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Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Case for Augusto Pinochet

Our mutual friend Snowrunner, I just discovered while Googling myself, has a blog that seemingly exists for the sole purpose of attacking the Western Standard (his only Blogroll listings are this place and Google News). His latest issue with me involves my comments, several days ago, in defense of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet (PBUH). Actually, “defense” is far too mild a description – I believe that General Pinochet was a great man who, through his own great moral courage, saved his country from communism and stopped our enemies from creating a new Cuba along the outer reaches of the Americas.

First, we have to come to a moral realization, one that far too many (including many here) are reluctant to arrive it. We have to accept that, in the words of Tom Kratman, that sometimes it is necessary to do bad things to prevent terrible things. I, indeed, would go a step beyond that and argue that a willingness to do bad things, things which many people would reflexively, instinctively, and un-intellectually condemn, in order to prevent terrible ones is a mark of supreme virtue and confidence.


It is well enough to say that, “I believe that we should never sanction dictatorship” or that we should have no trade with evil but such principles are foolish and self-defeating in the real world. Indeed, as I argued in my original argue on this subject, it is a Catoist moral position – placing one’s own sense of moral self-satisfaction (“at least I have done no wrong”) before the requirements to survival. Indeed, it is an extremely selfish and immoral to argue that the cleanliness of one’s own conscience ought to be valued more than tangible things such as lives and property.


Now, back to Pinochet. Those who denounce him, a group I presume to include Snowrunner, appear to be totally ignorant of the situation in Chile at the time of the military coup on September 11, 1973. Salvador Allende was not some mild-mannered social democrat. The choice was not between popular socialism and a military regime – the choices on offer were full-blown communism, civil war, or military rule.

Allende was elected with roughly a third of the vote. He was installed as President based upon his immediately-broken promise to respect the rule of law. His regime simply ignored the decrees of the courts. It nationalized property contrary to law. It was arming party militias. These are not wild charges – these were passed by an overwhelming majority of the House of Deputies in the days before the coup.

Of course the Chilean armed forces were right to step in and overthrow the government. The Allende government was operating contrary to law and preparing to launch a civil war and turn Chile into a Soviet satellite state.


Yes, they killed people. It was necessary. If you know of another way to overthrow a government by military force and then, afterwards, to retain control of the country, I would be very interested in hearing it.

Of course ethics are situational. Only someone with a stupid degree of inflexibility would categorically oppose such a position. Things that are wrong under some conditions may not be wrong under others. Of course it’s wrong to randomly walk up to some man on the street and murder him in cold blood. But it certainly would not be wrong to shoot the same man if he was charging at you with a knife.


Again, I ask – Snowrunner and the others – what is the alternative? How do you propose that the Chilean military ought to have responded to a government that was knowingly operating illegally, that was assembling an armed force to launch a civil war, and whose aim t was to transform the nation, by force, into a communist state like Cuba? So far as I know, Snowrunner isn’t a communist so he surely cannot wish that their endeavour had prospered. So what would he have?

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on July 12, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink

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Comments

Disgusting. Pinochet was the Trudeau of Chile. He was a blight on that country's development. Allende may have been doing bad things, but that doesn't forgive Pinochet's coup or his subsequent dictatorship.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-12 8:05:49 PM


Pinochet was a small fry dictator compared to the socialists who killed many more, left leaning 'journalists' simply excuse socialists who kill.

Posted by: philanthropist | 2008-07-12 8:16:34 PM


First of all, Zebulon, Pinochet saved Chile while Trudeau destroyed Canada.

Beyond that, as I asked - what alternative do you propose would have been better that would have been effective?

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-07-12 8:22:23 PM


Odd, isn't it, how so few on the left want to remember that Allende had taken to ruling by decree and that both the Legislature and the Supreme Court of Chile _demanded_ that the Army overthrow him?

Posted by: Tom Kratman | 2008-07-12 8:41:46 PM


Pinochet did not save Chile. He held its democracy hostage for 17 years. It is possible that Allende could have been deposed by other means. Heck, why didn't Pinochet restore democracy immediately after the coup? Then his reputation could have been saved.

The very mention of the name Trudeau makes my blood boil.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-12 8:48:34 PM


It's not at all, Tom - all of the left's attempts to rely on history rely upon both deliberately selective awareness and a deliberate ignorance of anything that didn't occur in the last forty years or so.

Indeed, when was the last time that you heard any liberal invoke anything from before, oh, the 20th Century? Though, usually, they don't reach back much further than the 1960's.

