Nepal has no oil reserves, and does not play a significant role in international
trade. That explains the indifference of the US to King Gyanendra's coup, says
ERIC KOO PENG KUAN
is India News Service
8 February 2005
sudden sacking of Nepalís Prime Minister Sher Bahdur Deuba by the Nepali King
Gyanendra came a day after democratic elections were finally taking place in
Iraq. It is a great irony that democracy and peopleís rule is promoted in one
country, while simultaneously, it is suppressed in another.
Nepalís royalist coup highlights two important facets in the dynamics of
international politics -- one, that the failure of a government regime can
make possible a desperate situation in which the resurgence of a feudalistic,
military government can take over an executive parliamentary government. The
sudden move by the King was made possible because he is simultaneously also the
Supreme Commander of the Royal Nepali Army, from which he derives his power.
King Gyanendra assumed dictatorial powers on the simple justification that the
prime minister and the parliament had largely failed to bring an end to the
Maoist insurgency and repeatedly postponed democratic elections. In view of
social insecurity in Nepal, it can be argued that only a desperate measure akin
to martial law, as what this royalist coup resembles, can control the situation.
Two, the sudden regression of Nepalís internal politics from a modernist
parliamentary institution into feudal-military rule had remarkably elicited so
little protest from the rest of the world, and in particular, from the great
powers, such as the USA, which has always advocated democracy.
a lack of interest, however, may have much wider implications -Ė that the USA
chooses to be selective in championing the cause of democracy. To stand by and
watch Nepal revert to what is possibly sudden dictatorial monarchist rule is to
give credence to the opposing argument against US actions in Iraq, that the
so-called promotion of democracy is all for the sake of oil and US national
interests, and not the interests of the Iraqi people. In other words, oil, and
not a desire to bring about democracy in the Middle East, motivated the Iraq War
in 2003. Then, that makes true the anti-US claim all along that the USA
practices double standards in its foreign policies and bilateral dealings with
other nations, since it now ignores the anti-democratic development in Nepal.
The Bush administration had spent much effort, time and money to engineer
democratic elections in Iraq, even to the extent of waging an unpopular war and
sacrificing its soldiersí lives in combating the arising insurgency in the
warís aftermath. Pro-Bush arguments are loud in touting that, in spite of the
absence of evidence in the WMD claim in Iraq, the world is definitely a much
safer place without Saddam Husseinís dictatorial rule. Next is the claim that
it is high time that democracy and social reforms are introduced in the Middle
East, with Iraq, where democratic elections were held on January 30, as a
precedent and a role model.
If so, then what argument can be offered
that another South Asian country has just dealt democracy a blow within its own
borders and reverted to totalitarian rule, albeit of a feudal-military style,
and that the West does nothing? Can the USA make a claim that this is entirely
Nepalís internal affair and that external state players are not in a position
The latter argument of non-interference had lost credence today. Bangladesh as a
nation was formed in 1971 precisely because of Indiaís military interference
against East Pakistanís military atrocities against their own people. Kuwait
won back its independence from a
short Iraqi occupation in 1991 through force of arms largely thanks to the
USAís efforts in building up a UN-approved military campaign. Most of all, the
2003 Iraq War was clearly a direct attempt by the USA to interfere in Iraqís
internal politics and to precipitate a regime change.
So why is there no outcry at all for Nepal? Nepal is largely ignored because it
does not control vital resources such as oil, it has no significant
international trade links, unlike economic giants like China or Japan, and its
geographical and strategic position makes it largely isolated from the
mainstream of international events.
royalist coup is only the latest political development that shows the
indifference of US policy makers to issues of democracy, human rights and
freedom of the press in other countries. The rest of the world is not fooled
when the USA sends its envoys like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
to preach its version of events, and the justifications for its actions when
lobbying for support in its foreign policy agenda. Perhaps other states will
react more favourably when the USA acts in a more open and honest manner when it
comes to addressing issues, and not always attempt to seize the high moral
ground. Unless the USA steps forth to say something regarding Nepal and its
insurgency, the argument that double standards are practiced when promoting
democracy will stand now and in the future.
The writer is a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (IDSS). He writes commentaries and analysis articles on international affairs, security issues and terrorism