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A brutal dictator whose passing should not be lamented. To say anything else would be pure hypocrisy.

As the Economist points out this week, his death (non-fatal heart attack at the time of its writing) juxtaposes well with Castro being too ill to attend his 80th birthday party.

Two despicable relics of an undemocratic Latin America, from opposite sides of the spectrum.

The democratic picture painted over the last couple of years in Latin America is very encouraging, with mostly moderate social democratic parties beating the far-left (Chavez winning on 63% last week is the most notable exception), and with incumbent conservatives being successful in Mexico and Colombia.

The Deputy Editor claims that he died of a non-fatal heart attack. What a plonker! (Mr Cameron's advertising agency might use another ther!)

It is hard to find the death of someone good news. However, in this case, an exception exists.

Sorry Eugene and Iain: I take a more pragmatic view on the role of the General. He was a lone voice standing up against Marxism in Latin America, assisted us in the recapture of British land in the South Atlantic and did introduce a capitalist approach to Chile. He was no angel and indeed may well have taken part in, or authorised, unpalatable acts (to put it mildly). But, as Tim observed, he was our son of a bitch. To ignore that fact is the hypocrisy.

Stole multi-millions from Chile as well, allegedly.

"Ex-candidate" - you have misread Deputy Editor's post

Ex-candidate, if you read Sam's sentence properly - what he has said is perfectly true and valid, if not grammatically perfect.

When the Economist was published this week, Pinochet had only had a non-fatal heart attack.

Ex candidate - talking about plonkers - read the para again. The Economist was published before Pinochet died so reference to non-fatal heart attack is correct.

Baroness T is saddened by his death - why? She spent her whole time as PM standing out against tyrants, so why did she love this one?

Interesting that Mrs T is saddened by General P's death but - according to the Westminster Hour - the White House has expressed sympathy for his regime's victims. Good on the White House.

George W Bush's words from his second inaugural come to my mind:

"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you. Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country. The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it." The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/inaugural/

Good. This man is a DOAB - the only people who will mourn him will be nutters from CCF, CWF and the FA. Double standards. Hypocrisy. Foul language is not enough. Gosh, I really hate him and them!

When will people realise that, excellent as she was, Baroness T doesn’t really know what day of the week it is - this has been the case for a very long time.

I always find it amazing how the left can cheer at the demise of Pinochet whilst air-brushing the crimes of Salvador Allende and his support for the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR).

The same people who are happy to celebrate the re-election of Daniel Ortega whilst forgetting the brutality and opression of his Sandinista movement in the late 1980's

The same people who cheered the release of Mandela and celebrated the election of ANC government in South Africa (happily ignoring the murder and atrocities they committed) yet fail to show similar respect for the "reconciliation" movement in Chile that saw Pinochet's election as a "Senator-for-Life" as part of the peaceful transition to democracy in 1990.

Yes, Pinochet was a brutal dictator, but the geo-political situation in the 1970's was very different than it is now.

As Donal Blaney says above, he was our "son of a bitch" and a key ally of the west in the cold ware era.

I still believe his house arrest and detention in London in 1998 was one of the most shameful acts of this duplicitous and hypocritical government.

I always find it amazing how the left can cheer... (snip)

The left are hypocrites for ignoring the brutality of Castro et al whilst deriding people like Pinochet. It is equally hypocritical to do it the other way around.

I thought Pinochet's house arrest was extremely badly handled, but that doesn't make him any less of a tyrant, and the actions of Thatcher and some Conservative members during that episode were equally embarassing and hypocritical.

His coup brought to an end a sustained period of stable democracy - a rare thing in the region. He may have defeated communism in Chile, but it was by the sword as much as by his Friedmanesque economic policies.

How Thatcher thanked him for bringing democracy to the country is beyond me, he had an authoritarian instinct based on his belief (shared by Hitler) that democracy inevitably resulted in Marxism. He supported us on Falkands but I don't see how that helped us much, and it probably had a little to do with him having a very similar spat with Argentina just 4/5 years earlier.

Donal, the our-son-of-a-bitch "principle" generally backfires in the long-term. So many of the world's current political problems are kick-backs from the West's (e.g. CIA) and Soviet Union's (i.e. Comintern) propping up of dictators in the "greater fight" against eachother's ideology. I strongly recommend Sharanksy's thinking on this. I believe this is one thing Bush really gets.

It is worth noting, as Andrew and Iain just have, how comparable records of violence and authoritarianism by leftist figures in the region don't seem to result in similar degrees of revulsion in the British media. Castro/Che being a relevant example, students are still amazed when I criticise them for having Che Guevara t-shirts/posters. They might as well say "he may have been a sociopathic mass-murderer, but his heart was in the right place."

"the only people who will mourn him will be nutters from CCF, CWF and the FA"
Care to qualify that slur Justin?

For once, Iain, we are in agreement!

Justin - you do yourself no credit by announcing your hatred for the CCF and others in the way you do. The CCF has been in the vanguard of campaigning for a kinder, gentler conservatism.

What a sickening load of cant from those who seem to know next to nothing about the Cold War.

Britain, the United States and the rest of the free world fought a life and death struggle for half a century or more against the utter evil of Soviet communism. The consequences for freedom had we lost would have been as unimaginable as if Hitler had won.

In those circumstances we really had no choice but to make pacts with authoritarian leaders. Sometimes the liberal option simply didn't exist. The number one priority was to hold back the tide of Soviet-controlled insurgents that, at different times, threatened to engulf almost every corner of the world.

This lilly-livered posturing from people who never had to make the hard choices is nothing but moral cowardice. If you guys had been running the show the Reds would have had a field day.

Pacisfism in the face of evil is both stupid and wrong. During WW2 we worked with bad guys to beat the nazis - rightly so. Ditto the Cold War.

Pinochet was a Chilean patriot who, remarkably, didn't fancy seeing his native land turned into a Soviet bridgehead in South America. So he did what was required to depose the snivelling marxist plotter, Allende.

The international Left never forgave him for spoiling their fantasy and outsmarting the Soviets. That's why we see the utterly disproportionate hysteria and vilification directed at the good General.

For Conservatives to join in, applying the standards of the present (where we have no global superpower ranged against us) to the conditions of the past, is shameful.

Margaret Thatcher, to her infinite credit, gets it. So should you.

Augusto Pinochet RIP

""He may be a sonofabitch but he's our sonofabitch" was a favourite soundbite of the Cold War era."

[hypercritical pedant mode]Attributed to FDR, describing Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua in 1939![/hypercritical pedant mode]

"But, as Tim observed, he was our son of a bitch. To ignore that fact is the hypocrisy."

