Saturday, December 16, 2006

Far from being an evil dictator, Pinochet rescued Chile

Historian James Whelan says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, former Chilean autocrat Augusto Pinochet averted civil war and saved millions from the destruction of socialism

Six months before Salvador Allende was overthrown on September 11, 1973, Volodia Teitelboim told an interviewer for the Communist Party daily newspaper in Santiago that if civil war were to come, then 500,000 to one million Chileans would die. Teitelboim knew whereof he spoke. He was then the No.2 man in the Chilean Communist Party, the third largest in the Western world (after France and Italy), and a senior partner in Allende's Marxist-Leninist government. The Communists were then planning to seize total power in the country, though they were not in as much a hurry to do so as the Socialists, the principal party in the Allende coalition and one passionately committed to revolutionary violence. So the Communists and the Socialists shared the same goal - ending once and for all the bourgeois democratic state - but differed on methods. Allende, a Socialist, was somewhere in between, wavering between his own bourgeois tastes and the totalitarian temptation.

Allende had come to power in September 1970 with not enough votes to win outright election - only 40,000 more than the conservative runner-up - and so had to be voted in by Congress in exchange for a statute of guarantees drawn up by the Christian Democrat majority. A few months later, Allende told fellow leftist Regis Debray that he never actually intended to abide by those commitments but signed just to finally become president, having failed in three previous runs for the office.

In those first 2 1/2 years, Allende had plunged Chile into hell-on-earth chaos. Former president Eduardo Frei Montalva - the man more responsible than any other for Allende's ascent to the presidency - called it "this carnival of madness". Violence, strikes, shortages and lawlessness stalked the land. The Supreme Court declared Allende outside the law. So, too, did the Chamber of Deputies in August 1973 in a resolution that all but demanded the armed forces seize power to rescue Chile from the inferno. So, when the armed forces finally did act on September 3, they did so in response to the clamour of an overwhelming majority of Chileans and not as the jackboot power bandits of typical Latin American revolts. News stories about what happened on that Tuesday in September routinely speak of the bloody coup. It was no such thing. About 200 people died in the shooting on September 13 and a little more than 1000 in the first three months of virtual civil war.

But not the civil war the Communists were perfectly prepared to accept as their price for power: 500,000 to one million. Indeed, in all 17 years of military rule, the total of dead and missing - according to the only serious study - was 2279. The Chilean Revolution thus was, by far, the least bloody of any significant Latin American revolution of the 20thcentury, though you would never guess that from reading or watching news reports.

The Chilean revolution was different from other Latin American revolutions in another respect: it left the country far better off than the one it found. Indeed, Chile is the envy of the entire region for its spectacular economic progress and for the solidity of the institutions the military government created. Consider: Inflation was slashed from 600 percent to 6 percent; infant mortality rates came down from 66 per 1000 to 13 per 1000; urban access to drinking water increased from 67 per cent to 98 per cent; and living standards more than doubled.

Pinochet et al realised, from the start, that the country they had agreed to rescue was in an institutional shambles. More than half a century of cheap politicking had - in the phrase of Chile's leading historian - so rotted the country's institutions as to bring about their death. A brand new beginning was needed. Crafting the new constitution and other institutions was complicated by the presence in the country of thousands of foreign and local terrorists. Indeed, as late as 1986, Fidel Castro shipped 25 tonnes of arms to Chile: the largest clandestine arms shipment in history, sufficient to arm 5000 terrorists. (News reports routinely refer to these people as political opponents. The overwhelming majority of the dead and missing were, in fact, either outright terrorists or those who were sheltering, financing and supporting them.)

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Homosexuals need to lose a little something: "Circumcising men cuts their risk of being infected with the AIDS virus in half, and could prevent hundreds of thousands or even millions of new infections, researchers say. Circumcising men worked so well that the researchers stopped two large clinical trials in Kenya and Uganda to announce the results today, although they cautioned that the procedure does not make men immune to the virus."

Censure Israel-hating Jimmy: "The past few weeks the news media has been fixated on discussions of efforts by Democrats to either impeach or censure President Bush. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has made the push to censure President Bush for the administration's wiretapping of suspected terrorists. Meanwhile a group of activist liberals has launched ImpeachPAC, which is raising money to support congressional candidates who favor impeachment proceedings against Bush for taking the fight to the terrorists in Iraq. I have a better idea, how about censuring a president who has increasingly led an effort to undermine American foreign policy and who has embraced terrorist organizations and urged international funding for them. How about censuring former president Jimmy Carter? While the mainstream news media has portrayed Carter in a saintly light, preoccupied with building homes for the underprivileged, Carter has devoted most of his time to condemning the United States to any audience who will have him. The man who sat impotent while Iranian radicals stormed the American Embassy in Tehran has been busy appeasing America's enemies since he left the White House."

The cure for poverty: "Countless studies have shown that children raised in a two-parent family are less likely to be raised in poverty, less likely to do drugs, less likely to be criminals later in life, and more likely to graduate from and do well in school. Married people tend to take care of themselves better and live longer. They typically eat better, have more settled lives with less stress and fewer risky habits, monitor each other's health, and are quicker to seek medical attention for problems that arise. Married people, particularly those with children, seem to be motivated to save and invest more for the future and to live longer to enjoy their savings and their children's future. Out-of-wedlock births increase the national incidence of: lowered health for newborns; retarded cognitive, and especially verbal, development of young children; lowered educational achievement; lowered job attainment as young adults; increased behavioral problems; lowered impulse control (aggression and sexual behavior); and increased anti-social development. It's been said you need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty: finish high school, marry before having a child and marry after the age of 20. Among those who follow such advice, only 8% are poor, while 79% of those who do not are poor. The consequences of this trend are crime rates higher than they should be, graduation rates lower than they should be and a treasury depleted in the name of trying to solve both problems by throwing more money at them. No culture can remain healthy with illegitimacy rates like these. And it is simply impossible to understate the socially catastrophic consequences of America's crisis of illegitimacy. The family is still the best department of health, education and welfare ever invented."

How pesky for the Left: "Though Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the war in Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday it is having success enlisting new troops. The Navy and Air Force met their recruiting goals last month while the Army and Marine Corps exceeded theirs, the Defense Department announced. The Army, which is bearing the brunt of the work in Iraq, did the best. It signed up 6,485 new recruits in November compared with its target of 6,150 - meaning 105 percent of its goal. All the services turned in similar performances in October as well, meaning they so far are meeting their goals for the 2007 budget year that began Oct. 1. "The services are starting off well," said Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman."



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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