Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter argues in a Jan. 25 piece for al-Jazeera that the so-called "Salvador Option" for Iraq has already been used. He writes that in the months after Paul Bremer took over the Coalition Provisional Authority in June 2003, "the streets of Baghdad crawled with scores of assassination squads." Dozens of Baathist leaders were rubbed out by the Iran-backed Badr militia, with the collaboration of the CIA and Pentagon Special Operations. The Badr militia was later reined in by Bremer as an unreliable proxy, but this unlikely alliance between radical Shi’ites and US military forces could be rebuilt.
Drawing an analogy to the French resistance against the Nazis, Ritter writes:
"History will eventually depict as legitimate the efforts of the Iraqi resistance to destabilise and defeat the American occupation forces and their imposed Iraqi collaborationist government.
And history will condemn the immorality of the American occupation, which has debased the values and ideals of the American people by legitimising torture, rape and murder as a means of furthering an illegal war of aggression."
But Ritter also writes that the Salvador option could be "the impetus for all-out civil war," given how the Shi’ites and Kurds are seen as pawns of the US by the Sunni insurgents. This admitted potential for ethnic war squares poorly with Ritter’s portrayal of an heroic resistance movement. His analysis of how any Salvador option would only deepen the disaster, however, seems entirely convincing.