Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On Augusto Pinochet and Double Standards

As a collegian I gave an oral presentation in an international relations course defending American actions in Chile during the 1970’s. In particular, I noted that Washington’s alliance with strongman Augusto Pinochet served as a necessary check to curb a burgeoning Marxist movement in Latin America.

Naturally, my presentation was greeted by guffaws from the assembled mob of lefties who were incapable of unfurrowing their brows and unable to speak without stammering in righteous indignation. They could muster little more than to sputter the dreaded F-bomb—“Fascist.”

At that moment, I realized that the university is full of some of the most ignorant and blind people on the face of planet earth.

In the narrative constructed by simple-minds, running the gamut from The Nation to the august op-ed page of the NY Times, comes the establishment line that Pinochet overturned a peace-loving, popular, progressive Allende government, plunging Chile into darkness and murderous thuggery.

Given the penchant of leftist fellow-travelers such as Times correspondent Walter Duranty to shill for the likes of Uncle Joe Stalin and shield his crimes from the light of truth, one can only cringe when his modern-day progeny dress themselves royally in gowns of moral clarity to condemn a patriotic man who saved his country from a similar outcome.

In 1970, Salvador Allende was elected with a mere 36% of the vote. The anti-socialist vote had been split by multiple parties, and because of Allende's small margin of victory, Chile’s Christian Democrats agreed to let him go forward only after he promised to accept a "Statute of Guarantees" supporting the rule of law.

Allende quickly moved to the left, in part to satisfy his divided and part-revolutionary constituency. He began a program of systematic property expropriation while his more militant supporters began seizing farms and occupying factories.

His economic policies proved catastrophic. Inflation, which had been “under control” at a 23% clip when he assumed power, rocketed to 190% by 1973. Chile reneged on its foreign debts, effectively declaring national bankruptcy and her currency collapsed.

Eventually, the middle class turned against Allende and his revolutionary brigands, but by that time the Left was moving to infiltrate the military. According to Paul Johnson, their militias had more weapons than the army itself. Moreover, Allende's unconstitutional power-grabs were challenged by the democratically elected Congress, which affirmed by a vote of 81 to 47 that Allende was acting illegally and called upon the armed forces to ensure his compliance with the Constitution.

Pinochet led a united military effort to depose the government and restore order. Most of the resistance to Pinochet came from 13,000 non-Chilean political refugees. In the process, around 2,800 people lost their lives.

Not to minimize the unseemly things that occurred in Chile during Pinochet’s reign, but where is the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Left to draw up arrest warrants for Soviet commissars and Chinese cultural revolutionaries? Why do they not bray like mules about Argentine generals, Ethiopian colonels, and Jewish terrorists? Why do they so hate this man?

The reason the Left hates Pinochet is not for his failures, but because of his success. Until his departure from power, Pinochet rebuilt his shattered country and willingly gave up power when he lost a plebiscite in 1990. Moreover, he succeeded without resorting to the statist prescriptions of socialists. In short, Pinochet left a nation that was free and prosperous, the envy of its neighbors, not to mention pro-American. Meanwhile Castro-lovers and Pol Pot groupies want to break out their tie-die shirts and re-live the good ole days by continuing to flog him endlessly.

For Christians, Pinochet’s death raises some interesting questions, too. How can you apply moral and biblical principles in the foreign policy arena? In a fallen world, it is occasionally prudent, and I dare say morally necessary, to make choices that might induce a bit of queasiness.

Was Rahab morally justified in lying to her inquisitors, protecting Jewish spies from certain death? I think God provides the answer in Hebrews 11: “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”

How about Obadiah (see I Kings 18)? He was serving in Ahab’s government and simultaneously supplying God’s prophets with food and material sustenance. Our current crop of Evangelical pastors would almost certainly cite Romans 13 or I Peter 2 to condemn his actions.

The Bible does NOT call for perfectionism, and biblical universalism—that we are all sinners in need of the saving grace and atoning death of Christ—is a far cry from the ridiculous humanistic universalism (i.e., God wants every nation in the world to be “free and democratic” practitioners of universal human rights) spouted by politicians like George Bush and endorsed by Christian “ethicists” like Richard Land, both of whom issue their proclamations and dictates while claiming Biblical authority.

I would ask my fellow Christians, who have and often continue to support a wicked and unjust war in the Middle East, the following: Is the anarchy on display in Iraq preferable to the rule of an authoritarian henchman? The road to hell in Iraq has been paved with good intentions, and fundamental “human rights.” Might things not be better if an Iraqi Pinochet rises like a Phoenix from the flames? At this point, they might even win one of those “free elections.”


Blogger JBC said...

A good point - "In a fallen world, it is occasionally prudent, and I dare say morally necessary, to make choices that might induce a bit of queasiness."

I shall have to reread the biblical examples you quoted.

JB Chesser

2:11 PM  

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