Forty years after Chile's dreadful 9/11, when Gen. Augusto Pinochet overthrew democratically elected President Salvador Allende, Americans still ask me: Wasn't Pinochet responsible for the economic miracle that made Chile a success story?

After the coup in Egypt in July, a Wall Street Journal editorial argued that "Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet," who, it said, "hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy." Some years ago, Jonah Goldberg made a similar argument in a Los Angeles Times column headlined "Iraq needs a Pinochet."

As an established Pinochet opponent, I can affirm that he personified a disturbing contradiction. He won praise for transforming the economy, operated by the "Chicago Boys" (Chilean students of Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago), into the most prosperous in Latin America. He encouraged export growth, removed trade barriers, established an independent central bank able to control interest and exchange rates, and privatized social security and state companies. Chile became the Washington Consensus model for countries seeking to put their house in order.