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From The Nepali Press
Satbaria lessons

News from Satbaria shows how suicidal the Maoists have started to become. Early reports from Dang suggested that they were victorious because they had killed close to 50 security forces and looted over Rs 2 million. But post-battle news reports reveal that their strategy isn't as perfect as it has been made out to be. On Sunday 54 Maoist corpses had been unearthed and security forces were in the process of finding more.

A victory is the goal of every campaign, that is human nature. This is true in every revolution too. Napoleon did not know what defeat was like until Waterloo, and Hitler's forces knew what defeat felt like only after being trapped in the winter under the Soviet blockade. The Khmer Rouge and the Shining Path experienced defeat only very late but by the time they did, the wheels of their political chariots were already loose.
Looking at the sacrifice of the Maoists at Satbaria one gets the feeling that Maoism in Nepal may have been established to provide one more example of failure in history. That was the impression I got watching the Maoist corpses being exhumed from the graves.

If the desire for victory is human nature, then the intention never to experience defeat is another human weakness. Because victory is the other side of defeat and those that cannot face defeat can't truly accept a victory either. All recent Maoists activities seem motivated by a feeling of being cornered and defeated. I find a parallel between that and the suicide by Gorakh Pandey-both must have felt victorious even while taking their own lives. It is a state of mind dominated by "I failed to win, but I can challenge the world by taking my own life." The Maoists attacks on drinking water systems, their shooting at passenger buses and killing anyone who does not accept their ways all are reflections of the same mindset.

Politics has long ended in the Maoists ranks. It is also not surprising that after politics has waned, militarisation dominates. If this is the case, they may be feeling compelled to win fast, as it would take too much effort to manage a war for a long period. That has been the experience elsewhere too.

But however much in a hurry the Maoists may be for a victory, a win may not be in their favour. They may have been able to establish themselves as a force through military might, but it will take long to shape that kind of presence into a positive one. They may have succeeded in destroying the nation, but most people find it hard to believe that they will be able to rebuild it. They have managed to destroy the democracy established in 1990, but no one believes they will have a better democratic model with which to replace it. So what is their ultimate aim or destination? This is a question we are all forced to think hard about.

They seem motivated by some major goals now. Out to get a victory at any cost, they are craving any negative impact their acts will have on the present government. They want to defeat the Nepali army and invite foreign forces, they don't even care if the country goes back into the hands of those that ruled before 1990. They are keen to wash away or legitimise their past sins by seeking negotiations.

The images of the war from Satbaria show that the Maoists have not been victorious in any of their previous battles. Trucking away their dead and burying them some distance away from the battlefield seems to be their policy. This is telling, when you want to ask how long such a pathetic campaign can be sustained.
After Waterloo Napoleon reassessed his entire strategy. It is unlikely that the Maoists are doing the same after every defeat. Instead, goaded on by their ambition to win, they seem ready to take to a suicidal path, not learning lessons from history.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)