In a typically mad article in today’s Guardian, child of privilege Seamus Milne rants on about Blair’s dud and pointless role in the Middle East. I agree that Blair should drop it, but those of us who never bought the whole Tony schtick never expected it to be anything other than a bit of fake gravitas and earning opportunities for the ageing fraud. We don’t have Seamus’ outraged disappointment.
However, in the middle of his cliche-fest was the phrase:
The Egyptian regime isn’t just autocratic. Its president overthrew an elected government Pinochet-style, with a bloodletting of Chilean proportions.
Of course! Pinochet, possibly the ultimate bogeyman for well fed British liberal prats, which culminated in a lengthy and futile period of house arrest under Tony’s government, at the instigation of a now disgraced excitable self publicist, the dodgy Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon, now a chum of the ludicrous Julian Assange. How the UK lefties enjoyed that slice of gesture politics.
Eventually Jack Straw (as Home Secretary) let him go, and Pinochet was never extradited to Spain. He never committed any offences there anyway. Jack now inevitably claims he was ‘deceived’ into releasing him. Of course you were Jack.
Anyway, the point in all this is what Pinochet actually did that was unique, and for which he never gets the credit. He voluntarily gave up his authoritarian dictatorship to democratic government. Unheard of in the annals of dictators of any political hue, though Franco in Spain came close with his arrangements for after his death. The reasons for Pinochet doing this are often speculated upon, but no-one seems to know for sure.
In 1988 the Pinochet regime instigated a national referendum on whether he should continue in power. It seems to have been conducted pretty much impartially, and he lost (56%:44%). By the next year the democratically elected Patricio Aylwin was in power, and Chile has, more or less, never looked back. It’s one of the few economically successful democracies in Latin America.
None of this is to exonerate Pinochet and his regime of the very many brutal crimes that their government committed. He continued to be
But….is there another example anywhere of such a remarkable – and successful – voluntary relinquishing of power, by a dictator with such a reputation? In particular, Seumas Milne’s billionaire murderous lefty heroes like Stalin, Castro, Mao….Brown etc etc?
I think not. It remains one of the least remarked and unusual episodes in international politics. Every time a trite jibe at Pinochet crops up in the Guardian etc (3,520 search results, and counting), ask yourself how many of the current crop of madmen, warlords and friends of Tony are likely to follow suit, giving up power and installing democracy without outside interference?
I think we can all guess the correct answer.