Moriarty's anti-Maoist missile targets UN & India

Published: Sat 27 Jan 2007 09:56 PM
Moriarty's anti-Maoist missile targets Government, UN and, indirectly, India
By M.R. Josse
As observers of the Nepalese political scene well know, American Ambassador James F. Moriarty has a penchant for frequently firing verbal missiles at the Maoists. Some might go further and say he has developed this proclivity into a fine art.
Others, however, wonder whether his overuse of that instrument has not only reduced its credibility but indeed rendered him, in public perception, a loose canon on the US diplomatic ship of state. Yet others, even less kind, now assert that he may have become the classic 'paper tiger', a phrase that Mao Zedong famously used to mock the United States' military might at the height of the Cold War before the Nixon-Kissinger China breakthrough kicked in.
This analyst, however, far more prosaically merely underscores the significance of his latest anti-Maoist outburst which, interestingly, targets the Government, the UN and India, the US's "strategic allay" and lead partner in their Nepal policy tango. At the outset, let it be noted that the American envoy's critical outpouring was made before a supposedly "select" group of reporters at a roundtable interview not long after a consultation visit 'States side, where he reportedly had a meeting with Steve Hadley, National Security Advisor to President Bush.
As reported by the main English language broadsheet dailies represented at the august roundtable, he accused the Maoists of attempting to acquire "crummy" weapons from neighbouring Bihar for display/locking up purposes while retaining the modern arms they already possess.
Moriarty then alleged that the Maoists undertook a "big recruitment drive" last November, as per orders of their central leadership, in order to "come up with a whole bunch of new recruits to put into cantonments." He charged that the Maoists hadn't improved their conduct much even in the wake of the post-April 2006 peace negotiations.
In fact, he accused the Maoist leadership of having, on several occasions, given orders that were "very much against democracy, very much against their commitment." He also lambasted the Maoists for undertaking a "big recruitment drive" following an apex party conclave 10-11 November, 2006.
Moriarty's stated rationale for such a serious breach of faith on the part of the Maoists is illuminating. To his mind, "probably they didn't have 35,000 members of the People's Liberation Army, but partly because they also want to keep the PLA out of the cantonments to the extent possible."
To continue his litany of indictments, Moriarty reminded the elite group of newsies assembled on the occasion that, a few days after that party powwow, the Maoists began to push back the police posts that had been reopened. He went on the say that "obviously" Maoist cadres had been ordered by their superiors "that no police outpost should be reopened until they were in government."
Another barb was thrown at the Maoists when Moriarty pronounced that no party should be allowed to retain a private army if Nepal is to have a smooth transition into full-fledged democracy.
Among the sturdy homilies the American envoy came up with were such staples as: "Democracy comes from the consent of the people, not from the barrel of a gun" and "Maoists must implement what they have committed. They must renounce violence, intimidation and extortion."
" Nepal will have no hope of witnessing free and fair elections if the Maoists enter the government before the arms management process is completed," he observed, adding the caveat that "we are still working on what our policy would be if such an instance arises."
As already indicated, Moriarty's oral ICBM was of the MIRV (Multiple Independently Reentry Vehicle) variety – that it to say, it was equipped with multiple warheads capable of striking more than one target. The other key butt of Moriarty's publicly ventilated ire was an unspecified one: the Government of Nepal to which he is formally accredited.
Though the experienced American diplomat was careful not to directly charge the Government of complicity in the Maoist scheme of things, by publicly coming out with an astounding inventory of charges against the Maoists who are all but set to enter an interim government, he clearly implied that the Government had failed to keep the Maoists' on the straight and narrow, as defined by umpteen pacts, accords and understandings between the SPA Government and the Maoists.
It was surely for that reason that Home Minister Krishna Prasad Situala, whom many observers consider a Maoist fellow-traveler, chose to mount his white steed and charge full steam in the defence of the Government the very next day after the Moriarty interview hit the headlines.
To recall, as reported by the state-owned Rising Nepal, he responded, thus: "The Government does not believe that the Maoists have purchased arms from India." He added the Government and parliament were "convinced" that the United Nations could successfully manage Maoist arms and militia.
Sitaula, stung to the quick, went ballistic himself, thus: "The Government will not run after any statement made by any diplomat or groups. We are capable of solving any problem on our own for restoration of peace and consolidation of democracy."
