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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Comments

J.D.

Mark.. this is a great post about Pinochet. I am also pleased his butt is once again in a wringer. And the point you make about us not slipping into the sort of denial that enveloped Chile seems very timely.

Michael J. Totten

Excellent. I'm glad you wrote about this. You mentioned some of these points in the comments section and I thought about writing you and saying it should go on the main page. But, hey, you beat me to it.

Marc Cooper

Thanks Michael! Any bad day for Pinochet is still a VERY good day for me and mine.

timt

Marc, Although it is obviously hard to reach an accurate estimate, your figure of 30,000 torture victims over the 17 years of dictatorship is low compared to what I have heard here (in Chile) over the years. But of course, the political, social and moral impact is that virtually anyone who had dissident leanings of the most tepid sort was directly affected by the FEAR of being next. That is what a system of torture does to a society, something that Iraqis know a lot more about than Americans. And by the way, Pinochet is 89.

steve

As I remember the Scoop Jackson wing of the Dem Party was supportive of Allende's overthrow and the US's role in the Pinochet Coup. In fact, if ya look closely at most of the warbloggers now, you'll find that almost all of them were fond of Pinochet and certainly supportive of Allende's CIA sponsored overthrow.

Cybrludite

Steve, if you take a close look at most of the warbloggers, you find that most of them weren't in Jr. High yet at the time this happened. It was nearly a decade before I learned about it, to go from a personal example, and even then, it was in the context of the Cold War. Forgive me if I believe that you're using this simply to score political points against supporters of the current war.

steve

I'm not sure there really is a comparison between the denial in Chile, to the extent it existed widely in Chilean society, and the efforts at denial that we find from warhawks today in the US. In Chile there was extensive [CIA/US congressionally supported/financed] active police/military enforcement through extra-legal methods to coerce people into not talking about the torture of leftists that characterized the Pinochet regime. In the case of the US at the moment, there is no widespread use of extra-legal coercion to compel people to come up with reasons to not talk about the torture [pardon my not being PC and using the word 'abuse'] that the US conducted and likely still conducts in Iraq today. In that sense our level of denial [just go to the comments sections of favorite warhawk bloggers right wing and 'moderate' alike to see this] is much deeper.
Indeed, despite having a far freer press than ever existed under Pinochet, our media only made an issue of the torture and random detentions when photographic evidence came out, despite the public reports of credible human rights groups documenting such torture and random detentions in Iraq for over a year before the photos were fortunately made public.

steve

Steve, if you take a close look at most of the warbloggers, you find that most of them weren't in Jr. High yet at the time this happened. It was nearly a decade before I learned about it, to go from a personal example, and even then, it was in the context of the Cold War.

--I grant you that, actually it occurred to me after I sent out the comment. However, if you look at their sources of heroism, the name Scoop Jackson comes up very frequently. It's a favorite line of the warbloggers, especially the 'used to be librul now i'm moderate' bloggers. Their understanding of the Cold War and its origins tends to be exceedingly bugs bunny--road runner like too.
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Michael J. Totten

Steve,

I'm a Scoop Jackson Democrat. I challenge you to find me one Scoop Jackson Democrat warblogger who is supportive of Pinochet. Go on. Give it a shot. See if you can find ONE. If you can't then stand down. I'm sick of this neo-McCarthyist fascist baiting on the left and I'm calling you out on it.

Marc Cooper

Tim.. ur probably right as to the numbers. I was using the figure put forward two weeks ago by the BBS, which is clearly a conservative count.

Steve.. why dont u put a lid on it! Let's not clutter tyhis section with 50 back and forths "proving" that war bloggers supported Pinochet. I'm sure some did. Just as I can give you a long list of leftists who support torture in Cuba, capital punishment in China and re-education camps in Vietnam. None of that proves anything except that theire are assholes on the right and the left.

GMRoper

Marc writes: "None of that proves anything except that theire (sic) are assholes on the right and the left."

Well said Marc. Well said!

Time for a little nuance. I'm wondering how many would like to see Pinochet in the docket, tried and executed for his crimes. I have heard from a number of leftish types who would be delighted were that so. Yet, these same folk are generally anti-capital punishment as am I on the right. If Pinochet is truly demented (and I suspect that is the case) then is if fair to execute him? We object to executing schizophrenic, retarded, or demented individuals in this country, some of whom have committed rather horrendous crimes. Because Pinochet was a Radical Right Wing Nutcase, in charge of a country and guilty (doubtlessly) of also rather horrendous crimes, does that make a difference?