Now, Zebulon - why didn't he restore democracy immediately? How could he have, in that situation? And again, what other means do you propose that he might have been deposed by?

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-07-12 9:02:07 PM


Adam,
I understand and agree with your point though, of course, I wish the world didn't work that way.

Snowy is the type to attack the US in one thread and defend the USSR in another. His sense of justice was warped beyond repair long ago.

I now expect him to show up claiming I think the US is beyond reproach for the above comment. Watch and learn.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-07-12 9:29:12 PM


As if defending Pinochet wasn't enough, you use "PBUH" after his name. He was a ruthless military dictator who ruled his country despotically, sending thousands to their deaths. While he may have deposed a Communist regime that may have been as brutal or worse, it does not mitigate the appalling nature of the Pinochet years. It was a black mark on Chile and on the Cold War.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-12 9:47:54 PM


Sorry, Zeb, but if the Allende regime had been the best of all communist regimes in history it's still most unlikely they'd have killed less than the 400 killed after the fighting was over in Chile. One every two weeks for the duration of Pinochet's rule? Has there been a communist regime, _ever_, with such comparatively clean hands? Doubt it.

Moreover, a communist regime is such a threat, such a bloody-handed, malicious, murderous, maniacal threat, that there is _nothing_ which may not legitimately be done to keep them from power or boot them from power should they attain it.

That Pinochet saved Chile from this is all the mitigation his memory needs.

Adam, for anyone but the Prophet (PBUH) it's better to say "UHBP." ;)

Posted by: Tom Kratman | 2008-07-12 10:18:19 PM


It is interesting to note that according to a Chilean expat (a former student of mine) Pinochet was reluctant to lead the army against Allende and only took action after being shamed by a significant portion of the population.

Posted by: DML | 2008-07-12 10:23:24 PM


DML:

The Chilean Army had a fairly long history of a) not losing wars (they appear to be a pretty decent force, actually) and b) keeping its nose out of politics. I'm not sure anyone can vouch for Pinochet's mental state at the time, but he has to have considered the internal politics of the Chilean Army before deciding to acquiesce in the demands of the legislature and supreme court to get Allende out of office.

Posted by: Tom Kratman | 2008-07-12 10:28:22 PM


Naomi Wolf, like all liberals, would have us believe that fascism is a product of the Right, but it belongs more to the Left. Nazi Germany was not a right-wing regime, contrary to liberal claims.

I see there remains a lot of confusion about what fascism is and what defines fascist elements. To understand this Jonah Goldberg's book, "Liberal Fascism" would be a good start.

Fascism exists when collective rights supersedes individual rights, where the state interferes and intervenes in everything from business to people's private lives. It is state worship, which translates into bigger and bigger government and bureaucracy or the nanny state. So who are the ones pushing for this if not the liberals/lefties?

Posted by: Alain | 2008-07-13 2:56:43 PM


If there is any society tettering on the brink of fascism, it is Ontario.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-13 3:32:03 PM


Reagan (bless 'im) understood the difference between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, and pragmatically chose to defend the best of the worst. this was thought to be the only way to promote and perhaps advance better social and political systems in South America.

Reagan held his nose.

he knew Pinochet was a murderer and a gallon of bilge.

"i believe that General Pinochet was a great man...". really? he did what he could with what he had, huh? didn't go overboard to retain power, eh? no late night knocks on the doors of civilians? no crushing of speech and dissent? no torture?

i grudgingly agree: better him than someone worse. but qualifiers are in order, don't you think? to be honest and pragmatic in defence of a scrubbed down thug in a room full of dirty thugs is one thing, but... "a great man..."?

moral equivalence is usually a glib tactic of the left. kinda sad to see it here.

Posted by: shel | 2008-07-13 4:05:15 PM


If there is any society tettering on the brink of fascism, it is Ontario.
Posted by: Zebulon Punk | 13-Jul-08 3:32:03 PM

And if there's anybody tettering on the edge of insanity it's you.

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-07-13 5:34:27 PM


Pinochet may have been a brutal man, but that is what it takes to rid a country of the vermin of the Left.

Canada desperately need a man like Pinochet right now.

Posted by: John V | 2008-07-13 5:51:04 PM


Canada already had its Pinochet - Trudeau. No. Never again.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-13 6:45:15 PM


If our biggest complaint against Trudeau is his destruction of the Canadian economy then his comparison should be to Allende. If we consider the damage done by the Charter of Rights then the blame falls on Parliament who are too afraid to tackle contentious issues. They prefer to let the Supreme Court make the decisions Parliament is too cowardly to make.

