El Salvador in Iraq : The People running the Iraq war – and the proposed Iran war – have a long history of organising death squads and torture right up to the present – and no interest in democracy

And why should we believe that the Bush administration – which includes many former architects of the death squads, torture and genocide of Latin America in the 80s (not to mention people who ensured the US armed and funded Saddam before and after Halabja – all through the genocide of the Anfal campaign of 1988) are now reformed and aiming not at profits or extending their own power but at securing democracy and human rights?

In 1983 Donald Rumsfeld ,as Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East, shook hands with his valued ally Saddam and then agreed to supply him with anthrax.

The current President’s father was the President who ensured US ‘agricultural aid’ to Saddam (actually subsidising Saddam’s wars on the Kurds and Iraq) was increased after Halabja. At the same time Tony Blair MP refused to sign 8 parliamentary motions condemning Saddam’s gassing of Halabja which were backed by the much vilified George Galloway.

The head of the Coalition Provisional Authority – effectively dictator of Iraq from mid-2003 to April 2005(as UN envoy to Iraq Lakdar Brahimi put it) was Paul Bremer. The laws he made – including laws banning trade unions based on those enforced by Saddam - continue in force under the new ‘democratically’ elected government.

From 1972-76 Paul Bremer was an assistant to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when the Nixon administration, elected on a pledge to end the Vietnam war, instead escalated it by carpet bombing civilians in Laos and Cambodia before supporting the mass murderers of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge against the Vietnamese. From 1979-81 Bremer was a deputy Secretary of State under Alexander Haig during the CIA and Reagan administration sponsored and organised massacres in Latin America.

In 1971-3 John Negroponte was National Security Council officer for Vietnam. This was also during the period in which US military and intelligence were directing the Phoenix Programme of kidnapping and torture – often to death – of any and all critics of the US backed South Vietnamese government including such “Communist fellow travellers” as school teachers (Also See Professor Marylin Young’s book ‘The Vietnam Wars’).

Negroponte ,who has been the US’s representative at the UN, ambassador to Iraq and Deputy Secretary of State under Bush , went on to become US ambassador to Honduras in the 80s. Human rights organisation and congressional investigations say he allowed and even co-operated with the CIA in organising death squads and torture in Honduras, El Salvador and in Nicaragua. Hundreds of messages sent by Negroponte at that time and now declassified under US freedom of information in show the human rights organisations are right.

Vice President Dick Cheney, as a congressman in the 1980s, voted against the Boland amendment which congress passed to end US funding of the Contra death squads in Nicaragua – and stated (in direct opposition to the US constitution) that congressional amendments on federal spending didn’t apply to the President.

Elliot Abrams, who in the 1980s was helping illegally transfer money from secret US arms sales to Iran to those same Contra death squads (the ‘Iran-Contra’ affair) has been in the Bush administration since it took office and is currently Deputy National Security Advisor. That this man could be put in charge of promoting democracy abroad shows once again that the administration’s commitment to democracy is purely rhetorical.

So is it a surprise that the new government they’ve installed is running death squads and using torture methods identical to those used under Saddam?

We’ve heard a lot about how the Iranians are backing the militias and the death squads (much of it true) but that’s half the truth. When the Bush administration got into Iraq they were focused on what they saw as their greatest opponents – Sunni insurgents – and they trained up the militias and the Special Police Commandos. In their assaults on Fallujah the coalition trained units like the ‘Wolf Brigade’ and other special police commando units which were sent in after the US forces to take away prisoners for torture.

Now even after Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have revealed that Abu Ghraib was merely the tip of a bloody iceberg – a tacit policy of torture authorised by President Bush and his administration which has continued long after Abu Ghraib – they are wagging their fingers about ‘militia violence’ and ‘death squads’ as if they didn’t train half these people and as if they don’t still back some of the death squads themselves.

It’s a bit late for that since they’ve already told us they’re running an Iraqi version of the Phoenix Programme and of the methods used by the CIA and the US military backed death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s and 90s (see reports in the Times , the Guardian and Newsweek on the Pentagon’s Salvador strategy in Iraq – and this New York Times magazine article on the police commandos carrying it out being trained by some of the same US military officers who trained the “counter-insurgency” squads in El Salvador.).

Human Rights Watch investigations have also found that these Iraqi government forces are involved in torture and death squad killings as much as any Iranian backed militias.

The Phoenix programme involved the arrest and torture of any critics of the US puppet government in South Vietnam with any who refused to change sides after torture being killed. This included school teachers who were merely critical of the government or the US presence in Vietnam. The same tactics were repeated in South America in the 80s – with torture and death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua and a genocidal campaign against native Indians in Guatemala. The same people who organised the death squads then – Cheney and former Reagan administration allies and appointees - have organised it in Iraq now. ( See ‘The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990’ by Marilyn Young on the original Phoenix Programme.

By keeping British and American troops in Iraq we are merely propping up a puppet government installed by these same people and continuing to allow Iraqis to be robbed of their jobs and their lives – not to mention British and American taxpayers of their taxes and coalition troops of their lives in a war which is about nothing but profit now for people who are already obscenely rich at our expense. The only other motive is power for its own sake. This is not a new dawn of freedom and democracy. This is Vietnam, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua all over again – Iraq under Saddam all over again (remember they only decided he was a bad guy in 1991 after decades of arming and supporting him).


copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2007

Why our troops aren't able to stop civil war in Iraq - and how Cheney is fomenting civil war and repeating the folly of training Bin Laden in the 80s by backing groups linked to Al Qaida

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