Member since: 09.13.06
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9/11/73 vs. 9/11/01
I've been reading Noam Chomsky's Failed States, and fittingly came across this part today (9/11/06) from Chapter Four, "Democracy Promotion Abroad."
Quite generally, inquiry reveals that the real enemy of the United States has long been independent nationalism, particularly when it threatens to become a "contagious example," to borrow Henry Kissinger's characterization of democratic socialism in Chile, a virus that, he feared, might infect other countries as far away as southern Europe---a concern he shared with Leonid Brezhnev. The source of contagion therefore had to be extirpated, as it was, on Tuesday, September 11, 1973, a date often called the first 9/11 in Latin America. We can learn a lot about the most important topic ourselves by examining the effects of the two 9/11s on the targeted societies and beyond, as well as the reactions to them.
On 9/11 in 1973, after years of US subversion of Chilean democracy, support for terror, and "making the economy scream," General Augsto Pinochet's forces attacked the Chilean presidential palace. Salvador Allende, the elected president, died in the palace, apparently committing suicide because he was unwilling to surrender to the assault that demolished Latin Americas oldest and most vibrant democracy and established a regime of torture and repression. Its primary instrument was the secret police organization DINA, which US military intelligence compared to the KGB and the Gestapo. Meanwhile, Washington firmly supported Pinochets regime of violence and terror and had no slight role in its initial triumph.
The official death toll of the first 9/11 is 3,200. The actual toll is commonly estimated at about double that figure. As a proportion of the population, the corresponding figure for the United States would be between 50,000 and 100,000 killed. An official inquiry thirty years after the coup found evidence of 30,000 cases of torturesome 700,000 in the US equivalent. Pinochet soon moved to integrate other US-backed Latin American military dictatorships into an international state terrorist program called Operation Condor. The program killed and tortured mercilessly within the region and branched out to terrorist operations in Europe and the United States. Throughout these hideous crimes, and long after, Pinochet was greatly honored by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in particular, but far more widely as well. The assassination of the respected Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C., in 1976, however, was going too far. Operation Condor had to be called off. But the venom continued to spread. The worst atrocities in Argentina were yet to come, along with the expansion of state terror to Central America by the current incumbents un Washington and their immediate mentors.
After 9/11 in 2001, it is commonly agreed, the world irrevocably changed. But not after the first 9/11. Those who enjoy wealth, freedom, and privilege might ask how the world would have changed if the oldest democracy in the hemisphere had been destroyed by a military coup, its president killed, more than 50,000 killed and 700,000 tortured, instigating a plague of terror throughout the continent and beyond. We might also ask how one should respond to those who participated in and laud such actions, or to those who dismiss them as eminently forgettable.