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December 12, 2006

Comments

I remember first reading Maslow on the idea that some small fraction of the population was simple incapable of moral reasoning. In recent years I've come to the conclusion that some much larger fraction of this country's population, around a quarter to a third, have deliberately made themselves incapable of it. They don't have morals, they have a cargo cult in which they make morality-like statements that always add up to "it's good for the strongest to rule, by any means".

But Castro has set so many more students on fire. This alone proves the eternal perfidy of the Left.

"There is only one thing lower than the Moral Sense, and that is the Immoral Sense. The French have that."

Somehow, the irony of comparisons between Bizarro World and the French as observed by Mark Twain is too much to contemplate while I am on vacation.

they have a cargo cult...

I think that is unfair to cargo cults, in that cargo cults were responding to a massive influx of actual material. I guess you are referencing Feynman's line about cargo cult science and so suggesting the appearance if a moral system without an actual system to underline it, but I always thought the notions carried more than a whiff of ethnocentrism. Of course, I have also had a soft spot in my heart for ghost dancing as well...

LJ: I did indeed have Feynmann's "cargo cult science" in mind, and I would be open to another term for the phenomenon that lacked the somewhat bigoted conceptual ancestry. I'm easy that way. The key of my point as I understand it :) is the absence of any real moral thinking in a significant fraction of my countrymen, since I don't see any point in regarding simple capitulation to strength as any sort of morality at all. It's just dominance, no more moral than digestion.

Bruce Baugh wrote:

...and I would be open to another term for the phenomenon...

Right-Wing Nihilism!

Hilzoy, there's no doubt (or dispute) that Pinochet was a brutal dictator. There also should be no dispute, however, that Pinochet's defense against communism and economic reforms were net positives for Chile, as well as well-aligned with the U.S. national interest (the former in particular). Chile is one of the best-performing South American democracies, with one of the highest standards of living in the region. A lot of Chileans think Pinochet was part of the reason, as indicated by the conflicted emotions on display in Chile with his passing (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20061211-0646-chile-pinochet-.html).

I don't mean to endorse their view; nor do I mean to suggest that whatever benefits Pinochet's rule provided were worth even a fraction gruesome sacrifices that he demanded from ordinary Chileans. But your praise of Allende is wholly unwarranted. Allende won only a plurality of the vote, and quickly shifted far to the left -- with disasterous results. His flirtation with communism and state intervention resulted in strikes, oppression, and civil unrest. The Chilean economy was set back and came close to collapse. (Mass nationalization of industry, hyperinflation, unemployment -- wonderful results from a 3 year administration.) He coddled Leftist guerrillas and had no respect for the law, refusing to implement thousands of decisions of the Chilean Supreme Court based on his whim alone. His grab for power was considered dangerous enough that his own left-leaning coalition partners (Chile's Christian Democratic Party) -- likely fearful of a coup -- deserted Allende and welcomed Pinochet's coup as the better of a set of bad choices.

One would have liked to have the option of choosing a non-Allende, non-Pinochet to be Chile's leader. But we did not (and do not) live in that world. You are right to criticize Pinochet, and to criticize those who blindly praise him. You are wrong -- foolish, even -- in your attempt to praise Allende by comparison. Chile was faced with a no-win situation in the early 1970s. Out of respect for the dead, let's recognize it as such.

(Wikipedia has a reasonably good take on Allende -- here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Allende#Supporters.27_View -- which I used to refresh my memory while penning the above.

von: I wasn't aware that I had praised Allende, except (in the previous post) to say that even on an implausibly bad set of assumptions, he killed many fewer people than Pinochet. I didn't mean that as praise, exactly; just a statement of fact.

(I mean: I don't have any reason to believe that Thomas has killed anyone either. Does this count as praise too?)

I mean: I just don't think that what you're responding to is there.

As It happens, I don't much care for Allende, though I also don't know enough to say much for sure. However, I do care about democracy, and I think that overthrowing a democratically elected government, no matter what you think of it, is almost always a bad idea, at least until that government announces that it will not allow itself to be voted out of office.

If there's one lesson of the Iraq fiasco (other than: don't leave the lunatics in charge), it's that democracy is not an easy thing to create. All the more reason to be very, very reluctant before uprooting one.

There also should be no dispute, however, that Pinochet's defense against communism and economic reforms were net positives for Chile, as well as well-aligned with the U.S. national interest (the former in particular).

And Mussolini made the trains run on time. Etc.

And Mussolini made the trains run on time and boosted Italian companies.

The NAZI’s brought pride back to Germany after the liberals stabbed them in the back during WW1.

What is your point, von?

Ruthless dictators can do all kinds of wonderful things for complacent middle-class boot-lickers.

von: what's odd to me, about your comment, is that it's as though you're responding to some hypothetical liberal who said that Allende was God's gift to Chile -- or, for that matter, who said anything nice about him at all. Not to me, or to what I wrote.

Von,

I can’t wait to see you defend Castro for doing wonders for the Cuban under-class.

von: I wasn't aware that I had praised Allende, except (in the previous post) to say that even on an implausibly bad set of assumptions, he killed many fewer people than Pinochet. I didn't mean that as praise, exactly; just a statement of fact.

That's ridiculous. Your prior post (and this one) are all about how it was a bad idea to topple a democratically-elected government (Allende's) and how terrible the result of such toppling was. Well, sure. But there was a reason why the majority of Chileans welcomed Pinochet's coup, at least at the beginning. Allende was terrible -- not terrible in some abstract sense, but terrible in the sense that he was killing folks (albeit at a lesser rate than Pinochet would), ignoring the bounds of law, and his economic policies were an abject, unmitigated disaster. All of which caused tremendous suffering.

Oh, and by the way: however "hotly debated" you view Pinochet's economic reforms to be, there is no debate of any sort among serious people about the unmitigated disaster of Allende's rule.

Why am I reminded of the rehabilitation of McCarthy that occured a while back in some quarters?

I'm looking forward to, 15 years from now, about how great Saddam was because he paved the way for the U.S. invastion and the re-election of GWB.

It's nice to see Godwin's law so quickly fulfilled.

It's unproductive to compare Chile in the 1970s to Germany or Italy in the 30s, unless you can point to reason why they are similar (aside from having fascist dictators, which is an all-too-common feature in this world). Only a moron calls Castro and Stalin equivalents; similarly, only the profoundly unserious deploy Hitler in a discussion about Pinochet.

Not to me, or to what I wrote.

But-but-but straw-commie-symp-Hilzoy is so much easier to respond to - much as straw-fascist-appeaser-von would be as well. I for one certainly don't (want to) think von has a soft-spot for pro-market despotic rule.

Oh, and nice to know von thinks that anyone who disputes his reverence of Pinochet's economic policies isn't serious. Red baiting and bad-faith arguments - now that's what I call 'comity'.

I'm not going to praise Allende, von, but I don't understand the relevance of his winning only a plurality to whether he deserved to be overthrown. That situation is common, especially in countries with more than two major parties. There are voting systems that prevent it, but very few countries have them, and of course the United States is not one of them. Hell, we've been known to elect people who don't even have a plurality of the vote.