So was Saddam Hussein once. And Osama Bin Laden. And Islam Karimov. And Joseph Mobutu. (And Joseph Stalin was our ally in WW2...) The list of undesirable bedfellows the US and the UK have pragmatically chosen to associate themselves with in order to pursue short-term foreign policy objectives is a long and unfortunate one.

As Sam points out, many of the problems facing the world today have their roots in the Cold War dynamic of the superpowers propping up 'friendly' dictators (if that isn't a contradiction in terms).

I will never forget the famous African proverb from the Cold War regarding that dynamic and its effect on the world - "whether the elephants make love or war, it's always the grass that suffers".

"His coup brought to an end a sustained period of stable democracy"

you are joking? 500 percent inflation under Allende. The chilean congress even asked for a military coup in a vote.
Allende's government was a minority one with 55% opposition in the Congress (incidentally he was also the first democratically elected marxist president). The Mitrokhin commission found that Allende was a KGB informant/asset and so was his mistress. His continued tenure could have led to a south american bloodbath between communists and capitalists.

* "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves." — Henry Kissinger

What Pinochet did for us:
-He effectively stopped a key marxist advance into latin america.
-he created a relatively successful chilean economy from a ruined one.
-he gave power back to a democratically elected government, which is unheard of for a dictator to do.
-He saved his country from communism since Allende was as everyone says 'the first marxist leader to be democratically elected' who was in the middle of reposessing land etc...
-He did it with only 5000 deaths: it took franco a full scale civil war and several hundred thousand deaths to achieve the same result.
-He gave us lots of information on the argentinians during the falklands war
-He let the SAS operate out of Chile.
-Some people say that we could not have won the falklands without him. Think about it: 1)no thatcher re-election so Britain would have stayed a dump, and without Thatcher Regan may have not have had the guts and wits alone to stick with new european nuke deployments (which the West Germans and otherswere against) and so not defeated/stared out the soviets 2) Britain traumatised and made a laughing stock by a failed falklands campaign.

The gulf between Thatcher and the Editor of this blog on this subject shows that the so-called right wing of the modern conservative party is so wet that it in no way resembles the popular Thatcherism of old. No wonder no one votes for us.

I hold no special regard for Mr Pinochet, but I do like to point one thing out to his detractors.

In the vicious dictator league, 3000 deaths is pretty much the relegation zone. Many of those who believe him to be the personification of evil have at sometime or other, been admirers of Mao, a man responsible for the deaths of at least One Thousand Times this number.

Add in the fact that they also tend to be fans of Castro, a man who clings to power decades after his coup, one wonders how illogical they have to be to demonise a man who voluntarily gave up power to a democratic government.

Allende had to go. He was a Fascist supporter in his youth who had swung to the left as he aged - but around him were KGB aligned groups aiming to overthrow him and who wee stockpiling weapons with the trades unions.

It is unlikely Allende would have survived even without Pinochet's coup because the Left was going to overthrow democracy anyway.

What was disgusting was the arbitrary and mercurial torturing and murder of opponents - just as in Argentina - and the role of DINA.

"When will people realise that, excellent as she was, Baroness T doesn’t really know what day of the week it is - this has been the case for a very long time."

Justin, sorry to contradict you. In the course of this year I have had the privilege to be at two separate occasions where Lady Thatcher spoke, one of which was a couple of weeks ago. I can confirm that she was on great form, did know what day of the week it was and spoke clearly showing no signs of memory loss. While the media may like to portray her as senile I am sorry to see people doing it on this site.

That should have been Ten Thousand of course


Justin, you do yourself no favours by making some exceptionally nasty comments about fellow Conservatives. What is it about so many Conservatives that riles you so much?

I tend to view Pinochet in the same light as Oliver Cromwell. A bad man, who was nevertheless an effective ruler.

Justin, you do yourself no favours...

True, but you'll see from another thread that he was tired and emotional and had allowed Larry Green to get under his skin.

The aesthetics of Thatcher’s friendship with Pinochet continue to do us no favours.

Pinochet's death has shown the BBC at its liberal fascist worst, relentlessly imposing its blind-in-one-eye, student union morality on the rest of us.

At least we expect no better from that quarter. There's no excuse when in comes to CH.

I wonder, what would Conservative Home's Editor and Deputy Editor, with their obvious fondness for ahistorical, retrospective human rights posturing, have done during the Cold War? Refused to take sides? Joined the fellow travelling Left in condemning effective anti-Soviet leaders, in an attempt to isolate and overthrow them? Played into the hands of Moscow?

Tim, Sam - I suggest you go away and read the Mitrokhin Archive before joining in the Left's anti-Pinochet chorus.

Maggie, as so often, is right. Pinochet was a hero.

Sorry, I totally disagree that Pinochet was a hero. He was a brutal dictator: effectively Chile's Franco. I find it hard to lament his passing. Having said that, it is a lie to claim that the alternative (just as in Spain) would have been nicer: it would probably have been even nastier - a rerun of Castro's Cuba - Stalinism in the Sun - which of course the Labour Party, the BBC, the Guardian, the Harold Pinter set and some deluded left-leaning Tories regard as a "nice place", just as they sanitised Stalin's Russia and Mugabe's Zimbabwe in the past. Heath even got around to acting as an apologist for the Tien An Men Square Massacre, a fact conveniently omitted from his hagiography on the TRG website.

Mrs Thatcher's somewhat naive loyalty to Pinochet stems from the fact he gave her vital military support during the Falklands. She had little choice but to accept gratefully at the time. Presumably Justin Hinchcliffe does not object to the fact this country allied itself with Stalin (an even worse mass murderer) to defeat Hitler and in the process engaged in some pretty morally dubious activities (of which covering up the Katyn Massacre was the most minor)?

We need *real* ethical foreign policies when we're returned to Government.

If only the world were that simple, Justin. I share the sentiment but if your precepts were followed, we would not have allied with the USSR in 1941.

I can just about accept the necessity of allying with Joseph Stalin in 1941 (it was, after all, the culmination of a series of failures by UK/US/French policymakers to show adequate backbone dating back to Adolf Hitler being allowed to stick two fingers up over the Rhineland) and the same applies to the current marriage of convenience with Pervez Musharraf, but the Cold War relationships forged with the likes of Augusto Pinochet and Joseph Mobutu are a different matter entirely.

So you presumably think it would have been OK for Chile to have become a Stalinist dictatorship, along with much of the rest of Latin America.....especially bearing in mind that, if Cuba is anything to go by, the nastiness would have been much longer lasting?

