September 28, 2004

VOTE THE BUMS OUT:

The Insurgency Buster (DAVID BROOKS, 9/28/04, NY Times)

Conditions were horrible when Salvadorans went to the polls on March 28, 1982. The country was in the midst of a civil war that would take 75,000 lives. An insurgent army controlled about a third of the nation's territory. Just before election day, the insurgents stepped up their terror campaign. They attacked the National Palace, staged highway assaults that cut the nation in two and blew up schools that were to be polling places.

Yet voters came out in the hundreds of thousands. In some towns, they had to duck beneath sniper fire to get to the polls. In San Salvador, a bomb went off near a line of people waiting outside a polling station. The people scattered, then the line reformed. "This nation may be falling apart," one voter told The Christian Science Monitor, "but by voting we may help to hold it together."

Conditions were scarcely better in 1984, when Salvadorans got to vote again. Nearly a fifth of the municipalities were not able to participate in the elections because they were under guerrilla control. The insurgents mined the roads to cut off bus service to 40 percent of the country. Twenty bombs were planted around the town of San Miguel. Once again, people voted with the sound of howitzers in the background.

Yet these elections proved how resilient democracy is, how even in the most chaotic circumstances, meaningful elections can be held.

They produced a National Assembly, and a president, José Napoleón Duarte. They gave the decent majority a chance to display their own courage and dignity. War, tyranny and occupation sap dignity, but voting restores it.

The elections achieved something else: They undermined the insurgency. El Salvador wasn't transformed overnight. But with each succeeding election into the early 90's, the rebels on the left and the death squads on the right grew weaker, and finally peace was achieved, and the entire hemisphere felt the effects. [...]

As we saw in El Salvador and as Iraqi insurgents understand, elections suck the oxygen from a rebel army. They refute the claim that violence is the best way to change things. Moreover, they produce democratic leaders who are much better equipped to win an insurgency war.


Of course, Mr. Kerry opposed our efforts in El Salvador and Nicaragua as well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2004 4:37 PM
Comments

Yes! In fact, it was in opposition to Reagan's support for freedom fighters that Kerry made his Senate testimony about Christmas in Cambodia.

The lie that was seared, seared into his mind.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 28, 2004 9:05 PM
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