Why am I reminded of the rehabilitation of McCarthy that occured a while back in some quarters?

Actually, if you're following events in Chile, you'll note that Pinochet was far better loved among Chileans when he left office than he is today. A lot of that is the result of the fact that more people now know of the atrocities undertaken under his regime; some of it, however, is the result of a lot of forgetting about (or failing to research) the failure that was Allende.

I'm not going to praise Allende, von, but I don't understand the relevance of his winning only a plurality to whether he deserved to be overthrown. That situation is common, especially in countries with more than two major parties.

It's significant here in part because Allende's coalition partners, the Social Democrats, praised the Pinochet coup. When your coalition partners are praising a coup, it strongly suggests that they are not your coalition partners by choice.

Oh, and nice to know von thinks that anyone who disputes his reverence of Pinochet's economic policies isn't serious. Red baiting and bad-faith arguments - now that's what I call 'comity'.

Matt, I wrote: "there is no debate of any sort among serious people about the unmitigated disaster of Allende's rule." (Emphasis added.) I didn't say that serious people could not dispute the reasonably positive effects of Pinochet's economic reforms. (Such serious people would be seriously wrong, but they would be serious.)

Committed libertarians saluting their fallen leader.

More from Marc Cooper (who is apparently not serious AND a moron, along with myself, hilzoy and anyone else who disputes the Pinochet-as-saviour-of-Chile meme.)

I'm leaving now before I say something I regret.

Oh no! The Serious People Brigade!

I'm leaving now before I say something I regret.

I regret that you don't regret anything you said before you left. Maybe time will transfer my regret to you.

There is something of the "I'm not excusing torture but dude, check this out" brigade of infinite seriousness that reminds me of a Lionel Hutz quote:

"Mr. Simpson, the state bar forbids me from promising you a big cash settlement. But just between you and me, I promise you a Big. Cash. Settlement."

Von:

What's your position on the following proposition:

When a democratically elected government is following a misguided economic policy and is suspected of planning to seize further power undemocratically, it is not wrong to overthrow it violently and establish a dictatorship, killing and torturing thousands of dissidents, so long as the economic policies of the dictatorship are better than those of the democratically elected government.

I'm assuming that you wouldn't agree with it. I'd think very few people would. So what on earth is your issue with Hilzoy pointing out that it was very wrong of Pinochet to have done those things?

There also should be no dispute, however, that Pinochet's defense against communism and economic reforms were net positives for Chile, as well as well-aligned with the U.S. national interest (the former in particular).

First a couple of caveats. I am not sane on the issue of Pinochet. Reagan's pal Pol Pot and Henry Ford's protoge Hitler killed more people. But a friend of mine (paranoia prevents me from identifying the relationship more specifically) escaped being one of the people who was tortured to death only because of her US passport. No one knows what happened to her husband.

Second caveat; I am generally a "market socialist". I don't believe in either "pure" socialism or capitalism. Both make a complete mess of an economy and a country. Pure capitalism leads to boom-bust cycles, poverty, and monopolies which end up being sort of like governments only not so accountable. So I don't fetishize capitalism the way most US-Americans do which may make my views seem unusual.

Third caveat: I respect von and generally find his writing interesting even if I don't often agree with it.

That having been said, von's comment, above, is complete and utter BS. If Allende had finished his term, assuming that he didn't decide that he went to far and swing more to the "right" later on in his term (which he might have...see Carranza in Mexico), the Chilean people would probably have elected a conservative next time. With some luck they would have kept the good aspects of Allende's reforms and dumped the excessive elements and by now might have been a truly first world country. Without killing thousands of people. Remember, Chile started from a relatively high base and part of the reason the economy was doing so badly during the Allende years was because the US was doing its best to destroy the Chilean economy. The US is much larger and richer than Chile so naturally it was largely successful. Without outside influences, Allende's policies might have damaged the Chilean economy in the short term but they would have led to reforms that would have decreased poverty and improved the educational level of Chileans, both of which would, ultimately, have improved the economy. See the Swedish economy, for example.

As far as it being "good for the US", first off who cares what is good for that whiny spoiled bully country? But supposing you do, I would propose that it was not all in all good for the US. For one thing, I've never spoken to a Central or South American who trusts or respects the US and the Chilean experience is one reason. (Actually, my experience, admittedly largely restricted to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Chile, is that when I mention that I'm from the US, Latin Americans' usual reaction is "better you than me".) Additionally, knowing that the US is willing and able to destroy an ancient democracy and kill thousands of people for its economic gain does not promote patriotism in some people. I can only speak for myself, but if the US had never prompted the coup and Pinochet had died simply an elder general, I would feel much more inclined towards patriotism. But knowing the US's economic and politicial standing rests on the deaths of so many innocent people and that US-Americans defend that position...well, how can one feel patriotic towards such a country?

May history deal with Pinochet, his backers, and fellow travelers as they deserve.

The only source that I can find for the Wiki's statements on Allende and the Chilean Supreme Court appears to be this lovely article on Pinochet, entitled "Patriot Enchained."

(It's not linked to in the Wiki entry on Allende--which just says "source needed" for the Supreme Court stuff--I got it from a similar entry on the coup itself.)

As far as I can tell, there WAS a dispute with the Supreme Court--I would guess the main source would be conflicts over land reform. And according to several online sources (e.g.) the Chilean Supreme Court endorsed the coup after it happened--which would seem to show both that: (1) they really didn't like Allende, and (2) they were maybe not such pure defenders of the rule of law.

I'm not finding authoritative sources. I would love for Randy Paul or someone who actually knows about this to provide more background.

On the economic policies: I took a class on political economy in Latin America during college. Not a very good class, but probably more reliable than Wikipedia.

Short term, the effects of Pinochet's policies were disastrous. Huge unemployment, the economy shrinking dramatically, huge rise in poverty. Allende's economic policies were disastrous too, of course, so perhaps all that was "necessary". That was the view of the political economists whose articles we read in that class. Then again, these same political economists touting Chile as one of the great economic success stories of the region were saying the exact same thing as ARGENTINA--shortly before its currency collapse. And they had said similar things about Mexico and Brazil shortly before their economies tanked. They had a tendency to believe that if the economy was good at that moment then everything leading up to it was retroactively justified--as if this were not just one moment in history like any other, but the culmination of everything that had come before. I found this very stupid, and my economist husband (granted he was just an undergrad at the time) did too.

I wonder if Michelle Bachelet thinks her country's current status as a democracy that's doing pretty well economically shows that Pinochet was a net positive for the country. Somehow I doubt she agrees with von. But perhaps her experience of torture and having her father die in prison makes her too biased, and she lacks the perspective, moderation, and objectivity that von gained from a disputed Wikipedia article.

Actually, if you're following events in Chile, you'll note that Pinochet was far better loved among Chileans when he left office than he is today.

When Pinochet left office he still had considerable power. He was a senator for life and immune from prosecution. He died stripped of both his office and his immunity. People are now more able to admit that they hate Pinochet. But that doesn't mean that they ever really loved him. Apart from those who had fun torturing people, of course.

