Monday, May 09, 2005

The Den Of Spies

Saturday, we discussed Nepal with a European friend with experience in Kathmandu. We put to him the question raised here: Should India take Nepal?

Why, he asked? Nepal is valuable to India as a buffer state, a junction where Asia's geo-political players swap their (frequently dangerous) wares. Why else do they all maintain outsized diplomatic posts in Kathmandu? Strategic location, pleasant weather, inexpensive real estate, easily "influenced" power-brokers, and a fatalistic populace combine to create the perfect buffer state. Nowhere else in Asia can one find this combination.

So, he argued, India's (and others') interests are served by Nepal as is. The objective must be to keep this espionage-Xanadu intact. From his recent visits to Maoist-controlled areas, he felt the Maoists had already taken Nepal; therefore, the right course is to cut a deal with them and Kathmandu's permanent bureaucracy. The King will be packed off, a toothless "democracy" will be restored, the fatalistic population will shrug its shoulders, and (a profitable) peace will return to Xanadu.

When queried as to why dealing with Maoists doesn't risk Cambodia in Nepal, he asserted that Nepal's (Hindu therefore fatalistic) people are not the same timber as the Khmer Rouge. There'll be violence but Nepal will not become a new killing field.

We disagree with him on his understanding of Hindu timber therefore the Cambodia risk, but are intrigued by his other point. If India were to take Nepal (which is what an invasion would imply), where will Asia re-convene its new den of spies? Singapore? Colombo? Bangkok?


Rana said...

The arrogance of it all! India could /should/would take Nepal? One thing people might have forgotten: Nepal is not ours to take, any more than Iraq is American private property, or the West Bank Israel's own fiefdom, or Lebanon Assad's own pet.
The best thing we can do is stay out of Nepal and not support any side. No arms for King "Royal Palace Massacre" Gyanendra, and certainly no encouragement of totalitarian Maoist thugs. It is statements like the question put to your European friend, that makes our neighbours more insecure and drives them into China's arms. Only American governments can match us on how shabbily we treat our neighbouring states.

-Rana Chakrabarti
Fairfax, VA

Primary Red said...

Rana, on your point about how India should treat our neighbours, we'd argue that it's our responsibility to persuade, failing which coerce, them into political modernity.

In our inter-connected world, sovereignty cannot become a shield behind which anachronistic horrors are allowed free reign. When such socio-political breakdown and regression occurs, the great powers must intervene and (if necessary) unilaterlally set new standards for conduct.

Obviously, you and us disagree on Iraq and Palestine. There is a silver lining though: we do agree about Lebanon and Syria -- our reasons are different though!

As for Nepal being driven into Chinese arms, we think that bluff has run its course. Do you really think they'd be treated any better by the conqueror of Tibet & the threat to Taiwan? Please.

Best regards.

Primary Red said...

We meant unilaterally, not unilaterlally! Its early morning here!!

Raj Marwah said...
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