Has Ve-Halillah! God Forbid! Although the logic of the events say: May be. I lived through all the steps that brought about the Argentine repression in the seventies and am alive and alert in two thousand ten, when Videla and other high military and police functionnaires are spending the rest of their lives in jail. From a perspective, it is absolutely amazing. I am not a political person, and I was among those curious Argentine citizens who went to watch the military coup in Plaza de Mayo, as the tanks surrounded the Casa Rosada and the generals walked in unopposed. I cant say I was against the coup, however shameful it may sound now. Argentina seemed to us then a chaotic mess "ruled" by an affable but inefficient provincial lawyer. Videla and his collegues appeared as purposeful, patriotic, highly moral leaders that took over for a short time to clean up the corrupt public administration. Believe me or not, but till then I had never heard about the SIDE, the state security service.
There was no opposition, but after a year or so, the Army started to feel under attack and reacted most violently. I became aware of it when for some reason I stopped my car in front of a 5 meter tall wall in Belgrano, which I didnt know what it was. They shouted me to put the inside light on and move on. I obeyed immediately. Later I learned that it was the Naval Hospital and people have been shot for stopping their cars in front of the wall.
Journalists disappeared. Then the military attacked institutions that to me appeared inoffensive but according to military communicados, were the hotbeds of diabolical (they meant it literally: the Antichrist in person was involved) conspiracy against LA PATRIA. One morning INTA's Institute of Economical Research was surrounded by combat equipped soldiers and everybody taken into custody. I had friends there. Another morning battle-ready units attacked (I am not exaggerating, these were Argentine military combatting the international Zionist conspiracy as they have learned in their Cursillos) the University of Buenos Aires's Faculty of Mathematics. I burned all my books. I had a collection of books on Lysenko, some of them in English and other languages, and even in my naivete I understood that Argentine soldiers engaged in patriotic/Catholic war against dangerous subversive armies had no time for Talmudistic explanations. I burned all my books. Then I got a well paying job in Nigeria and forgot Argentina. Then I made aliyah.
Slowly the things that had happened in Argentina (in my absense) are coming to light. The SIDE and the security organizations went amok and lost all sense of proportion. They killed people without legal process, threw them out of helicopters over the Rio de la Plata, maintained secret prisons in the Escuela de Mecanica (it is next to my Club Obras Sanitarias de la Nacion), they took the babies born in prison. For a long time in Israel I maintained that the Army had been attacked and they were only reacting to subversion. Videla and the police were in my opinion highly moral and decent fellows. But they lost the sense of proportion, they felt the courts were corrupt and slow, that secret "justice" was necessary because they were fighting a war against an insiduous cruel foreign enemy.
Time works slowly and eventually even this not-too-bright blogger started to understand. Argentine military had won the "guerra sucia" and continued to live in their paranoid illusory world. But it is very dangerous to lose touch with reality because reality does not lose touch with itself. General Galtieri, absolutely delusional, surprise attacked the British Empire. I dont know what he was thinking, possibly his evluation of British power was based on the 1806 Invasiones Inglesas and the undisputable fact (in the Circulo Militar and the Circulo de Armas) that the English have lost it. Fortunately, Argentina is a large country with no enemies, enjoys a wide large margin of security and the British are good sports, and after defeating effortlessly the whole Argentine army, they didnt go for the jugular and didnt occupy Buenos Aires. I think they didnt cut even diplomatic relations. I am not sure that we have the same luxury in the Middle East.
The Plaza de Mayo grand mothers kept searching for their granchildren and started to find them. The mood changed, the world changed and Videla was brought to trial. It was a shock for him and me too, to a certain point. Pinochet - the collegue from the other side of the Andes - was jailed in London. A Spanish judge sent an internet search notice for Videla. Thing he did in good faith appeared now as the most bestial of crimes. He was condemned and he, who imagined himself being the Saviour of the Nation, was a condemned and hated criminal.
What I am seeing here is that we have a Secret Service that is feeling under attack. They demanded from the Ministry of Justice to allowed to maintain their anonimity, and they cannot be photographed nor identified. They have this poor bum in prison for days, without allowing him to talk to a lawyer. No one knows where he is - in fact, he is in a secret prison. His poor wife - not a beauty - is going from one place to the other with her two months old baby hanging from her teat trying to save her husband. The more I think of it, the more I dont like it. This could end years from now with Bibi Netanyahu finding himself in a prison in some foreign land, returned to Israel to be tried and judged, and ending his life in jail. That is the cold logic of the events. I voted for Begin, and voted for Bibi, and dont like it. The Secret Service is starting to lose touch with reality. What is happening now in Israel would never happended under Menachem Begin, a ridiculous charicature legalist (we called him a small Polish lawyer, what he was). Begin was a lawyer and spent incredible amount of time on examining legal minutiae. In this moment I think that we need a small-time schtetl lawyer and not an heroic commando (like Bibi and Barak) to lead us. Maybe I shall change my opinion later.