If Pinochet is Guilty, so is Bush
General Augusto Pinochet,
approaching his 90th
year, has survived many years of
legal harassments resulting from
alleged human rights violations during the period of
the Chilean military government`s war on terrorism. On
the basis of a US Senate staff report, Pinochet is now
going to be investigated for
stashing $13 million in US banks.
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. Indeed, why is Senate staff
wasting its time on thirty year old alleged crimes of an
elderly Chilean when the president of the United States
ought to be in the dock? The
Downing Street Memo—is already written.
In December 2004, a
Chilean appeals court
ruled that Pinochet could be put on trial for
murders resulting from Operation Condor. An agreement by
six South American governments in the 1970s, Condor was
a "coalition of the willing" organized to hunt
down and kill the terrorists who were
attempting to destabilize their societies.
How does Operation Condor
differ from the actions of the US and Israeli
governments to hunt down and kill terrorists? Both
George Bush and Ariel Sharon have used precision
missiles, snipers, and special forces hit teams to
"take out" suspected terrorists, often with
collateral damage. Why can Bush and Sharon conduct a
war on terror, but not Pinochet?
Given what we know about
the "collateral damage" that often accompanies
the "taking out" of terrorists and about the
large number of
innocent detainees mistaken for terrorists and held
in America`s gulag of detention centers, it is more than
likely that Pinochet`s war on terror had collateral
damage of its own. However, there is no question
whatsoever that Chilean terrorists committed bombings,
assassinations, robberies and other crimes. The Chilean
press of the time is full of reports of such acts of
Unlike the US, Chile
faced many and continuous acts of domestic terrorism,
including a professionally planned ambush of Pinochet
himself. Pinochet did not create the terrorism by
invading another country on false pretenses or by
supporting an ally`s genocidal ethnic policies.
Uninformed people believe
that terrorism was a response to Pinochet`s ousting of
Allende. Few Americans are aware that the Chilean
parliament denounced Allende for abrogating the Chilean
constitution. Allende made it clear that both he and the
armed revolutionaries he unleashed represented a threat
to Chilean democracy.
Pinochet was called to
power. He put down terrorism. He assembled scholars and
members of the opposition to devise a new constitution.
When the task was done, Pinochet submitted to elections,
and handed over power to a civilian government.
I spent several years
researching the story. My coauthor, who had lived in
Chile during the Pinochet years, spent two years in
Chile during the 1990s locating and interviewing many
former terrorists. She interviewed the generals and
Pinochet himself on many occasions. She gained access to
military files. She interviewed the
"Chicago Boys" who ran the offices of the military
rebuilt the economy that Allende had shattered. She
read the newspaper files from the time.
I myself interviewed
Pinochet and a former terrorist who had once been on the
most wanted list.
The terrorist had been,
in effect, pardoned by Pinochet and at the time I
interviewed him was head of the private telephone
company, with an expansive office looking out onto the
The former terrorist told
me that he had been mistaken, that his side did not have
the support of the people. He maintained that he was
motivated by humane sympathy for the downtrodden. He
recognized that by resorting to violence he had fallen
victim to the belief that the end justified the means.
result of our inquiry is a book, Chile: Two
Visions—The Allende-Pinochet Era, published in
Spanish by a university in Chile.
Pinochet was successfully
demonized. What we have to learn about propaganda is
that every side has it. Truth everywhere takes a
People get emotionally
caught up with "their side," like fans of a
sports team and like so many of my conservative
acquaintances, who reject out of hand any information,
no matter how factual, that does not uphold their belief
that Bush is a great leader who is standing up for
America against Islamic fanatics who wish to kill us all
in our beds.
Or like my free market
friends, who believe unquestionably and against all
evidence that offshore outsourcing is an example of free
trade benefiting America.
There are some things
about which some people are incapable of rational
For the leftwing,
Pinochet is one of those things.
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. And if it is an indictable
offense for a head of state to pursue terrorists, then
Bush and Blair and the "coalition of the willing" are
To apply law selectively
is not law. It is vengeance.
The terrorists to whom
Pinochet turned his attention were real. The weapons of
mass destruction and links to al Qaida that Bush used to
justify a war of aggression against Iraq were not.
Craig Roberts, a former Reagan Administration official,
is the author of
The Supply-Side Revolution and, with Lawrence M.
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
for Peter Brimelow`s
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the
recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.