By the way, perhaps it's unfair to read this:

"Pinochet's defense against communism and economic reforms were net positives for Chile"

as a statement that:

"Pinochet was a net positive for the country"

If you're saying something else, though, perhaps you might want to clarify exactly what "defense against Communism" is a euphemism for.

But there was a reason why the majority of Chileans welcomed Pinochet's coup, at least at the beginning.

Source? My, admittedly only anecdotal sources (one of whom is Isabel Allende-not a neutral), suggest that most people did not welcome Pinochet, altough some were coerced into pretending that they did. Those who didn't welcome him, after all, got their legs run over or were dropped out of helicopters (a technique no doubt learned from the US's pioneering work in Viet Nam), were burned to death, or otherwise disappeared. In this environment, it is hardly suprising that polls suggested support for the dictator.

von: "That's ridiculous. Your prior post (and this one) are all about how it was a bad idea to topple a democratically-elected government (Allende's) and how terrible the result of such toppling was."

Just to be clear: I think it is wrong to topple any democratically elected government, so long as it has not itself suspended further elections. I do not think that saying that it was wrong to topple some specific democratically elected government is wrong implies any praise of that government at all.

Analogy: I think it is wrong to kill people, except in certain limited circumstances (self-defense, etc.) I think it would have been wrong to kill anyone outside those circumstances. Suppose I said that it was wrong to kill some particular person outside those circumstances: that would not imply praise of that person. (E.g.: it would be wrong to kill Bush, except in self-defense, etc. It was wrong to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. It would be wrong of me to shoot Saddam Hussein.) It would just imply that having accepted a general claim, I was prepared to accept one of its particular instances.

Similarly with the claim that the result of that toppling was terrible. Note: I didn't say anything about its net effects, all things considered; just about comparative murder rates, in response to Thomas' risible claim that for all we know, Allende would have killed more people. I mean: I just did not say what you say I said. ALL I said was that Pinochet killed more people (and tortured more), and that defending him on the grounds that Allende might, hypothetically, have killed more is absurd.

I also think that it's absurd to defend Pinochet on the grounds that his economic policies were great, but that's not because I have any particular view about whether they were. It's because I think that you no more justify toppling a democratically elected government by citing its bad economic policies than you justify killing someone on the grounds that he's not a nice guy.

Again: I think it would be wrong for me to murder Saddam, but that is not a way of praising him. And I think it was wrong to topple Allende, but that's not a way of praising him either. The only person who is praising Allende is the liberal in your imagination.

Von -

First, I tip my hat to you for taking the opposite side here. In this case, it's not a particularly sympathetic one, you're brave to take it on.

I think the distinction folks are making between Allende and Pinochet is not that one was wonderful without reservation and the other was utterly without merit. The distinction that is being drawn is that Pinochet had his political opponents thrown into the ocean from helicopters, burned alive, and had trucks driven over their legs, while Allende did none of those things.

In my opinion, that kind of makes arguments about which of the two was, overall, more beneficial to Chile's standard of living sort of beside the point. You may disagree.

One would have liked to have the option of choosing a non-Allende, non-Pinochet to be Chile's leader. But we did not (and do not) live in that world

No, we live in a world, and specifically in a part of the world, where decisions about who should be leader of Chile are not ours to make.

Thanks -

One would have liked to have the option of choosing a non-Allende, non-Pinochet to be Chile's leader. But we did not (and do not) live in that world

We, if you mean US-Americans by "we" certainly should not have the ability to chose the Chilean leader. As it happened, "we" did, in fact, chose Pinochet. Kissenger and Nixon could have used a different puppet. I doubt that minimizing the number of Chileans killed was part of their agenda, though, when they decided to aid and abet Pinochet's act of terrorism. In another world, one in which foriegn powers did not mess in the internal life of weaker countries, the Chilean people would have had a chance to pick a new, non-Allende, non-Pinochet leader in three years. In fact, IIRC, they HAD to pick a non-Allende leader next time: he'd served as long as he could. It is possible that he might have refused to step down and become a dictator, but there's no evidence of that*. In fact, I have the idea, possibly wrong, that he was planning a vote of confidence in which people would have had the chance to force him to resign if they so chose and that it was the idea that he MIGHT win this vote that was one of the reasons for the coup. But I could have that wrong.

I don't necessarily think that Allende was the world's best leader ever. Nationalizing copper, for example, struck me as a really, really bad idea. But I see no reason to think that he was anything other than a democratically elected leader of a country with a long democratic tradition that deserved better than to have the local spoiled brat superpower destroy both its democratic tradition and its economy.

*Bush MIGHT refuse to step down at the end of his term, declare martial law, and end the tradition of democracy in the US. And he's killed people and his economic policy hasn't been the most fortunate. Is that reason to try to get Schwartzkopf or someone to overthow him?

And Mussolini made the trains run on time.

Actually, he didn't. I remember reading a study (yes, someone thought it worth studying) of train function before and during Mussolini--no difference in on time rate. And Hitler didn't create the Autobahn, he just took over a Weimar project and took credit for it. Nor did he make the streets safe--crime reporting went down but crime went up. No one wanted anywhere near the police. And Pinochet didn't save the Chilean economy except in the "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" sense of "save."

It's generous of von to come by and demonstrate my thesis, I guess - it is as satisfactory a glorification of power to the powerful as I could reasonably ask for from someone who has good grammar and a sense of style. The more enthusiastic endorsements tend to get kind of incoherent and drawn in the rhetorical equivalent of crayon.

For the rest, I agree with Dianne and Katherine. Thank you both for your great posts.

I note that the only thing lacking in von's approach to Pinochet for a justification of an immediate coup in the US is the choice of class to care about. By definition, anyone who regards Pinochet's approach as successful can't care much about that portion of the population that suffered the 40% unemployment. That leaves you with the aristocracy, pretty much - the top 20%, at max. If we were to grab some random 20%, however, the odds are very good that criteria like mishandled elections, unpopular leadership, and economic misfortune would all apply here with a lot of strength. Bush is worse for the US than Allende was for Chile by these criteria (plus of course accelerating the terrorism problem).

But that doesn't matter, because consistency will always yield to strength when there isn't a moral framework to offset it.

Bush MIGHT refuse to step down at the end of his term, declare martial law, and end the tradition of democracy in the US. And he's killed people and his economic policy hasn't been the most fortunate. Is that reason to try to get Schwartzkopf or someone to overthow him?

Yes, actually. But certainly not to replace him with a dictator.

Slarti, I think the key to that question is: is the possibility that he might refuse to step down at the end of his term a justification for overthrowing him by force now?

I could be misunderstanding.

von: I appreciate your clarification.

slarti: Don't hold your breath.

Yes, actually. But certainly not to replace him with a dictator.

Er? You'd be in favor (theoretically, of course--no one here is illegally advocating the violent overthrow of the government) of a non-democratic coup by the military because Bush MIGHT, theoretically, refuse to leave office (and is bad for the economy, kills people, etc)? Or are you saying that he should be democratically voted out? That I'd agree with unreservedly, but I can't really get behind a military coup, even for the purpose of getting rid of Bush.

I'm figuring Slart is quietly equating 'convincing Bush to sit back and accept the advice of more competent people' with 'overthrow'. Or something along those lines. If I'm wrong about that, then I'm impressed by his willingness to call for revolution -- everyone! Follow Slart to the barricades!!!