Posted by: DML | 2008-07-13 6:51:58 PM


Trudeau did more than destroy the economy. He repeatedly violated basic human rights, with his 1970 invasion of Quebec to go after some "terrorists" and the unpardonable attack on Alberta in 1980. His actions made a mockery of his later support for a charter of rights. He was, IMO, the worst prime minister Canada ever had, or ever could have.

Allende could have been deposed by other means, so his potential remains an open question. I can't imagine it would have been any worse than what Pinochet brought.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-13 7:15:45 PM


while Reagen was endorsing Pintoshit in S.A., in the other direction a low-level commie hum was commencing

Posted by: reg dunlop | 2008-07-13 7:22:01 PM


I lived and worked in Chile under Pinochet, and can tell you that his government was subjected to a constant stream of abuse by all the "progressive" elements, worldwide. Pinochet established the "rules" that have allowed Chile to become the most successful country in Latin America that it is today. Allende was a dupe of Communist forces, including Cuban "assistants" that came close to taking over the important sectors of the government and economy. Moreover, he knew the coupe was coming, and planned to commit suicide if (when) it occurred. I know this because he told my business partner exactly that a week before September 11, 1973.

Posted by: Ken Price | 2008-07-13 8:35:00 PM


What other means, Zeb? You think he was forming a Marxist militia because he absolutely intended to run for re-election in open, free election just like every other Marxist dictator always has? Come on, now, give us those other, safe and certain means.

Posted by: Tom Kratman | 2008-07-13 8:40:14 PM


All I can say is that this post led me to lead up on Pinochet and his regime. Still not sure what to think, but here's a question: does Pinochet's Chile give the lie to the oft-mentioned libertarian dictum that political and economic freedom must always (and will always) go together?

Or can we have a fascist capitalism after all?

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-13 8:41:53 PM


Sorry, I meant to say: the post led me to read up on Pinochet. Interesting fellow, too.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-07-13 8:43:00 PM


Terrence~

China is an example of a communist capitalism. commies and fascists are fraternal twins of mommy socialism, so anything is possible, i guess!

question is: can it be sustained? hell no. why? with economic freedom comes self interest, the bane of socialism. with self interest comes a desire for self determination.

the middle class in China may be comfortable and quiet in their relative affluence because of a certain amount of allotted economic freedom, but when a downturn comes (it always does), will the "bourgeois proles" willingly accept a state mandated, arbitrary rolling back of the little economic freedom they're used to?

money talks.

transpose this scenario to any socialist regime, and expect turmoil, i think.

Posted by: shel | 2008-07-13 9:15:48 PM


I won't say Allende was a saint. It's clear that he made some very controversial moves which antagonized the Chilean establishment, such as ignoring the courts, suppressing free speech, etc.

However, we can only speculate on what Allende would have done had he stayed in power. For all we know, his planned plebiscite would have been rejected, leading to his democratic removal from office. Yes he was up to no good, but the ends - Pinochet's coup - were scarcely justified.

If only Pinochet had not elected himself to be the Franco-esque savior of his country. Had he restored civilian democratic rule right after the coup, things may have been better. But alas he did not, and he ruled for 17 brutal years.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-07-13 9:25:00 PM


"Indeed, it is an extremely selfish and immoral to argue that the cleanliness of one’s own conscience ought to be valued more than tangible things such as lives and property".

this little gem caught me off guard. how did i miss it the first time?

i'll translate this quote with a question...

are you telling me that i must sometimes put the interests of the collective above the commandments of my God or conscience?

outrageous! this has in it more than a whiff of socialism.

Posted by: shel | 2008-07-13 9:37:51 PM


Our mutual friend Snowrunner, I just discovered while Googling myself, has a blog that seemingly exists for the sole purpose of attacking the Western Standard (his only Blogroll listings are this place and Google News).

--------------------

Not the Western Standard, just stupidity in the Western Standard. But nice of you to notice, it's only been around for close to two years.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-07-13 10:46:37 PM


Snowy is the type to attack the US in one thread and defend the USSR in another. His sense of justice was warped beyond repair long ago.

I now expect him to show up claiming I think the US is beyond reproach for the above comment. Watch and learn.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 12-Jul-08 9:29:12 PM

Actually I am asking you where I did what you said, read: Attack the US and defend the USSR.

