In Whose Image?
The Washington Post compares Pinochet and Castro, Latin America's doppelgangsters, two murderous dictators one whose legacy was prosperity and the other hunger. Oxblog Comments comments. Marc Cooper has dark memories. Samizdata finds himself compelled to denounce Pinochet as a murderer, but acknowledges that he was by no means the worst of them. The fascination of the Pinochet story -- and his juxtaposition with his evil historical twin, Fidel Castro -- lies in that it is a case study in the problem of historical evil. How may we oppose evil if we must commit it ourselves? Many of the same individuals who now rejoice at Pinochet's death might in the next breath argue that America should have left Saddam in power because ... he was the lesser evil. And in the breath following wax nostalgic over America's defeat of Nazi Germany, which included the firebombing of Dresden as a footnote, because it prevented the extermination of whole races. Or did it? If you are one of President Ahmadinejad's admirers, then you may question whether the evils the Allies committed were for any knowable good. How does man act in history? How does man save his soul and yet live?
And history goes on, leaving us to catch up as best we can before historical judgments and final verdicts can be made. While the press focused on the death of Pinochet, another man was being convicted of being the "Pol Pot" of Africa. The London Times reports:
Ethiopia’s brutal Marxist dictator, known as the African Pol Pot, became the first fallen leader to be found guilty yesterday of genocide in his own country after a 12-year trial. Mengistu Haile Mariam, the former President, who fled to Zimbabwe in 1991, was accused along with top members of his military Government of killing thousands during his 17-year rule. The period was marked by vicious crackdowns on opponents, disastrous wars with neighbouring countries and rebel groups and devastating famines in which starvation was used to force peasants into submission. ...
The Soviet-backed revolution that brought Mengistu and a group of other young army officers to power in 1974 ended the feudal rule of Emperor Haile Selassie, treated as a deity by millions of dirt-poor people in Africa’s second most-populous country. The court was told how the ageing Emperor was suffocated to death with a pillow and his body buried under a lavatory in the royal palace, where he was under house arrest. Mengistu and other hardliners had decided that his presence was an obstacle to rural peasants making the leap from feudalism to Marxism without a process of industrialisation and creation of a proletariat. Mengistu’s henchmen devised a “Red Terror”, modelled on the Chinese Cultural Revolution, to bring the reluctant populace into line. Hundreds of thousands were killed. Others fled into exile or joined rebel movements. In the mid-1980s it was not uncommon to see students, suspected government critics or rebel sympathisers hanging from lampposts each morning. Ordinary people were too terrified to talk to Western reporters.
The "Pol Pot" or the "Pinochet" of Africa? Either way the noose awaits at our avenging hands.
Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons." And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?"