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dead dictator pool

If you picked this week, you may want to start mentally planning what you’re going to do with all the cash. The secrecy surrounding Castro’s condition would seem to indicate that he’s going from bad to worse.

Luckily for Fidel, he’s already managed to pass his revolutionary torch.

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That’s the key lesson from Augusto Pinochet’s death today, which some Chileans are mourning while many others celebrate:

More than 3,000 people died in political violence under Pinochet’s rule, many at the hands of repressive secret police. Some 28,000 people were tortured in secret detention centers and hundreds of thousands of Chileans went into exile.

Car horns blared as detractors of the deceased former dictator danced and cheered in Plaza Italia, a major intersection near the city center where Chileans usually congregate to celebrate sporting victories.

“I’m going to celebrate with my family the death of the tyrant. I even have a bottle of Brazilian cane alcohol we’ve been saving for 25 years to celebrate this day,” said Santiago Cavieres, a 75-year-old lawyer.

“I was in the National Stadium (a sports stadium used as a concentration camp in 1973) and from there they sent me to the Chacabuco concentration camp, where I was for eight months… Everyone there was tortured,” he said.

Despite Pinochet’s human rights record, many Chileans loved him and said he saved Chile from Marxism. Supporters say his economic reforms put Chile on track to become Latin America’s model economy.

Pinochet’s coup to gain power, supported by the Reagan administration, is often pointed to as yet another example of American interference gone wrong. And while it’s easy to understand why – at a time when Communism was perceived as the biggest threat facing America – the decision to support Pinochet was made. The United States is not the only country guilty of this, but there have certainly been numerous prominent examples of it in the last number of years stemming from U.S. policy.

The problem is, the world isn’t divided into good guys and bad guys, white hats and black hats, Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers. Politics isn’t like a bad Western movie (and Reagan knew a lot about bad Western movies). Oftentimes, the enemy of my enemy is also a bad guy, and is also an enemy.

We’re still making that mistake today. The U.S. allying with extremist Shi’ite Muslim groups in Iraq, post-Saddam, is just one more chapter in this saga. And we can already see just how well that’s working out.

The trouble is, often the only person strong enough to oppose one bad guy is another bad guy; moderates tend to be weak in countries facing war and lack of law and order. Faced with the choice of backing the strong extremist or the weak moderate, most will choose the strong extremist and close their eyes to his darker deeds.

But it didn’t work then, and it’s not working now. It’s time to change how we look at the world, to stop breaking it into good guys and bad guys, and to stop supporting an enemy’s enemy that will only come back to bite us in the ass.

(By the way, who had Pinochet in the Dead Dictators Pool?)

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Arafat death watch: update

11.09.2004

Yasser Arafat is really, truly dead now… or maybe not… or maybe yes: Palestinians senior sources in Paris report Yasser Arafat is dead. Palestinian leader is said to have expired minutes after Palestinian PM Qureia visited him at Percy hospital in Paris. Latest word is that Arafat will be buried in Ramallah. Palestinian delegation will […]

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Marking Arafat’s passing

11.04.2004

If and when the reports of Arafat’s death are confirmed, Meryl’s making a $25 donation to Magen David Adom as part of her Dead Dictators Pool Matching Fund initiative. I happen to think that it’s an ironically appropriate way to mark the passing of a dictator who caused so many innocent people to need MDA’s […]

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Yasser Arafat is dead

11.04.2004

CBC is reporting that Arafat is dead. I can’t say I will grieve for him or mourn him. He was a terrorist responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent people – including large numbers of his own people. But this is as much the end of an era as the beginning of one. Palestinians […]

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Arafat’s heart attack

10.08.2003

The news of Arafat’s heart attack last week has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere. Charles is waiting for him to kick the bucket. Damian thinks he should suffer. Meryl’s even got a song about it. Unconfirmed reports of his death have caused some of the bloggers to cross their fingers and start “death […]

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