Wednesday, June 08, 2005


On Paul Craig Roberts and alliances with the confederacy of dunces

Alliances between left and right are always awkward. Very simply, the right wing of this country has gotten us to this place: indebted to rivals, losing not only our industrial base but the technological base that it stands on, mired in an unpopular and endless war, with all of the normal social repair mechanisms such as the press and elections in dire shape. To continue to call oneself a conservative or a Republican is to deny responsibility or regrets for one's actions. While it's wonderful when right-wingers choose to oppose the war or demand fiscal responsibility, it's wise to welcome them with a handshake and not an embrace. Give them 60 seconds of air time and you will discover the inner loon. Case in point, Paul Craig Roberts on Pinochet The re-writing of history is breathtaking. Recall that Chile elected a man, Salvador Allende, who promised to stand up to the extractive industries that had looted Chile's wealth. At the demand of Nixon contributors, the US backed a coup by Augusto Pinochet. The coup ended with the death of Allende and the systematic torture, disappearance, and murder of 2,600 civilians. Tens of thousands of other torture victims survived, maimed in body and spirit. The US is a big country, so 2,600 may seem a small number. However, proportionately, that would equate to 50,000 dead Americans and perhaps half a million victims of torture. And just as important as the facts of the deaths are their cruelty. Typical is the story of singer, Victor Jara , who played songs to keep up the spirits of people while they were awaiting their likely murders. The soldiers broke his hands and taunted him to play. Unable to play, he sang, so they shot him. The complicity of Richard Nixon in these crimes is well known Indeed, as we now know, the US Government tolerated and may have even ordered acts of terrorism within the United States as part of the coup. Even now, new crimes emerge, as we learn that the Pinochet regime may have executed former President Frei by lethal injection. The regime was corrupt, leaving Chile's pension system a mess, and he country much poorer than it should have been. Whether poorer than Allende would have left it is a matter of speculation. What's certain is that the US profited from it. The whole, entire justification for the killing of an elected leader and these many murders comes down to the fact that Allende was a Marxist. It amounts to saying that we feared the brand of totalitarianism he might impose and had to impose our own first, complete with a reign of terror that Stalin would have found very familiar. Paul Craig Roberts says, "What is interesting about the Pinochet case is that everything the former president of Chile is accused of, George W. Bush and his cronies are guilty of." This may be hyperbolic, but it contains a lot of truth. Indeed, Roberts thinks he's being clever in defending Pinochet by saying that if Pinochet is prosecuted, so should Bush be. A lot of people would take him up on both offers. Roberts goes on to propagate a lie so horrific that even The Economist has felt compelled to denounce it as Blackwashing Allende: Roberts claims as justification for the coup, "Chilean terrorists committed bombings, assassinations, robberies, and other crimes. The Chilean press of the time was full of reports of such acts of terrorism. Unlike the U.S., Chile faced many and continuous acts of domestic terrorism..." He goes on to say, "Pinochet was successfully demonized. What we have to learn about propaganda is that every side has it. ..." and "But my purpose is not to defend Pinochet. It is simply to note that if he stole $13 million, it does not represent one day's takings from the fraud in Iraq." (Roberts, of course, does not deal with the fact that Chile is a poor country. $13 million may be pennies for Americans, but it is unimaginable wealth in Chile.) The claim that Allende sponsored terrorism is a lie, and Roberts ought to know it. The terrorists were Pinochet and his cronies. I doubt Roberts can produce a single, substantiated, specific allegation of a crime by Allende, and I can produce two by Pinochet: the now-certain issue of the terroristic murders of Letelier and Moffitt in Washington, DC, and the possible murder of President Frei. Not to mention the 2,600 murdered and tens of thousand tortured. Roberts should hear the words of author John Dinges: "The bottom line, from a factual-historical point of view, is that you may choose to believe whatever fits your fancy about the imagined crimes a radicalized communist tyranny MIGHT have committed in Chile if Allende had been overthrown by extreme leftist revolutionaries, for example or became a dictator himself. But that is speculation, perhaps fueled by ideology; it is not history. In contrast, the historical facts are that under the Pinochet government there were thousands of ACTUAL deaths, actual torture of even more thousands of human beings, and --as I document in my book-- an actual international alliance of security forces from six military governments to track down and eliminate military rivals and political adversaries anywhere in the world. " Paul Craig Roberts is welcome to oppose the things I oppose and to support the things I support. But he's not an honest man, and I would never regard him as an ally. I would always be wondering when he would declare me to be an acceptable casualty.
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