The Iron Curtain Sisterhood

One of the surer things in this world is that if you've ever lived in a communist regime, like East Germany, you aren't going to have any sympathy for communism. You won't have quite the same feeling for romantic Che Guevara berets as Berkeley's lefties do, and you are unlikely to cheer for Mao Tse—tung or Fidel Castro. You'd just know too much about it. During the 1970s, some African leaders actually sent their children to school behind the Iron Curtain to immunize them from communism's romantic appeal.

That's why two elections for national leaders of in the span of a couple months — Germany's, and Chile's — have such interesting potential for the course of the future. Pedro Burelli, a brilliant thinker and energy industry consultant (who wrote this earlier), points out that the two winners, Angela Merkel of Germany, and Michelle Bachelet of Chile, both historic firsts as women, also share a common bond of having lived (or rather, done time) behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany at the same time.

That's also why the socialist or social—democratic patina each of them has is unlikely to go further than that. It will never spill into dictator—worship or far—left madness.

Merkel ran and won as part of the conservative movement in Germany's election, but ended up in a centrist coalition that will probably accomplish just moderate reforms. And her views are slightly, but not unrecognizably, to the left of what is considered conservative in the U.S.

Bachelet is a bit different — she came to East Germany as a political exile fleeing the oppression of Chile's Pinochet regime and had the leftist family credentials to win asylum in the communist regime. Bachelet did run for president of Chile as a socialist, but like Merkel, was aligned with a centrist coalition that is certain to govern moderately. Its strong existing record of restraint, free trade and fiscal prudence makes it a rare Latin American success story that voters sought to continue.

Neither is likely to swing to the far left of Gerhard Schroeder or Hugo Chavez. Having experienced East Germany, they both know better. Both will govern as sane moderates and good friends of the U.S. Even with possible disagreements, we can easily give our respect to both.

Maybe that's why there was a fascinating omission from among the world's leaders as the wave of congratulatory notes poured in for the two winning leaders upon their elections. Investor's Business Daily notes it in an editorial here. 

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro could not bear to congratulate either leader. It's particularly noteworthy that he could not congratulate Bachelet, whose family was active in the Cuban—inspired Allende regime of Chile, although there is new evidence that it was Castro himself who destroyed  it. But that's probably not the reason why. Castro should have been able to put on a fake face of congratulation about the supposed triumph of socialism in Chile.

But he just wasn't able to do it.

Maybe that's because Bachelet's clean election was greeted with such felicitations by Cuba's brave internal dissident group known as the Women in White. These Cuban women, like Bachelet in the 1970s, are the mothers and daughters of imprisoned dissidents deep within the monstrous Cuban dictatorship. The sight of a clean, honest, free election, even of someone on the left, was something that inspired them.

And inspired a whole hell of a lot of fear in Cuba's hated dictator, who knows full well that a democratic socialist is the most dangerous thing in the world to the moral authority of his tyrannical communist regime.

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