By Prabasi Nepali
There is no simple path for the restoration of the Nepalese monarchy. No doubt, it is inextricably connected with the restoration of the Hindu State. As a small country sandwiched between the giant neighbours to the north (nominally atheistic, but tolerant to those practicing religion as long as they do not challenge state power), and the south (nominally secular, but lately showing manifestations of a resurgent Hindu faith), Nepal has to tread carefully. Formerly, China had encouraged an active Hindu monarchy as the epitome of a sovereign Nepali nationalism. For the same reason, the Indian establishment, in spite of cultural affinities, loathed the role of the Shah monarchy for reasons of realpolitik.
Among the political parties, only the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP/National Democratic Party) has openly espoused the twin agenda of restoring the Hindu State and the monarchy. Although former King Gyanendra and RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa are natural allies in this undertaking, their overt and covert relationship must still be defined. If we are to move the agenda of a ‘Hindu Monarchy’ forward, the supporters have to be very active in multifarious ways — social, political and financial. This means first, mobilizing friends, acquaintances and relatives, using meetings, telephones and the social media. Second, using the same demography in the coming local elections, so that the RPP becomes a strong party and the ‘new force’ in Nepalese politics (forget Baburam Bhattarai’s rabble-rousing ‘Naya Shakti’ and his anti-national and corrupt wife, [‘hisi maru’!]. Third, all who can should contribute according to their means to meet the election costs of the RPP, and to a special fund for social activities. To paraphrase Karl Marx, ‘from each according to his ability, to each (entity) according to (its) needs [!] This brings us to the social activities of HRH Princess Himani’s foundation which should play a pivotal role in activating ‘the silent majority’. The various social gatherings on the occasion of the ‘sacred thread ceremony’ (the coming of age of a Hindu lad) of HRH Prince Hridayandra Bikram Shah Deva last week were a grand and unmitigated success and were proof (if proof be needed) of the wellspring of sympathy and support for the monarchy. Thousands of Nepalese from all walks of life (and not a few foreigners including diplomats) accepted the gracious invitation of former King Gyanendra to congratulate his grandson, the young prince (who many hope will restore the fortunes of the Shah dynasty). The first point of business will be to mobilize a mass movement to demand a referendum for the restoration of the Hindu Monarchy, which was illegally and unconstitutionally abolished by self-seeking politicians in the pay of a foreign power wont to meddle in the country’s internal affairs and acutely disliking the monarchy which actively upheld the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The RPP should lead the vanguard of this movement.
End of Trump China Bashing/Start of Pragmatic China Policy?
China and the United States tip toed towards some understanding at the summit of their two presidents at Trump’s ‘Southern White House’ resort at Mar—a—Lago, Florida. Considering the acute international crises facing the world, the two leaders were more or less condemned to reach some sort of understanding and make a resolute and purposeful show, not only for the international community, but also for their domestic audiences. Both had only superlatives to describe their mutual relations, and it can be said that a honeymoon period in Sino-American relations has taken off. However, the realities of world politics and the need to promote their own national interests will certainly lead to a rude awakening. There is little possibility of a ‘Sino-American condominium’ emerging, nor will Russia (now degraded to a lesser power after the collapse of the Soviet empire) tolerate ‘bipolarism’ in international affairs.
Thus, US President Trump abandoned his usual anti-China bombast, hailing an “outstanding” relationship with counterpart XI Jinping at the end of a superpower summit last Friday overshadowed by events in Syria and North Korea. “We have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China,” Trump said extravagantly at the end of a high-stakes but studiously familiar first meeting between a tested suave statesman and a wheeler-dealer, still untested on the world stage. “I think truly progress has been made,” Trump said, without offering details. The friendly tone was in stark contrast to his scathing campaign statements about China’s “rape” of the US economy and his pledge to punish Beijing with punitive tariffs. It seems that Trump has swung from one extreme to another, which does not augur well.
