Sunday, January 30, 2005

Pentagon Considers Contra-Style Terror Tactics in Iraq

from BBC News
With no end to the Iraq conflict in sight, some US military strategists have been considering tactics used during the civil war in El Salvador, a brutal and bloody campaign that lasted for years.

...The shield which stopped a guerrilla victory in El Salvador was in reality a reign of terror. Tens of thousands of those killed in the war were rebel sympathisers, tortured and murdered by the security forces. It was a well-organised, dirty war in which the CIA was heavily involved. Horrendously mutilated corpses - sometimes decapitated - were left in full public view. Using fear, the policy succeeded in denying the rebels open civilian support.

Some in the Pentagon have now been mooting the idea of training Iraqi hit squads to target insurgents and their sympathisers to quash open civilian support for them.

But for this to work would mean out-terrorising the Iraqi rebels, a difficult task indeed.


J.R. Boyd said...

The death squads carried out several high profile profile murders at this time; archbishop Óscar Romero was assassinated in 1980 after publicly urging the U.S. government not to provide military support to the El Salvadoran government, and four US nuns were also raped and murdered by members of Salvadoran death squads. In all, thousands of Salvadorans were murdered by the death squads.

from Wikipedia - History of El Salvador

Anonymous said...

Did you see the way the archbishop was dressed? He was practically asking for it.

J.R. Boyd said...

I should say that "contra" is a term used for mercenaries hired to erode support for governments we don't like, while "death-squad" is applied to security forces in countries that we do. In either case the preferred tactic is terror against the civilian population, who are usually invested in some sort of local democratic project which is seen as a threat to US investment abroad. In the case of Central America in the 1980's, the people working to end US backed dictatorships (usually substantial portions of the population) were called "communists" and "terrorists" interchangably, while the terrorists we funded--not unlike the Islamic fundamentalists we were supporting half-way around the globe at the same time--were called "freedom-fighters."

Sheryl said...

It's funny you should mention all these word games, Ryan. I was just at a discussion meeting where we were watching a George Lakoff video on framing debates with language. Then that Frontline program "The Persuaders."

It really is all about language. :(

lorraine said...

I don't think it's surprising that the troll who brought you the death squads in El Salvador, and who was a frequent mouthpiece on the news shows during the Reagan years--Mr. Elliot Abrams--is back in a position of power in the state department.
Apparently, he learned nothing.

J.R. Boyd said...

It's basically the same people in power now, that's right. Interesting how presidents come and go while administrations remain the same. It suggests much about how our system works.