Friday, May 27, 1983
The public but unofficial statements of two U.S. officials bounced like lead balloons on Central America this week, even as State Department spokesmen scurried to retract them.
Gen. Wallace Nutting, who is retiring shortly from his post as chief of the U.S. Armed Forces Canal Zone Command, warned in an interview, “We should be prepared to use troops in El Salvador, because Central America is in a state of war.”
Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, of Arizona, advised President Reagan that he “had better change his policies in Central America, with an open show of military strength to combat Communists in the area.”
Nutting said he would like to see “1,000 U.S. military advisers in El Salvador.” Goldwater urged Washington to send “some warships and planes to Central America to halt arms aid to the rebels and serve as a warning.”
Both suggestions were hurriedly knocked down by the State Department, which said the U.S. has no plans to send combat troops or more advisers to El Salvador or anywhere in Central America.
The use of military force has many powerful advocates in the United States these days, although public opinion opposes any form of foreign entanglement.
Sounder heads fear Nutting and Goldwater’s suggestions might lead to even more than another Vietnam, that they might set off a U.S.-Soviet shooting war.
And the ideas themselves are even more outrageous because they ignore completely the wishes of the people of Central America, who not only have not expressed any wish for U.S. military intervention, but who get demonstrably nervous whenever the thought occurs.