Publius Pundit reports on the recent legal troubles of Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean Junta leader who ascended to power via a coup cumulating in the assassination or suicide of his President, Salvadore Allende with some assistance from the US CIA. Pinochet ruled about 16 years thereafter stabilizing, privatizing and generally fixing the economy of Chile while killing a bit over 3,000 members of the opposition (this included euro-leftists who went to Chile to assist in the Allende revolution). He held elections and when he lost he stepped down in 1990.
Pinochet is a source of intense hatred for the left, but despite getting up the hackles of idiotic Che' fans, Pinochets rule was undeniably a dark time, especially in the '70s.
Still, and it sickens me to say it, there is something about the indignation of the left towards Pinochet that doesn't sit well with me.
Allende was taking his country on an express train to disaster, and the Maoist elements of his coalition were not nice. One need only look north to the Shining Path to see what sort of monsters the South American leftist insurgencies produce. When the coup happened the cultural revolution was still taking place in China and throughout the 1970s the fruits of leftist revolutions in Viet-Nam and Cambodia certainly did not reassure one about the wisdom of turning a country over to these loons.
Pinochet was ruthless in his putdown of the leftists and we quite rightly are horrified by this. On his orders something like 3000 people died in a civil war (Perspective: we should have been so lucky). He pursued those who helped the communists out of his country and killed them as far afield as Mexico.
I think that it is telling though that Pinochet is such a buggaboo for the left. His death count was in the low thousands while those aforementioned regimes and others philosophically close to his opposition approached or exceeded death counts in the millions. His privatization of Chiles social security system was astoundingly successful and, most atypically, HE STEPPED DOWN!!
This last would seem to be a behavior we would want to encourage with dictators. Certainly Idi Amin being allowed to bail saved the lives that would have been lost in a last stand. I fear that the sort of posturing this represents may make it far harder to deal with future or current tyrants.
I have no love for dictators on the left or the right, but I wonder,if Pinochets sucesses are more the issue than his crimes.
I also wonder, with the clairvoyance provided by 20/20 hindsight, if 3,000 Khmer Rouge killed would have been an atrocity....or if 1500 of those latter day Robspierres and 1500 innocent "collateral damage" would be an atrocity....if the million plus victims had not been reduced to walls of skulls?
I think it might be. If a time traveler went back to 1974 and thwarted that nightmare, the left would howl at the prospect of being thwarted and demand justice. To point out what whackjobs they were would get little traction without the skulls to point to. Ton Doc Thang, the president of Viet-Nam after the defeat of the south was responsible for orders of magnitude more deaths than this Andean asshole, yet there is nary a peep about him from those who are so eager to see this one hang.
It frequently bugs me when the Left uses the ubiquitous "....but" when condeming Saddam, the 9-11 attacks, or Palistenian terror...and yet....I find myself reaching for that very uncouth "but" in this case. Leftits killed between 85 and 130 million people from 1919-1989. Pinochet may well have kept that number from being a million or more higher......MAY have..... oy! We can't know. We can be very upset about what he did, but how do we know what he stopped?
I've been up too long.
The future is an unlit passage with many doors. Sometimes the choices are all varying degrees of bad. It is important that the less-bad doors be opened when that happens, and that one has the courage to open that door before the far less desirable door opens itself.
And pondering this is why I feel unclean today.......
update: Links work now