General Pinochet—Some Lessons
Tibor R. Machan
It is interesting just how real politics works. When the chips are down, we can often detect from little gestures and moves where people really stand on basic issues.
When General Pinochet died the other day, there was not a great deal of discussion about him and those that did appear tended to make a great deal of his having been supported by the American CIA when he overthrew the regime of Salvador Allende. Now for my money if it took the CIA to do this, it could well be to its credit, even though technically Chile was a so called sovereign country and Allende a sovereign leader (or ruler!). Of course, all this stuff about people being sovereign leaders or rulers of countries is nonsense, no less so than being kings or queens of countries. It fairy tale talk—there are no kings or queens, actually. There are only some men and women who dress up in fancy clothes as they impose their will on other men and women—“subjects.” And since Allende was about to take Chile into the Soviet bloc, joining Cuba as another Latin American country to be ruled by the Kremlin’s thugs, frankly I thought the CIA, never mind its technical malfeasance, did the right thing. I would have thought the same had it done this against the rulers of South Africa back then!
But all this bellyaching about Allende having been put down by the CIA instead of focusing on his allegiance with the Soviets and with Castro makes it clear that even after the fall of the Soviet Empire—a vicious Left wing, totalitarian dictatorship far worse then Pinochet’s petty military regime turned out to be—a great many intellectuals in the West are loyal to the fantasies of socialism and communism. If the brutality is done for the sake of the socialist or communist revolution, if a country is brought to its knees for that wonderful cause, well never mind the destruction and the sacrifice it takes. But if the goal is some other fantasy, say fascism, well then it is worth harping about it forever, never mind what the other choice happened to be. Never mind, also, that Pinochet voluntarily relinquished his rule in Chile after some years, ushering in a more or less democratic form of government, while no country under the rule of the likes of Stalin, Khrushchev, Cuba or North Korea ever managed to do this. Even Grobachov didn’t to this but merely toyed with some reforms hoping to keep the USSR a Soviet style social country, essentially. Yet he was hailed as some kind of savior of humanity and is still on the lecture circuit being widely welcome throughout the West. Pinochet, however, was hounded to the day he died. And by all accounts, he had committed serious crimes against many Chileans and there is little question that he should have been punished for this. But what about ex-KGB Gorbachov and Putin and the rest?
It seems that in the minds of too many on the Left what Pinochet did was only criminal because it was done for undesirable ends. The means, hell, they were routine among Leftist dictators and far more consequential. But just as after the fall of the Berlin Wall most of those on the Left kept silent—there were a few exceptions!—so when it comes to comparing fascist authoritarian brutal dictators to socialist totalitarian brutal dictators, the latter will routinely come off squeaky clean. The reason is mostly this loyalty to the fantasy of the revolution, although in some cases it is something else. That is the desire to pain the USA as dirty in all cases, as never having done the right thing, even comparatively speaking. When it was revealed that Radio Free Europe, where I did a short sting as a child actor back in the mid 1950s, and Encounter magazine, both got support from the CIA, the Left hollered from glee and some of my own libertarian pals were ecstatic—after all, the government once against did something bad and isn’t that wonderful for the cause of discrediting it. Hell with real politics, never mind what Allende would have done with Chile, never mind that those in Eastern Europe benefited a lot from RFE and that Encounter was a very fine magazine. Those goals aren’t worth it to these folks, and perhaps they aren’t. But to make these matters the focus of attention here shows how little people appreciate the evil of that evil empire!