Erickson Says US Should Fund ‘Pinochet Types,’ Hedges Slightly After Backlash

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“Not Really, But Sort Of.”

On Twitter Monday and in an article Tuesday morning, conservative commentator and radio host Erick Erickson called for the U.S. to back more strongmen like the murderous Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, writing that U.S. funds today could be used “to find and prop up the next generation of Pinochet types.” He promptly walked the sentiment back — kind of.

On Twitter Monday evening, Erickson referenced Pinochet’s government’s infamous style of assassination for some dissidents: Dropping them out of helicopters. “I’m hoping for some helicopters in this plan,” he wrote.

Faced with considerable backlash, Erickson eventually tweeted that he was “not fully serious, but do have something to say on the topic.”

Tuesday morning, with an article on his website The Resurgent, Erickson did have plenty more to say on the subject, arguing “Augusto Pinochet was a corrupt tyrant in Chile. He also reformed Chile’s economy, drove out the communists and socialists, and put Chile on the path to reform and stability.”

Thousands were killed as a result of Pinochet’s U.S.-backed dictatorship, and tens of thousands more were tortured or made political prisoners. Methods of torture included rape, electric shocks, near-drowning and sleep deprivation. 

“Our foreign aid in Chile these days is only $2.3 million,” Erickson wrote. “We need to find future Augusto Pinochets in Central and South America and get behind them, support them, teach them about and help them promote free markets, provide them a few helicopters, and then let them ruthlessly deal with their nation’s gangs, communists, and others who are causing the caravans of people fleeing those failing nations.”

At the end of the piece, Erickson made a move toward hedging his argument for supporting murderous dictators, but didn’t fully commit to the argument: “No, I’m not actually fully on board with my own idea. Pinochet was actually a ruthless dictator who dropped people out of helicopters. And I actually think Pinochet has been treated more unkind by history than he should be, but only by a bit.”

After saying that the U.S. should “respond” to the Chinese influence in the Western Hemisphere, Erickson asserted: “That will actually require we ally with some unsavory types more likely than not.”

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