The good thing about a dictator like Augusto Pinochet is that even if he, sure, killed, maimed, and tortured a few people along the way, at least he implemented sound economic policies, right? Well, “multiple probes in recent years revealed financial corruption, including the discovery of millions of dollars in state funds held in numerous secret overseas accounts, among them several at the former Riggs Bank in Washington. As recently as October, Chilean investigators announced the discovery of 10 tons of gold, worth an estimated $160 million, in Pinochet’s name in a Hong Kong bank.”
Shocking! A dictator and his inner-circle using their power to enrich themselves? Maybe he killed all those people for personal gain rather than out of the goodness of his heart. See here and here on LGM for the contemporary right’s continuing praise of Pinochet. I think this is the context in which you have to understand American conservatism’s generally blasé attitude toward the Bush administration’s more modest ventures into the fields of arbitrary detention, corruption, and torture. Years of apologizing for the deployment of such tactics by America’s proxies abroad naturally desensitizes the political culture to the re-importation of these methods to the center.
UPDATE: Curious Jonah Goldberg post appears to me to apologize for Pinochet apologetics on the grounds that when Fidel Castro dies “certain quarters of the left” will engage in apologetics for him. So, okay, I’ll stipulate that Castro’s regime is a bad one and that, were it the case that pre-Castro Cuba had a democratically elected government it would have been very poor policy for the US government to help Castro mount a coup and aid him in entrenching his dictatorship.