Sitaula no doubt get full marks for his robust defence of the Government and, by implication, the Maoists, as also for his unalloyed confidence in the UN's capabilities. On the other hand, his bravado that "we are capable of solving any problem on our own for the restoration of peace and consolidation" rings hollow in the face of recent political history in which, let's not forget for a moment, India and Moriarty's United States of America played crucial, catalytic roles.
A point to note is that the rebuttal of Moriarty's claims about Maoists' arms imports from Bihar came from Sitaula and not Prime Minister Koirala himself, as it might have, given the seriousness of the allegation.
What cries out for attention is that the Moriarty's rhetorical rocket was aimed also at the United Nations. This is a fact that not many here seem to have noticed, except perhaps Ian Martin who may, or may not, be appointed the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative heading the impending United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).
To substantiate the point just made allow me to make the following submission. Writing this before the much heralded UN Security Council meeting on Nepal has taken appropriate decisions vis-à-vis UNMIN, consider Moriarty's on-the-record comments with respect to the UN's role here.
One of the most striking is this: "When we talk about complete and transparent process [what] we mean is you really end do end up with mainly combatants in the cantonments and really have a bulk of the weapons in the containers. And the UN knows what the bulk of the weapons are."
The other is his suggestion that the UN do make sure that the real weapons and the real Maoist combatants are in the cantonments. "If you [the UN] don't need a count, you do need, at some point, to say you are coming close to that goal…but you do need the Maoists to really hand over the bulk of their weapons."
The significance of the above can be understood when juxtaposed against Martin's outburst, a day before the Moriarty interview, when he told journalists that the UN would not reveal the number and type of Maoist weapons being registered until the whole process was over.
As he put it: "We will not disclose the number of weapons or personnel registered at the cantonments sites daily, although we are sharing this information with the concerned parties at an appropriate time and expect it to be made public only at the end of the process."
Clearly, Moriarty's comment on the UN – against the backdrop of his grave charges against the Maoists and in seeming response to Martin's refusal to provide as much information as possible, not to mention his disclosure that "this is being done as the Maoists have reservation on revealing their weapons being stored in containers at cantonment sites" – is hugely significant.
As much would have been plain considering that it comes from the official representative of a permanent member of the UN Security Council whose endorsement of UNMIN is crucial for it to take off. It becomes even more so against the context of Moriarty's reiteration of the long-standing US stance that the UN-monitored process of arms management should be "effective and transparent."
(Here, one must question: if the UN and Government roles in that regard were, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion, how is it that Maoists cadre opened fire and killed a Madeshi youth in Lahan the other day? And, how is it that, as widely reported, the Maoist group, still bearing arms, was being escorted by the state police through a tension-filled area at the time of an announced bandh?)
What remains to be seen is if, or how, Moriarty's pointed comments on the UN monitoring process, in the context of his recent roundtable interview, will be reflected in relevant discussions at the UN Security Council.
Against that backdrop, it will surely be educative to see if, or how, Martin defends the reported appointment of 111 personnel in the Gurkha Interim Task Force, ostensibly to help the UN monitors, all of whom are said to be reservists of the Indian Army. Can, or should, these Indian Army reservists be passed off as impartial and neutral, under the rubric or cover of the UN? What's the real story here? Let's not forget that there is no more talk about ex-British Gurkhas also being so employed.
Incidentally, neither Moriarty, nor for that matter the Chinese, have thus far indicated their stance on this opaque dimension of the UN monitoring business, at least in public.
Finally, of course, Moriarty's verbal projectile is directed against India if only indirectly, since Bihar is not in any other place on earth but India. Is there a subtle hint that New Delhi is aware of the goings-on and has turned its familiar Nelson's eye to it? Or, is the purpose of specifically naming Bihar as the source of home-made weapons for the Maoists to display and put in containers, in lieu of their more modern weaponry, meant as a signal to America's new-found strategic ally to do the necessary ASAP.
In any case, Moriarty's description of Bihar-made weapons as "crummy" is hardly flattering to India's nuclear power status. But, as most know, Bihar, like the NWFP in Pakistan, has long been notorious for manufacture of such arms and the ease with which potential buyers can indulge their fancies without awkward questions being asked.
To be sure, it is interesting, to say the least, that New Delhi has decided, as it does so very often, not to have taken note of Moriarty's fulminations. In there in this some subtle angle that one is unable to discern, yet?
At the end, one must thus ask: what is America planning to do, or can do, in order to lend credibility to Ambassador Moriarty's hard-hitting criticisms aimed in the four different directions mentioned above? If it is proven to be only some more hot diplomatic air, the inevitable conclusion will be: America is, after all, still a paper tiger!

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