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December 11, 2006

As Regards The Passing of a Notorious South American

I am filled with delight at the thought of Augusto Pinochet having his eternally-regenerating testicles forever gnawed upon by Satan's legions of ravenous, ball-chomping Hell Hounds. And that's pretty much all I have to say about that. Vaya con diablos, Pinochet.

Posted by john at December 11, 2006 10:37 AM

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Steve Buchheit, still twittering about the tittering | December 11, 2006 10:49 AM

Ding, dong, the SonofaBitch is dead!

Steve Buchheit | December 11, 2006 10:52 AM

Say, I wonder if the Bush administration is re-learning the lessons of this (Pinochet, the Butcher of Santiago, and his rise to power with the US backing because we didn't like the duly elected socialist leaders)? Nah. At least this time we didn't outsource the torturing and we off-ed the Saddam supporters ourselves.

Neofly | December 11, 2006 10:57 AM

As a chilean, yesterday was a day most of us never thought would ever come.

Sadly, this means that he has gone where justice cannot ever reach him.

Eddie | December 11, 2006 11:09 AM

If there is such a thing as karma this guy's coming back as a slime mold.

For several cycles.

Katie | December 11, 2006 11:35 AM

¡Viva Scalzi!

Rhiannon_S | December 11, 2006 11:40 AM

If only Thatcher would go as well, that would be my Christmas wish.

Tripp | December 11, 2006 11:43 AM

Neofly,

Sadly, this means that he has gone where justice cannot ever reach him.

Not necessarily . . .

Steve Buchheit | December 11, 2006 11:57 AM

Tripp, true enough. Besides getting all metaphysical, there is the case of one Pope that was exhumed, excommunicated, and then burned. And Mussolini's body had a more interesting career dead than it did alive.

I say there's a light pole missing a corpse right now.

Christian | December 11, 2006 12:01 PM

I do feel bad for Geppetto though, it's always hard to lose a son.

PixelFish | December 11, 2006 12:22 PM

This reminds me to ask you, Scalzi, if the character in OMW (I forget her full name right now, but she was the daughter of a South American ruling class family, whose family was assassinated) --if that character's situation was based slightly on the events in 73 in Chile? Or if you had any particular situation in mind when you wrote that character?

John Scalzi | December 11, 2006 12:32 PM

I didn't have any particular situation in mind, no, but certainly the incident is evocative of Chile '73. I wanted it to seem realistic.

Adam Rakunas | December 11, 2006 01:15 PM

Damn.

And I was looking forward to that son of a bitch's trial.

One thing I wonder about: since his economic plan whipped up by economists who'd gone to the University of Chicago, was this the kind of thing that people mentioned on the campus tours?

John Scalzi | December 11, 2006 01:18 PM

On campus tours? Not so much. It was a not-infrequent subject of discussion once we were there, of course.

Chang, who gets nothing done without BRAINZ | December 11, 2006 03:11 PM

His death without the trial is a shame. That he got to power through US intervention is even worse. Justice has not been served, though one hopes karma will render a damning sentence. SLime mold indeed...

Djscman | December 11, 2006 06:11 PM

Huh, he finally passed away. I guess he was too sick to stand trial back in '98!

PixelFish | December 11, 2006 09:55 PM

http://www.slate.com/id/2155242/?nav=tap3 Slate has a nice, blunt editorial on Pinochet.

Buck | December 11, 2006 11:18 PM

Back in '92, Macarthur "genius" award winner Tina Rosenberg wrote "Sons of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America."

Her chapter on how a class of Chlieans essentially allowed themselves to be bought off by Pinochet's reforms is very interesting.

I spent 1982 in Paraguay as an exchange student. The dictator, Stroessner, had been in power since 1954, and was only deposed in the late '80s. Unfortunately, he was never put on trial, either.

Corina | December 12, 2006 05:30 AM

"Vaya con diablos"?

More than one devil in your religious world view? Singular (as in Go with the devil) would be diablo.

Points for using spanish though. And potential points for having a unique religious worlview.

CJ-in-Weld | December 12, 2006 10:29 AM

Here's a couple views of Pinochet that mix in a little balance, which I'm sure everyone wants:

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/view443.html#Pinochet

and

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/11/AR2006121101166.html

He was a vicious dictator. He's also about the only dictator I've heard of who stepped down. I guess the lesson dicators will learn from the Pinochet experience is not to step down....

John Scalzi | December 12, 2006 10:54 AM

Shorter Jerry Pournelle:

"Sure, he had 3,000 people murdered, but at least he wasn't a Communist."

