Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Iraq: Central America solution: "George W. Bush and his top advisers learned little from the Vietnam debacle of the ‘60s, since most avoided service in the war. But many top Bush aides played key roles in the repression of leftist peasant uprisings in Central America in the ‘80s, a set of lessons the Bush administration is now trying to apply to the violent resistance in Iraq.

"The key counterinsurgency lesson from Central America was that the U.S. government can defeat guerrilla movements if it is willing to back a local power structure, no matter how repulsive, and if Washington is ready to tolerate gross human rights abuses. In Central America in the ‘80s, those tactics included genocide against hundreds of Mayan villages in Guatemala’s highlands and the torture, rape and murder of thousands of young political activists throughout the region.... The temptation to recycle these counterinsurgency strategies from Central America to Iraq is explained by the number of Reagan-era officials now back in prominent roles in George W. Bush’s administration."

"One important difference between Iraq and Central America, however, is that to date, the Bush administration has had trouble finding, arming and unleashing an Iraqi proxy force that compares to the paramilitary killers who butchered suspected leftists in Central America. In El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, well-established “security forces” already existed. Plus, in Nicaragua, Ronald Reagan could turn to the remnants of ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza’s National Guard to fashion a contra rebel force. In Iraq, however, U.S. policymakers chose to disband—rather than redirect—Saddam Hussein’s army and intelligence services, leaving the burden of counterinsurgency heavily on U.S. occupying troops who are unfamiliar with Iraq’s language, history and terrain."

"Children were “thrown into burning homes. They are thrown in the air and speared with bayonets. We heard many, many stories of children being picked up by the ankles and swung against poles so their heads are destroyed.”"

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