This is a disgusting editorial in today's Washington Post praising Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Per the Post, Chile has seen great economic growth since Pinochet left the scene, so that makes him not so bad. Forget the fact that Pinochet killed thousands of his own people and threw their bodies into the sea simply because of their political beliefs. I mean, who hasn't? From CNN:Just in case these are just number to the editors of the Post -- to be weighed on the economic and political scales just like other numbers -- that is, in case they have forgotten that these were real human beings, let's look at just one of those thousands and his brutal fate in the days after "the other September 11," Pinochet's coup that took place on September 11, 1973.According to an official report by the civilian government that succeeded Pinochet in 1990, at least 3,200 people were killed for political reasons and another 1,197 disappeared.Chile had ten million citizens at the time that Pinochet was busy killing them. The US has 300 million citizens, that's 30 times the population of Chile at the time. To appreciate how many political prisoners Pinochet had put to death, an equivalent number in American terms would be nearly 100,000 Americans put to death for their political beliefs, and another 36,000 Americans mysteriously disappeared by the government. Is that a price you're willing to pay for economic growth?
Victor Jara was a beloved folksinger, political activist and supporter of Salvador Allende. In the soccer stadium renamed Estadio Víctor Jara in 2003, he was brutalized and killed in a manner worthy of Saddam Hussein.
Jara was repeatedly beaten and tortured, the bones in his hands were broken as were the bones of his ribs. Fellow political prisoners have testified that his captors mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them as he lay on the ground. Defiantly, he sang part of a song supporting the Popular Unity coalition. He was murdered on September 15 after further beatings were followed by being machine-gunned and left dead on a road on the outskirts of Santiago. Soon after, his body was taken to a city morgue.What goes around, comes around. Until Iraq came along, one of the more shameful episodes in our history was the U.S. complicity in the coup and our continuing support for the brutal Pinochet regime -- to the extent of even tolerating the murder of American journalist Ronnie Moffitt in Washington, DC. So perhaps it's not surprising that the Post, a major cheerleader of the Iraq war, concludes with this tribute to the realpolitik of someone who in this context should be considered the mother of all neocons.
The contrast between Cuba and Chile more than 30 years after Mr. Pinochet's coup is a reminder of a famous essay written by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the provocative and energetic scholar and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who died Thursday. In "Dictatorships and Double Standards," a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.Just like Iraq, it was all about democracy. Yeah, right.