Monday, December 11, 2006

A very bad man

Augusto Pinochet is now dead. Who was he? The author of the deaths of 3,000 people in Chile. His was the hallmark of awful American foreign policy in Latin America. It was the kind of presidency you think of when you think of malicious, cruel, and narrowly self-interested Cold War disasters.

He came to power in a coup, overthrowing the democratically elected Salvador Allende, a socialist doctor, who was elected by Chileans after years of military oppression. Allende committed suicide with a submachine gun as troops surrounded his presidential palace.

The coup even started on September 11, 1973. How's that for irony?

We'll forever be linked to this blot on humanity, because we aided and abetted his rise and empowered his hostile takeover. We never once reined in his most violent excesses, and, as the quote below reveals, never apologized for our support for this murderous thug:
MOTRON HALPERIN: I think every word of that was argued over for a very long time. There were some of us who thought we owed them a straightforward apology. And there were others who thought it* went as far as it should and there were many others who thought that went much too far. I think it does make clear the US government understands its actions contributed to the disruption of the democratic process.
*Halperin is referring to a decision by Bill Clinton to release thousands of documents that shed light on exactly what and how we enabled Pinochet to do. It's not a pretty sight. It's pretty revealing however that significant parts of our government thought that releasing these documents, years after the Cold War was over was 'too much' information for our democracy to sustain.

When people talk about 'missing the Cold War', this is the kind of stuff they miss. They are fools.

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