Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More Inaccurate Right Wing Historical Revisionism -- this time it's El Salvador 

RDF asked about historic parallels in an earlier post and I answered her tentatively in this post. Interestingly enough, the Bush people want you to think that El Salvador is a great parallel. God, I should hope not! 15 years of bloody war? You've got to be kidding me!

Eric Alterman talked about this on Monday. (Read on further and you'll get to read Charles Pierce's excellent rant about how the Bushies don't own the Iraqi people's courage.)

Here's a good article by Mark Engler from December analyzing what's wrong with trying to use El Salvador as a model for Iraq.

Engler shreds this analogy pretty effectively:
In drawing a parallel to Iraq, the secretary echoed the comments of Cheney in his Oct. 5 debate with John Edwards. The vice president argued that in 1980s El Salvador "a guerilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead. And we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress. ... And as the terrorists would come in and shoot up polling places as soon as they left, the voters would come back and get in line and would not be denied their right to vote. And today El Salvador is ... a lot better because we held free elections."

There is a serious problem with this story. The 75,000 people Cheney mentioned were indeed killed by terrorists, but not by the rebel FMLN forces that he intended to condemn. Rather, they were under assault from the very Salvadoran government that the Reagan administration was supporting and from its paramilitary death squads. With a list of opposition politicians having already been executed or exiled, the 1984 elections were little more than a farce designed to give democratic respectability to a regime that was perpetuating some of the worst human rights abuses in the hemisphere.

Before peace accords ended the civil war in 1992, the United States would provide the bloody-handed Salvadoran government more than $6 billion in aid.

The facts of Salvadoran history were definitively established by a UN-sponsored truth commission in 1993. It concluded that 90 percent of the atrocities in the conflict were committed by the army and its surrogates, with the rebels responsible for 5 percent and the remaining 5 percent undetermined.

"The army, security forces, and death squads linked to them committed massacres, sometimes of hundreds of people at a time," the truth commission reported. Among the crimes that the Reagan administration had attempted to obscure or deny were the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, the slaughter of hundreds of villagers and the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Even if U.S. involvement in the country did not present a damning cautionary tale, it is uncertain what lessons the current administration would like to draw from the conflict for the present. While El Salvador experienced a conventional civil war with clearly defined adversaries, the invasion of Iraq has created a broad and varied resistance. It has placed U.S. soldiers in a type of guerrilla war that even many counter-insurgency experts consider impossible to win.

Of course, "winning" on President George W. Bush's terms may not be desirable, especially if it means using Iraq as a long-term base from which to project military power. In El Salvador, it was only after the Cold War ended and the United States relented on its anti-Communist obsession that the UN and other international mediators were able to help facilitate a transition to democracy - something the FMLN had long desired, and that the Iraqi people may long be denied.
So these Iraqi elections may be like the ridiculous farcical "show elections" in El Salvador in 1984, huh? That's what all the hub-bub's about? Great.

Engler contends that this analogy may work with regard to one thing: democracy may not truly happen in Iraq until we get out.

I'm wary of these elections. As I said earlier, I expect them to suspiciously turn out exactly like we want them -- just like they did in 1984 in El Salvador.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?