What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.
For for those of us young-uns who are too young to remember what a fabulous undertaking El Salvador was, here's a bit of a lesson.
The 1980 election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States changed American policy in El Salvador dramatically. The new U.S. administration worried about Communist expansion in Central America and viewed the El Salvador military government as a potential barrier against Communism. The Reagan administration substantially increased both military and economic aid to El Salvador.
The civil war raged on in El Salvador, fueled by U.S. aid to the Salvadoran military. The government harshly repressed dissent, and at least 70,000 people lost their lives in killings and bombing raids waged against civilians throughout the countryside. The country's infrastructure had crumbled, and the nation appeared to be no closer to its goals of peace, prosperity and social justice than when the process began. Then, in 1989, the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of Central America shocked the international community into action.
Ladies and gentlemen, George W. Bush's Free Iraq. God forgive us.