taking a seat on the bus...,
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soviet aggression in el salvador:
while I'm on the topic I might as well start some reworking on that old and very underwhelming bit on El Salvador. The mid 80s military presentation I referenced earlier, which is quite interesting, deserves some discussion on it's assessment of foreign involvement in El Salvador's civil war (excluding, of course, our own) that might be relevant to today's intelligence fiascos, since such involvement was pretty much the whole basis for Reagan's justification for his war against Nicaragua.
Let's just put two sections together:
The countries of Western Europe have been significant
participants in the El Salvador conflict. The nations with
conservative, democratic parties in power have tended to
remain neutral or give mild support to the efforts of the
United States to resolve the conflict. Conversely, those
with strong socialist parties have enthusiastically supported
the FDR/FMLN, politically and in some cases, economically.
At the Communist Party's 2nd International Meeting in
Oslo on June 13, 1980, aid was promised to the FDR at the
urging of the Swedish Socialist Party. The strong socialist
parties in West Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, and Austria
provided important diplomatic support as well as an
undetermined amount of financial support.(1) ...
Perhaps the guerillas biggest supporter in Western
Europe is France. On July 2, 1981 the newly-elected French
Socialist President Francois Mitterrand expressed support for
the Salvadorean revolution saying, "It is a question of
people refusing to submit to misery and humiliation." On
August 28, 1981 the governments of France and Mexico gave
official recognition to the FDR/FMLN as a representative
It was of course essential to keep France and West Germany out of "our backyard". And so:
From late 1979 throughout 1980 various members of the
left met with Castro of Cuba and other representatives from
the communist countries of East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland,
Vietnam, Hungary, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and the Soviet Union.
Although it is difficult to ascertain exactly what levels of
arms, direction, and training the Salvadorean Guerillas
obtained from these sources, by January 1981 they were able
to launch a significant offensive. Weapons and equipment
such as Belgian FAL rifles, German G-3 rifles, U.S. M-1,
M-16, and AR-15 rifles, .30 to .50 caliber machine guns, U.S.
M-60 machine guns, U.S. and Russian hand grenades, U.S. M-79
and Chinese RPG grenade launchers, and the U.S. M-72 light
antitank weapon and 81 mm mortar were used. These weapons
and equipment had never been used before in El Salvador, by
either the military or the insurgents.(8)
The FMLN has steadfastly denied it received weapons from
other communist cuontries. It has stated four sources of
- Purchased from the international arms market
- Purchased from corrupt Salvadorean army officers
- Manufacturered by the FMLN
- Captured from the Salvadorean Military(9)
Allegedly the money to purchase the arms came initially from
ransom money from kidnappings and from bank robberies
conducted during the 1970's. Now it supposedly comes from
worldwide voluntary contributions such as the $1 million
contributed by West German leftists during 1981.(10)
Why, yes, where would Salvador rebels get US, Belgian, and German weapons that "had never been used in El Salvador before"? Self-evidently they couldn't have come from Western European nations that had openly supported the FMLN's claims to political legitemacy and delivered aid, but from Communist block nations that categorically denied providing any aid or support. And so:
The United States periodically releases statements as to
the amount of arms the FMLN is receiving, but the U.S.
refuses to identify its sources.
Hence "it is
inconceivable that they are not getting arms from other
communist countries", so obviously "El Salvador was the victim of communist aggression".
One might start by wondering if some minor arms shipments into El Salvador from Nicaragua were to be categorized as "aggression" what is one to make of US military forces covertly fighting in El Salvador or the 50 Argentine unconventional warfare specialists - veterans of the 'dirty war' there - sent  in late 1980 to assist d'Aubuisson's junta? Or, of course, US aid for Nicaraguan guerillas in 1979, the exact policy it accused Nicaragua of persuing, was defended as "self defense", setting an international norm Nicaragua would be remiss not to follow in its own self-defense, being as El Salvador was a staging ground for anti-Nicaraguan terrorists. Or, as mentioned earlier, the formation by the US of Salvadoran militias to control the rural population back in 1963? If El Salvador is "our backyard", as is the official US policy, it would be rather predictable that a dispute might arise in which Salvadorans wish to reclaim it as their frontyard, and even, god forbid, seek some outside assistance.
But to my knowledge the claims still remain fairly shakey, and claims regarding actual Soviet aid appear to be non-existent . E.g. accusations before the Kerry investigation of Iran-Contra that Oliver North had used CIA asset General Manuel Noriega to fake Nicaraguan arms shipments to the Salvador rebels in 1980 is as good an explanation as any for the captures of such shipments in 1981 and 1985 in the US military base some referred to as Honduras, as similar misinformation campaigns were perpetrated against Nicaragua ("similar": the "MIGS crisis", for example, was simply fabricated out of thin air, much like certain mobile biological weapons factories/weather balloon stations). Likewise in 1985 the ex-CIA analyst who was assigned to discover Nicaraguan arms shipments to neighboring countries - David McMichael - testified before the World Court that he had found no such evidence outside the shipment from 1981. "Ex", as he was fired by the Reagan administration for not finding any evidence. The State Department instead provided unsourced allegations of which "many members of the media and liberals cited inconsistencies and inaccuracies".
One might say the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
- Scott and John Lee Anderson, Inside the League (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1986). Cited by Scott and Marshall in Cocaine Politics.
- Of the relevant books I have at hand niether Moscow's Third World Strategy (Rubinstein) or The USSR and Marxist Revolutions in the Third World (Katz) mention anything more than Soviet requests for revolution through 1988, explained as the PR requirements of a regime dedicated to the myth of international revolution and the reality of preserving its own domestic rule, and note that the Sandinistas recieved little aid from even Cuba until after their victory was considered inevitable. Small bets on winning horses. The USSR in Third World Conflicts (Porter), published in 1980 and pre-dating these but at the time of rising hysteria over Soviet "aggression" in Latin America, makes no study of Soviet aid to Latin American countries whatsoever. We Know Now (Gaddis), published after all these, likewise makes no mention of El Salvador. Same goes for Crisis, by Carter's Chief of Staff on the last year of the Carter administration.
:: posted by buermann @ 2005-11-05 18:03:46 CST |