Sunday, July 1, 2007

Blast from the past

Here's a couple paragraphs from Chapter 3 ("Our Little Region Over Here") of On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures by Noam Chomsky [published 1987 by South End Press]:
In the conservative British journal The Spectator, correspondent Ambrose Evans-Pritchard explains the reasons for the changes that have occurred in the pattern of murder and torture in this client state [note: Chomsky is referring to El Salvador]. He reports an "improvement" in El Salvador: "Numbers are down and the bodies are dropped discreetly at night into the middle of Lake Ilopango and only rarely wash up onto the shore to remind bathers that the repression is still going on." This "improvement"results from the fact that "the war no longer requires" the earlier approach of indiscriminate slaughter: "The death squads did exactly what they were supposed to do: they decapitated the trade unions and mass organizations that seemed in danger of setting off an urban insurrection at the beginning of the decade," and now, following the directions of its U.S. military advisers, the army - in effect, a U.S. proxy army - is following the classic tactic implemented by the U.S. in its successful destruction of the South Vietnamese resistance: "to drive civilians out of the zones and leave the guerrillas cut off from their support structure. Without the 'sea' (people), wrote Chairman Mao, the 'fish' (guerrillas) cannot survive. So the sea must be drained." The peasants flee air attacks with 500 pound bombs and fragmentation bombs that "blast shrapnel in all directions," and then "the troops go through their villages, burning crops, killing livestock, tearing down houses, ripping up water pipes, and even planting hideous booby traps in the ruins they leave behind." The army, Evans-Pritchard continues, "learnt its tricks at American counter-insurgency schools in Panama and the United States. 'We learnt from you,' a death squad member once told an American reporter, 'we learnt from you the methods, like blowtorches in the armpits, shots in the balls.' And political prisoners often insist they were tortured by foreigners, sometimes Argentinian, others maybe American."

The careful observer will find that the worst atrocities have regularly been conducted by elite battalions fresh from their U.S. training. Salvadoran officers who admit their participation in death squad killings describe their service under CIA control and the training sessions on effective torture conducted by U.S. instructors. The significance of these fact cannot, however, be perceived in the West.
My emphasis added. Whenever I read inane comments such as this I feel a need to set the record straight. The notions that the SOA is "an important tool for fostering good relations with our southern neighbors" and that the Latin Americans "are masters of [torture and murder], and in fact, could probably teach us a lot more than we could teach them on those topics" are themselves misguided and insulting.

No comments:

Post a Comment