A war in search of an analogy

A war in search of an analogy

: They kept trying to say that our war in Iraq was Vietnam (or the Soviet Afghanistan): the no-win quagmire. But that dog didn’t hunt. So the search is for another analogy and Peter Maas returns from a brave trip with Iraqi counterinsurgency forces and thinks he has it in today’s NY Times magazine:

The template for Iraq today is not Vietnam, to which it has often been compared, but El Salvador, where a right-wing government backed by the United States fought a leftist insurgency in a 12-year war beginning in 1980. The cost was high — more than 70,000 people were killed, most of them civilians, in a country with a population of just six million. Most of the killing and torturing was done by the army and the right-wing death squads affiliated with it.

…[big snip]…

In El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Turkey, Algeria and other crucibles of insurgency and counterinsurgency, the battles went on and on. They were, without exception, dirty wars.

Well, yes, it’s a dirty war (isn’t every war?)… It’s a dirty war when “insurgents” and imported murderers and deluded suicidal fanatics blow up and behead innocent civilians. Is it dirtier to stop them?