Nepali Times
Here And There
Three years after 9/11


Like Dr Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's book, we make our own monsters. Not just on a personal level either-far more damagingly, the creatures we engender at the community, national and international level are the lumbering, slobbering beasts to watch out for.

The Al Qaeda monster, Chechen terrorism, Palestinian suicide bombers, religious fanatics who believe in violence, even, I dare say, Nepal's own Maoist rebel movement. All of these are beasts spawned and/or nurtured in some establishment laboratory somewhere.

Consider for example the beasts who took so many children's lives in the school siege of Beslan in the Russian territory of North Ossetia. Examine the facts. Russia needs Chechnya for a very important reason-an oil pipeline that connects Central Asian petroleum to European Russia. Never mind national pride, that doesn't even enter into it.

So when Chechen rebels, whose desire for independence goes back hundreds of years, and who come from a clannish, warlike mountain culture that reveres banditry and feats of arms, start agitating for independence in the early 1990s, the Russian state comes down on them hard.

Grozny, the Chechen capital, is invaded and destroyed twice in ten years. Thousands of young men are captured, killed, beaten, tortured, and the women are raped by Russian security forces and their proxies. A population that may once have been indifferent to dreams of sovereignty or wary of violence becomes rabid, radical and religiously aware. Russia's heavy hand created and nurtured the terrorists who so regularly kill innocent people in the name of Chechen independence.

Al Qaeda was nothing before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1989. But an American strategy that seemed clever at the time, arming and training mountain Muslim Afghans, soon washed back on its perpetrators. Osama Bin Laden was taught to shoot a gun by CIA trainers. The monster beat the Communists but once that battle had been one, it turned its baleful eye on its patrons in Washington. The war continues to this day, with all sorts of dire and tragic consequences.

Iraq has become another spawning ground for ugly, venomous creatures. A sort of Palestinian occupied territories on a grand scale. And as for Israel, who can argue that its policies on the West Bank and Gaza Strip haven't given birth to a phalanx of suicide bombing beasts. Yes, you have to have gone beyond humanity to kill innocents for a cause, but no one is born this evil, with this much hate in their hearts. You have to be taught to be a suicide bomber or a 9/11 hijacker.

Alongside all this global monster breeding, Nepal's Maoist movement might seem, well, a different sort of creature. After all, comrades would argue, it's an indigenous movement that taps rural rage against a distant, callous Kathmandu elite. Yes and no. Yes, rural alienation exists in Nepal on a grand scale, and it grew during democracy in the 1990s as high expectations were never met. But that's not the only reason for the successes of the Maoist rebellion. Without Operations Romeo, or Kilo Sierra II, without the constant human rights violations by the security forces, without the continuing insistence of that distant elite that the enemy is evil, would there be a Maoist monster at all?

Nepal is a laboratory and Dr Frankenstein lives in Kathmandu. And Jerusalem. And Moscow. And Washington.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)