Jerry Pournelle is a bit of an ass on this particular subject, I'd say.

CJ-in-Weld | December 12, 2006 11:24 AM

Pournelle sometimes seems to aspire to a Piper-style in-your-face-itude, which is probably not a good idea. But he has a point - wouldn't a second soviet colony in the Western Hemisphere—with a second source of pro-Communist, pro-Soviet military adventurers—have been a bigger disaster as Pinochet's regime? Pinochet's record is certainly better than Castro's, both in terms of economics and human rights, two things that shouldn't be separated anyway. I think it's possible to recognize that, and still support holding him responsible for his crimes if he hadn't died. I just sometimes get dismayed at the sheer volume of Castro apologists, and I have to remember that the proper lesson is not to treat the Pinochets more lightly, but the Castros more harshly.

Steve Buchheit - not looking in John's direction | December 12, 2006 11:56 AM

Sure he was a crook, and a murderer, but he had a lovely singing voice.

Eddie | December 12, 2006 12:22 PM

I won't cry when they bury Fidel either,but to say that U.S. support for guys like Pinochet had something to do with saving the world from Communism is itself a statement of apology.

The list of U.S. foreign policy mistakes made in the name of preventing the "domino effect" is too long for me to list.We are still paying for those mistakes.

John Scalzi | December 12, 2006 12:26 PM

CJ-in-Weld:

"But he has a point - wouldn't a second soviet colony in the Western Hemisphere—with a second source of pro-Communist, pro-Soviet military adventurers—have been a bigger disaster as Pinochet's regime?"

Well, we don't know, and more the point, we don't know if such would have happened. In fact, this isn't even the right question. It's not self-evident whether there would be a second Soviet colony in Chile without Pinochet's blatantly unconstitutional intervention, to begin, since it's not as if Allende's market reforms were wildly popular at the time he was overthrown, either with the people or with the other politicians (or with the courts, for that matter). Along with the speculations of a second American Soviet, one must also and as logically entertain the notion of a country where deeply unpopular Soviet-like programs were eventually swept away by the established democratic and Constitutional processes.

Second, Pournelle's point of view works on the assumption that thwarting the potential for Communism in Chile was worth destroying the democratic self-determination of a nation-state. I'm not in the least an apologist for Allende's economic program or his politics -- I'm a happy capitalist myself -- but that doesn't mean that I'm in the least bit sanguine about a military strongman dumping a load on a democratic country's constitution and then killing and torturing thousands of its citizen just because he shares a socio-economic viewpoint I find less objectionable. I'm not an expert on Chilean politics of the 1970s, but I think it's worth asking whether things had truly gotten so bad that it required tearing up Chile's constitution and murdering people of the wrong politics. Suffice to say I have my doubts.

"I have to remember that the proper lesson is not to treat the Pinochets more lightly, but the Castros more harshly."

This is of course entirely reasonable. Pournelle for his part makes the error of lightly waving aside Pinochet's crimes against his own nation by noting that strongmen on the left have done worse. This is like saying that we shouldn't worry so much about a guy who stabbed someone to death because Jeffry Dahmer was a gay cannibal serial killer, and he did much worse. Stabbing someone to death is bad enough. In Pinochet's case, he stabbed Chilean democracy to death, which, as a crime, serves well enough for condemnation.

Todd Stull | December 12, 2006 12:48 PM

Y'all forced me to start researching the whole Pinochet issue since I didn't know much about it. Can you believe that they didn't cover this stuff when I was in high school in the 90s? Shocking.

I'm left with this thought - how many times are we going to let shit for brains politicians in America support the policy of replacing governments we don't like?

Seems like the American government has a nasty habit of invading sovereign countries to replace governments, or of funneling money and weapons to people who will. We have got to vote out assholes who support this.

Eddie | December 12, 2006 01:02 PM

I'm left with this thought - how many times are we going to let shit for brains politicians in America support the policy of replacing governments we don't like?

Todd:

Viet Nam,Congo,Nicaragua,Iraq. All those in my lifetime. I'm still counting. Those are the most blatant examples I can think of.

Can anybody add to this list?

Steve Buchheit - not looking in John's direction | December 12, 2006 01:05 PM

Are we limiting the list to only those regimes we actively worked to toppel, or those that over threw a government and then we supported? I just want to be clear on the criteria. And are attempted coups also counted?

Eddie | December 12, 2006 01:07 PM

Just the ones we toppled with our meddling or attempted to topple.Coverts included.

