Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm glad Jonah Goldberg writes for the L.A. Times

Because I'd have a lot less to talk about if it wasn't for his hypocritical, hot-air filled writings.

Jonah thinks Iraq needs a dictator again:

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.

Wow, I guess that democracy thing went out the window. He's not even talking about it as an option now. Goldberg is going with rightist dictator over leftist dictator. What about the purple fingers? What about all those votes? Oh, they can't stop fighting each other and us? Well, guess we need to find a new dictator.

Not that he isn't already being cynical enough, but his premise that all patriotic Americans believe Iraq needs a new dictator is ridiculous. If we do that, then what was the point of fighting this war in the first place? "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss," said the Who, and in Goldberg's case, they'd be right.

Goldberg is by and large dismissive of Pinochet's atrocious record. He gives us the ludicrous theory that Pinochet's brutality created democracy. What?

Gen. Pinochet seized a country coming apart at the seams. He too clamped down on civil liberties and the press. He too dispatched souls. Chile's official commission investigating his dictatorship found that Pinochet had 3,197 bodies in his column; 87% of them died in the two-week mini-civil war that attended his coup. Many more were tortured or forced to flee the country.

But on the plus side, Pinochet's abuses helped create a civil society. Once the initial bloodshed subsided, Chile was no prison. Pinochet built up democratic institutions and infrastructure. And by implementing free-market reforms, he lifted the Chilean people out of poverty. In 1988, he held a referendum and stepped down when the people voted him out.

That's kinda funny. America created a civil society without these abuses. So did Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and Japan, for starters. Democracy can flourish without dictatorship early on. Then there is his claim that Chile was no prison. Yeah, go ask all those people who disappeared or were tortured if it was a prison. Dissent against Pinochet wasn't tolerated, so how could you possibly claim it wasn't a prison? Obviously, only if you're Jonah Goldberg.

Oh, yeah, Pinochet actually waited two years to relinquish his power.

This is a strawman argument, designed more to be a shot at Castro than actually be useful to Iraq. Because, let's be honest, there is no leftist/rightist fight in Iraq. It's the right versus the more right versus the extreme right. It's a religious fight. Castro is an atheistic, amoral Communist who, thank God, is about to knock off, and without his brutality around, Cuba has a shot at making it.

As for Iraq, well, this Goldberg suggestion is five days off of Jonathan Chait, he of the quasi-liberal New Republic and from the Times, wrote an op-ed calling for us to restore Saddam to power to stabilize Iraq. So, yes, boneheadedness is not partisan. Chait's idea was just as bad, if not worse (on second thought, it was worse, because we could be hundreds of thousands of lives in the plus column if we were going to keep the status quo).

Anyways, back to Goldberg. This is how he finishes:

Now, you might say: "This is unfair. This is a choice between two bad options." OK, true enough. But that's all we face in Iraq: bad options. When presented with such a predicament, the wise man chooses the more moral, or less immoral, path. The conservative defense of Pinochet was that he was the least-bad option; better the path of Pinochet than the path toward Castroism, which is where Chile was heading before the general seized power. Better, that is, for the United States and for Chileans.

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 notwithstanding.

Castro is tolerated because, quite frankly, we screwed up opportunities to take him out. Let me remind Goldberg that it was the liberal JFK and RFK who were the only ones to attempt to remove Castro since he took power in 1959. Granted, some of the ideas were farfetched, but at least they tried. No one has since. Everyone has tolerated him, not just liberals. I pointed out higher up that I'm glad he's on his way out, and I'm sure most every liberal would agree.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let's give it up for Jonah Goldberg, proud member of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists, and prince of the straw-man argument.


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