I'm guessing Slarti think's it a reason, but not a sufficient reason given the likelihood Bush might do that.

And I'm not following Slarti anywhere, he would give short, curt orders leaving people confused as to what he wanted. ;-)

The Washington Post is stupid in the exact same way as those political economists I talked about, but much more so.

The problem with Allende is that he explicitly modeled his plans for the future on the Castro regime. He was engineering political 'reform' to allow a takeover of power to set up a Castro-like regime (with help from Castro even).

Castro's regime in Cuba involved killing more people than Pinochet in Argentina and with a similar level of brutality. Castro is still in power (gay people and reporters still in prisons) while Pinochet had not been in power for more than 15 years. It is not unreasonable to at weigh the Pinochet takeover with those facts in mind.

Like Iraq now, the choices were between awful and atrocious. There appears to be quite a bit of disagreement about which choice was the awful one and which one was the atrocious one. This is hindsight bias--we know what Pinochet did, we know what Castro did, we can't know all that Allende would have done. Conservatives tend to highlight the evil they believe Allende would have done which considering Castro's influence and USSR influence in countries where they were more successful gives them good evidence to suspect that their idea about it was not unreasonable. Liberals highlight the evil that Pinochet actually did, which is not at all unreasonable.

Von and hilzoy, the sad thing about the world is that you are both right.

I am not an expert on Chile by any means but everything I do know suggests that a lot what von & Sebastian are saying about Allende is at best biased and at worst just plain false revisionist history peddled by Pinochet supporters. See The Economist. Allende was, as far as I can tell, a bad President in a lot of ways and an economic disaster. But he is not Castro, even if he was friends with them. Chile is not Cuba. They are entirely different countries and different people.

When a democratically elected government is following a misguided economic policy and is suspected of planning to seize further power undemocratically, it is not wrong to overthrow it violently and establish a dictatorship, killing and torturing thousands of dissidents, so long as the economic policies of the dictatorship are better than those of the democratically elected government.

What are the U.S.'s foreign policy interests in this hypothetical? Is the existing democratic government about to become a communist government at a time when communist expansion was alive and well (and the Cold War in full force)?

I do care about the Chileans, but our first interest is in protecting the US's national interests. Accordingly, you're asking the wrong question. Or does foreign policy realism begin and end with Iraq?

He was engineering political 'reform' to allow a takeover of power to set up a Castro-like regime (with help from Castro even).

Can we call mindreading fouls on behalf of dead foreign leaders?

I do care about the Chileans, but our first interest is in protecting the US's national interests. Accordingly, you're asking the wrong question. Or does foreign policy realism begin and end with Iraq?

I really don't mean to be tendentious here. Really. I really don't. So the following is a genuine question: Are you saying that talking about whether Pinochet's coup was right or wrong is irrelevant, and the only interesting question is whether it was good or bad for the US?

If that is what you're saying, I don't think you so much disagree with Hilzoy as that you're having an conversation entirely unconnected to the one she was attempting to initiate.

von: "What are the U.S.'s foreign policy interests in this hypothetical?"

I think it's in our interest to support, and be seen supporting, democracies; to oppose, and be seen opposing, torturers and tyrants.

LB, I agree with you fully, but there's always an extended conversation. hilzoy recently posted a condemnation of Saddam Hussein here which raised a micro-ruckus; it's impossible to say, "The Israeli human rights violations in the WB are unacceptable" or "The Palestinians have to elect responsible leaders if they want to make progress" full stop without a mess.


Philosphical question: isn't it unconservative to compare hypothetical harms to known harms, as it is liberal to compare hypothetical gains to known harms? Or is it exactly conservative to prefer the devil you know?

"Follow Slart to the barricades!!!"

I can see it now.

As we approach the barricades, our leader Slart would stop and make us re-engineer the things. "Wait a second," he would say. "These barricades aren't straight (sighting along his thumb). Someone hand me a level. Just as I thought, they forgot to use a plumb bob! And, who caulked these things? Shoddy, I say! Moreover, I prefer my barricades hand-nailed with individually forged fasteners. Some wainscoting along here, a lick of paint there... pretty soon, well, maybe not in time for the revolution, but still... we'll have us some worthy barricades. Maybe we could put wheels on them and save on the climbing and the jumping and the falling. Plus you could reuse them later."

Random notes: So what is it with trains and their inability to run on time? I'm disheartened to hear that Mussolini failed in this endeavor. I've lost my last vestige of respect for him. It's like finding out folks in Chile lost money in their private pension programs. It hardly makes the wholesale slaughter worthwhile.

Oddly, Hitler was able to make some of the trains run on time. I'm not sure what the lesson is here. For some reason, getting a trainload of ticked-off commuters from the suburbs to downtown Denver for the Broncos game on time never seems to turn out right. And the complaining! But if you load up a train with a bunch of people to gas them at the end of their final commute, the trains are relatively punctual. There must be some theory of incentives and disincentives we could come up with here, but I don't know what it would be.

As far as it being "good for the US", first off who cares what is good for that whiny spoiled bully country?

U.S. Citizens do. Or should. Citizens of other country X should, of course, revise the question accordingly: "what is good for my other country X?"

But knowing the US's economic and politicial standing rests on the deaths of so many innocent people and that US-Americans defend that position...well, how can one feel patriotic towards such a country?

Are you making some broader point, or asserting that the US's economic and political standing rests on the Pinochet regime? If you're making a broader point, kindly show me the country (of current or former great power status) that does not owe its "economic and political standing" a on the deaths of enormous numbers of innocents.

I'm not suggesting that the US is better in this regard than other places, by the way.

Are you making some broader point, or asserting that the US's economic and political standing rests on the Pinochet regime?

I thought you were, or at least asserting that the Pinochet regime was strongly enough preferable to the prior elected government when US interests were considered, that considerations of right and wrong were irrelevant by comparison. I disagree with this, but it's what I thought you were saying.

"kindly show me the country (of current or former great power status) that does not owe its "economic and political standing" a on the deaths of enormous numbers of innocents."

Switzerland? Luxembourg? Hell, I'd argue the US - our standing in the world would be improved by being responsible for fewer deaths of innocents.

"So what is it with trains and their inability to run on time?"

Very nearly the definition of "train". Before them there was only local time.

Katherine, that was a fantastic effort at responding to me without, you know, addressing my arguments and challenging my evidence without, you know, actually mounting a challenge (or contrary evidence). A victory for innuendo! Hurrah!

By the way, perhaps it's unfair to read this:

"Pinochet's defense against communism and economic reforms were net positives for Chile"

as a statement that:

"Pinochet was a net positive for the country"

Yes, it would be unfair to read the former statement to mean the latter statement, since the former statement does not mean the same thing as the latter statement.

Just to be clear: I think it is wrong to topple any democratically elected government, so long as it has not itself suspended further elections. I do not think that saying that it was wrong to topple some specific democratically elected government is wrong implies any praise of that government at all.

