David Brooks of the New York Times picks up on General Abizaid's argument (without any attribution), and says today in reference to the 1982 elections: "As we saw in El Salvador and as Iraqi insurgents understand, elections suck the oxygen from a rebel army."
It's hard to argue with the latter (at least in theory), but the former is not so self-evident. In El Salvador, the civil war endured another 10 years following those elections, and then only after the U.S.-backed military blundered by killing a bunch of Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in response to a large-scale offensive by the rebels that brought fighting to the nation's capital.
The negotiated end to the civil war also came to an end only after the end of the Cold War, only after the defeat of the Sandinistas in neighboring Nicaragua, only after the rise of a more pragmatic Bush (I) administration that pushed for negotations, only after the U.S. Congress leveraged its substantial aid package, and only after the United Nations got involved (and this, only before the UN resources became overstretched elsewhere.)
So, pray tell, what exactly is it about these circumstances that the Iraqi insurgents supposedly "understand"?