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December 13, 2006

La Tortura, part II

Over at TCS Daily, Alvaro Vargas Llosa of the Washington Post (and son of the great Mario Vargas Llosa) has the best postmortem (literally, in this instance) on the death of Augusto Pinochet.

Vargas Llosa identifies six "lessons" to be learned from what happened to Chile:

  1. "[S]ocial 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."
  2. "[T]here is no such thing as an 'emergency' dictatorship. Those who called for military intervention, among them the center-right Christian Democrats, made a colossal error of judgment in thinking that the armed forces would go back to their barracks as soon as the 'emergency' was over."
  3. "[F]ree markets and dictatorial governments are ultimately incompatible because a free economy requires a dispersion of power that will eventually limit the capacity of those who control the government to perpetuate themselves." Pace the NRO crowd's crediting Pinochet with Chile's recent prosperity, Llosa points out that "Pinochet's successors proved to be better guarantors of the open economy than the general himself. Since 1973, annual economic growth has been four times bigger, on average, than between 1810 and the day of the military coup."
  4. "[H]uman rights are not an invention of human rights groups, however biased many of these groups are . . . Nothing justified killing 3,197 people, torturing more than 29,000, and sending thousands into exile, as reported by the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in 1991. That cruel toll was not the price paid for stability -- which really came with the end of the military regime -- but the inevitable consequence of rule by men in uniform . . . An army with unfettered control of a nation, whether led by a Pinochet or by a Castro, will always murder, kidnap or torture citizens it deems threatening."
  5. "[T]here is no such thing as dictatorship without corruption."
  6. "[A] transition to the rule of law should aim for at least partial justice if full justice is incompatible with preserving the transition. The Chilean courts moved too late against Pinochet for fear of provoking the military." As a result, the transition back to the rule of law "was left with a sense of guilt that will make it difficult to fight off the ghost of Pinochet in the foreseeable future."

Sound advice from a man who really knows what Men With Guns are capable of.

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