We meet here during a crucial period in the history of our nation, and of the civilized world. Part of that history was written by others; the rest will be written by us. (Applause.) On a September morning, threats that had gathered for years, in secret and far away, led to murder in our country on a massive scale. As a result, we must look at security in a new way, because our country is a battlefield in the first war of the 21st century. … . The first to benefit from a free Iraq would be the Iraqi people, themselves. Today they live in scarcity and fear, under a dictator who has brought them nothing but war, and misery, and torture. Their lives and their freedom matter little to Saddam Hussein-but Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us. (Applause.)

(Guardian.co.uk., 2003, “Full text: George Bush’s Speech to the American Enterprise Institute”)

Human beings can be awful cruel to one another. (Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,

Mark Twain 1999: 239)

In December 2006 when Augusto Pinochet died, and while his nation’s citizens were either mourning the dictator’s demise or celebrating it by drinking champagne on the streets of Santiago, the American government

did not offer the usual condolences. Instead, a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said tersely: “Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile represented one of most difficult periods in that nation’s history. Our thoughts today are with the victims of his reign and their families” (Bonnefoy 2006). Persons with keen memories noted that in 1999 former President George H. W. Bush had been one of the people, along with Henry Kissinger, who had urged the British government to allow Pinochet to return to Chile instead of being extradited to Spain, as Judge Balthazar Garzon had demanded. And a few of the harsher critics of the second Bush Presidency made unpleasant comparisons between American tactics in the War on Terror and Chile’s policies under Pinochet. Were Americans doing anything disturbingly similar to the “Caravans of Death” in Chile that had seized leftists so they could be tortured and killed? In fact, in April 2009 a group of American Human Rights lawyers announced that Judge Garzon, the same Spanish jurist who had been Pinochet’s nemesis, was becoming involved with efforts to begin criminal proceedings against six Bush administration lawyers, who had written opinions justifying torture, and that these efforts might lead to investigations of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney (Center for Constitutional Rights 2009).