Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oliver Stone

He's all they can come up with.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yglesias on Pinochet

Matthew counters the conventional wisdom that Pinochet was simply taking some drastic measures to save his country and that he saw himself as out to save Chile whatever the cost:
This is a cliché that people don't tend to think about, but it's important to qualify that claim. Pinochet believed it was his calling to rid Chile of Communism, whatever the cost to other people. He wasn't eager to pay a price personally, or to have members of his circle do so. Indeed, though Pinochet's corruption was hardly on a Mobutu-style scale, it's clear that he and his retainers profited personally from his dictatorship. And when he left office, he didn't throw himself on the mercy of the people, pleading justification but willing to accept whatever verdict -- pay any price -- they might render. Instead, he had himself made a senator for life to obtain immunity from prosecution. Once that stopped working, he adopted a number of other methods to try -- successfully, in the end -- to avoid bearing the cost of what he'd done.

This line of thought is, of course, entirely typical of the authoritarian mindset. You hear it in contemporary political disputes about torture and about the use of brutal force abroad. We must do what it takes to succeed whatever the cost. Always suppressed is the proviso -- whatever the cost to other people.

JPod Responds

In respose to my email that Jonah posted, Podhoretz says this:
Jonah, the sense of Pinochet as a uniquely evil tyrant — when he was actually rather a singular tyrant, a tyrant who allowed a somewhat free economy to develop under his tyranny — is a central mythos of the Left and clearly will remain so after his death. And why? Because he deposed a Socialist president who was a Castro catamite.

This has all the marks of a classic conservative Pinochet defense. At least he developed the economy! He deposed a Socialist! In JPod's view, which seems to be a popular one among wingers, leftists only disliked Pinochet because he destroyed their beloved socialism. Nevermind that he killed opponents in the thousands and deposed a democracy. On CNN International on Sunday, the guy from the AEI tried to skirt the whole democracy issue by saying "Allende didn't even have the majority of the vote!" Well, you know what, Bush didn't get the majority in 2000 and barely did in 2004. Bill Clinton didn't get above 50% in 1996. Allende was the legitimate president and we supported his ouster and the bloody dictatorship that followed. These Cornerites are on the wrong side of history, plain and simple.

Mailing with Jonah

I've been emailing back and forth with Jonah today about Pinochet and Castro, and he posted one of my emails and commented below. I stand by what I said, that there are far fewer serious left-leaning thinkers who support Castro than there are conservatives who continue to applaud Pinochet and excuse his violence and oppression. If the best Goldberg can do is refer to idiots like Oliver Stone, color me unconvinced. National Review is supposedly the center of American conservatism, and their feature on the death of Pinochet is completely sympathetic to the man. I'm sorry, but you won't find Harpers or the New Yorker publishing a glowing and adoring symposium on Castro when he dies.

Monday, December 11, 2006

More Kirkpatrick and Pinochet

Browsing through The Corner, I see that I'm not the only one linking Pinochet's death with Kirkpatrick's. It's just that others seem to be proud to link the two. To give Jonah credit, he's trying to make a point about hypocrisy on both ends of the political spectrum, but inadvertently destroys his argument at the end of the post. He begins by saying that both conservatives and liberals can be hypocritical by condemning murderous, despicable regimes when it suits them and remaining quiet when it doesn't. He exemplifies this by comparing treatment of Castro and Pinochet among the American left and right. While conservatives stay quiet about the terrible legacies of the Pinochet regime, they loudly condemn Castro for the same type of human rights abuses - yet if they are really human rights, why not condemn Pinochet's violence against his people? On the other hand, he argues, the American left remains silent about Castro's iron rule while condemning Pinochet as a war criminal. While I think it's admirable that Jonah's trying to make an argument about hypocrisy among both groups, I think there's a problem: namely, that there are very few leftists who support Castro or think that he has been good for Cuba. It very well may be true that some of them keep comparatively quiet about it, though. On the other hand, conservatives aren't quiet about Pinochet and his rule - they still are largely fond of him and think he was a force of good for Chile. There's not the balance here that he thinks there is.

And the laughably pathetic part of the post is his little sidenote at the end, that when it comes to Castro vs. Pinochet, Pinochet "wins in a cake walk." Hypocrisy, indeed.

Pinochet and Kirkpatrick

There's something appropriate about Pinochet dying a few days after Jean Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick was largely responsible for the foreign policy view of the 1970s and 1980s that proposed that we should treat right-wing authoritarian regimes differently and more kindly than left-wing totalitarian regimes. Reagan adopted her view and appointed her ambassador to the UN. Our murderous latin American meddlings of those two decades stemmed from the belief that right-wing dictators were always better than Marxist governments, and that Marxism should be stamped out at any cost. Thus, Pinochet remained a close friend of Reagan and Thatcher even as his opponents were massacred by the thousands. Kissinger, of course, gets at least as much blame as Kirkpatrick, and probably much more. Hopefully he's having a good long think about his life right now.

I caught a bit of CNN International's coverage of Pinochet's death yesterday, and their idea of guest commentary was to bring on someone from the American Enterprise Institution to slag off Salvador Allende a bit. Classy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Final Bolton Note

Steve Clemons, who campaigned for Bolton's removal, gets to the crux of the matter regarding why it was necessary for Bolton to go:
I do wish Ambassador Bolton and his family well. He is a brilliant person who cloaked his designs in a style of pugnaciousness and occasional bullying that served his ends -- though I think not as often the country's.

My problem with Ambassador Bolton was never his cosmetic behavior, it was the content of his views and policy objectives, and the numerous times in which he undermined or sabotaged fragile diplomatic efforts underway and conducted by his colleagues and direct superiors.

John Bolton, in my view, saw a significant portion of his job as not to achieve success at the United Nations but rather to set the UN up for failure.

That's it exactly, he was there to ensure that the UN failed as often as possible. As long as the Bush administration nominates UN ambassadors who despise international bodies, the Congress will rightly resist.

Swearing on a Stack of Korans

Dennis Prager, in an astoundingly offensive and insipid argument, says that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, should not be allowed to take his oath on a Koran, and that "America decides" which book he can use. He goes on to say that allowing Ellison to take his oath on the Koran would undermine American civilization and do more damage than the 9/11 hijackers did. The American Family Association gets behind Prager with an action alert to write your congressman (btw, I love the first sentence in the AFA statement: "Please take a moment to read the following column by Dennis Prager, who is a Jew.")

I wonder if Prager and the AFA realize that the constitution guarantees that no religious test shall ever be required to hold public office. Why do Prager and the AFA hate America?

Monday, December 04, 2006


Chalk one up for the good guys.