I'm anti death penalty (though, to be absolutely and totally honest, a Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam severely strains my belief system) and I wonder what the rest of the folk that comment here would think? Execute? Prison? Hospital for the demented? How about Saddam. If anyone ever deserves execution I suspect he does, yet, doesn't that place us at the same place on the moral continuum? I don't think it does, but again I'm conflicted.

Marc Cooper

Gm.. I can hobestly say that over the course of three decades I have never heard anyone on the Chilean left propose the death penalty for Pinochet. After his wanton use of extrajudicial executions he left little appetite for state-snactioned murder. Indeed, in Pinochet's case there are many of us who think if he actually goes to prison or not is not even central. It's more a question of setting the historic record straight and making it clear that he is, alas, a war criminal. You might be surprised (or not) to learn how many folks, especially here in the U.S., rationalize his murderous dictatorship as perhaps being "worth" it. Worth what? The entire submission and degradation of a country's population, the negative effects of which are still be acutely felt and will no doubt persist for decades to come.

Michael J. Totten

GMRoper,

I hate the death penalty, too.

I would not kill Pinochet. But I would kill Saddam. He has active supporters in the streets who may try to bust him out of jail or take hostages and demand his release.

Pinochet isn't dangerous in a cage. Saddam Hussein is.

I wrote an article about this here.

http://www.techcentralstation.com/021904B.html

rosedog

Excellent post, Marc. (And the Weekly column on Bush’s speech was terrific, as well.) Michael, you make a fascinating and very discussion-worthy point. (Actually, I’d appreciate it if someone would organize a dinner party specifically around that discussion. I’ll be happy to bring a big platter of lemon garlic spaghetti and a good bottle of merlot to contribute to the potluck.) Nonetheless, I think Marc is right: Public truth telling, accountability and setting the record straight is the point. State-sponsored murder only muddies things, in terms of the ultimate emotional health of the state and/or world society.


To my way of thinking, the health of a society or state works much like the health of a family, meaning accountability is essential, but being punitive or vengeful---even when the mo-fo righteously deserves it, always and without fail does more harm than good. In terms of your public safety argument for Saddam’s execution, I'd lay bigtime odds that the pathetic, weakened, caged monster will prove to be a much less potent and provocative as a symbol for his remaining followers than a toe-tagged “martyr” would be.

Bonnie Spolin

Marc Writes......

Any bad day for Pinochet is still a VERY good day for me and mine.

Marc,, any bad day for Pinchet is a
Very good day for Free people any where!

Great post.......keep up the good work!

rosedog

"...though, to be absolutely and totally honest, a Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam severely strains my belief system..."

Absolutely. What Roper said.

Reminds me of the classic discussion between the pro-death penalty demonstrator and the anti-death penalty demonstrator outside the prison.

Pro-death penalty guy: "Yeah, but if he raped and killed your wife and daughter, you'd want to execute him...."

Anti-death penalty guy: "Of course I would. And I'd count on you to stop me."

steve

I challenge you to find me one Scoop Jackson Democrat warblogger who is supportive of Pinochet.

--being a scoop jackson democrat alone tells us what your position in 1973 would have been presumably, or it tells us that you would have been very much out of the norm for a Scoop Jackson Democrat. Everyone now is 'opposed' to Pinochet, it's an easy position to take [even Bush is I would venture]. However, you weren't even born when Pinochet came to power, so I don't see any point in stating that you 'support Pinochet'. The point is that your hero was in fact quite supportive of the role the CIA played in Allende's overthrow. The other point I made quite clearly enough was addressed to the commenters on your and other warhawk blogs, which are definitively of the political persuasion that strongly supported Pinochet and/or [as Marc rightly points out] have the remarkable excuse that it was a 'good thing' because it was 'worth it'.
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Pinochet isn't dangerous in a cage. Saddam Hussein is.

--I'd say it's the other way around, though it's not PC to say so. Look at the easy escape Pinochet had out of England, Saddam couldn't get that kind of help if he prayed all day for it.
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Marc wrote: Just as I can give you a long list of leftists who support torture in Cuba, capital punishment in China and re-education camps in Vietnam.