And please, provide some context.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-07-13 10:48:01 PM


"His latest issue with me involves my comments, several days ago, in defense of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet (PBUH)."

Actually my issue is not with your opinion, anybody who is reading your posts was pretty much in clear understanding that you have a hard on for dictators and military power. My question was to the Western Standard if they consider this kind of totalitarian bend as their own messages as they have blessed you with writing priviliges.

P.M.'s answers was pretty clear on this, with Kalim trying to "clarify" a few things later, which didn't really do anything to dispel my original point. Mainly being: The Western Standard is not (only) about promotiong Conservatism (that would be the classic, not the neo kind) or LIberitarianism, but rather a mouth piece for Neo-Con and totalitarian ideology.

The fact that they still let you publish here only confirms this and as such it casts the whole publication in a new light.

As you started writing for this publication after Ezra had sold it, I'd be curios to know if the Western Standard has become under new ownership what he envisioned it to be.

Maybe I should send him an email.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-07-13 10:55:29 PM


The idea that this place is a "mouthpiece for neo-con ideology" is fairly absurd, suggesting that you only read what I write. Most of the people writing here are libertarians, and decidedly not of the same reactionary cast as me.

And, indeed, you miss the point entirely. The goal - and what Pinochet did - was to prevent the advent of totalitarianism. Remember - communism killed tens of millions (more than a hundred, depending on how you add up the numbers) of people. Its not in dispute that, had it taken power in Chile, it would have killed many times those Pinochet killed.

Is it worth killing some people, perhaps even people who don't deserve it on an individual level, to prevent an imminent and worse evil? I believe that the lessons of history say, "yes", you disagree. But that's hardly totalitarian, unless you subscribe to the ideology that anyone who says anything that upsets a liberal is a fascist.

Life is about making tough moral choices. I think that Augusto Pinochet ought to stand as an example of those who, when faced with those choices, didn't shrink from their duty and find a reason to be somewhere else.

If the people behind the July 20th plot had managed to kill Hitler, they'd doubtlessly have had to kill tens of thousands of Nazis in the aftermath of the coup. Would they be evil or totalitarian? Would you attack them, or would you justly celebrate them as the heroes that they were and would have been?

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-07-13 11:04:54 PM


Why is it no one has mentioned Milt F and the Chicago School of Economics in this discussion? The answer is that none of the posters (at least in as much as they've shared thus far) is REALLY aware of what happened in Chile, who was behind it and why.

Silly asses. I can't believe I wasted my time reading all your ignorant comments and the even bigger waste of screen space at the top. Incredible.

[All right: I'll share something so my brief presence here is not 100% negative. The best thing Chile did during that era is NOT privatize the copper mine. Now go read your political history and Chicago School project reports.]

Posted by: Rainrunner | 2008-07-13 11:20:28 PM


The idea that this place is a "mouthpiece for neo-con ideology" is fairly absurd, suggesting that you only read what I write. Most of the people writing here are libertarians, and decidedly not of the same reactionary cast as me.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 13-Jul-08 11:04:54 PM

Not them, the publication. That's something you don't seem to be able to seperate out.

-----------------

And, indeed, you miss the point entirely. The goal - and what Pinochet did - was to prevent the advent of totalitarianism. Remember - communism killed tens of millions (more than a hundred, depending on how you add up the numbers) of people. Its not in dispute that, had it taken power in Chile, it would have killed many times those Pinochet killed.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 13-Jul-08 11:04:54 PM

Hahaha. Okay, first of all. YOU still miss my point. I never argued with you about Pinochets "Merits". I merely pointed out what he did and then questioned if the Western Standard considered this conservative and liberitarian values.

You're so stuck up on defending your love for that man that you have not only missed this point once, but twice and proudly still seem to be charging in the same direction trying to defend your opinion of the man.

Hey, fine, that's your opinion, but if you want to attack me, attack me on what I have written, not on what you THINK I wrote about.

-----------------

Is it worth killing some people, perhaps even people who don't deserve it on an individual level, to prevent an imminent and worse evil? I believe that the lessons of history say, "yes", you disagree. But that's hardly totalitarian, unless you subscribe to the ideology that anyone who says anything that upsets a liberal is a fascist.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 13-Jul-08 11:04:54 PM


Hillarious. Pinochet established a totaltiarian regime to safe the Chilenians from a totalitarian Regime. This really only makes sense for someone blinded by ideology that despises anything that doesn't fit in said ideology.