Eddie | December 12, 2006 01:10 PM

I left out Afghanistan.I think that one was justified at least to some degree.

amh | December 13, 2006 12:47 AM

CJ-in-Weld:

"Pinochet's record is certainly better than Castro's, both in terms of economics and human rights, two things that shouldn't be separated anyway."

How much of the difference in their economic records has to do with the US' policies towards the two bastards?

Ex-Fed | December 13, 2006 12:58 AM

Well, thank God that the SovUn has collapsed and that our entire foreign policy is no longer guided by containment and rabid commuphobia.

Now, we'll never again have to worry about our foreign policy being driven by a single idea or enemy that infects and drives domestic politics, encourages us to prop up dictators, prompts questionable invasions and incursions, and generally makes us ignore what our principles are supposed to be.

Max | December 13, 2006 12:58 PM

Amen.

CJ-in-Weld | December 13, 2006 10:49 PM

amh, re: "How much of the difference in their economic records has to do with the US' policies towards the two bastards?"

There's probably a way to calculate the answer, but it would be beyond me. My guess is, the answer is "some, but not all."

Command economies just don't thrive. An embargo by the closest natural trade partner would make a command economy thrive even less, I'm sure. But I can't think of a command economy that worked very well even outside a total U.S. trade embargo.

I guess I'll risk this much dogmatism: all else being equal, a freer market outperforms a less-free market. By "free," I don't mean "unregulated." Most "free" economies depend on a legal structure and social trust in contract enforcement, corporate infrastructure, truth-in-advertising, and the like. But places where people are able to earn and spend their own money largely as they see fit are richer overall than places where the opposite is true.

Steve Buchheit | December 14, 2006 08:15 AM

Edie, "Afghanistan." So which time should we count, or are we counting that one twice? Another is our quesitonable actions against the freely elected Hamas and Hezbulla representatives. Let us see, Iran with installing the Shah. The installation and support of the Al-Saud family. Oh, this is a fun game.

Ex-Fed. Yeah, we wouldn't to have *that* happen again. Oh, wait...

Eddie | December 14, 2006 09:46 AM

I was referring to out current Afghanistan foray as being "possibly justifiable". Not "Charlie's War".

Shall we say "Afghanistan Part Deux"

I asked the question above not rhetorically or making myself out to be some pedantic lecturer,but because I am myself ignorant.(Like a lot of Americans I think).

Did we in fact "install" the Shah of Iran or the Saudi royals? I know we supported them to get at the oil.

Our government has an oblgation to further our national interests abroad.However,as citizens we have an obligation to be aware of what is going on in the name of "making the world safe for democracy".

Seems like that is frequently a synonym for"making the world safe for cororate profits".

Better shut up. If I keep ranting John won't let me post here anymore.

Steve Buchheit | December 14, 2006 10:22 AM

Edie, from what I remember, in WWII the Russians and British made a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, deposing the Shah's (the last Shah of Iran, their names escape me at the moment) father who was deemed "aligned" with the Axis. This was the first action to bring th eshah to power. Then in the 50's, Iran's PM moved to nationalize the oil production in Iran. Truman was unwilling to make a move, but when Eisenhower took office the proposal by the Brits (Iranian oil was processed mostly by the British) convinced him (along with his Sec. State and CIA Director) to move against the Iranian PM who had then assumed emergency powers. This restored more power to the monarchy and gave the pro-western Shah greater powers. The aid we gave also added to Eisenhower's famous speach about "being warry of the Military Industrial Complex" and helped fuel the Islamic Revolution which changed Iran to a "all but in name" theocracy in 79.

Steve Buchheit | December 14, 2006 12:03 PM

And we can probably add Somalia to that list soon. Seems like the "Christian" government in Ethiopia is looking to get a little more elbow room, with our help. But keep it under your hat. Shh.

Todd Stull | December 14, 2006 01:15 PM

Can we come up with a definition of what it means for our federal government to further our national interests? I didn't major in history or polisci - I thought biology and psychology was a little more interesting - so my grasp of foreign affairs is truncated.

Is it in our national interest to keep steady supplies of oil to America? Is it in our interest to support popular governments, even if they are antagonistic to steady supplies of oil? What if the popular governments are only popular because the populace does not have access to information and alternative ways of interpreting the world?

Eddie | December 14, 2006 02:00 PM

Good questions.I'm not sure what the answers are.

I too was a biology major.What was I thinking?

Wanna talk about bloodborne pathogens or Legionella in your water lines?

Steve Buchheit | December 14, 2006 02:41 PM

I think the words would be "Nation Building" or "Imperialism" depending on which side of the giver/receiver relationship you're on.

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