This strikes me as dogmatic moral posturing delivered from the comfort of an armchair. Similarly, Churchill would have been criminally stupid not to have allied with Stalin in June 1941: Britain was bust, besieged, on its own and had no realistic alternative.

Why are we being subjected to this tide of ill-informed nonsense?

Michael McGowan says:

"Mrs Thatcher's somewhat naive loyalty to Pinochet stems from the fact he gave her vital military support during the Falklands."

A simplistic explanation, Michael. Of course she was grateful - as should we all be - for Pinochet's brave (and unpopular) stance in helping Britain during the Falklands War but the principal reason Maggie (together with all right-thinking people) mourns the passing of General Pinochet is that, by his heroic action in deposing the Soviet stooge Allende, he stopped the drive of Soviet communism into Latin America. This is what the great lady herself said in 1999: "The left can't forgive Pinochet for defeating communism and successfully transforming Chile into a model free market economy." Never a truer word - and an explanation for all the one-sided crap we're being subjected to from the BBC.

Daniel says: "...the Cold War relationships forged with the likes of Augusto Pinochet and Joseph Mobutu are a different matter entirely."

It is a gross defamation to compare a patriot like Pinochet to an unprincipled kleptomaniac thug like Mobutu. The Congolese dictator couldn't have cared less about the Cold War, except insofar as it gave him leverage to continue his brutal rule. Pinochet found himself in a desperate situation with the country he loved sliding into Marxist-inspired chaos under the rule of Allende, the putative Kerensky of Chile. The general performed his patriotic duty by ousting the Communist trojan horse Allende and restoring order, then economic stability and then democracy.

3,000 people died - always unfortunate but many of them were evil Communists and others were fellow travellers. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of totally innocent civilians slaughtered during Mobutu's time.

As an earlier poster said, go and read the Mitrokhin Archive before engaging in cheap moral posturing about an era you clearly know virtually nothing about.


I'd find it a good deal easier to stomach collaborating with Pinochet than Stalin (necessary though the latter was).

Pinochet was a good deal less murderous than Stalin.

It is always amusing to witness the fervour of a True Believer. You are in danger of looking as foolish as Harold Pinter when he "defends" Castro's Cuba with absurdities about abortion clinics running on time.....

The revolting hate-crazed statements of Justin Hinchcliffe are exactly what we have learned to expect from this far-right turned far-left loon.

Pinochet was a good friend to this country and I for one am proud of the help Lady Thatcher and Lord Lamont gave him when he was disgracefully detained here by socialist placemen.

You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs and the methods Pinochet used, while brutal by our standards, were typical of South America. The Communist menace had to be smashed, and he was the strongman to do just that.

What particularly annoys me about the leftists who post here is not so much their views but the way in which they seek to distort historical truth. Just as we had the guy the other day who claimed that the Conservative Party was "gay-friendly" before it was allegedly "hi-jacked by homophobes" (pull the other one!!!!) we now have people trying to make out that the party didn't really like Pinochet.

Sorr, but we did. Indeed some may recall the fanatical support given by the YCs and the Federation of Conservative Students, who even wrote songs in praise of him.

I can't recall any Tory opposition at the time. Now that he's out of favour and dead, of course, its easy to damn him and take the line of least resistance.

No doubt Cameron is already planning to apologise for the unfashionable conduct of Landy Thatcher and indeed his old boss Norman Lamont...

Interesting that none of the anti-Pinochet commentators on this thread can answer the central point being made by Donal Blaney, True Tory, Conga, Pinochet RIP and others.

In 1975 we were in a titanic undeclared global war with a totalitarian foe, the Soviet Union, and Chile was one of its key strategic targets. Pinochet fought back and defeated the Communists. He killed 3,000 people but brought order where there had been chaos, free market prosperity where there had been socialist stagnation and restored democracy and stood down.

Yet, today, Augusto Pinochet's memory is being traduced by people who are almost comically selective in their indignation. They hate him for the same reason we love him - he smashed the sick Communist dream.

As Churchill said shortly after Germany invaded the USSR 'if Hitler decided to invade Hell I'm sure I could some kind words to say on behalf of the devil'.
Sadly we can't always choose our friends in matters of foreign policy. I'm grateful that Pinochet gave us help during the Falklands campaign but he was as Sean Fear points out 'a bad man who was an effective ruler'.

Tory Loyalist, I think Justin Hinchcliffe's postings are beginning to verge on manic but Pinochet was a pretty horrible man. So was Franco even though I accept that it would have been far worse for this country if the Spanish Republicans had won in 1939: they would probably have handed Gibraltar over to Hitler in 1940 on orders from Moscow.

The omelettes and eggs analogy is especially unfortunate: those authoritirian socialists, the Webbs, used it to justify Stalin's Great Terror. They of course were founders of the Labour Party.

Michael McGowan says: "It is always amusing to witness the fervour of a True Believer. You are in danger of looking as foolish as Harold Pinter when he "defends" Castro's Cuba with absurdities about abortion clinics running on time....."

Three cheers for moral equivalence, eh Michael?

In 1975 we were in a titanic undeclared global war with a totalitarian foe, the Soviet Union,
___________________________________________________________

Even for those of us who lived through the cold war this is easy to forget. Judgments are frequently made (eg on recent TV documentaries) as if the realities of the Cold War had never existed!

One of those easily-forgotten realities was the expectation that the Communist system would continue for generations to come.

Nor must Pinochet and Franco be judged on the basis of democratic values, but rather in the context of the Hispanic tradition of the Caudillo. To do otherwise is profoundly anachronistic. One might as well judge Edward I or Henry VIII on the basis of their commitment to democracy.

Also, as I've said before, let's not rewrite the history of the Conservative Party. There was huge support for Franco within pre-war Tory ranks.

It would be very unfair to the late Duchess of Atholl to compare her with the irritating ignoramus Justin Hinchcliffe, but her fate indicates only too well what would have happened to anybody with his outlook in the pre-war Conservative Party.

"So you presumably think it would have been OK for Chile to have become a Stalinist dictatorship, along with much of the rest of Latin America.....especially bearing in mind that, if Cuba is anything to go by, the nastiness would have been much longer lasting?"

Well I happen to think that if one is a supporter of democracy, you have to reconcile yourself with the fact that sometimes democracy delivers uncomfortable results (Allende, Hamas, Blair etc).

We can but speculate what would have happened if the democratically-elected regime of Salvador Allende had not been overthrown, but we do know what happened under the regime of Augusto Pinochet. Torture. Summary execution. Mass murder. Random disappearances. In short, widespread oppression and systematic abuse of human rights.

"This strikes me as dogmatic moral posturing delivered from the comfort of an armchair."

