I hadn't intended to write anything about the death of Augusto Pinochet, on the grounds that one should not speak ill of the dead. But then I read Thomas' post on RedState, in which he informs us that "Pinochet's death is actually a loss for us all." Somehow I don't think he says this because he would rather have seen Pinochet tried for his crimes.
Thomas acknowledges that "Pinochet is probably directly or indirectly responsible for ten thousand deaths", but adds: "how many would Allende have inaugurated?" Well, we'll never know, will we? However, we can take a stab at it. Here's the Economist (h/t Randy Paul in comments here); the "white book" it refers to was put together by the Pinochet regime shortly after he took power:
"The new pamphlet, citing the old white book, records 96 “political” deaths, on right and left, during the Allende years. Hardly any, except a few during a minor mutiny in mid-1973, can be (or were) blamed on the official forces. In contrast, the pamphlet admits 1,261 such deaths—82 among the armed forces—in the few months after the coup. The pamphlet ascribes this to “bitter and brutal” fighting during a left-wing revolt. The 1,261 died, it says, “in the course of the struggle.”
They did not. It would be an odd urban struggle in which “well trained, highly armed” extremists lose more than a dozen men for every one they kill. In fact, as many have related who were merely held or tortured there, most of the deaths occurred in the national stadium in Santiago, where real or alleged enemies of the new order were held, to be singled out by masked informers, often for immediate execution. And that still leaves at least 800 later deaths under the regime, when it was in total control, to be accounted for. Or whitewashed?"
So: according to Pinochet's regime itself, there were a grand total of 96 political deaths, most not attributed to the Allende regime at all. If we assume that Allende had served out his term, he would have had three more years in which to kill people (Chilean Presidents' terms were capped at six years, according to Wikipedia). Granting for the sake of argument that Pinochet's figures are right, and pretending still further that all those 96 political deaths were in fact Allende's doing, which even Pinochet's government did not allege, we still arrive at a total of 192 deaths in all. Pinochet, by contrast, was responsible for the death or "disappearance" of 3197 people. (And just in case anyone says: oh, but Pinochet was in office for 17 years: he was responsible for around 188 deaths per year. Even given the ludicrous assumptions made above, that's still about six times Allende's rate.)
By the way: does anyone wonder how they made all those people disappear? Well:
"In September, Guzman and police detectives watched from a boat as divers brought up pieces of iron rails from under the Pacific Ocean just off Chile's central coast.
Judges here investigate and prosecute, as well as try cases. Guzman had evidence that the rails were tied to bodies of political prisoners tortured and killed in the 1970s and then dropped from helicopters into the sea."
"A guide shows visitors the spot where military vehicles drove over the legs of prisoners. Mock-ups of wooden boxes that held as many as six prisoners each, the swimming pool into which detainees were dunked, and a replica of the tower used as a torture chamber and extermination center are all on display. The Muro de los Nombres lists the names of the 226 people killed or "disappeared" by the military at the villa."
Gotta love that "spot where military vehicles drove over the legs of prisoners", right, Thomas? So crunchy and screamy.
Those who were tortured included 88 children under the age of 13. But I suppose we don't know how many children Allende would have tortured had he remained in power, do we?
But, you might ask, mightn't Allende have seized power in a coup? Well, it's possible. Who knows what Allende might have done had he been allowed to serve out his term? However, there doesn't seem to be much evidence of that. There are allegations that he had a secret plan to establish a dictatorship, which the CIA concluded were disinformation. There were allegations of Cubans in the country, about which the Economist has this to say:
"The 17,000 Cubans—in one popular version, 17,000 armed Cubans—remind one of the soldiers allegedly sent by tsarist Russia to Britain during the first world war: no one saw them land, no one saw them sail away, but they were seen marching through Scotland, their Russian origin betrayed by the snow on their boots. Certainly these Cubans must have slid away craftily, their boots doubtless crusted with tobacco: the military regime just after seizing power claimed there had been 13,000 foreigners (by now they have become “foreign extremists”) illegally in the country when it took over. Of that total, 9,600 were from Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay."
Given the actual evidence, it seems pretty lame to try to defend Pinochet on the grounds that Allende might, for all we know, have killed more people had he remained in power. He might have done, but then he might also have paved the streets of Santiago with gold, or fielded an army of flying monkeys, or turned into a giant talking toaster oven. When you're playing with counterfactuals and you don't require any actual evidence that something was likely to happen, there is no end to the possibilities you have at your disposal.
We should also not forget that Pinochet participated in a program of extraterritorial killings, assisted by the US, that included killing two people in Washington DC with a car bomb; and that the head of DINA (Chile's secret police) during one of its worst phases was a CIA asset:
"The CIA made Gen. Manuel Contreras, head of DINA, a paid asset only several months after concluding that he “was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the Junta.” After the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C., the CIA continued to work with Contreras even as “his possible role in the Letelier assassination became an issue.”"
Above all, we should not forget that Pinochet toppled a democratically elected government in a country that had a long tradition of democratic rule, and that while we did not instigate his coup, we both knew about it and had planned (but not carried out) previous coups in Chile, and were very closely involved with the Pinochet regime. No one who cares about promoting democracy could possibly regard this as a good thing, whatever she thinks about the democratically elected government in question.
Thomas seems to like his economic policies, which are, in other circles, a matter of considerable debate. The fact that Hitler made the trains run on time is not normally taken to be a justification of his regime, and it's not clear why even the most devoted adherent of Milton Friedman should have difficulty saying that Pinochet was a corrupt and brutal thug who brutalized his people.
But then, since the people who were killed were probably just "an uncompromising, barely human mass of malignancy", "human filth", or "gibbering yard apes", I suppose Pinochet wasn't so bad after all.