The Wall Street Journal’s plea for a more systematic military coup in Egypt is stupefying and repugnant because it prescribes dictatorship as the generic drug that might cure what ails incipient democracy; because it correlates the installation of free markets and the occasional, transitional utility of dictators, in the off-hand manner familiar to any reader of Friedrich von Hayek, thus repudiating the notion that capitalism and democracy are compatible; because the particular dictator invoked was a man charged by a Spanish high court with crimes against humanity; and because the sadism and brutality of this dictator’s regime are well known and well-documented in venues reaching well beyond the Hague.
Here is the wishful conclusion to the editorial of July 5, 2013:
“Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-marker reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.”
No matter that Pinochet did everything he could to abort that transition. But all right, at least we know that the high priests of neo-liberalism have gone public by announcing that the development of capitalism and the development of democracy are forks in the political road—choices to be made in the here and now, not seamless moments on some abstract historical continuum. These priests may have known it and said it in private before now, but their public disclosure of the contradiction is, to me at any rate, astonishing. I feel like I’m witnessing the return of the repressed, as if it’s 1976 all over again and the Tri-Lateral Commission has been reconvened to plot an escape from what it called the “excesses of democracy.”
Still, I think this savage reminder of those days serves a good purpose. For it makes us remember Henry Kissinger’s crimes against humanity, not least of which was his diligent sponsorship of Pinochet’s coup of September 11, 1973.
Edward Snowden stands charged with espionage by the United States. He faces not just extradition but—in view of Obama’s diligent efforts to prevent his mere departure from Russia—permanent exile. His crimes against the state are clear, of course, but only if you grant the extant, infinite definition of the state claimed by the masterminds at the NSA, the judges at FISA, the lawyers in the Justice Department, and all the compliant pundits, from Jeffrey Toobin to David Brooks, who can say or do anything they want on behalf of this Leviathan because its dimensions must remain unknown, even to its most ardent defenders.
Henry Kissinger, by contrast, stands charged with very specific crimes against humanity, which were clearly defined by the Nuremburg precedents and the UN Charter. We know what he did and when he did it. When does the Hague issue the indictment? When does Chile explain why it will extradite this grotesque update of Adolph Eichmann?