The “Salvadoran Option”

The “Salvadoran option” means not just assassination squads, as announced, but mass murder — facts about US operations in El Salvador that are kept in the dark, as is the truth about the 1984 Salvadoran election that is now touted as the grand model for Iraq.

The dedication to suppression is so severe that the media literally will not publish short factual letters from leading US Central America scholars correcting the falsifications about the election. And the massive state terror that the US implemented in El Salvador had been dispatched deep into the memory hole — and in fact was, even as it was happening. I presume that the US will seek to impose a Salvadoran-style client state that can efficiently carry out terror on its own, and will be sufficiently obedient so that Washington will not have to abandon its war aims. But that looks less likely than one could have reasonably expected at first. What has happened so far is quite remarkable, and in fact is a real triumph of non-violent resistance — a fact worthy of serious attention. Take the elections.

They are being presented as a US initiative, implementing what the liberal press calls Bush’s “messianic vision” to bring democracy to the Middle East, and the world. In reality, as the more honest correspondents are reporting, the US had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept the demands of the non-violent resistance, led by Ayatollah Sistani. I discussed some of the early stages in the “afterword” to the 04 edition of my book “Hegemony or Survival.”

There’s a good review in the front-page article by Dan Murphy, “Iraq’s critical Sistani factor,” in the Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 20.

That includes not only elections, but backtracking on many of the other steps imposed by pro-consul Paul Bremer. And how far it will go, it’s hard to say. Right now the main problem will probably be to compel the elected government to accept “vague promises” of eventual withdrawal, and to back off from its “promise” to the voters to demand withdrawal, as the Wall St Journal Iraq correspondent reported on Jan. 25. Blair, Rice and others have been explicit in rejecting any timetable for withdrawal — that is, putting it off to the indefinite future — until the occupying armies complete their “mission,” namely, to bring democracy by compelling the elected government to abandon its program.

Bush’s routine pieties in his press conference a few days ago tell us virtually nothing.

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