From an article in Report on the Americas, April/May 1986, by Sara Miles:
Much of the U.S. public, and many Central Americans, maintain faith in genuine negotiations and political solutions to conflict. For the Reagan administration, however, negotiations are not an alternative to the war: they are simply another front in it. "The objective of negotiations is to protect our national security and our national interests," explains Lt. Gen. Gordon Sumner:
"We are not going to negotiate away any of our own interests in this area or those of our friends in Central America. We are not going to negotiate away political power in El Salvador. We are not going to accept the brutal communist regime in Nicaragua."
Calls for "talks not troops" fail to come to grips with the total, unconventional war now being fought in Central America. Instead, they lead to a false dichotomy between invasion and negotiations, at a time when Washington's real war has escalated in a manner designed precisely to avoid both talks and troops, both "giving in" and "going in."
The new doctrine of war in the Third World challenges conventional opposition responses as well as conventional military wisdom. To frame the issues of war and peace as a contest between talks and troops can permit the United States to present its true strategy of low-intensity conflict as a moderate alternative, and allow the real war to be sold to the American public as a "third option," a compromise between the extremes of invasion or surrender.