I don't think you mean to go so far. Lots of countries continue to maintain elections without being demoncratically elected, and these countries may have governments that you might very well desire to topple. Other countries have elected governments that enjoy the full support of the people but also require toppling. Democratically-elected is not a good guidepost for US foreign policy. Good/bad for the US's interests is a better one ('tho not the exclusive or only one).

As understood based on your last post, Hilzoy, I think I can revise my criticism as follows: I think it unwise and quite misleading to point out the evils of Pinochet by comparative analysis (on any point) to his predecessor, particularly where his predecessor was Allende.

Did you see my follow up question about what precisely you mean by "defense against Communism?". That was a serious question.

Also, when you rely apparently exclusively on poorly or non-sourced Wikipedia articles, I don't think it's innuendo to criticize that even if I'm uncertain myself. And the stuff about the economic policies was directly responsive.

I think it's in our interest to support, and be seen supporting, democracies; to oppose, and be seen opposing, torturers and tyrants.

But we should support such goals only sometimes, right? Or, perhaps better put, these goals, worth as they are, may sometimes bow to other goals. Or should I count you as supporting regime change in Iraq?

Ah. So the whole 'democratically elected' versus 'took power in a military coup' contrast between the two, to you is a wash? A distinction without a difference? That's a position one could certainly take, but if I am correct in understanding that it is your position with respect to Chile in the relevant period, I don't think it's a common one, or one that's close enough to my position to make discussion worthwhile.

Or, perhaps better put, these goals, worth as they are, may sometimes bow to other goals. Or should I count you as supporting regime change in Iraq?

I don't know if you've noticed this, but we haven't actually changed the government of Iraq from a dictatorship to a democracy. We've changed it from a dictatorship to anarchy, likely to settle down into one or many dictatorships once we pull out. Preferring not to have done this doesn't reveal a preference for dictatorship over democracy. It reveals a preference for dictatorship over violent anarchy.

If you're saying something else, though, perhaps you might want to clarify exactly what "defense against Communism" is a euphemism for.

I'll try to be responsive to this one, Katherine, but I'm a bit lost. I don't think "defense against Communism" is a euphemism for anything. Communism needed to be defeated quickly, soundly, and thoroughly. It needed to be opposed everywhere that such opposition was practical and could be undertaken without significant violations of morality. (Unlike some realists, I do recognize a role for morality in foreign policy on a level other than "for sake of appearances.) I don't know if, viewed from the US's national interests, Pinochet's opposition to communism was worth the price paid by the Chilean people. I strongly suspect that it was not. But, viewed from this perspective, his opposition to communism was a powerful plus in his favor.

Also, when you rely apparently exclusively on poorly or non-sourced Wikipedia articles, I don't think it's innuendo to criticize that even if I'm uncertain myself. And the stuff about the economic policies was directly responsive.

When you demonstrate a factual error in the article, that will be an attack on the evidence. I may even be forced to concede a point and revise my thinking. And stating that you had a class and concluded from it that Pinochet's reforms were economically bad in the short term is fine; it's just not particularly on point in context. (We've seen the long-term results of reforms like Allendes. This was not some Scandanavian quasi-socialist regime he was building, and you may want to check with the Scandanavians and ask them how their welfare state is currently faring.)

What fresh horrors have to happen in Iraq before war supporters (or whatever you are at this point, von) finally stop wrapping themselves in the mantle of democracy, human rights, and opposition to torture? If it's not bad enough now to stop accusing war opponents of being Kissinger clones indifferent to human rights, when exactly will it be bad enough?

"kindly show me the country (of current or former great power status) that does not owe its "economic and political standing" a on the deaths of enormous numbers of innocents."

Switzerland? Luxembourg? Hell, I'd argue the US - our standing in the world would be improved by being responsible for fewer deaths of innocents.

For the record, I was thinking specifically of Luxembourg when I typed in the qualifier "of current or former great power status": as in, "if I don't type in this qualifier, some smartass is going to cite Luxembourg."

von: "But we should support such goals only sometimes, right? Or, perhaps better put, these goals, worth as they are, may sometimes bow to other goals. Or should I count you as supporting regime change in Iraq?"

Sure, we need to be practical about pursuing our goals. I wouldn't be in favor of free democratic elections tomorrow in Egypt, for example. Chile wasn't Egypt, though; I think the world saw the distinction, and that worked to the benefit of the USSR.

If I find that my information is from no source or an untrustworthy source, I either don't repeat it or I repeat it with qualifications. I don't trust the sources for your statements.

Pinochet's "defense against Communism" took the earthly form of a military coup and years and years of dictatorship in which he murdered, disappeared, and tortured thousands and thousands of people. He justified all those things, and the US justified its support of his regime, in the name of defending Chile from Communism. When you talk about his defense against Communism I thought you were referring to this. Apparently though, you are referring to some vague metaphysical opposition to Communism to which those abuses are irrelevant. Okay, whatever. I don't think you should be real surprised that people misunderstand you though.

I need to take a break from this thread.

"I was thinking specifically of Luxembourg"

Oops, missed the parenthesis. I'll stick with the US, then. India also comes to mind.

"Can we call mindreading fouls on behalf of dead foreign leaders?"

If you want. But I'm not relying on 'Plan Z'. I'm relying on his defiance of the Supreme Court on more than 6,000 matters and his attempts to destroy the judiciary as an institution, his support by the KGB, his defiance of the Chilean Congress, he had an explicit (non-mindreading) pro-Cuban agenda at a time when Cuba was exporting violent revolution to a number of states. Allende saw his legitimate power falling apart, and was taking steps to retain power by other means--exactly in line with what one saw in Cuba.

Is there an alternate universe where I can prove that Allende would have followed Castro's lead? No. Is it pie in the sky? No. The evidence is fairly strong though not so strong that I would accuse people who disagree with me on the weight of the evidence of being anything nasty or uncaring.

von: I wrote a post responding to something specific, namely Thomas' post, and in particular this claim: "Pinochet is probably directly or indirectly responsible for ten thousand deaths; how many would Allende have inaugurated?" I decided to try to extrapolate, and came up with the claim: a lot fewer.

I also tried to clarify what, exactly, Pinochet had been responsible for; this did not rely on any comparison. I did this because it seemed to me, rightly or wrongly, that it would have been a lot harder for Thomas to write that his death was 'a loss to us all' had he had the specifics in mind.

If, tomorrow, John Kerry organized a coup against Bush, and then went on to kill thousands and torture tens of thousands, I would protest. And I would be completely baffled if someone responded: you're praising Bush; surely you are forgetting how disastrous his economic policies were. (All that debt! All that inequality!) It's exactly the same here. No praise is implied, other than the extremely limited claim that Allende killed many fewer people, either in toto or on an annual basis.

You ask: "Is the existing democratic government about to become a communist government at a time when communist expansion was alive and well (and the Cold War in full force)?" Do you believe that Allende was about to become a communist government? If so, does this mean (a) that he was about to adopt communist policies without suspending Chile's democratic institutions, or (b) that he was about to institute a Communist dictatorship?

If (a), why on earth shouldn't we think: if Chileans elected him, then OK, and if communist policies are as bad as we say, then surely they'll un-elect him next time? (Again: I think Bush's fiscal policies are ruinous for the US, but that would not come close to justifying me in mounting a coup against him, even without the torture and killing.) If the latter, what is your evidence?