------------------------

Life is about making tough moral choices. I think that Augusto Pinochet ought to stand as an example of those who, when faced with those choices, didn't shrink from their duty and find a reason to be somewhere else.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 13-Jul-08 11:04:54 PM

So what? Thousands dead in the name of Pinochet is okay, but oh behave if someone with a different political leaning does the same thing?

If you ever had ANY kind of moral highground in your articles you just pissed it down the drain.

-------------------------

If the people behind the July 20th plot had managed to kill Hitler, they'd doubtlessly have had to kill tens of thousands of Nazis in the aftermath of the coup. Would they be evil or totalitarian? Would you attack them, or would you justly celebrate them as the heroes that they were and would have been?

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 13-Jul-08 11:04:54 PM

Wow. Adam has the ability to see alternate time lines. He knows exactly how things would have played out if things would have been different.

Hey Adam, can you give me the lottery numbers for next week? With your talent you should be swimming in money.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-07-13 11:28:11 PM


A few thousand dead in two decades, most of them in fighting during the immediate aftermath of a coup, doesn't remotely qualify as "totalitarian" Snowrunner, a fact you well know.

Is it your opinion that a few thousand dead communists is worse than the tens or hundreds of thousands that would have died under a Communist regime, just as did in Cuba? After all, that was the alternative on off in 1973.

I have the common sense to generate some basic counterfactuals. If the July 20 plotters had managed to kill Hitler, they'd have had to kill other people to take control of the German Government. Do you agree or disagree with that point?

Elementary common sense says that they would have had to - and would have done so.

Would their doing so, and saving millions of lives in the process, have made them "totalitarian"?

Life is about choices - and I believe that the Pinochet example is a very, very important one is this regard. I believe that the General should be celebrated as a man of courage - someone who had the foresight to save his country and many of his countrymen from a terrible fate.

If only there had been more like him the last century. Oh, for a Russian General who might have murdered the Bolsheviks or a German one willing to kill Nazis or a Chinese one who could have successfully killed Mao.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-07-13 11:59:27 PM


"Is it your opinion that a few thousand dead communists is worse than the tens or hundreds of thousands that would have died under a Communist regime, just as did in Cuba? After all, that was the alternative on off in 1973."

See, here's the problem with you Adam. You seem to think you know how Chile would have played out if your hero wouldn't have come in and did what was "necessary".

I do not subscribe to "the end justify the means". There are situation where there is no other choice, but everything I have seen about Chile before Pinochet does not convince me that this was the only option left (or is that right?).

------------

"I have the common sense to generate some basic counterfactuals. If the July 20 plotters had managed to kill Hitler, they'd have had to kill other people to take control of the German Government. Do you agree or disagree with that point?"

The fact alone that you had to go down the road that quickly to reach Goodwin's law is pretty telling.

But let's try this anyway:

Germany was in a war. The people who planned the coup realized that the war was to be lost and that their leader was a maniac who would rather take the whole country down with him than surrender. So they decided to overthrow the Government. And yes, they did plan to arrest and detain people in key position of the Government, but they had not planned to mass exterminate anybody to reach their goal. Their goal was (in a time of war) to remove the Government that had brought Germany to the brink of utter destruction and decided they needed to prevent this, hence the attempted coup.

To think that this in any way shape or form compares to what Pinochet did cheapens what they were doing and is an insult to anybody who died under his rule.

And no Adam, I do not expect you to see it that way. For you any sign of strength against people you don't agree with you automatically applaud. If I wouldn't know better, I'd say you are an utterly insecure little boy that wants to have some power.

Read "The Wave" some time to get an idea what I mean.

----------------------

"If only there had been more like him the last century. Oh, for a Russian General who might have murdered the Bolsheviks or a German one willing to kill Nazis or a Chinese one who could have successfully killed Mao."

There you go again with Nazi Germany. You ARE aware that Hitler was EXACLTY singing the same tone as Pinochet, that he was "saving the country" that he was doing his best to "bring back the glory" etc. etc.

That you don't see that doesn't surprise me, really, you have proven over the last year over and over that your idea is neither (classic) Conservatism nor is it Liberitarian. You use these terms to hide yourself behind them but that's as far as you come to those two ideals.

So, Western Standard (Matthew), my question still stands. Is the Western Standard going to continue to advocat Adam's point of view and promoting it? Or are you going to stay true to your self declared principles?

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2008-07-14 12:18:16 PM



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