Perhaps, but callous, turn-a-blind-eye pragmatism is hardly much better is it?

"It is a gross defamation to compare a patriot like Pinochet to an unprincipled kleptomaniac thug like Mobutu."

In the sense that they both used the pretext of the Cold War dynamic to get the Western powers to turn a blind eye to the nefarious deeds they committed against their own people, I rather think not.

"Pinochet found himself in a desperate situation with the country he loved sliding into Marxist-inspired chaos under the rule of Allende, the putative Kerensky of Chile."

I'm certainly not pretending that all was sweetness and light under the democratically-elected regime of Salvador Allende, but you seem to be suffering a rather unfortunate case of myopia regarding the role the US government played in fomenting economic and political instability in Chile at the same time. Either that, or you're being deliberately ignorant.

"I'd find it a good deal easier to stomach collaborating with Pinochet than Stalin (necessary though the latter was)."

Personally, I find both to be unpalatable, but (as I said before) I will grudgingly accept that the 1941 alliance was borne out of necessity.

Daniel says, "I'm certainly not pretending that all was sweetness and light under the democratically-elected regime of Salvador Allende, but you seem to be suffering a rather unfortunate case of myopia regarding the role the US government played in fomenting economic and political instability in Chile at the same time. Either that, or you're being deliberately ignorant."

Here we see it - out in the open - the anti-Americanism that drives so many idiots. Daniel, repeat after me - the. Americans. were. the. good. guys. in. the Cold. War.

Destabilising Allende was a moral and geopolitical imperative. Had the Americans withered under the demented disdain of people like Daniel and failed to do to the Soviets what the Soviets were doing to us, we would have lost the Cold War and this blog - along with every other freedom we love - would not exist.

Go and wallow in your anti-American sickness, Daniel.

"Here we see it - out in the open - the anti-Americanism that drives so many idiots. Daniel, repeat after me - the. Americans. were. the. good. guys. in. the Cold. War."

That's unfair - I'm not anti-US.

Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that I will casually disregard the role the US played in propagating the 'chaos' in Chile that you were frothing about before.

You and the other Augusto Pinochet fans have lauded your hero for restoring order and economic stability to Chile, but in your latest paean you also claim that the destabilisation of Chile prior to Pinochet's coup was a moral and geopolitical imperative, and you are therefore crediting Pinochet with resolving a crisis that you feel was right to have been contrived.

Not much of an achievement really, is it?

Daniel, your fine grasp of history overlooks The One Great Truth – myopic masked men will use The Cold War to justify any argument.

In the KGB’s view:

Allende's fundamental error was his unwillingness to use force against his opponents.

KGB operations were greatly assisted by the clumsy and sometimes brutal American response to Latin American revolutionary movements.

Daniel, you say we can but speculate about what the Allende regime would have been like. In the real world, you have to speculate to decide what your choices are. Once you know, you have to make decisions. Only academics can indulge fence-sitting as the path of moral virtue. I certainly don't think Chile is worse off for not having been governed for longer by Allende....and that is NOT an excuse for Pinochet.

I like your touching faith in democracy: what happens if the elections are rigged, as in Zimbabwe for example?

Were the elections in Chile rigged? I was a bit too young to remember.
I do however remember the elections in Mexico (where most of my family were from) being rigged for many years and nobody in the USA being particularly concerned about that even 'though the Mexican governments at the time were nominally socialist.

Thanks for that HIGHLY selective and misleading quote, Mark.

Here's another, more revealing one, from the same source:

"Regular Soviet contact with Allende after his election was maintained not by the Soviet Ambassador but by his KGB case officer, Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, who was instructed by the centre to “exert a favourable influence on Chilean government policy”. According to Allende’s KGB file, he “was made to understand the necessity of reorganising Chile's army and intelligence services, and of setting up a relationship between Chile’s and the USSR’s intelligence services”. Allende was said to react positively...

...Kuznetsov arranged his regular meetings with Allende through the President’s personal secretary, Miria Contreras Bell, known as La Payita and codenamed Marta by the KGB. La Payita was Allende’s favourite mistress during his presidency. Kuznetsov reported that Allende was spending “a great deal of time” in her company. “His relationship with his wife has more than once been harmed as a result.” Despite Allende’s affairs, however, his wife, Hortensia, remained intensely loyal to him. Kuznetsov did his best to cultivate her as well as her husband.

In October 1971, on instructions from the Politburo, Allende was given $30,000 “in order to solidify the trusted relations” with him. Allende also mentioned to Kuznetsov his desire to acquire “one or two icons” for his private art collection. He was presented with two icons as a gift.

On December 7, in a memorandum to the Politburo, the KGB proposed giving Allende another $60,000 for what was termed “his work with [ie, bribery of] political party leaders, military commanders and parliamentarians”. Allende was to be urged to strengthen his authority by establishing “unofficial contact” with Chilean security chiefs and “using the resources of friends [Communists]” in the Interior Ministry."

Yeah - just the kind of guy you want in charge of a strategically vital nation at the height of the Cold War.

Democratically elected? So was Hitler.

Pinochet got rid of this Soviet pawn and remained a staunch ally of the West until the menace of Soviet totalitarianism was was finally defeated. Good for him. Good for us. Good for humanity.

"Daniel, you say we can but speculate about what the Allende regime would have been like. In the real world, you have to speculate to decide what your choices are. Once you know, you have to make decisions. Only academics can indulge fence-sitting as the path of moral virtue. I certainly don't think Chile is worse off for not having been governed for longer by Allende....and that is NOT an excuse for Pinochet."

But surely such a decision would have been best left to the Chilean people?

As far as one can tell, the evidence suggests that Allende was committed to upholding democracy in Chile, and therefore, the Chileans would have been able to remove him in 1976 if they were dissatisfied with his leadership.

As it is, the last indicator we have of public opinion regarding Allende are the parliamentary elections of 1973, in which Allende's party increased its share of the vote, so the Chilean people can't have been too unhappy.

"I like your touching faith in democracy: what happens if the elections are rigged, as in Zimbabwe for example?"

If elections are rigged, they are (by definition) not democratic - if Zimbabwe is a democracy, then I'm the Queen of Sheba.

"Democratically elected? So was Hitler."

Oh hello, Godwin.

sometimes democracy delivers uncomfortable results (Allende, Hamas, Blair etc).
________________________________________________________________

And Hitler.

I am very much a reluctant democrat. If I could choose a regime under which I would personally prefer to live it would probably be that of an "enlightened despot"

Really, the sole advantage of democracy is that it can act as a peaceful mechanism for getting rid of an incompetent or tyrannical regime.