Are you making some broader point, or asserting that the US's economic and political standing rests on the Pinochet regime?

I'm asserting that Chile and the US-induced Pinochet regime are classic examples of US foreign policy, particularly in Central and South America during the Cold War. Remember Guatamala and United Fruit Company? El Salvador? Nicaragua? The only country that largely escaped (at least after 1948) was Costa Rica thanks to their foresight in ridding their country of a military and banning the Communist Party so the US wouldn't be afraid of a country of a few million "going Communist", marching north and taking over the US. Right. WIth fewer total citizens than live in the city of Houston. Real scary.

Chile is a tiny country. Who, apart from Chileans, cares if they go communist? It's their decision and problem, not anyone elses. And since I've yet to see the slightest evidence that Allende had any plans to do anything other than step down at the end of his term in office, they could even have reversed the decision at any time. Except for the US's foolishness, hatred, and stupidity.

As I said before, I am not rational on the subject of Pinochet. I hate him with the sort of hate that only a secondary victim can generate. And knowing that he and others like him were supported by the US government makes me sick. Of coure, it's a vicious cycle isn't it? We've made ourselves feared and hated worldwide and now we can't stop supporting brutal dictators because no sane country would elect a US supported leader--at least not without a LOT of covert support and tampering with elections as in Nicaragua...or Florida.

On the issue of countries not so dependent on death and destruction...I agree with Switzerland and probaly Luxemborg, though I don't know enough Luxemborgouise history to know for sure. Costa Rica. Denmark has a relatively benign colonial history--orders of magnitude fewer deaths than the US. Certainly other colonial and superpowers such as the Soviet Union (and Russia), Britain, France, et al have bloody histories too, but I'm not convinced that many of them are worse than the US. Certainly, I don't think any of them were as vicious as democracies as the US. (I'm also tempted to ask "if all the other countries jumped off a cliff....)

Again: I think Bush's fiscal policies are ruinous for the US, but that would not come close to justifying me in mounting a coup against him, even without the torture and killing.

What about the crunching and the screaming?

I am interested in the Supreme Court thing & but does anyone know of any actual reliable sources on this? It's very hard to find anything because searches focus on the recent Pinochet decisions, not the Supreme Court's role in the months before and years after the coup.

Yeah, I've been googling too. I found this, provenance unknown, saying:

During the Popular Unity government, the Supreme Court repeatedly clashed with the president and his associates. The Allende government viewed the court as a conservative and inflexible power, obsessed with a literal definition of a law designed to protect the privileges of private property against the new logic of a revolutionary time. The Supreme Court retorted vehemently that its task was simply to follow the dictates of the law, not to change it to suit some other objective.
The courts had much less difficulty dealing with the military regime, which left the court system virtually intact. As soon as the courts accepted the legitimacy of the military junta as the new executive and legislative power, they worked diligently to adjudicate matters in conformity with the new decree laws, even when the latter violated the spirit and letter of the constitution. In particular, the courts did nothing to address the serious issue of human rights violations, continuously deferring to the military and security services. The Supreme Court saw its own jurisdiction severely eroded as the military justice system expanded to encompass a wide range of national security matters that went far beyond institutional concerns.


Nothing else on point yet.

I'm guessing Slarti think's it a reason, but not a sufficient reason given the likelihood Bush might do that.

No, I think it's a reason AND a sufficient reason in the event that Bush does that.

That, and I read "is that a reason" to mean something more like "would that be a reason" in the initial discussion, so calibrate accordingly.

No, I think it's a reason AND a sufficient reason in the event that Bush does that.

I and (I think) others intepreted the question to be "is the mere possibility Bush might refuse to step down at the end of his term enough reason to try to get Schwartzkopf or someone to overthow him now (i.e., before he refuses to step down)?"

Yeah, I get that. Now. If I were Hiro, I'd go back and undo.

rilkefan: I think it's in our interest to support, and be seen supporting, democracies; to oppose, and be seen opposing, torturers and tyrants.

von: But we should support such goals only sometimes, right? Or, perhaps better put, these goals, worth as they are, may sometimes bow to other goals. Or should I count you as supporting regime change in Iraq?

Von, after Gulf War I, and prior to regime change, our policy was one of opposing Saddam. So I don't really see your point here, unless you interpret anything short of overthrowing authoritarian governments as "not opposing" them. And surely you wouldn't say that our invasion has given democracies a good name, would you?

For what it's worth, I have supported democracy promotion since (guessing here) von was a toddler, and the fact that I supported neither the coup against Allende nor the war in Iraq are pretty much of a piece.

I think that it is very hard to get durable democratic institutions going (and, as I said in some previous post, that it's pretty near impossible to do so as the result of a war that's waged for the purpose of producing a democracy somewhere.) So one of my first democracy-promoting rules of thumb is: when a democracy -- a real and durable one, not a charade -- actually exists, DO NOT destroy it unless you have the most compelling possible reasons; and that last clause is just in there because i'm a philosopher. Just DO NOT. Democracies are hard to create and a lot easier to destroy.

Thus: Allende's policies would have had to be in a whole other realm of awful for democracy-promoting me to think that supporting a coup would be OK. As long as there's a democracy, the Chilean people can use it to ditch Allende if they see fit.

Similarly, because I think that democracies are hard to produce, and almost impossible to produce as the result of a war waged for that purpose (or: w/o some very compelling reason -- compelling enough to get the people on the country in question to accept your presence in their country as legitimate), I didn't think that the result of whatever we did in Iraq would be a new democracy. I suspected it would instead be a world of hurt and hatred, a fractured country that might be any number of things but would not be a democracy, and the discrediting of the idea of democracy throughout the Middle East. So democracy-promoting me was, for the same reasons, not inclined to support the invasion.

On the other hand, in Afghanistan we had had a quite different reason for invading, and our presence was basically accepted as legitimate. There, I thought, we really had a chance to do something wonderful, and, um, help the Afghans to achieve a democracy if they wanted it. This was especially true given a great stroke of luck: the existence of Hamid Karzai, who struck me as a competent and decent guy. Altogether too often these plans go awry because all the people who might end up leading a country are weak or corrupt or dictatorial or idiots; the fact that Afghanistan had a leader who seemed to be not a saint or a cosmic wonder or Solon come again or anything, but a competent and decent guy, struck me as an opportunity not to be missed. So, on yet another count, democracy-promoting me thought: don't invade Iraq; do Afghanistan right!

Darn.

"As long as there's a democracy, the Chilean people can use it to ditch Allende if they see fit."

I take it the counterclaim is that Allende was ditching democracy. Which has a hint of "we had to destroy the village to save it", but I can imagine facts to make it make sense.

The countercounter is of course, "A bird in the hand."

"I have supported democracy promotion since (guessing here) von was a toddler"

Yeah, but I bet you were just about 9. (This is based on when I can imagine you becoming concerned about democracy promotion, not about my knowledge of your ages--I know von's older than you and younger than me but that's it.)

