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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Salvador Option

posted by Jazz at 1/09/2005 07:40:00 AM

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This won't be pretty. (Hat Tip to Memeorandum.) It seems that, with the elections over, certain Pentagon and military leaders have noticed that things in Iraq aren't exactly coming up roses, and they may have to consider more drastic options.
What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon?s latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"?and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can?t just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November?s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency?as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time?than in spreading it out.
Hrmm... why does that sound so familiar. Oh, that's right. Because we (along with countless other bloggers) predicted it before it happened. Well, at least we can take comfort in the fact that Rummy and his pals have finally come up with a plan. What, you may ask, is the Salvador option? Younger readers might not remember some of the darker days of the Reagan administration and a little fracas we got into in South America.
[T]he Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration?s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success?despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal.
Lovely. Apparently the Iraqi resistance death squads have been so effective against us that Rummy will consider a "if you can't beat 'em..." type of strategy. Before anyone becomes too surprised, however, consider the following - we used to be the country that would stand up against torture or any other vile forms of inhuman actions, preferring instead to take the high road. We would do things the hard way, as long as it was the right way, and stayed true to the ideals that America professed to value and protect. Those rules seem to no longer apply, so American led/trained death squads roaming the streets and houses of Mosul shouldn't come as all that much of a shock to our collective consciences.

A few other observations on this from around the blogosphere...

Lambert of corrente examine just how "dirty" this war already is, and why Salvador type tactics will not yield the same type of "success" in Iraq. This is a really good analysis that you should take a moment to look over.

TalkLeft doesn't make me feel any better about this. "Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. 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. ..."