Why should there be a good word for such a man? Well, ponder at least why there are so many bad words for him when there are so many good words for worse folk like Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Mikhail Gorbachev, and so many not-so-bad words (given their even worse crimes) for other folk like Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot, Mengistu and Idi Amin. "One must ask," asked democide researcher RJ Rummel a couple of years ago, "why in a world of mass murderers that have killed far more people than Pinochet, do the media and human rights organizations devote so much attention to him?"
Elsewhere, many former mass murdering dictators and their henchmen walk the streets free from publicity or have died in their sleep never having faced justice. Uganda’s former President Idi Amin [for example], who murdered 255,000 people, some with his own hands, fled Uganda into exile and lived in Saudi Arabia with his four wives and with a government stipend until he died peacefully in 2003... [Or] Pol Pot, the worst of the lot over this period, responsible for the murder of 2,000,000 Cambodians in four years, was arrested in 1997, charged with treason, and sentenced . . . get this now . . . to house arrest.Why indeed? Writing when both Pinochet and Gorbachev were still in power, Tibor Machan pondered why the latter received praise, plaudits and the love of liberals everywhere, while Pinochet received only approbation.
The question is, why? While he has been a ruthless opponent of political freedom in Chile for almost as long as he has been in power, in 1980 he helped forge a new constitution for that country that paves the way to full-scale political democracy... Pinochet has also established an economy in Chile that has led to greater prosperity there than in any other Central and Latin American country. While Chile has pockets of poverty, the country nevertheless has had lower inflation and higher employment than its neighbors.And now in fact Chile has perhaps the freest economy and the freest press of all Latin America -- yet while Mikhail Gorbachev gets credit for reluctantly (and only tentatively) transforming the Soviet Union (he never forswore his desire to save what he called Lenin's "genuine socialism"), and only inadvertently freeing it and Eastern Europe from the yoke of dictatorship, Pinochet gets none at all for partially embracing capitalism and setting Chile on the road to something better than he and his confrères. Crikey, he's got to be one of the few political mass-murderers who at least admits some blame. RJ Rummel has a theory for "the huge difference in attention [and popularity]":
I suspect it is because Pinochet was a victorious enemy of the left. He seized power from Chile’s Marxist president who was maneuvering his own revolutionary overthrow of the democratic system, and eventually succeeded in setting the stage for a return to a moderate democratic government and full capitalism (this is a description, and not praise of his mass murders to achieve this). Most of the other killers on [Rummel's] list, including Pol Pot, however, were Marxist or socialist of some favor (Amin was praised by the left as an anti-imperialist, particularly his nationalization of foreign businesses; in 1975 he was elected president of the Organization of African Unity). To coin a phrase, for the Marxist and left, which dominate the major Western media, academic studies, and human rights organizations, which is the worst of the worst seems to depend on whether their ox is gored.As Tibor Machan asked, "Is it that for most [western] intellectuals there are no enemies to the left?" Anyone like to answer that? Can we get a resounding condemnation for all the mass-murders on Rummel's list?
LINKS: Pol Pot? Idi Amin? No, it's Pinochet again - RJ Rummell
Glasnost in Chile? - Tibor Machan (1989) [page 23 of the PDF]
Pinochet to undergo heart surgery - Ireland Online
Pinochet admits dictatorship blame - CNN.Com
RELATED: Politics-World, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century