I was guessing that von is about ten or twelve years younger than I am. The Vietnam war had (as far as I was concerned) a way of sparking thinking about such things, and I concluded very early that what I minded was dictatorships, communist or otherwise; that the war in Vietnam could profitably be seen as a misguided attempt to prop up one dictatorship in order to forestall another dictatorship; that while the second dictatorship might be worse, it was not remotely likely to be enough worse to be worth the costs; and that we would have been a lot better off just supporting the elections in the 50s from the start, which would have been more consistent with our values in any case. Stupid and shortsighted not to have just stuck with promoting democracy from the start, I thought. I would have been around 13 or 14 at the time.

As I said, Vietnam was a spur to thought. It never occurred to me to be in any sense "for" the Viet Cong; but I was mystified as to why I ought to prefer them so hugely over the alternative that it was worth destroying a country and sacrificing the lives of so very many people, given that the alternative was just a slightly less odious dictatorship.

I was also completely baffled about what it was that the USSR was supposed to get out of controlling Vietnam, or why it would bother us if they got it.

But hilzoy, don't you know that Vietnam was both a tremendous success and yet lost by the Democrats who stabbed us in the back, all at once?

Hmmm, and, come to think of it, aren't they still communists who Bush met with recently?

"It never occurred to me to be in any sense "for" the Viet Cong; but I was mystified as to why I ought to prefer them so hugely over the alternative"

I think your "them" is misplaced here, and leads the second half to say not what you want (which, I take it, is "I was never for the dictatorial north, but I was mystified why I ought to think the dictatorial south was much better." is that right?)

But in any case it's evidence of the tragic effects of allowing one small country, like Chile, to go communist. Truly, any number of disappeared dissidents are justified by Pinochet having avoided in South America the terrible fate Vietnam brought to SE Asia.

kid b: completely right. Should be "prefer Thieu, or Diem, or whichever was around at any given time."

Here is the thing I don't understand.

Why are communist governments considered to be bad? Isn't it because they are totalitarian, because they are cruel and oppressive, because they deny their people basic rights? That's the reason I always hear. They are brutal and murderous, they enslave and slaughter their own people.

So, if we actively sponsor and encourage governments that systematically engage in acts of utterly brutal, savage, sadistic, insanely cruel terror against their own people to save them from a "communist takeover", what have we achieved? Especially if that "takeover" is hypothetical.

What are the "American interests" that were at risk in Chile? Were the Chileans going to take up arms and harm any Americans? Were they going to march up the cordillera and invade us? Were they going to harm a single hair on a single American head?

Why was it good, necessary, or in any way desirable for this nation to sponsor in any way the rule of Pinochet? Why? What American "interest" was served by setting Quintana on fire? What American "interest" was served by driving over the legs of Chilean dissidents with trucks? What American "interest" was served by throwing people out of a helicopter into the ocean?

You will have to explain this to me, because I don't get it.

Thank you

yeah, actually a lot of commentators at the time abbreviated "Th[ieu or Di]em" as just, you know, "Them".
so you were just showing that you're an old SE Asia hand.

One more argument to toss in:

I would argue that a democracy, even a less than perfect democracy that has selected a lousy leader is always or almost always better than a dictatorship, even when the dictator (king, president for life, etc) is genuinely interested in the country's welfare and really not out for personal gain or power. Support for this claim: Democracies rarely, if ever, have famines (I can't think of any instances of a famine in a democracy unless India had one after its establishment as a democracy). Additionally democracies rarely, if ever, go to war with each other. (again, India-Pakistan could be an exception if you give Pakistan credit for democratic status.) Consider post-1940s Europe versus pre-1940s. The difference could be the level of destruction involved in starting a war but I can't help thinking that Germany's transition to a democratic country has helped keep the peace in that region. Therefore, if my hypothesis is correct, it is never or almost never right to overthrow a democratically elected leader who continues to act within a democratic context (ie steps down if he/she loses a plebicite, holds elections as scheduled, etc). Therefore, it was wrong to aid Pinochet in his coup, regardless of how disasterous Allende's economic policies were until and unless Allende destroyed or attempted to destroy his country's democracy.

And one further thought on Allende's economics. Suppose I am not a woman named "Dianne", but reallly am Bill Gates* posting in drag. Suppose that I became enraged at von for contradicting me and decided that I was going to ruin him. So I set out to find out his real name, bring pressure on his clients to find a new lawyer, steal his identity and ruin his credit, attempt to seduce his wife, etc. If von were unable to recover from this onslaught and became unemployed, divorced, and took up drinking, would it prove that von is a lousy lawyer, husband, and citizen or just that my overwhelming money/power could destroy him unfairly? (Anyone not get the analogy here?)

*I'm not, of course and even if I were I wouldn't take offense at being disagreed with on a blog, for goodness sake.

Russell, you speaks as if "freedom" menat the same thing to you as it does to anti-communists; as if freedom was about human rights or something.

You know not that "freedom" is a term of art to such people.

There are only 2 freedoms that really count: the freedom to make money, and the freedom to own a gun to protect your money. Correllatively, there is only one class of people whose welfare counts when assessing the merits of a government, and that is the money-makers.

Communism is bad because it means rich people can't stay rich or become richer; and/or because it means American corporations can't use the local populace and land for cheap.

russell: "Why are communist governments considered to be bad?"

You've managed to miss an important part of the argument expressed above, which is that we were in a power struggle with the USSR. The political split was whether supporting an awful regime friendly to us was better or worse than allowing a bad regime friendly to the Soviets. It makes no sense to consider these problems outside of the appropriate background conditions (the USSR's expansionism, the world's view of US leadership).

russell: that was always my question. I mean: I always thought they were bad qua dictatorships, so that supporting another horrible dictatorship because it wasn't communist was bizarre.

One could also think: well, they will ally with the USSR, which is worse for us. Then I used to wonder: doesn't that depend on the ally? I mean: Mozambique once applied to join the Warsaw Pact, iirc, and got as close as any non-Eastern European country to membership. What exactly would we have lost had they succeeded? Beats me.

I mean: I've been to Mozambique, and while I loved it, the only thing that would give it strategic significance is the recent suspicion that there might be oil nearby, which no one knew at the time. This did not prevent conservatives in the Reagan era from supporting the truly hateful Renamo because it was anti-communist.

The communist government, in that case, was genuinely better -- they were communists mostly because they had to pick sides in order to get on someone's gravy train, but fundamentally they were some people who had come to power when Portugal decided to withdraw abruptly, and had no clue what to do.

And it didn't live up to the 'Communist governments never change their stripes' charge either -- when the USSR fell, and then S. Africa changed regimes, they lined up behind free market policies just like that, and are now one of the countries people point to as a slightly less hopeless part of Africa. Real growth. A stock market. A government that is, by local standards, not very corrupt. And still in the hands of the same party.

cross-posted with rilkefan, but I at least tried to answer the same question.

What would have been so awesome, for the USSR, about having an ally in Vietnam? And why would that have been so bad for us?

What would have been so awesome, for the USSR, about having an ally in Vietnam?

Didn't Ho Chi Min first come to the US, quoting Jefferson and looking for support in overthrowing the local dictator? IIRC, he went to the Soviets only because he couldn't get any other help, not because he loved them so much.

What would have been so awesome, for the USSR, about having an ally in Vietnam?

