is one of many sideshows.” The real contest is between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and India. Should Nepal become a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist state led by the ignoble Comrade Prachanda, it is likely to result in two things:
First, Prachanda himself declared during a May 2001 interview that he hoped that Nepal could be used “as a base area of world revolution, internationalist in content and national in form.” Still more, Prachanda is quite willing “to develop close solidarity with the struggles in other countries.” Consequently, a win for the Maoists would place Nepal in the pro-PRC camp and offer a proxy through which like-minded governments and individuals may influence events in the region and affect the balance of power internationally. In fact, in a February 24, 2003, statement contemptibly titled “Seven Short Years” (tell that to the people of Nepal) -- which marks the 7th anniversary of the insurgency -- the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement reaffirms that “[Comrade Prachanda’s] struggle has rightfully won the support of the progressive forces in South Asia and around the world.” The letter also expresses its confidence that “under the leadership of Comrade Prachanda the party will be able to…transform Nepal into a bright red base area of world proletarian revolution” (emphasis added).
Second, it does not require a leap of faith to imagine an anti-American regime such as Prachanda’s working with its internationalist brethren in the United States and abroad to attack U.S. interests worldwide. It is also conceivable that the totalitarian nature of a Prachanda regime will eventually find common cause with virulently anti-U.S. elements in the Islamic world. This hypothesis is not as far fetched as many delusional liberals may contend. Most recently, Fidel Castro’s secular regime in Cuba worked with the radical Islamist state of Iran to block U.S. broadcasts to the latter country. But were we not scolded ad nauseam by the Left prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom that secular tyrants do not work with religious fanatics? Once again the Left has shown its bias and its ignorance.
The recommended prescription for this situation is straightforward. The United States should work closely with India to ensure that the Maoist insurgency is extinguished. A “peace process” between the current government and the Maoist rebels should be discouraged; it will only prolong the bloodshed and raise doubts about the long term viability of a democratic Nepal. Once the insurgency has been defeated, the United States and India must pressure the government of Nepal to return to the democratic agenda that it pursued prior to the start of the insurgency.
Domestically, the United States Government can take an immediate step to curtail foreign support for Prachanda’s revolution. It should formally designate the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement a terrorist entity based on its overt support for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). This sanction against the RIM would directly penalize one of its strongest members, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
The February 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism concludes by stating that if terrorism is defeated “in all its forms, we [can] promote a freer, more prosperous, and more secure world” (emphasis added). The destruction of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist form of terrorism that now plagues the people of Nepal would certainly make the people of the United States – and central Asia – more secure and more free. Steven C. Baker is a Research Associate at the Center for Security Policy in Washington D.C.