Washington — Robert White, the former US ambassador to El Salvador, says the embattled Central American nation's main need at this point is for economic assistance and not military aid. Mr. White, who was replaced shortly after the Reagan administration took office, thus appear to place himself at odds with the new administration, which is considering military as well as economic aid options for El Salvador, Monitor correspondent Dan Southerland writes.
In congressional testimony Feb. 25, White also said that sending US military advisers to El Salvador would put that country into the position of being a "vassal state" of the United States. He said the Salvadoran government had all the American military equipment it needed for the moment. This was the view of El Salvador's President Jose Napoleon Duarte, he said, but added that the Salvadoran military might put pressure on Mr. Duarte to accept more military aid. The danger, he said, was that this would divert attention from the real problem, which, as he sees it, is political reconciliation.
The former ambassador said that after the failure of their major military offensive last month, the only way the leftist insurgents could gain strength would be for the Salvadoran government to move to the right and against reform, thus alienating more people. Because of a long history of injustice and repression, he said, an insurgency would exist, with or without Cuban aid. More assassinations of civilians had been carried out by the gove rnment's security forces than by any others, he said.