Trump’s Pinochet Moment ?


Something which occurred to me in light of the American Presidential electoral results … is that Trump is having a Pinochet moment. Now I *don’t* mean that he’s having dissidents thrown out of helicopters (much, I am sure, to the chagrin of some of his supporters at present). But rather – that what has happened this past week or so has been akin to the 1988 Chilean vote that was quite literally a referendum on Pinochet.

Now, that vote is interesting – because it seems that Pinochet thought he would win, fairly handily; and so did not take the ordinary steps afore its occurrence to suppress, marginalize, and otherwise constrain his opponents – nor to overtly ‘rig’ the vote so that he would win by default.

Instead, he basically allowed both sides (his own, and the ‘No’ campaign) to have something which, while it was not exactly a ‘level’ playing field for various reasons (including the rather ingenious use of ‘false front’ organizations to draw votes from the ‘No’ side into effective ‘protest-vote’ third options .. Shades of Kanye, perhaps?), was nevertheless the most ‘open’ arena which Chile had witnessed for his entire reign.

And was promptly surprised when a) the ‘No’ campaign turned out to be better at actually campaigning and producing decent campaign material than his own side ; b) that even after “all he had done for them”, a majority of Chileans voted to reject him regardless.

Now, the parallels with Trump ought be obvious at this point. Insofar as Trump did not really ‘rig’ the election (it is an open question whether he actually could have; standard voter suppression etc. of course excepted) – but rather was genuinely surprised to find that a) his opponents actually *were* reasonably competent at campaigning and outreach (rather than ‘Sleepy’, one supposes); b) a majority of Americans actually weren’t that keen on letting him have another four years in office despite “all he had done for them”. [the fact that it’s “all he had done *to* them” from the view of the Biden vote is, perhaps, not something he’d considered]

This is also – for now – why Trump has not been actively deserving of many of the tropes around playing 14th dimensional underwater strip billiards backgammon .. er .. chess, in pursuit of a clandestinely secured conspiratorial victory which ends democracy in America.

Because it’s simply not true. If it WERE, he wouldn’t have lost last week’s election – likely either in popular vote terms or in tentative electoral college projections.

Instead, he was a man who had bought into his own self-proclaimed narrative – and took at face value (rather than mask value) what his own senses and ego were telling him when he found himself amidst stadia and airports filled with his own cheering supporters (ignoring the obvious ‘selection bias’ inherent in the fact these people had been bussed to the venue by his campaign after opting-in by already being well-disposed towards him). Namely, that this was America, and what America *overwhelmingly* wanted was more of him for another four years; not another guy in his 70s and a simultaneously ultra-hard-line police state but somehow California ultra-liberal former prosecutor.

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Now, buying into your own narrative is a pretty dangerous thing to do in perilous circumstances – as it opens up the possibility that you basically stop engaging seriously with competing perspectives and perceived-unfavourable incoming data-streams. Which appears to be what Trump then did.

And to be fair, he may have had a bit of a point: the differential between Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump on Election Night has not been anywhere near as dire as some polling earlier appeared to predict.

However, none of this changes the fact that the result hasn’t gone Trump’s way – and he’s now left scrambling to try and either make a dignified exit, or dig in for Home Alone: White House Edition.

Which, as far as he’s concerned, may well prove to be an *entirely* false notion of choice.

I don’t know if I place full credence in the material alleged in a recent Vanity Fair article, that Trump has reportedly declared he’ll literally have to be dragged out kicking and screaming. But in a metaphorical sense – this seems somewhat apt. Various Republicans have, after all, recently started openly urging for states to intervene with their Electoral College delegations so as to provide Trump with the votes he needs there that he could not come up with on the ground; and the Court challenges against those votes in key battleground states are also gearing up apace.

The recent – as in, over the past 36 or so hours – spate of firings of civilian leadership and oversight personnel from the Department of Defence, Pentagon, and intelligence services in order to have them replaced by Trump loyalists, is also interesting for obvious reasons.

However, in the hopefully unlikely event that Trump *does* endeavour to more seriously pursue the Pinochet course of action in 1988 – that is to say, calls in various Generals and other such power-havers and asks for, in effect, the powers to ignore the election result …

… the fate which befell Pinochet then may prove to be instructive: the Generals, even in a military junta, balked at the request and told Pinochet bluntly that his time was up.

Although this is 2020; and even though it would be intriguing to think that American spooks and soldiers had some sort of unflinching loyalty to constitutional governance and democratic norms … well … we’ll just have to see what happens, won’t we.


  1. “Fears that a possible slow-motion coup is in progress in the United States continued to grow on Wednesday, as observers sounded the alarm over President Donald Trump’s decision to install “extreme Republican partisans” at the Pentagon after his firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper resulted in resignations by numerous top officials at the department earlier this week.”

