Alvaro Vargas Llosa writes about Pinochet in today’s WSJ (subscription only)
The difference between the two men [Castro and Pinochet] is that Castro, who has been in power longer than Pinochet and has committed even more crimes, continues to have some supporters around the world while Pinochet was one of the most reviled men on Earth. Why was Pinochet more hated than every other dictator?
Probably because he gave a bad conscience to almost everybody across the political spectrum. For the left, he symbolized the tragic consequences of the Third World’s socialist utopia. For the right, he embodied the diabolical temptation to dispose with the rule of law when the political institutions of democracy are tested to the limit. For Latin American democrats of the left and of the right, he was a walking reminder of their own failure to bring about economic prosperity. For free marketers, he was that ugly example of economic success and political repression that used to make it so hard to defend free markets without appearing to condone torture and mass murder. And for human-rights groups, he was, until the discovery of his hidden fortune in 2004, the “ethical” dictator who could be accused of many things but not corruption.
Update A Dictator’s Double Standard
Augusto Pinochet tortured and murdered. His legacy is Latin America’s most successful country.
Update, 13 December: Alvaro has five lessons from Pinochet, The Man in Full
The first lesson is that social utopias always end in tears. Chile had a democratic tradition when the Marxist left came to power in 1970, but that tradition was not strong enough to withstand the revolutionary path that President Salvador Allende chose to take. Scorning the institutions that had allowed it to gain power, the left pushed the system beyond its limits, thereby causing a brutal military reaction. Today’s Chilean Socialists have learned from that experience.
The second lesson is that there is no such thing as an “emergency” dictatorship.
Read the rest.
“But when we look at the murder, rape and starvation still being inflicted on the people of Darfur, we realize that such doctrines remain pure rhetoric unless those with the power to intervene effectively — by exerting political, economic or, in the last resort, military muscle — are prepared to take the lead.”
You fix it! When we tell you to. Just don’t do anything, because action generally is wrong. Especially when you take it! Whether we tell you to or not.
“It also includes a responsibility to future generations to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us. Every day that we do nothing, or too little, to prevent climate change imposes higher costs on our children.”
My son Kojo has preserved many resources.
“Second, we are also responsible for each other’s welfare.”
You, in particular, are responsible for mine. I cannot stress this enough. Check, please.
Speaking of the UN, Today’s video: Mary Katherine has the top ten Bolton moments:
The Salvation Army holds itself up to the standard of “doing the most good.” The Salvation Army is one organization that says what it means and does what it says. This holiday season there are many presents to buy. No gift stretches further than a modest gift in the kettle or donation at a service center. Keep the Army and the hard-working men and women in your prayers this holiday season. Let’s not forget the forgotten, rejected and impoverished in our society nor those who extend a helping hand to them.
More blogging later.
Today’s Christmas Store item: TMX Tickle Me Elmo.
Several of the Christmas Store items sold out: The orchid, the cashmere robe, and the mountain snowglobe. Get your Elmo while it lasts!
Vargas Llosa sounds like he’s actually trying to do the hard, hard moral work of reckoning some of those generation’s catastrophes.
It’s refreshing compared to, say, socialist filmmaker Ken Loach, who after 9/11 made a 9-minute, 11-second short that eulogized … the Allende government!
ftr, Allende took his medical degree in Nazi eugenics you know.