September 11 for Chile and New York

We’re not going to be getting away with forgetting what this day now means to people the world over. But before delving into the more recent 9-11, I’d just like to draw attention for a minute to what happened on “9-11-1973” in Chile. The first I heard about this was in my Sec V World history class with Miss Eckers (MCMHS 1982-83). Somehow I doubt if American students my age had ever heard about this, let alone known that their government at the time orchestrated a coup to oust a democratically elected President Allende. That’s what we learned then, long before the documents relating to the coup were de-classfied. As an angry and politically left-leaning 17 year old at the time, I saw this as proof the US were not a whole lot better than their Soviet counterparts. As far as I was concerned, if the US was capable of orchestrating such an event, which led to the deaths of thousands of Chileans and even some foreign nationals, then how could they have the moral upperhand on the evil Soviet Empire? This event was a tragedy and remains a moment of shame in the history of the US. Of course, adding insult to injury is they installed General Agusto Pinochet, a brutal dictator if ever there was one. What does it say about our lovers of “Freedom” and “Democracy” when they depose ademocratically elected leader and put in its place a brutal dictator? Just what one would think: the US really didn’t want a democracy in Chile if the felt their commercial interests would be compromised.

Though it wasn’t the first time the US has orchestrated the overthrow of a democratically elected government. All the Shahs Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror , a book I haven’t read yet, but was introduced to via an a fascinating interview on Democracy Now. Turns out Iran in August 1953 was the first time the US overthrew a democratically elected government, and this has had huge implications for the Middle East as a whole, and is probably responsible for the rise of fundamentalism in Iran which led to the ’79 Revolution. Again, the message was pretty clear. If US interests are threatened (ie, oil), we will not tolerate the will of the Iranian people and will install a dictatorship. As author Stephen Kinzer puts it:

“[i]t is not far-fetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax [the name of the coup] through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York.”

Which brings us to that tragic day 2 years ago, a day we will not soon forget. Taking politics out of it for a moment, lest anyone think I’m “for the terrorists” (there was a lot of that going in the weeks and months that followed that fateful day), my view is that this is as barbaric an act as it gets. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has made so many foreign policy blunders, that it’s hard to imagine that 2 years ago today the US had the sympathy of the world, whereas today most of the world hates or is actually scared of what the US has become. They’ve also stonewalled the commission investigating the attacks. Farcically, Henry Kissenger was first appointed as head of this commission, but had to refuse when it turned out he’d have to disclose any conflice of interest. Then, oddly, they appointed former New Jersey governor Thom Kean, who actually has business ties to Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law. Crazy, and it’s no wonder some families of the victims are crying foul.

To end this rant, and remember what a tragic day this was, here’s the most famous photo you’ve never seen. Horrible…..


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