Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Editorializing on Iraq

Today's editorials reflect on Salvador's involvement in Iraq, and range from ridiculous (EDH), to bland (LPG), to acutely critical (El Faro).

First, the ridiculous. After blaming Jimmy Carter for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism (remember Iran?), El Diario de Hoy compares the death of young Méndez Ramos to that of thousands of others who have fallen in their own country due to terrorism and insanity. "It's not the first, and it won't be the last: many experts on this kind of conflagrations anticipate that the war against terror might last fifty years." Then, in comparing Al-Sadr to Hitler, they say that "the internal situation in Iraq, which due to the circumstances does not have its own government, opens the door to these kind of demented minds. In other countries of the muslim world, dictatorships reign, impeding calls to war although not necessarily hate."

Dictatorship is the answer? And here I thought it was only us anti-war types who supposedly preferred dictatorships (like that of Saddam) to the tragic democracy-by-force experiment in Iraq!

La Prensa Gráfica avoids saying much of anything: the situation gets more complicated every day, and eventually some decisions will need to be made....

But it is the alternative online newspaper El Faro, which is run voluntarily by editors (one of whom, Carlos Dada, spent time in Iraq last year for La Prensa Gráfica) and young journalists, that provides the best analysis and commentary:

First, they ask why it was that only Salvadorans, and no Spanish, were killed or wounded in this attack. Part of the answer lies in the fact that Salvadorans have only ever functioned in a security role in Iraq. After noting the cynicism of President Flores for continuing to call Salvadoran involvement "humanitarian," they say that Salvadoran soldiers are "canon fodder in a foreign country."

"And they have been put there by a decision-- still not explained-- by their own president, and which has hardly been justified by the foreign minister, who insists in pretending, based on a sui generis interpretation of UN resolutions, that the troop presence follows a mandate of the United Nations. But the UN is no longer institutionally in Iraq, and no soldier has ever used the insignia of that body...

But the Salvadoran president happily accepted the U.S. request [to send troops], and with the pretext of aiding in reconstruction, and with the support of three political parties (ARENA, PCN and PDC), soldiers were sent to Iraq who only know how to fight, not rebuild anything. According to studies of IUDOP, some 61% of the Salvadoran population opposed this deployment of troops. It didn't matter....

The death of soldier Natividad Ramos Méndez isn't the reason for which we shouldn't be in Iraq, but rather a tragic invitation to reflect on what sense it makes to risk our fellow countrymen's lives in a war which more than 77% of Salvadorans opposed. A war that isn't our war, nor that of humanity; and which never was."

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