That is, of course, a crucial advantage.

But to return to my theme of political anachronism, we should never forget that numerous Conservative intellectuals have written powerful critiques of democracy, and those critiques are worth reading today.

To Conservative Christians in particular I commend Lord Percy of Newcastle's book "The Heresy of Democracy". a goldmine of truth published as late as 1954.

Until the middle of the twentieth century few Conservatives were prepared to support democracy other than on strictly pragmatic grounds. Nowadays we are deluged with nonsense about the Conservative tradition of "commitment to equality" by fools who have never taken a moment to study Conservative history or philosophy

"Democratically elected? So was Hitler."

Oh hello, Godwin.
_______________________________________________________________

Great minds think alike

And I for one am not Godwin, whoever he is.

“Pinochet RIP”, I don’t apologise for either Allende or Pinochet. But, since the two are being compared and contrasted:

Although Chile could never have been described as “strategically vital”, the USA and USSR both sought influence in South America,

Allende was democratically elected. He considered himself a friend of the Soviet Union and took payments of $420,000 from the KGB. He was ineffective because he wouldn’t use force against his opponents. The KGB admits to talking up Allende’s usefulness in order to secure their jobs.

Pinochet came to power in a coup that killed Allende. The USA's involvement was to covertly spend $10 million on undermining the Allende government, to actively plot and fund a coup and to support the military Junta and maintain CIA assets within it (even after they were linked to human rights abuses).

It is not anti-American to argue that America has done wrong in the past, just as it is not Ant-British to argue that we have done wrong.

The past gives a window on the present. If we blind ourselves to the mistakes and incompetences of our leaders and security services, we too frequently end up in ugly situations like Iraq. (Iraq = Son of Godwin?)

Brandishing Godwin's Law at anyone who mentions Hitler, however aptly, is a cheap non-debating tactic.

Mark - can you answer my argument? Insofar as it had a role in deposing Allende, America did right by Chile, right by the free world and right by humanity. In the context of Soviet expansionism, designed to establish world domination for its totalitarian evil, any ally of Moscow was a legitimate target.

Any other position is morally bankrupt, pacifist nonsense.

Daniel, I think some of your statements are extremely dubious historically. There was very little evidence that Allende was committed to "upholding democracy": he played fast and loose with the economy and the Chilean constitution: see Oliver Kamm's post today. He was also being heavily bankrolled by the KGB which was not a charitable enterprise. No doubt Allende did increase his share of the vote in 1973: the question is whether the Chileans would have been offered the opportunity to chnage their minds two years later? Adolf Hitler also increased his share of the vote in late 1932 and we all know what happened after then.

Mark, you too ought to read Oliver Kamm's post. He vigorously disputes the received wisdom on the left that Allende was overthrown by the CIA.

'I am a reluctant democrat'-Tory Loyalist.Says it all really.You are an embarrasment 'Tory Loyalist'. I rather suspect your nom de plume is ironic and you are a left wing troll posing (badly) as some kind of Tory.The kind of Tory that was finished by the early 20th century.

There's no doubt the CIA, and the US government welcomed the coup against Allende - but equally no doubt that it was carried out by the Chilean armed forces on their own initiative, and with the backing of most Chileans.

If Allende had remained in charge, we'd be sending Chile food aid today.

"Brandishing Godwin's Law at anyone who mentions Hitler, however aptly, is a cheap non-debating tactic."

Maybe, but seeing as I had already acknowledged that democracy can sometimes produce uncomfortable results, I fail to see how your reference to Adolf Hitler added anything to the debate.

"Daniel, I think some of your statements are extremely dubious historically. There was very little evidence that Allende was committed to "upholding democracy": he played fast and loose with the economy and the Chilean constitution: see Oliver Kamm's post today."

Have you got a link to the Oliver Kamm piece?

Like Mark above, I'm not an apologist for Salvador Allende, but from what I can recall, the agenda he followed in government was based largely on implementing the platform he was elected on and extending reforms initiated by his predecessor.

I would also argue that he was clearly more committed to upholding democracy than his late successor.

"No doubt Allende did increase his share of the vote in 1973: the question is whether the Chileans would have been offered the opportunity to chnage their minds two years later?"

The speed with which Allende attempted to implement his reforms has often been held up as an indication that he intended to respect the democratic constraints on his tenure and was mindful of the need to get the socialist mandate renewed at the presidential elections in 1976.

This is pure conjecture of course, which takes me back to my earlier point about how we have no way of knowing what would have happened if Allende had remained in office, but we *do* know about the atrocities which followed his departure.

"He was ineffective because he wouldn’t use force against his opponents." - Mark Fulford

Unfortunately, this quote demonstrates that you've no understanding of the reasons why Allende wasn't able to use force.

It was because the Army comprised officers (and for the greater part, the rank and file too) who were independently minded and almost entirely of conservative background. They weren't going to take up arms against their people to enforce a Marxist / Communist regime. Allende tried to gain control by putting in a weak and ineffectual fool in charge of the Army in order to change things to his advantage so that it could be used as a weapon later on. Of course, it failed. The Army moved and deposed the would-be Communists before they became a Soviet satellite state. Just remember: Pinochet was a General, afterall. Therefore, it was officers like him who represented the feelings of the Army, who were no friends of Allende.

Tory 'Loyalist' is the real loon, not me. It's a terrible shame that he won't reveal himself - is he yet another troll?

Tell me Justin, were you a Pinochet fan in the days when you were busy advising the unemployed to catch their meals in the Thames?

You should try it yourself sometime.

Grow up - get a life.

'Tory Loyalist'. I rather suspect your nom de plume is ironic and you are a left wing troll posing (badly) as some kind of Tory.The kind of Tory that was finished by the early 20th century.
_________________________________________________________________

You should get out more, Malcolm.

Ask the administrator of The Salisbury Review whether the author of (inter alia) "Whatever happened to the Young Conservatives?" and "Charles Maurras and the Action Française" is a "left wing troll" or a longstanding member of the Conservative Party.

And before Justin gets over-excited, I'm afraid I wrote those under a pseudonym also.

Unfortunately, this quote demonstrates that you've no understanding of the reasons why Allende wasn't able to use force.

They were the KGB's words, not mine.

non-fatal heart attack at the time of its writing
Contradiction in terms, obviously it was fatal because he is dead, anything that kills you is fatal.

In terms of world leaders he actually wasn't all that bad, corruption in Chile was no worse than most of the rest of the world, unlike Saddam Hussein he didn't order huge statues and palaces built in his honour.

Allende had been voted out by the Chilean Parliament.

