THE OTHER 9/11
September 11, 2010 § 1 Comment
Many US citizens and others from around the world take this day, September 11, to remember the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.
People will often say that days of remembrance like this are important so that we ‘never forget’ what happened in the effort to always be ‘vigilant’ and ensure that atrocities like the attacks of 9/11/01 ‘never happen again.’
I am in full agreement that not forgetting events of mass murder can be critical when attempting to permanently eradicate any possibility of their repetition. However, it is important to remind ourselves that it is how we remember, as citizens and as nations, that is one of the keys when it comes to avoiding future incidents of mass violence.
On September 11, 1973, the democratically elected socialist President of Chile, Salvador Allende, was removed from power in a military coup by his General Chief of Staff of the army, Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet went on to murder many of his political opponents and somewhere between 1,500-3,200 of his citizens by conservative estimates in addition to torturing around 30,000 men, women and children and interning around 80,000. 200,000 Chilean citizens have been said to have gone into exile. This violent, illegal military regime served up 17 years of misery to its people before finally coming to an end in 1990.
Why should this be relevant to all those who remember America’s 9/11 on this day?
Pinochet was backed by none other than the USA. The CIA had given material assistance to an attempted coup in 1970 even before assisting in the successful coup in ’73. Furthermore, it had also given aid to anti-socialist terrorist groups.
Would the coup have succeeded without US assistance? We’ll never know. But we do know that the US was involved and directly supported, in secret, terrorist activities and a military takeover of an entire nation which resulted in the deaths of thousands and the suffering of tens of thousands more over almost two decades.
While there were no Chileans involved in the 9/11/01 attacks on New York and Washington, we must learn the lesson of the Chilean 9/11 when looking at other US acts of international interference since then which helped to create the kind of violent backlash which resulted in the thousands of dead being mourned today, whether it be the indiscriminate bombing and scorched-earth policy in Kosovo, to occupation of Saudi territory through to the murder and disenfranchisment of untold Palestinians through US backing of its client state in the region, Israel. I could cite many more examples (the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan should be self-evident by now) but the point is clear: as long as the United States continues to trample over the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens of foreign nations in an attempt to project its power in the name of ‘US interests’, future terrorist attacks are inevitable.
We have a chance to change course. While thinking of the dead and their families today, we might also, for a start, think about lowering our defense budget, retreating from the Middle East and Europe, shutting down military bases overseas and ceasing to talk about this country being ‘the greatest in the world’, a phrase which implies the collective inferiority of the other 190 nations surrounding us.
We all want to ensure there are no more terrible days like September 11, 1973 and 2001. We have the chance as a people, through our language but, much more importantly, through the policies we demand, to ensure that kind of lasting peace is a reality. For all nations.