Apr 21, 2006

nepal & iran

I'm struck by the different turn of events in this article about Iran and this one about Nepal (registration is required). In one case (Iran) you've got a disaffected youth letting events pass them by and in the other (Nepal) you've got a group taking matters into their own hands. If the U.S. is serious about 'nation building' or at least nation influencing it would do itself a favor by getting some social scientists on the ground to understand why the people of these two countries respond so differently. I can guarantee fostering a Nepal approach is a hell of a lot less expensive, bloody, and time consuming than an Iraq approach.

1 comment:

docrpm said...

not an easy question to answer. my guess is you'd need a few economists and historians to sort this out, along with your social scientists. since we don't have any of these at the moment, i'll weigh in from my armchair...

in Nepal, Gyanendra took power through a coup and effectively dissolved Nepal's constitutional monarchy. He cited ineffective rule, and then managed to rule even more ineffectively, failing to solve Nepal's longstanding civil war with Maoist insurgents. as such, he was an obvious target for protest (if not assassination).

after ousting the King, the Nepalis have a long road ahead, though, one possibly filled with continued civil war, bloodshed, and human rights violations by either the RNA or the Maoist insurgents. probably less bloody than our approach in Iraq, but still very messy.

the situation in Iran seems different to me. Iran is a theocratic republic with a relatively stable democracy (created in 1979 after the overthrow of the Shah). the current president, Amadinejad, was elected in a landslide, even though he seems a bit crazy from an external perspective. so, while there may be discontent among the youth, where should they target their energy and anger? to the president they elected and seem happy with? there's no clear single culprit, like a lack of democracy or an autocrat who has taken rule by force.

you may still be right as to which of the two countries is a better model for democracy, but it seems to me we'll have to wait quite awhile to find out.