Thursday, January 20, 2005

Farah on the "Salvador Option" in Iraq, and an Index to recent stories

Doug Farah, who lived in El Salvador for 10 years during the war, has a post over at a new blog, The Counterterrorism Blog, which bills itself as "the first multi-expert blog dedicated solely to counterterrorism issues, serving as a gateway to the community for policymakers and serious researchers. Designed to provide realtime information about cases and policy developments."

Actually, that blog only gives the first paragraphs of Doug's entry, but then connects to a longer posting at his own blogsite. It's worth reading the whole thing, which is a somewhat more developed argument than he supplied here a few days ago. Here's one key paragraph:
What is out of context in the story is that the United States, however belatedly, recognized this truth and sought to pressure the Salvadoran military and the far right to rein in the death squads. In 1983, then vice president George Bush and a young NSC aide named Oliver North visited El Salvador. They left a list of nine names with interim president Alvaro Magana, asking him to purge the 8 the military officers on the list from active duty and to arrest the one civilian. Little was done at that point, but from that time on the United States, while often unwilling to go after death squad activists and at times showing a distinct lack of interest in pursuing its leaders, did work to get the groups under control. By 1985 the U.S. ambassador was authorizing covert surveillance and actions against some of the more notorious death squad operatives. This does not mean U.S. policy was geared to stopping the death squads, but there was growing consensus, even in the Reagan administration, that death squad activities were undermining the entire concept of building a democracy in El Salvador that was attractive enough to undermine the appeal of the rebels. This was impossible when dozens of bodies a day were being dumped along the roadside or left at the notorious dumping grounds outside of the capital. Such would be the case in Iraq.
I still want to write more on this story, but meanwhile, here's a quick index to the blog entries thus far on this specific topic (from the first to the most recent):

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