Saturday, December 18, 2004

Fame! I'm gonna live forever! I'm gonna learn how to fly! High! Oh no, wait, it's a stroke...

General Pinochet appears to be somewhat worse for wear.
I may as well say right out that I did not support the General's 1998 arrest in London (for a variety of reasons). That said, one finds it hard to muster a great deal of tears and snot over this. Pinochet's adversaries smell a rat - possibly justifiably. It is hardly beyond the bounds of credibility that an 89 year old awaiting trial could have a stroke, however. We shall see what happens.

The general may have done his country some service in the past and he proved a stout ally of the United Kingdom against the Argentines, but ultimately the verdict must be that if he comes unstuck and ends up facing a jury of his fellow countrymen he will have got what's coming to him. I have experienced far too much willingness among sections of the political Right to make excuses for the man over the years. The idea that he left office in a spirit of cheery volunteerism is nothing more than a myth - in reality he was shoehorned out kicking and screaming when the head of the Chilean Air Force led other senior officers in refusing to enact martial law in the face of an unfavourable verdict at the ballot box. Had Pinochet had his way there would undoubtedly have been blood on the streets, long after any credible threat of Communist takeover had fizzled away. The record is grim enough even as things stand.

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