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March 11, 2006

Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye

I fully endorse Rob Farley's pragmatic approach to dictator removal. I care much less about individual justice than the cessation of tyranny and bloodshed.

March 11, 2006 | Permalink

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» Going Soft on Dictators from Beautiful Horizons
A week ago, upon the death of Slobodan Milosevic Robert Farley wrote this post about Milosevic with this comment:I did not support (and still do not support) the prosecution of Augusto Pinochet in a European court. It seems to me [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 18, 2006 7:27:28 PM

Comments

Farley makes a good case on the differences between the manner of the fall/departure of Milosevic and Pinochet, and why this should influence subsequent judicial fora.

I'm not ready to write this difference off and wrap the distinction with the ribbon of policy, however. Surely Pinochet should not have gotten away without accountabilty of some kind. This is not justice, and is not really good policy to allow massive destruction of life with a last minute wave of the hand. It is like allowing the President of the US to pardon himself - which is so at odds with justice as to not be tolerable.

The biggest problem with the Farley argument is that it actually could encourage a dictator to conduct massive pograms and purges just before the end knowing that he was about to be immune.

I'd favor instead a system that says that the citizens, politicians and military leaders to craft a particular solution to their own country, but not expect the world community to look away from the result. Sending Pinochet to Europe was just asking too much of the respectors of international law to ignore.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Mar 11, 2006 5:01:19 PM

The disincentives for a national leader to evade or usurp the law must be at least as powerful as the temptations. In the context of the current American crisis, I find this attitude incomprehensible, offensive, and incredibly dangerous.

Nixon to Reagan to Bush. Somebody needs to study history.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Mar 11, 2006 8:45:07 PM

He's completely wrong about Pinochet as I indicated in comments. Pinochet facing justice helped Chile complete its return to true civilian control of the military.

He also fails to consider what happens to the human rights abusers further down the chain of command. Is it alright to give Pinochet a pass simply because he was the dictator, while punishing some sergeant who tortured under Pinochet's orders? I certainly don't think so. It also flies in the face of the Nuremberg precedents.

He also seems to believe that dictators are willing to give up power in return for a free pass. Doesn't seem to be much proof around for that. Pinochet is a bad example in this regard. He left power kicking and screaming and had it all been left up to him, he would have probably borught out the military to squelch the results of the plebiscite that turned him out. There is proof for this as I indicated in comments on Mayer's site.

Finally, yet another way in which Pinochet is a bad example are the acts of terrorism that Pinochet's secret police DINA conducted in Argentina (the murder of Genral Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires in 1974), the US (the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington, DC in 1976) and Italy (the attempted murder of Bernardo Leighton and his wife in Rome i 1975). These were acts of state-sponsored terrorism. Indeed, one of the arguments that Judge Garzón made in attempting to have Pinochet extradited to Spain was that he was acting on behalf of Spanish citizens who were victims of Pinochet's state terror.

The complete ignorance of the victims was what really bothered me about Farley's post. It is unacceptable in a civilized society for one person to harm another and and then have a third party deny any attempt to obtain justice to the victims.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Mar 12, 2006 12:27:18 PM

That should say "the complete ignorance of the plight of the victims."

One thing that is certain to deter "tyranny and bloodshed," Ezra, is seeking justice against those who commit these acts.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Mar 12, 2006 1:39:57 PM

JimPortlandOR, I don't think the massive purge before stepping down is a realistic fear. First if I remember correctly the Chilean amnesty was for acts before a certain date. Second even if a dictator negotiates an amnesty he must worry about whether it will be honored after he has surrendered power. A last minute purge increases the risk it will not be honored.

Posted by: James B. Shearer | Mar 12, 2006 9:13:30 PM

James,

In addition to the amnesty, Pinochet protected himself further by creating the post of "senator-for-life" which gave him parliamentary immunity.

This immunity later had to be stripped from him.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Mar 13, 2006 10:56:15 PM

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Posted by: peterwei | Oct 22, 2007 7:08:41 AM

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