    The stacking of the Pentagon with Trump loyalists—combined with the president’s ongoing refusal to accept his electoral defeat and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Tuesday comment that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration”—has heightened concerns about the Republican Party’s authoritarianism and left experts and lawmakers warning that the country is in the midst of an extremely dangerous moment.

    “It is hard to overstate just how dangerous high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of presidential transition,” wrote Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Tuesday. From More Dictatorship than Democracy, Fears of a Coup in motion

  2. Never in America,to much Nuclear,even for the fervent capitalist exploiters to let loose, Dr Strangelove is in their, his narcism always his control is blowing out.What the President, has had a re-infection of Covid, Mr Pence, shall oversee a careful transition.

  3. More Pinochet moments…

    (Repost from) Free Assange NZ

    For those who are not up to date with what is going on with Julian Assange.
    On September 7th 2020, Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks and one of the most highly awarded journalists of our time, began a four week trial at The Old Bailey in London. The DOJ USA attempting to fabricate a case to extradite him to the USA to face 18 indictments and 175yrs of imprisonment, using the Espionage Act of 1917. All for publishing war crimes and other inconvenient truth.
    After 7 years of taking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian has been held in HMP Belmarsh jail UK for over a year now. And will remain there in maximum security until Judge Vanessa Baraitster announces her verdict on January the 4th 2021.
    Amongst the many witnesses at the trial, a former employee of UC Global, shared details of the elaborate spying against Assange and anyone who visited him after President Moreno, the newly elected president of Ecuador, took office. Around that time, Morales, the head of UC Global, attended a security sector trade fair in Las Vegas. When he returned to the company’s offices in Spain he announced: “We will be playing in the big league.” The witness added that Morales had said that their company had switched to “the dark side”, which involved cooperating with the US authorities. It was then that an increasingly sophisticated operation to monitor Assange was launched and would accelerate after Trump assumed office in 2017. The court heard how plans to poison or kidnap Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy were discussed between sources in US intelligence and the Spanish private security firm, UC Global.
    People worldwide are disgusted at the injustice of it all, and fear for Julian’s health, safety, and sanity. It has become obvious that the UK judiciary, Queen and Government have been compromised and are complicit in allowing Julian’s illegal arrest from the Ecuadorian embassy, the signing of an extradition order, ongoing harsh imprisonment, and unfair hearings. Sadly, it appears the judiciary has broken its own rules and is also ignoring UN standards for the treatment of a political prisoner.
    It’s looking more and more like this has been nothing but a show trial, with a predetermined outcome – guilty!
    In 1919, the Espionage Act was revised, to unanimously rule that the act should not violate the free speech of those convicted under its provisions. In Assange’s case we see the provisions violated. Not only denied the ability to prepare for his own defence, if extradited, he will be tried in a secret court in Virginia USA, without a jury or fair trial. He will be also denied the first amendment protections of free speech – because he is not a US citizen.
    The question we must ask is: how badly do these government’s want truth of corruption suppressed?
    If extradition goes ahead, it will be the first time in modern history that a journalist will have been charged in this way. The values of the Magna Carta, signed in England by King John 800 years ago, seem to have been deliberately overlooked in Julian’s case. ‘No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land’.
    The UN rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer has said. “the collective persecution of Julian Assange must end now” And ’Doctors for Assange’, sent a letter to UK Govt, reiterating Assange’s physical and psychological torture. “Torture is an anathema to medical ethics. The only way it propagates, is when people, leaders and institutions enable it through silence, which is complicity and goes against our core value of ‘do no harm’.”
    No reply from the British Government, they dismiss Melzer’s findings.
    We fear for the future of journalism. #OperationFreeAssange, #FreeAssangeNZ, #Candles4assange

  4. Yawn…..he is pursuing his legal avenues just like the democrats did when Al Gore lost. Once they are extinguished he’ll go. In the high up democrat circles (think Hillary) they still don’t think Gore lost. People should take their bipartisan glasses off and realise in the convoluted American election and legal framework this is par for the course.

  5. I am no fan of trump (nor Biden for that matter – I’m more a Bernie kind of person), but to imagine that a government apparatus that has heavily influenced many elections around the world is above kicking out someone that was not part of the political elite is a little naive.

    It was pretty clear in the run up that there was a very strong MSM (AKA ruling classes) campaign to get rid of the trouble maker.

    Some people think that is all a price worth paying to get rid of Trump. I would strongly disagree. Do democracy or don’t (most western countries choose the latter while claiming to be the former). Everything is about control. It can be at the end of an AK47 or an iPhone – it doesn’t matter.

  6. My guess is that the ‘Million MAGA march’ planned for this Saturday in the US capital will be a fizzer.

    While Trump’s well armed supporters look intimidating going to the corner store for groceries with an armalite on their shoulder wearing a flak jacket, because y’know, it is their right. They are basically exhibitionists with clothes on. When it actually comes to an armed conflict with risk of losing life and limb they will decide this Saturday that their lawn in middle class white surburbia is in urgent need of a mow from their ride on lawn mower.

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