By Maila Baje
Undaunted by American annoyance with his criticism of the Trump administration’s policies on Venezuela, Comrade Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ holds his ground – and much more. Sharpening his rivalry with ruling party co-chair and Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, Dahal warns of a new Maoist rebellion if the government refused to mend its ways. What do the Americans do? They invite Dahal to the land of the free and home of the brave.
That’s the storyline Devendra Paudel, a luminary of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), has advanced in public. Contradicting Oli, Bishnu Paudel, general secretary of the NCP, said Dahal’s statement was a consensus document of the co-chairs, but insists it’s no big deal. In other words, we can all go home.
All our hair-pulling and dire prophesying was for naught. How stupid of us not to know. A party as democratic as the NCP that enjoys a massive popular mandate is bound to have differences on burning national and international issues of the day. It is equally capable of addressing those differences and moving on. Let us now hope the resilience of our republic would be replicated on all issues closer to home in the days ahead.
Returning to the Americans, what did Dahal say to them about Venezuela that prompted an invitation. What we understood was that Dahal was ready to fly to the United States for the medical treatment of his wife when he suddenly became indisposed. Amid his ill health, the NCP co-chair decided to draft a statement that stood out for its virulence against his proposed destination. Venezuela seemed so personal to Dahal that he deemed it more important than his wife’s treatment.
More astounding was the American reaction, which seemed to see in Dahal’s censure the firepower equivalent to a joint Russian-Chinese-Iranian condemnation. US Ambassador Randy Berry skipped a government briefing held for foreign envoys and Prime Minister Oli’s virtual apology failed to assuage Washington. After a private meeting with Oli, Berry met with Dahal. Devendra Paudel considered it safe enough to update reporters on what transpired.
What did happen? Ambassador Berry probably didn’t go to the Dahal residence just to assure the couple that their visas hadn’t been canceled and that they could safely proceed with their medical plans. Paudel used the word invitation, which surely means more than telling someone who was already on the way to your home that he is welcome.
Might Dahal have explained the underlying validity of his statement to Berry with an ebullience that allowed Washington to see the advantages of letting Nicolas Maduro to stay on? Not as far-fetched as it sounds, if you factor in Dahal’s uncanny talent for identifying opportunities in the bleakest situations.
If President Donald J. Trump views NATO and the United Nations as so obsolete, Dahal may have proffered, how anachronistic must the Monroe Doctrine be today? Domestically, the America-First credo is an attractive prologue to making America great again, Dahal probably stressed, but internationally it beautifully camouflages America’s inevitable long walk into the twilight. Imperial overstretch? Take it from a communist who has fused Marx, Lenin and Mao so profitably.
A call to action against American imperialism, a crude outpouring of inner-party rivalries or something in between? Let’s let things play out a bit. Meanwhile, what’s Dahal going to do in America when he’s not seeking medical counsel? Stand between Trump and Maduro to herald a new era of international camaraderie on the White House South Lawn?