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Dangerous Times

April 14, 2002

Nepal news


Nepal is not the only nation experiencing war and disorder at the moment. The political temperature of the whole world is increasing simultaneously with Global Warming. As the average air temperature continues to rise everywhere the chance of a major war appears to grow with it. A year ago the prospect of nuclear bombs being used in open warfare by the Western powers was virtually zero. But today both Britain and America are seriously considering their use against Iraq. Similar threats have been made against Iran, Libya and North Korea. Even China and Russia are listed as possible enemy targets by Western military planners. President Bush has declared that an 'axis of evil' exists among these nations and the 'free world' must act quickly to destroy it.

Meanwhile the Arab world has finally settled its differences and stands firmly behind Iraq. France and Germany show little enthusiasm for supporting another invasion and the great global alliance formed in the 'war against terror' only a few weeks ago appears to be falling apart. The United Nations has once again ordered Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian land it took in the 1967 war. Even America has supported the Arab demand but none of the powerful Western powers are prepared to enforce it. And Israel has completely ignored it.

In retaliation against a series of highly effective suicide bomb attacks, Israel has instead sent thousands of soldiers and armoured tanks to occupy Palestine and establish military rule. This very powerful nation has been seriously threatened by a group of young fanatics who are prepared to die for their cause. Last week a sixteen-year old Palestinian girl strapped explosives around her waist and calmly blew up an Israeli supermarket full of shoppers. Nearly a hundred Israeli civilians have been killed by such attacks and the army is powerless to prevent them unless every person is physically searched almost continuously. And of course that is both hugely expensive and politically dangerous for any elected government.

Consequently the army is forced to search out those suspected of organising the suicide bombers. Nearly a thousand Palestinians have been arrested and subjected to unknown interrogation methods over the past week. Untold numbers have been killed. The entire population of several major towns and cities has confined to their homes. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his aides have been isolated in two rooms of their headquarters and completely surrounded by a massive Israeli force. Hundreds of Palestinian fighters are besieged in various important Christian temples as vicious fighting spreads across the land.

It is a sadly familiar story to every Nepali. During the past month nearly 500 people have been killed in our own civil war. Our government has also been forced to search out those responsible for organising terrorist style attacks. Hundreds of our citizens have also been arrested and subjected to unknown interrogation methods. An international human rights organisation has even accused the army of shooting suspected Maoists when they might have easily been taken prisoner.

Although the history and origins of each conflict may appear different, the governments of both Nepal and Israel effectively face the same problem. A small group of very determined people can produce such chaos and terror that the State must resort to force and military action as the only apparent solution. America has faced the same problem since the famous destruction of the Word Trade Centre. It seems that every nation must spend more and more of its resources fighting a perpetual struggle against ruthless rebels.

There appears little appetite for dialogue in any of these conflicts. The American led war against Afghanistan has encouraged a strong military approach everywhere else. Every government seems to believe that killing terrorists is the best way of dealing with them. A recent Internet opinion poll indicated considerable feeling against any further talks with the Maoists. It seems that we have all become accustomed to fighting and killing. The world is rapidly hardening into two distinct camps; those who support the current international system against those who are determined to change it.

Fifty ears ago, after the Second World War in which 40 million people died, the United Nations was especially created to prevent another tragic international war. Politicians and citizens were united in their horror of repeating that experience. But today that lesson seems to have been forgotten. The great powers are spending ever more money on weapons and military technology and threats of bloody retaliation have replaced the language of diplomacy and compromise.

It is therefore essential that Nepal must settle its own problems before various international forces become more involved. In the event of international war it is certain that opposing foreign powers will wish to support each side of our own civil war. Neutrality will be impossible if our own people are fighting each other. Nepal would be drawn into an international conflict that will ultimately result in a loss of independence. We would become absorbed into another political system - whichever side won.

There can be no easy way of solving this struggle because neither side is entirely right or wrong. Change is a necessary aspect of life but the old established order cannot simply be replaced by a new experimental system overnight. Both these forces must therefore find ways of working together so that mutually agreed objectives are achieved within a sensible time schedule. At the moment there seems no chance of achieving even a consensus in Parliament let alone across the nation. The ruling party is still fighting itself and large numbers of MP's regularly walk out of debates.

Such national dissent at a time of grave crisis is dangerous. This is no time for petty rivalries inside Government or even inside Parliament. The Prime Minister cannot be changed every few months in the vain hope that someone else can solve this crisis any bettere. Only a firm alliance of all democratic forces can successfully meet the threat against democracy. This is a time for national consensus and the demand for that must come from everyone in Parliament. Otherwise how can there ever be peace?

With my best wishes to you all,