alien & sedition.
Friday, December 15, 2006
  Jonah Goldberg's Brilliant New Idea for Iraq

This morning at the National Review: Jonah Goldberg figures out just what the Iraqis need: their very own Pinochet!

"Now, hold on," you say. "Didn't they already have something like that?" Patience, please: Jonah is getting there. But it's kind of a confusing column: possibly he was drunk when he wrote it. Let's go through it together, step-by-step:

I think all intelligent, patriotic, and informed people can agree: It would
be great if the U.S. could find an Iraqi Augusto Pinochet. In fact, an Iraqi
Pinochet would be even better than an Iraqi Castro.

Well, this is no good. Incoherent from word one. Let's see if it gets better:
Let’s put aside, at least for a moment, the question of which man was (or is)
Okay, let's.
Castro almost surely has many more bodies on his rap sheet.
I thought we were putting that... well, okay.
But there are measures beside body counts. Castro took Cuba, once among the most
prosperous nations in Latin America and destined for First World status, and
rendered it poorer than nearby Jamaica and heading Haiti-ward. The island is a
prison, and trying to leave can be a capital crime.
Castro is bad: check.
Now consider Chile. General Pinochet seized a country that was coming apart at
the seams. He too clamped down on civil liberties and the press. He too
dispatched souls.
This is cool. I think Soul Dispatcher sounds like a very nice job title.
But on the plus side,
Right, I know this: On the plus side,

income distribution became more regressive. While the upper 5% of the population received 25% of the total national income in 1972, it received 50% in 1975. Wage and salary earners got 64% of the national income in 1972 but only 38% at the beginning of 1977. Malnutrition affected half of the nation's children, and 60% of the population could not afford the minimum protein and food energy per day. Infant mortality increased sharply. Beggars flooded the streets.

The junta's economics also ruined the Chilean small business class. Decreased demand, lack of credit, and monopolies engendered by the regime pushed many small and medium size enterprises into bankruptcy. The curtailment of government expenditures created widespread white-collar and professional unemployment. The middle class began to rue its early support of the junta, but appeared reluctant to join the working class in resistance to the regime.

The junta relied on force, the oligarchy, huge foreign corporations, and foreign loans to maintain itself. Under Pinochet, funding of military and internal defence spending rose 120% from 1974 to 1979. Due to the reduction in public spending, tens of thousands of employees were fired from other state-sector jobs. [6] The oligarchy recovered most of its lost industrial and agricultural holdings, for the junta sold to private buyers most of the industries expropriated by Allende's Popular Unity government. This period saw the expansion of monopolies and widespread speculation.

Oh, wait, that wasn't Jonah. Sorry. On the plus side,
Pinochet’s abuses helped create a civil society.
Just as American civil society could not have developed without the terrible abuses of the George Washington regime.
I ask you: Which model do you think the average Iraqi would prefer? Which
model, if implemented, would result in future generations calling Iraq a
Indeed. When the President talks about spreading democracy in the middle east, which bloodthirsty Latin American dictator should he seeking to emulate?
Now, you might say: “This is unfair. This is a choice between two bad options.”
True enough.

True enough.


But that’s all we face in Iraq: bad options.
Oh, Jonah. You used to be so bright-eyed. But anyway:
When presented with such a predicament, the wise man chooses the more moral, or
less immoral, path.
And no man is wiser than Jonah Goldberg. But why do I get the feeling that train left the station in March of 2003?

I bring all this up because in the wake of Pinochet’s death (and Jeane
Kirkpatrick’s), the old debate over conservative indulgence of Pinochet has
elicited shrieking from many on the left claiming that any toleration of
Pinochet was inherently immoral—their own tolerance of Castro

Let's see if we can spot the difference. In the case of one dictator, "tolerance" meant that our government actively brought him to power in an illegal coup, then aggressively supported him even through the most repressive phases of his regime. In the case of the other dictator, "tolerance" means some people who think that maybe our government should ease up a little bit on the sanctions. One of these "tolerances" is not like the other, wouldn't you say?

Moving on:
But these days, there’s a newfound love for precisely this sort of realpolitik.
Consider Jonathan Chait, who recently floated a Swiftian proposal that we put
Saddam Hussein back in power in Iraq because, given his track record of
maintaining stability and recognizing how terrible things could get in Iraq,
Hussein might actually represent the least-bad option. Even discounting his
sarcasm, this was morally myopic.
But I thought you just said the wise man would choose the least-bad option?
But it seems to me, if you can contemplate reinstalling a Hussein, you’d count
yourself lucky to have a Pinochet.
Damn. We've run out of column and Jonah still doesn't make any sense. Tell you what: I'll list a few options as to what the point possibly could be, and you can decide which one you like best.
  1. We had to overthrow Saddam in order to foster freedom and democracy in Iraq, which can only happen if we install somebody just like Saddam - only his name can't actually be Saddam.
  2. Quick: we need to find a fascist dictator for Iraq before a communist one takes over.
  3. Freedom is on the march: one right-wing authoritarian strongman at a time.
  4. You just can't get good client states these days.


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