The numbers dying in Chile are miniscule even compared to the Reign of Terror, the Chilean regime unlike Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not go around attempting to annexe their neighbours. Saddam Hussein was responsible for the million deaths in the Iran-Iraq war, the regime was involved in ethnic cleansing and vast numbers disappeared.

General Pinochet may well have been the most suitable person to lead Chile at the time and he hugely improved Chile's economy.

Pinochet came to power in a coup that killed Allende.
Studies of his cadaver concluded that as had been said, he had indeed committed suicide.

Cuba and the USSR were at that time heavily involved in arming and training Marxist revolutionaries in South and Central America.

First of all on the death of Pinochet, I can't find much sympathy within myself for anyone who acknowledges responsibility in the chain of command for the deaths of about 3000 people as discussed above. Any loss of life is regrettable, but his responsibility for those deaths severely diminshes the significance of his own.

Alliances of conveniences have always been a feature of foreign policy in terms of real politik across the world, but they would not necessarily be alliances I would like to see today.

And on TL's latest torturous defence, I can't resist pointing out a logical flaw:

Ask the administrator of The Salisbury Review whether the author...is a "left wing troll" or a longstanding member of the Conservative Party. I'm afraid I wrote those under a pseudonym also.

TL, how on earth would we know that pseudonym A was equal to pseudonym B from this? Or that you have an over-full bookshelf and just "ought to get out more"? At least you're so consistent in your level of commitment to your political opinions that you've never felt able to put your real name to them...

Of course it's your choice in the blogosphere to post from anonymity, but please don't splutter like that when people take it into account when weighing the validity of your posts.

Sorry Richard, but unlike Malcolm and Justin I don't splutter. I'm too cynical for that.

And as a former Chairman of two separate constituency CPC (CPF or whatever it is now - if it exists at all) I'm willing to bet that neither you or Malcolm (forget Justin) has ever discussed any real ideas in the context of your membership of the Conservative Party.

No. All you fall back on is exactly the same mainstay as the old Tory dears, with or without their blue rinses. An atavistic loyalty to the tribe - membership of which presumably confers some sense of being upon you which you would otherwise lack - and a desire for said tribe to win at all costs.

It's that rather sad outlook that actually makes you sooooooh out of touch with the modern world, no matter how much you may huff and puff about your trendy pseudo-socialist principles.

I have never shared that tribalism so in that sense I am more "modern" than you. Sadly 36 years on I'm still waiting for my ideal party to appear. As a result I remain a "Tory Loyalist" having continuously paid many more subs to the party than I'm sure you have ever done.

A minor point: people in this thread have repeatedly referred to Allende as democratically elected. This is a falsehood. Congress constitutionally appointed him Preisdent of Chile after no candidate gained the required majority of the vote in the 1970 election.

As for Allende's own commitment to democracy: he pardoned left-wing extremists imprisoned for terrorism and other crimes. He moved to gain greater leftist control of universities; he unveiled a plan - never implemented - to reorganize primary and secondary education in order to indoctrinate all students in Marxism; he also tried to replace the congress with a unicameral legislature to boost his control. Some democrat.

As for the claims that the US offered financial, military or logistical support for the 1973 coup, they are demonstrably untrue

The US had no involvement with the coup plotters. In his memoir "Years of Upheaval," Henry Kissinger is adamant about this point, while freely admitting the US helped fund the opposition. Historians' accounts of the Allende years back up those claims.

Several books critical of the regime, including "The Pinochet File", make clear that the US provided no strategic support, equipment, guarantees, or anything else that materially helped the 1973 coup plotters. While there were some hardliners within the U.S. government who would like to have fomented a coup, they did not get their way. And to be sure, in 1970 the CIA did take part in a clumsy scheme to try to prevent Allende from taking office (which was already common knowledge long prior to the newly declassified documents), but once he was in office, the CIA ceased all such activities.

As for Pinochet himself, I cannot excuse or absolve the human rights abuses perpetrated by his regime. Despite them, I feel that his government was ultimately a positive thing, especially when the alternatives are considered.

Again, nothing excuses Pinochet's regime's human rights abuses, but that does not stop my sharing some of the Reagan Administration and Lady Thatcher's positive views of Pinochet, while simultaneously deploring the negatives.

TL @ 23:52 - I decline to post my full response to your anonymous bluster, we could hijack the remainder of the thread but it wouldn't help anyone! Let's park it.

James - this is obviously a subject you've taken some interest in. I'm impressed by the depth of knowledge of several posters here of the background in Chile.

I was hoping you'd post James, even though I knew you'd probably disagree with me :-)

"A minor point: people in this thread have repeatedly referred to Allende as democratically elected. This is a falsehood. Congress constitutionally appointed him Preisdent of Chile after no candidate gained the required majority of the vote in the 1970 election."

Not a falsehood, James, just a matter of differing interpretation.

Salvador Allende was appointed president after gaining a plurality of votes in a free and fair election for the position.

Some would question whether that process was democratic, but then there are several 'democratic' leaders around the world who owe their position to plurality rather than majority, including those two famous guardians of democracy spreading the word to Iraq and Afghanistan, George and Tony.

The truth is that finding a universally-accepted definition of democracy is like trying to nail jelly to a wall, but what seems impossible to deny is that the process by which Allende came to power bore a far closer resemblance to democracy than the process by which Augusto Pinochet did.

Daniel - how many dictators can you think of who re-established democracy once the danger of totalitarian aggression had paased and then voluntarily relinquished power?

The fact that there is scope for "differing interpretation", as you put it, should tell you that Allende was not exactly a poster boy for democracy in 1975.

The fact that Maggie had the bottle to stand by Pinochet's side when lesser men and women would have made their excuses and slipped away in the face of the BBC-orchestrated hysteria makes me love her even more.

"Daniel - how many dictators can you think of who re-established democracy once the danger of totalitarian aggression had paased and then voluntarily relinquished power?"

Oh for goodness sake - this insistence that Augusto Pinochet should be feted for re-establishing democracy in Chile has been getting my goat all day.

That's like arguing that the playground bully who steals the cricket bat off the captain of the cricket team, beats him and the rest of the team up with it and then gives the bat to the teacher when he leaves school should be thanked for giving it back!

Pinochet was no friend of democracy, and as for 'totalitarian aggression', Pinochet and his death squads were more of a menace to the Chilean people than Salvador Allende ever was.

"The fact that there is scope for "differing interpretation", as you put it, should tell you that Allende was not exactly a poster boy for democracy in 1975."

I should hope not, given his suspicious death in the aftermath of Pinochet's violent power grab in 1973.

I don't know much about Pinochet but the fact that Maggie supported him was good enough for me.