Xi reciprocated Trump’s warm words, saying the summit had “uniquely important significance” and thanking Trump for a warm reception. Beijing’s most powerful leader in decades (unfettered unlike Trump by the legislature or the judiciary or a vibrant opposition) also invited the novice US president on a coveted state visit to China (Xi’s own was an informal one without state pomp) later in the year. We “arrived at many common understandings,” Xi added, the most important being deepening our friendship and building a kind of trust.” According to eyewitnesses, the bonhomie extended behind closed doors.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson waxed eloquent: Both the atmosphere and the chemistry between the two leaders was positive, the posture between the two really set the tone.”
The Chinese state media was also very effusive. It cheered the meeting as one that showed the world that confrontation between the two world powers was not inevitable. The official China Daily newspaper said it was encouraging to see the two day summit “going as well as it could”, after earlier “confusing signals from Washington about how it was approaching the US-China relationship.” Furthermore, both parties appeared “equally enthusiastic about the constructive relationship they have promised to cultivate.” State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times said the meeting “served as an indicator that the China-US relationship is still very much on course”, and it was likely the two nations would develop a more “pragmatic relationship.”
However, it seems that the Sino-American honeymoon is over, even before it properly started. As soon as President Xi left the US, China’s state-run media immediately denounced the missile strike on Syria. The US itself has now sent an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula in a show of force against North Korea’s “reckless” nuclear weapons programme. The move will certainly raise tensions in the region.
Trump Shows Teeth in Syria, but for How Long?
Trump’s summit with Xi came on a night of high drama as he not only met his nearest equal in economic world power for the first time but also launched his first military strike on a state target. Trump informed the Chinese leader personally of the strike as the 59 Tomahawk missiles were winding their way to the Shayrat airbase from US warships from the Sixth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. China is not implicated in the Syrian war, but Trump’s actions have implications in UN Security Council discourse and above all in the disputation over how to engage North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. China and the US both agree Pyongyang’s strategy is a serious problem, but differ widely on how to respond. Trump asked Xi for ideas on how to proceed, but held out the possibility of unilateral action. Tillerson said the US “are prepared to chart our own course if this is something China is just unable to coordinate with us.”
The Trump administration did not seek UN Security Council authorization (nor for that matter from the US Congress) for the military attack that followed days of global outrage at images of dead and wounded children (and also men and women, 86 in total, including 27 children) from the suspected sarin gas attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhun. It was Trump’s biggest military decision since assuming office and marked a dramatic escalation in US involvement in Syria’s protracted 6-year war. It remains to be seen whether the US can
maintain the momentum. The missile attack infuriated Moscow, which denounced it as a “flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression”. The Syrian regime’s other state ally, Iran also condemned the US attack.
US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley delivered a warning: “We are prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary.” Rights monitors have already alerted that the Syrian airbase was already back in business and Syrian jets were flying sorties and targeting rebel-held areas with conventional bombs and resulting in death and destruction. Does Trump’s new ‘red line’ only apply to chemical weapons? In that case, his so-called new Syrian initiative is certainly a damp squib. A single US attack will hardly dissuade Bashar al-Assad from his brutal campaign to crush the rebellion that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Nor has the targeted operation eliminate dictator Assad’s ability to carry out further chemical attacks.
On TV, Trump remonstrated against the Syrian regime’s barbaric actions, but he has not indicated that he is willing to accept more Syrians who are fleeing deadly violence, including “beautiful babies” (Trump). A former director in the US National Security Council said tellingly: “They seem to be celebrating the strike almost as accomplishment in itself rather than as a tool to achieve any particular strategy . . . . Even days later, they are basking in the glow, but we do not have a clear sense of why this strike and to what particular end.” The triumph of short-term, half-baked tactics over solid long-term strategy seems to be the hallmark of this administration!
Theory & Practice of Monarchy Restoration
By Prabasi Nepali