Friday, January 28, 2005


Stalin-Style Democracy

Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon is still advocating the blandly-named "Salvador" option. While Mr. Negroponte was serving as US Ambassador to El Salvador, US-sponsored death squads murdered tens of thousands of rebel sympathizers. After enough of the government's opponents were tortured and brutally killed, a "democratic" election was held in which the surviving voters supported the incumbent government.

Killing off your opponents, leaving only your supporters alive? Joe Stalin and Adolf Hitler practiced this "one less person, one less vote" style of "democracy."

The strongest reason for believing the current Bush Administration supports this option is that it caused the deaths of many innocent people and was ultimately counterproductive. The BBC's Tom Gibbs explains:
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.

Nor is success for a Salvador-style death squad democracy guaranteed.

Horrific memories

Constituent assembly elections, like those taking place in Iraq, were held in 1982.

But the war continued for another decade with the rebels rebuilding their strength.

In November 1989, they launched an all-out offensive to win, taking over suburbs of the capital for 10 days.

Fearing defeat, the US-backed army set out to kill not only guerrillas but also those they viewed as sympathisers.

Of the memories of death and mutilation I witnessed in El Salvador, the sight of six Jesuit priests, their cook and her 16-year-old daughter with their brains blown across the neatly cropped lawn of their house, is the one that still haunts the most.


They were murdered by an elite US-trained unit, part of an extermination list approved by the high command, a dirty war taken to the limit.


In the end, years more bloodshed and a potentially humiliating US defeat were only prevented by the Soviet collapse, which pulled the rug from under the guerrillas' feet.
Source: BBC

Both the terrorists and the "Salvador Option" proponents believe they can achieve their respective goals by torturing and killing any civilians daring to criticize them. If both sides initiate freedom via terror killings, I doubt the result will help spread democracy as a better form of government.


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