Spreading democracy with death squads?
January 14, 2005 7:25 PM   Subscribe

The Salvador Option --sending Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, in imitation of our actions in El Salvador. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. More here, including this: In Iraq, in fact, as in many other places where the United States has tried to train ethical armies to fight dirty wars, the Iraqi troops are tacitly expected to do what American troops won’t. A fundamental purpose of the upcoming elections on January 30 is to create democratic legitimacy for whatever extreme measures the newly organized military decides to take.
posted by amberglow (18 comments total)
more info on what actually went on in El Salvador at Billmon, including this tragic reminder of how we never learn: One [Salvadoran] death squad member, when asked about the types of tortures used, replied: "Uh, well, the same things you did in Vietnam. We learned from you. We learned from you the means, like blowtorches in the armpits, shots in the balls. But for the "toughest ones" — that is, those who resist these other tortures — "we have to pop their eyes out with a spoon. You have to film it to believe it, but boy, they sure sing."
posted by amberglow at 7:44 PM on January 14, 2005

posted by puke & cry at 7:50 PM on January 14, 2005

posted by amberglow at 8:11 PM on January 14, 2005

But thanks!!

This can't be stated enough...
posted by Balisong at 8:44 PM on January 14, 2005

Invade Syria. Invade Iran. Rinse. Repeat. Iraq is only Vietnam if there's a refuge on adjacent borders.

As for the Salvadorian analogy, hey, we won that one. And we won despite the carping and advocacy for defeat by the hate-america-first crowd.
posted by paleocon at 8:52 PM on January 14, 2005

You tell us, Paeleocon!!

We sure fucked up by invading Iraq, when we soulda been going after Iran and Syria, huh..

Well, maybe next war..
posted by Balisong at 8:56 PM on January 14, 2005

Paleocon, you should come chat with my Salvadorian co-worker. I'm not sure he'd put that down as a win.

At least for the Salvadorians. And the dead nuns might have a word with you, if they could.
posted by efalk at 9:17 PM on January 14, 2005

I was in school with some Salvadorans. Both rich kids, they joined my fraternity, back in the mid eighties. We were sitting around one day, and I brought up the death squads. One of them said "Death squads are cool!"
Like you'd maybe say, the Yankees are cool.
"Cool?" I said. Yes, the guy replied, "They get rid of the undesirable elements."
posted by atchafalaya at 10:23 PM on January 14, 2005

What's really needed is a good, reliable, ruthless puppet dictator. But call me old fashioned.
posted by HTuttle at 10:39 PM on January 14, 2005

I don't think the National Catholic Reporter Has the article
on line, that I read years ago about World Vision' missionaries
providing intelligence for the death squads in central american
countrys, and it is pure speculation on my part, but World Vision is operating a mission in Iraq and Negroponte is ambassador . Familiar pattern?
posted by hortense at 10:46 PM on January 14, 2005

Actually, this can't be quite counted entirely as a win by the US. The FMLN was contained but not defeated. The FMLN went on to become a political party though I'm not sure how they did in the elections.

The Air War in El Salvador

Despite the title, the author gives a good overview of the entire military history of the campaign, which is really interesting if you're into descriptions of campaigns, like I am. I didn't know the rebels were so well organized and as successful as they were.
posted by pandaharma at 11:42 PM on January 14, 2005

The problem with using paramilitaries is that even when you win, you lose. By this I mean that by using armed units in an extra-legal manner to effect policy, you cannot help but undermine the notions of stable civil government, rule-by-law, respect for the police and so on. Not really the kind of state the Middle East needs at this time.

In fact I can't think of any state which has used paramilitaries which does not have ongoing problems with social unrest, civil violence, vigilantism, political assassinations and/or powerful armed gangs or warlords - anyone care to contradict?
posted by Ritchie at 11:42 PM on January 14, 2005

I'm sure paleocon will care to contradict, Ritchie. But he is a monster, an inhuman psychopath. I suppose if I ever had the misfortune of meeting him in person, I'd do the only thing I could do... I'd be sure to have a camera and a spoon handy.
posted by hincandenza at 11:57 PM on January 14, 2005

Isn't Iraq already full of paramilitaries?
posted by buzzman at 12:46 AM on January 15, 2005

I suppose yes, buzzman, you could certainly make the argument that the scale of the insurgency in Iraq has already put paid to any hope of what we westerners would call a stable society in the future. In which case state-approved paramilitaries might seem reasonable by comparison. But only by comparison.
posted by Ritchie at 4:19 AM on January 15, 2005

Do not feed the troll.
posted by psmealey at 7:33 AM on January 15, 2005

The perfect man to implement the Salvador Option (from patriotboy, who always nails it)
posted by amberglow at 4:48 PM on January 15, 2005

Troll. This is not true. Both then and now. Linking a hack at Newsweek? No other sources? That reporter is holed up in his hotel room makin' shit up. SF hates being associated with stuff like this. It makes it harder to do the important things; i.e: Tsunami relief, because then non-US countries view them as rogue. No truth to this link at all.
posted by mcchesnj at 1:59 AM on January 18, 2005

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