Dirty Hands
  • death squads are necessary
  • legitimate grievances
  • even good democracies are guilty of using terror


  • El Salvador required a fundamental change in that country's authoritarian culture
  • the reason for increasing government support was due to death squads
  • programs such as land reform where irrelevant to the increase
  • the CIA determined death squads a critical part of the governments ability to stay in power
  • contrasted with nicaragua which was a simple arm and train process

Legitimate grievances

  • insurgents had legitimate cause to seek change
  • the only way to defeat them was to redress the grievances
  • the US goal in low intensity conflicts is to build viable plitical, economic, military, and social institutions
  • multilateral approach not just military
  • coin was linked to legitimacy
  • conditionality was the only enforcement tool the US Had
  • american association with the thugs mitigated their thuggery
  • El Salvador was armeica’s most expensive milltary endeavor between Vietnam and the Persian gulf conflict.
  • It required America to change the country’s authoritarian culture,
  • political practices and its economic social and military structure

nation building

  • this contrasts with the case of Nicaragua where they just armed and trained a guerrilla force and subeverted the economy and regime in whatever other ways they could
  • the American connection with the Salvadoran government of murdered and sadists was not made by the anti-communist Reagan administration but by moderate democrat jimmy carter.
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