--really? care to name them? i'd be curious, I don't know any myself. I think of leftists like Doug Henwood, Leo Panitch, Sawicky, Michael Perleman, Chomsky, even the Monthly Review...I don't remember their writing calls for support for such things.
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Let's not clutter tyhis section with 50 back and forths "proving" that war bloggers supported Pinochet

--I believe I referred to their love of people like Scoop Jackson and others further to the right of him who thought the overthrow of Allende was a pretty cool thing. I'm not cluttering anything, just suggesting that if one is truly offended by the politics of Pinochet, they shouldn't model their politics after Scoop Jackson and other politicians who supported Allende's overthrow and torture/murder of thousands of leftists in Chile during Pinochet's reign.

Marc Cooper

Steve.. u need a big time reality check but I'll be damned if I'm going to waste this beautiful day re-educating you and playing masturbatory verbal ping-pong. If you believe that the left has a good record denouncning torture in China, Cuba and Vietnam and that it would be difficult to name ONE leftist who doesn't, then jolly, flippin' bully-good for you. I applaud you for being so secure in what are obviously your BELIEFS (As in Catholicism). One "leftist" I would name in passing who tolerates torture in Cuba not to mention his own avid practice of expedited and summary state execution is...um.. Fidel Castro.

Michael J. Totten

Steve,

I guess I'm "guilty" in a karmic sort of way for the internment of Japanese-Americans because I admire Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Come off it. You're still fascist-baiting me and it makes you look like an ass.

Randy Paul

Steve,

There is an entire loony wing of the American Library Association that admires Fidel Castro and Castro's Cuba so much that they seem to have forgotten the entire notion of freedom of expression. Nat Hentoff has written about them in the Village Voice and I have on my blog.

Mork

Re: the death penalty for dictators.

I find the pathos of a once-mighty and brutal dictator rotting away in impotence and obscurity somehow satisfying. I also think that having them alive is a salient reminder that it was real people who did these things, and not some abstract monster. Finally, the historian in me thinks that as long as someone like that remains alive and in custody, there may yet be more to be learned about what they did and how and why.

That said, the argument only stands if there is no chance of release and recidivism.

Michael J. Totten

Yes, Randy has made pretty short work of the pro-Castro library people. I should have linked to his posts because the word apparently hasn't gotten around enough yet. I guess I'm just surprised we're still having this argument with some people.

steve

Marc wrote: One "leftist" I would name in passing who tolerates torture in Cuba not to mention his own avid practice of expedited and summary state execution is...um.. Fidel Castro.

--I thought we were talking about American leftists, since that is the relevant one to the discussion. As for wasting this beautiful day, first off, it rained all morning. But we got out to the zoo and saw the seals, lions, giraffes, and other assorted friends that make an 18 month old's day.
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Totten writes:
I guess I'm "guilty" in a karmic sort of way for the internment of Japanese-Americans because I admire Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

--heck no, what i would say is that FDR's foreign policy and Scoop Jackson's are quite different from each other, it's hard to admire both at the same time. Indeed, if FDR's foreign policy were in play in the US, we probably wouldn't have had the many illegal overthrows of social democratic governments in the developing world that the US sponsored during the Cold War. The Nation editorial position that you so enjoy excoriating is modeled plainly after the FDR model of foreign policy.
And it's not really a matter of who you 'admire', we can admire a lot of people including those with whom we disagree . But it's hard to model yourself after those person politics if you disagree with them strongly. If you model yourself after Scoop Jackson, that implies that you are opposed to FDR's foreign policy priorites. If you don't believe me, check out Carolyn Eisebberg's fine book on the origins of the Cold War and the deep seeded conflicts between what would become the scoop jackson wing of the Dems and the FDR wing:
http://makeashorterlink.com/?R55C21F68
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Come off it. You're still fascist-baiting me and it makes you look like an ass.

--no Michael, actually i'm pointing out a fact about the war bloggers' political sympathies with the very people who were intimately involved in the murders and torture of leftists in Chile. It's amazing that you can bait people as american haters or worse, yet if someone points out something about your hero that makes you uncomfortable, it's offensive. I don't get the inconsistency.

steve

Yes, Randy has made pretty short work of the pro-Castro library people. I should have linked to his posts because the word apparently hasn't gotten around enough yet.

--sounds like the usual hyperbole to me:

http://www.ala.org/ala/iro/iroactivities/alacubanlibraries.htm

Michael J. Totten

Steve,

I don't bait someone as an America-hater just because they're anti-war or a leftist. The left is a lot more complicated than that.

So are Scoop Jackson Democrats and other kinds of warbloggers.

Warbloggers frequently acknowledge errors made by hawks during the Cold War, especially those of the Scoop Jackson persuasion. But you wouldn't know that unless you actually read them. Maybe you should read my latest post and you'll see what I'm talking about.

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