El Salvador: Reminders of War

By Arnesen, Eric | Monthly Review, October 1986 | Go to article overview

El Salvador: Reminders of War


Arnesen, Eric, Monthly Review


EL SALVADOR: REMINDERS OF WAR

Only a few years ago the crisis in Central America--from the perspective of the Reagan administration--centered on El Salvador, which similarly occupied the attention of liberals and the left. The undisguisable brutality and the sheer level of horror perpetrated by the U.S.-backed government was a regular object of criticism and protest. Congress pressed for "certification" of human rights abuses and in 1981 over 100,000 people marched in Washington to oppose U.S. interference in that country. Today, on the other hand, there is little debate in Congress over the U.S. role in the Salvadoran war; liberal interest in El Salvador has largely vanished, displaced by increasing concern over the alleged threat posed by the Sandinistas. On the liberal left, many now devote their political energies toward defending Nicaragua while others are distancing themselves from the avowedly Marxist-Leninist Farabundo Marti Liberation National Front (FMLN). Indeed, the Reagan administration can count as one of its greater foreign policy achievements the disappearance of El Salvador from the center of "legitimate" political debate.

Three key factors account for this apparent "success" of the right. First, the administration's decisive intervention in El Salvador has changed the character and the nature of the war. The visible and regular bloodbaths of Salvadoran security forces and government-backed death squads have been reduced--though by no means eliminated--and rendered less visible. U.S. aid, on the order of over $1.84 billion since 1979, and the presence of U.S. advisors and trainers, have transformed a demoralized, nine-to five army into a somewhat stronger and certainly better equipped fighting force, especially since 1984. Counterinsurgency training and U.S.-supplied transport helicopters enable the Salvadoran army to put larger numbers of combat units in the field at a faster rate; surveillance flights by U.S.-piloted planes have enhanced air-to-ground communications, and hence military assaults against the FMLN and its supporters are better coordinated. Moreover, the Salvadoran airforce has taken the fight to the skies and has conducted what can be described as the heaviest bombardments in the history of the

Western hemisphere. This air war against the civilian supporters of the FMLN-FDR (the Democratic Revolutionary Front--the political arm of the revolutionary movement) has been perhaps the most successful part of the U.S.-designed counterinsurgency program, aimed at making production, and even life itself, impossible in the "zones of control" under guerrilla influence. The human rights group Americas Watch noted in 1984 that "thousands of noncombatants are being killed in indiscriminate attacks by bombardments in the air, shelling, and ground sweeps. Thousands more are being wounded. As best we can determine, these attacks on civilian noncombatants in conflict zones are part of a deliberate policy."

The air war may now be less "indiscriminate" and more selective in its choice of targets, but the impact is the same: to disrupt production and logistics in the control zones, force civilians sympathetic to the FMLN to flee--in essence, to deprive the FMLN of its rural support by depopulating the areas where it exercises control. Moreover, the air war is accompanied by regular army sweeps of rebel areas. In February 1986, for example, the Salvadoran military initiated its ironically titled "Operation Phoenix" by yet again bombarding and attacking the Guazapa Volcano area, a rebel stronghold just fifteen miles north of San Salvador, and forcibly relocating hundreds of civilian FMLN supporters. When twenty-three religious workers attempted to help six hundred refugees return to their village of Aguacayo near Guazapa in July, they were promptly arrested by the Salvadoran military and charged with being in a war zone without government permission and with endangering civilian lives. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

El Salvador: Reminders of War
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.