Argentina: State Terror and Counterinsurgency Warfare
AN INQUIRY INTO the extraterritorial enterprise of the Argentine military in the late 1970s and early 1980s requires that we note four major features of the 1975-1981 dirty war, which served as a prototype for the military venture beyond the country's borders. But first, briefly, I want to give a sense of the backdrop to the events in Argentina. For a powerful core of hard-liners within the Argentine military, the dirty war initiated in 1975 was, as a former senior adviser to an Argentine president observed, "an endless enterprise."1 Launched against "subversion"--a concept defined by its very unpredictability and measurelessness--the dirty war was waged against an enemy that was perceived to range from locally armed guerrillas to international human rights organizations that denounced the military's abuses.
The Argentine armed forces adapted and refined a comprehensive counterinsurgency methodology from French and U.S. sources. The resulting National Security Doctrine was a native product shaped by institutionalized features of Argentina's political life, by long-standing intramilitary conflicts centered on technical and ideological questions, and by the changing military