So he killed a few Communists? So what? The world is well rid of such people.

Not just my view. The view of most normal Tories as opposed to Bluelabourites.

Daniel says: "Pinochet was no friend of democracy, and as for 'totalitarian aggression', Pinochet and his death squads were more of a menace to the Chilean people than Salvador Allende ever was."

That fact that a self-proclaimed Conservative can so casually dismiss the unutterable evil of Soviet Communism shows how intellectually and morally debased some Tories have become.

Just compare Chile's 3,000 dead (most of them active Marxists, Communists and other political trash) with the butchery of almost every Soviet-controlled regime of the 20th century. Allende was a KGB stooge (fact) and God alone knows how the Chilean people would have suffered had he succeeded - yet Daniel airily compares him to the captain of the cricket team.

You're a strange kind of a Conservative, Daniel. Soft on Communism in theory and practice.

"So he killed a few Communists? So what? The world is well rid of such people.

Not just my view. The view of most normal Tories as opposed to Bluelabourites."

I can only assume that you must be a troll. No Conservative I know would ever have such a vile attitude to the arbitrary killing of political opponents.

"That fact that a self-proclaimed Conservative can so casually dismiss the unutterable evil of Soviet Communism shows how intellectually and morally debased some Tories have become."

Yet again, you deliberately misrepresent my position in order to avoid sensible debate. I did not casually dismiss Soviet communism at all, and your constant playing of the Soviet scare card does you no favours at all.

No, Salvador Allende was not unsympathetic to the Soviet regime and yes, he did take a relatively insignificant amount of cash from the KGB, BUT Allende's democratic Marxism was a long way removed from Sovietesque 'totalitarian aggression', which (economics aside) had more in common with the brutal oppression and wanton disregard for human rights of Augusto Pinochet, as anything more than a superficial comparison between Allende's Chile and Pinochet's Chile would tell you, if you could be bothered to take your blinkers off for a moment.

"You're a strange kind of a Conservative, Daniel. Soft on Communism in theory and practice."

I'll admit I'm not a typical Conservative, but I'm not 'soft on communism' in either theory or practice. That does not mean that I have to think that brutal, oppressive, murderous dictatorship a la Pinochet is an acceptable alternative though.

In the words of Lady Thatcher:

Falklands War

"Though I shall not go into the details, I can say that without President Pinochet's considerable practical help in 1982, many more of our servicemen would have lost their lives in the South Atlantic. The country thus owes him a great debt."

Chilie

"First, it had seen the total defeat of communism at a time when that ideology was advancing throughout the hemisphere. As Eduardo Frei, the former Christian Democrat president of Chile put it: "The military saved Chile". Secondly, Chile has seen the establishment of a thriving, free-enterprise economy which has transformed living standards and made Chile into a model for Latin America.

Thirdly, Chile is also remarkable because President Pinochet established a constitution for a return to democracy, held a plebiscite to decide whether or not he should remain in power, lost the vote (though gaining 44 per cent support), respected the result and handed over power to a democratically-elected successor. Chile thus enjoyed prosperity, democracy and reconciliation--until we and the Spanish arrogantly chose to interfere in her affairs. So far, the Chileans have behaved with great restraint. But we should not assume that this will continue, particularly if Senator Pinochet, who is not now in the best of health, were to die in Britain or is taken to Spain. Anything that happens then will be the direct responsibility of this Government and, in particular, of [ Jack Straw] the Home Secretary."


Daniel displays a rather droll fondness for euphemism: "Salvador Allende was not unsympathetic to the Soviet regime." Yes, and Ion Antonescu of Romania was "not unsympathetic" to Nazi Germany, I suppose.

Allende was a self-declared Marxist who was on the take from the KGB. He also brought in many Cuban 'advisors' (in the 70s, a sure sign of a Soviet-backed regime preparing for one party rule). If Daniel had been in charge of the Western response we would have sat on our hands until Chile fell neatly into the Soviet bloc - and consigned the Chilean people to decades of misery, oppression and poverty.

Daniel also accuses me of playing the "Soviet scare card". Yes, it was all a Red Scare, of course - the classic Willi Munzenberg line since the 1930s. Dismissing legitimate and well-grounded fear of Communist domination is to be expected from Comintern agents - but not from a Tory.

Finally, Daniel is guilty of judging the past by the standards of today. He says;

"That does not mean that I have to think that brutal, oppressive, murderous dictatorship a la Pinochet is an acceptable alternative though."

I happen to agree with that - 'is' being the key word.

Today, we are not forced by desperate circumstances to back authoritarians against totalitatians in order to safeguard the free world. But in the context of the Cold War (as with WW2) we had to make these choices because the cuddly liberal democratic option simply didn't exist in places like Chile.

Daniel, can I ask you a question? Do you believe the use of the A-bomb against Japan in WW2 was legitimate?

I can only assume that you must be a troll. No Conservative I know would ever have such a vile attitude to the arbitrary killing of political opponents
_______________________________________________________________

Daniel, did you never hear of the Federation of Conservative Students?

Perhaps Mr Irvine was a member.

"Daniel displays a rather droll fondness for euphemism: "Salvador Allende was not unsympathetic to the Soviet regime." Yes, and Ion Antonescu of Romania was "not unsympathetic" to Nazi Germany, I suppose."

Oh look, yet another false comparison.

Ion Antonescu was a brutal dictator with a military background who rode roughshod over the Romanian constitution to consolidate his own power, crush dissent and savagely oppress political opponents.

(A bit like Augusto Pinochet in Chile really.)

Furthermore, his relationship with Germany was far closer and more subservient than that between Salvador Allende and the Soviet Union, but don't let that glaringly obvious fact stop your increasingly weak attempts at muddying the waters of debate.

As for the rest of your fatuous contentions, we simply seem to be going round in circles so there's not really much point in continuing to attempt to engage in a rational debate with you for now.

I may return later to address them if I get sufficiently bored and can trust myself not to say something rude.

A (Catholic) Conservative lady sent me the following. It totally encapsulates the views of all true patriots and anti-Communists in our party.

Sadly, news has just broken of the sad passing of that great ally of the British people and a true ally of the United Kingdom - General Pinochet, the former leader of the Chilean nation.

No one did a greater service to the British-Chilean Alliance and the historic bonds of friendship between our two great nations than the Dear General.

General Pinochet helped the UK during the Falklands conflict in which neighbouring Argentina had the islands. He gave the British SAS a base which it used to pursue the Argentinians.

Lady Thatcher visited General Pinochet during his visit to London/Surrey when the vile europhile Blair regime refused to let him return to Chile on "human rights grounds" even though Blair and his shower were/are quite happy for links to the brutal regime in communist China.

