The United State has two key national interests in Nepal: Protecting the human right of Tibetans to flee China to and through Nepal and strengthening Nepal’s fragile democracy. Both are likely to be jeopardized in the second Constituent Assembly election to be held on 19 November 2013.
America was one of the first countries that established diplomatic relations with Nepal in 1947. When China threatened to undermine Tibet’s independence in 1950, Washington extracted understanding from Kathmandu to let the Central Intelligence Agency train, equip and finance the Khampa resistance against Beijing and to give safe passage to Tibetans fleeing Tibet.
The unsuccessful covert CIA operation was terminated in the late 1950s, but the Tibetans continued to enjoy the safe passage with only occasional hitches. In 2008, it began to change. The Maoists, who ended their decade-long insurgency in 2005 under a peace deal, emerged as the largest party in the first Constituent Assembly election held in 2008 and changed the unstated policy.
Now Tibetans escaping from Tibet are routinely arrested in the border area and handed over to Chinese authorities.
The United States has been helping Nepal build democratic institutions to strengthen multiparty democracy by providing training, equipment, and financial support, in addition to development assistance.
However, the Maoists and their radical allies do not believe in multiparty democracy, freedom of speech, independent courts, and free markets. They do not want a democratic constitution and they could not write an undemocratic one, because they lack a two-thirds majority in the Assembly to approve it.
Consequently, both US national interests in Nepal have suffered a setback. They will freeze at the current level if the Maoists and their radical allies maintain their current strength. However, these interests will suffer a permanent...