Monday, August 29, 2005

A Salvadoran soldier's work in Iraq

The AP has an interview of a Salvadoran soldier who just returned from Iraq. The story emphasizes humanitarian work being done by the Salvadoran troops:

It was dangerous at times, as servicemen fired their guns in the air to warn against possible attacks. But for at least one Salvadoran soldier - whose countrymen are the only Latin American soldiers left in Iraq - the six months he spent helping to build schools, drinking-water systems and clinics in Iraq were worth the time away from his family.

In an interview with The Associated Press upon returning home, Lt. Jose Rivera recalled how the Iraqi people would offer the soldiers tea and call them friends. The children would greet them with hugs.

3 comments:

wally said...

A few weeks back you posted that El Salvador was in Iraq only to curry favor with the U.S. This article tends to contradict that claim, at least at the soldier's level. That all the men would like to return to Iraq says a lot about their mission there. It also says that little El Salvador has some big cojones, and it's focus may not be as self-absorbed as other neighboring countries as it is willing to defend democracy in Iraq. I met a soldier here who had just returned from Iraq and his attitude was the same as the ones in the story. I thanked him for his sacrifice, and for the sacrifice of the men that served with him.

Tim said...

I still think El Salvador is only in Iraq to curry favor with the US. But I thought it's important to have the whole picture and that's why I posted the link to this article.

Everyone would agree that there is lots of humanitarian work that needs to be done in Iraq (and many other places in the world). I don't have any reason to doubt that Salvadoran soldiers are doing good work on the ground in Iraq. That does not change the fact that the decision to put these troops in harm's way, and the decision to make the significant expenditures to maintain them there, was chiefly motivated by Flores and Saca's desire to appear to be Washington's best friend in the hemisphere. There is no other policy justification for it, and I don't think it is being done out of love for the people of Iraq.

Thanks for your regular comments, Wally. It's good to have someone providing competing viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I've been very critical about both president's decision to send national troops to Irak, regarding it as only an attempt to brownnose Washington. Even so, I feel rather proud of our troops stationed in Irak, and to what I perceive as nothing more than a feeling of mutual identification between Salvadoran troops and the people of Irak, thanks to our country's rather recent civil war experience and the current state Irakis live on. To me it's extremely analogous, point for which I condemn the Pentagon's consideration of a "Salvadoran Option" to release on Irak. Seeing how the situation was for us, I just hope Irak doesn't endure their current situation for as long as my country did.