Lady Thatcher praised General Pinochet while he was under house arrest in Surrey. She has just issued a statement saying she is saddened to hear of his passing.

General Pinochet was a staunch Roman Catholic.

May His Soul Rest In Peace.

And thank you, General Pinochet, for your friendship to our nation and for standing up to the communists who tried to destroy your nation three decades ago.

Aye to that.

Thatcher always honoured Britain's debt to Pinochet


By Robin Harris

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 13/12/2006

No one except Margaret Thatcher would have risked sending the British fleet 8,000 miles into the South Atlantic to recapture the Falklands in 1982. And no one else would have risked her reputation to defend that of Augusto Pinochet, when he was arrested in Britain, 16 years later. She never made any secret of the fact that the two were connected. She felt that Britain had a debt of honour which she, at least, would repay, whatever the cost.

Mrs Thatcher had no direct personal dealings with Pinochet while she was in Downing Street, despite the cooperation detailed below. She first met him while on a speaking tour in March 1994 at a reception in Santiago in the British Embassy. They subsequently had no contact until, as a result of a chance meeting, he was invited with a friend to tea at her home on October 5, 1998. The discussion was friendly but not very substantial, partly because he spoke no English and partly because he was already in acute pain from his back – he later ill-advisedly decided on an operation in a London clinic.

When Pinochet was arrested there at midnight on October 16/17, Margaret Thatcher was under no obvious duty to stand by him. One cannot, after all, be held responsible for the past life of everyone with whom one shares a cup of tea. But she felt an overwhelming moral debt, because of the Falklands. Precisely what Chile had done was shrouded in secrecy. But Mrs Thatcher's own recollections were confirmed in detail by a memorandum of March 25, 1999 written for her use by General Fernando Matthei Aubel, the head of the Chilean air force in 1982. It has never been published.

Matthei reveals how, shortly after the Argentinian invasion, the Chilean air force was approached for help by London and a special envoy despatched for direct negotiations. Matthei reported immediately to Pinochet, who agreed to collaborate, but in complete secrecy – diplomatic channels and indeed the Foreign Ministries of both countries were bypassed.

Pinochet's other condition was that there must be no attacks launched from Chilean territory. (This rule was inadvertently breached when a British helicopter force-landed in Punta Arenas: Pinochet had the rescued airmen flown back to Britain anonymously). There was every reason for caution. Chile was in the midst of a deep recession, and Pinochet at the nadir of his popularity. Argentina's forces were also much stronger than those of Chile. If Argentina had won in the Falklands, Chile would, with or without the secrecy, almost certainly have been attacked. And Chile had no local allies.

The Chileans allowed disassembled aircraft to be shipped in for British use. But by far the most important assistance was intelligence. A long-range military radar was installed opposite Argentina's Comodoro Rivadavia air base. With this equipment, the Chileans provided the Task Force with minute-to-minute information on Argentine aircraft movements, so the Task Force commander could prepare his ships' defences and scramble fighters to intercept. On June 8, however, the long-range radar had to be switched off for overdue maintenance. Argentine aircraft were thus able to launch a surprise attack, sinking the troopships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, with terrible casualties. Whether Britain could have won the Falklands War without Chile's help is debatable. Whether it could have done so without far greater loss of lives is simply not. Pinochet, who took every key decision, fully deserved Mrs Thatcher's gratitude.

But one further misconception should be removed. Margaret Thatcher would not have spoken up for him if she had believed him a monster. She could not judge the merits of every allegation. But, clearly, the legal case against him was weak and the motivation of those involved suspect.

In such conditions, Pinochet at least had the right to justice in his own country. She also took a positive view of Pinochet's 17 years in power. There was certainly great violence. But the loss of life, most of which occurred in the first months when a civil war raged, was less than in other similar situations – not least in Cuba, where Castro executed 15,000 opponents by firing squad. And unlike Castro, Pinochet left behind a stable democracy.

Moreover, other statistics of Pinochet's record are worth mentioning. Inflation down from 600 per cent to six per cent. Infant mortality rates down from 66 per thousand to 13 per thousand. Urban access to drinking water up from 67 per cent to 98 per cent. Life expectations up from 64 to 73. Living standards more than doubled.

Margaret Thatcher has nothing to be ashamed of in defending Augusto Pinochet, when others refused to do so. But he was lucky to find such a champion.

Robin Harris was a member of Lady Thatcher's No 10 Policy Unit

"Allende was a self-declared Marxist who was on the take from the KGB. He also brought in many Cuban 'advisors' (in the 70s, a sure sign of a Soviet-backed regime preparing for one party rule). If Daniel had been in charge of the Western response we would have sat on our hands until Chile fell neatly into the Soviet bloc - and consigned the Chilean people to decades of misery, oppression and poverty.

Daniel also accuses me of playing the "Soviet scare card". Yes, it was all a Red Scare, of course - the classic Willi Munzenberg line since the 1930s. Dismissing legitimate and well-grounded fear of Communist domination is to be expected from Comintern agents - but not from a Tory."

You are playing the Soviet scare card though - throughout this thread you have consistently and deliberately exaggerated and overplayed the threat of Soviet 'domination'.

Salvador Allende, despite being a Marxist who received occasional relatively insignificant payments from the KGB, was very much his own man and the signs indicate he was committed to achieving his goals through democratic means.

As for consigning the Chilean people to decades of misery and oppression, a comparison of Allende's Chile and Augusto Pinochet's Chile tells us all we need to know about which of the two regimes was miserable and oppressive, and it wasn't the one which was democratically elected.

"Finally, Daniel is guilty of judging the past by the standards of today...

Today, we are not forced by desperate circumstances to back authoritarians against totalitatians in order to safeguard the free world. But in the context of the Cold War (as with WW2) we had to make these choices because the cuddly liberal democratic option simply didn't exist in places like Chile."

Do us all a favour and ease off the wanton hyperbole would you?

The apocalyptic landscape you paint of a world in which Allende had remained as Chilean leader is utterly ridiculous.

The circumstances in Chile were not 'desperate'; Allende was not a 'totalitarian'; the 'free world' would not have collapsed had he not been ousted by the brutal, murderous Pinochet.

"Daniel, can I ask you a question? Do you believe the use of the A-bomb against Japan in WW2 was legitimate?"

Japan was losing the war anyway. I certainly don't think nuking Nagasaki was legitimate, and on balance, I would probably say the same about Hiroshima.

Can I ask you a question in return? Do you believe it was correct to arm and train Osama Bin Laden and friends in the context of the Cold War, in order to safeguard the free world?

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