Friday, January 28, 2005
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:
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.The shield which stopped a guerrilla victory in El Salvador was in reality a reign of terror.But the war continued for another decade with the rebels rebuilding their strength.
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.
Constituent assembly elections, like those taking place in Iraq, were held in 1982.
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.