Didn't Ho Chi Min first come to the US, quoting Jefferson and looking for support in overthrowing the local dictator? IIRC, he went to the Soviets only because he couldn't get any other help, not because he loved them so much.

Oops. Sorry about double posting.

Dianne: yes. One of history's tragic missed opportunities.

"What would have been so awesome, for the USSR, about having an ally in Vietnam? And why would that have been so bad for us?"

I could speculate (at least if the question was "what would the USSR have gained in Vietnam, and what did we stand to lose"), but maybe someone on the oppose-USSR-priority side should respond.

On a lighthearted note (which I think deserves a lighthearted open thread to properly consider and appreciate): SOY CAUSES TEH GAY!!11

(Which begs the question: how do the Chinese reproduce?)

Holsclaw-

I don't get where you're going with any of this except to establish a general defense of Pinochet? Why do you set up a counterfactual with only those two choices?

I don't know how you reconcile the Allende was about to go Castro with: "In early September 1973, Allende floated the idea of resolving the crisis with a plebiscite. His speech outlining such a solution was scheduled for September 12, but he was never able to deliver it." (wiki) This might be where interpreting the evidence in favor of pre-emptive action can go awry, but that's a common mistake isn't it. Anyway, why would fear of future harms justify the consequences of Pinochet's rule?

When is it legitimate for a military coup to halt the normal operation of a democratic government? How might we describe the contrast between the intervention of Turkey's military in its political process be different than than of Pinochet?

Of interest, from the Church Report, Covert Action in Chile 1963-1973.:

A July 1970 Chile NIE, prepared a little over a month before the September election, raised the question of what an Allende victory would mean to Chile and the United States. The NIE occasioned considerable disagreement within the Washington community. The disagreement reflected a division between the Department of State on one side and the U.S. Ambassador and the CIA Station on the other. The latter position was that an Allende victory would mean the gradual imposition of a classic Marxist-Leninist regime in Chile. This position was reflected, with some qualifying remarks, in the NIE.

The 1970 NIE stated, in strong terms, that an Allende administration would proceed as rapidly as possible toward the establishment of a Marxist-Socialist state. It would be a Chilean version of a Soviet-style East European Communist state. The intelligence community predicted that although democracy was likely to survive in Chile over the next two or three years, Allende could take Chile a long way down the Marxist-Socialist road during the six years of his administration. To do this, however, he would have to surmount some very important obstacles, such as Chile's security forces, the Christian Democratic Party, some elements of organized labor, the Congress, and the Catholic Church. The NIE noted that Allende undoubtedly expected progress on basic bread and butter issues which would afford him an apportunity to secure control of the Congress in the 1973 election and thereby enable him to impose a socialist state of the Marxist variety by the vía pacífica ("peaceful road").

The next NIE issued on Chile, in August 1971, was less shrill on the threat which Allende represented to Chilean democracy. He had been in office nine months. The NIE stated that the consolidation of Marxist political leadership in Chile was not inevitable and that Allende had a long, hard way to go to achieve this. The NIE warned, however, that although Allende would almost certainly prefer to adhere to constitutional means, he was likely to be impelled to use political techniques of increasingly dubious legality to perpetuate his coalition and power. Up to that point, the NIE observed, Allende had taken great care to observe constitutional forms and was enjoying considerable popularity in Chile.

The next NIE came out in June 1972. The prospects for the continuation of democracy in Chile appeared to be better than at any time since Allende's inauguration. The NIE stated that the traditional political system in Chile continued to demonstrate remarkable resiliency. Legislative, student, and trade union elections continued to take place in normal fashion, with pro-govenment forces accepting the results when they were adverse. The NIE noted that the Christian Democratic Party and the National Party had used their combined control of both Houses of Congress to stall government iniciatives and to pass legislation designed to curtail Allende's powers. In addition, the opposition news media had been able to resist government intimidation and persisted in denouncing the government. The NIE concluded that the most likely course of events in Chile for the next year or so would be moves by Allende toward showing the pace of his revolution in order to accommodate the opposition and to preserve the gains he had already made.

One final NIE on Chile was issued prior to Allende's overthrow in September 1973. That NIE focused on the prospects for the consolidation of power by Allende's regime. It concluded that at that juncture a political standoff seemed to be the most likely course of events in Chile. The NIE stated that Allende had not consolidated the power of his Marxist regime ; the bulk of low-income Chileans believed that he had improved their conditions and represented their interests ; and the growth in support for his coalition reflected his political ability as well as the popularity of his measures. The NIE did warn, however, that the growing polarization of the Chilean society was wearing away the Chilean predilection for political compromise. Nevertheless, the analysts predicted that there was only an outside chance that the military would move to force Allende from office.

And...

C. ALLENDE'S RELATIONS WITH SOCIALIST COUNTRIES

The 1969 Chile NIE predicted that any new administration would explore somewhat broader relations with communist and socialist countries. The NIE noted that Allende, in particular, would take such steps but that even he would be deterred from moving too far in this direction due to a Chilean nationalism which would as strongly oppose subordinating Chile to the tutelage of Moscow or Havana as to Washington. Allende did, over the years, expand Chile's relations with socialist and communist countries. However, Allende was, as a 1971 NIE stated, careful not to subordinate Chilean interests to any communist or socialist poweror to break existing ties with non-communist nations on whom he continued to rely for aid. Chile NIEs in 1971 and 1972 emphasized that Allende was charting an independent, nationalistic course, both within the hemisphere and internationally. Allende was, in short, committed to a policy of non-alignment.

D. ALLENDE'S TIES WITH CUBA

The 1970 NIE on Chile predicted that Allende would recognize Cuba. He did so, shortly after he was inaugurated. However, the pattern of Chilean-Cuban relations was described in a 1971 NIE as one of ideological distance and closer economic ties. The NIE stated that despite Allende's long-standing personal relationship with Castro, he had refrained from excessive overtures to him. A 1972 NIE noted that Havana had been circumspect about trying to use Chile as a base for promoting revolution throughout Latin America.

E. SOVIET INFLUENCE IN CHILE

Concern about the expansion of Soviet influence in Chile under Allende and the possible establishment of a major Soviet military presence was expressed in 1970. A 1971 NIE predicted that although the Soviet Union would continue to cultivate channels of influence into Allende's government through the Chilean Communist Party, it would probably be unsure of its ability to make a decisive impact on key issues given Allende's desire for an independent posture. The same NIE noted that neither Allende nor the Chilean military establishment would probably tolerate a permanent Soviet military presence in Chile. A 1972 Chile NIE focused on the Soviet attitude to the Allende regime and noted that Soviet overtures to Allende had thus far been characterized by caution and restraint. This was, in part, due to Soviet reluctance to antagonize the U.S. and, more importantly, a Soviet desire to avoid with Allende the type of open-ended commitment for aid that they had entered into with Castro. A 1972 Intelligence. Note, prepared by the State Department, stated that a Soviet-Chilean communique, issued following Allende's December visit to the USSR, reflected Moscow's decision to continue a cautious policy toward Chile and to avoid a major open-ended commitment of aid to Allende. According to the Intelligence Note, the Soviets apparently advised Allende to negotiate his differences with the U.S.

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