The events of 9/11/01, for those of us who witnessed it and have lived through its effects on foreign policy and the subsequent assault on civil liberty in this country, the date will forever mean only one thing. That thing is, of course, the destruction of the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania.
Historically speaking, 9/11 is one major bitch of a day. On this date in the year nine, Quinctilius Varus led three Roman Legions into the Teutoburg Forest and nobody came out. Farmers in Germany are still plowing up an occasional skull or bits and pieces of Roman paraphernalia. This Battle became the one that ended Roman expansion and marked the high water point of the empire. On this date in 1185 Isaac II Angelus murdered his way to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. In 1390 the Teutonic Knights began the siege of Vilnius, a really nasty affair. In 1714 the independent nation of Catalunya gave up the ghost during the War of Spanish Succession. In 1792 the Hope Diamond was stolen along with other items of the French Crown jewels. In 1813 the British left Mount Vernon on their way to burn Washington, D.C. In 1916 the Quebec Bridge’s central span collapsed killing eleven people and creating traffic jams. In 1941 Charles Lindbergh, famous aviator and anti-Semite, gave a speech in Des Moines accusing FDR and the Jews of forcing the United States into war with Germany. In 1954, 1961 and 1992 three of the most destructive hurricanes in U. S. history, Edna, Carla and Iniki (listed in order of appearance), hit New England, Texas and Hawaii, respectively. In 2004 a helicopter crashed in the Aegean Sea killing the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church along with sixteen others, mostly journalists and Bishops. In 2007 the Russians detonated the largest, most powerful and destructive bomb in human history.
There is much, much more that happened on this date. Of it all, about the only event that did not have at least some negative ramifications was the world debut performance of Stephen Foster’s O’Susanna in Andrews’ Eagle Ice Cream Saloon in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
Most of these historic 9/11 events are largely unknown to the world today. Either because too much time has passed and the impacts have been absorbed into ongoing life or they have simply been forgotten. However, for millions of people around the world, particularly in Latin America, 9/11 has another meaning. September 11, 1973 is the day the CIA inspired and supported military coup in Chile came to a head with the murder, or suicide (depending on who is doing the talking), of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected President of the Republic of Chile.
In a devil’s bargain between powerful local interests, U.S. based international corporations and the government of President Nixon, the decision was made to remove Allende from office. It was understood this action need not result in the death of President Allende. All that was required was that he and his government be removed from office and replaced with a military dictatorship dedicated to capitalist principles and alignment with the United States in its worldwide competition with the Soviet Union.
At first, the coup seemed to be a quick, surgical operation meeting with complete success. After all, Allende was permanently removed from any presence in Chilean politics and all leftist influences in the government were jettisoned as well. However, just as Bush the Lesser’s “surgical” operation in Iraq quickly degenerated into an endless civil war, insurrection and occupation, the Chilean coup did not settle anything. For over a decade and one half after the death of Allende, the military government was forced to maintain itself through a relentless policy of intimidation and murder of Chileans who supported democracy and opposed dictatorship. In sixteen years of unlawful rule, the military killed at least 3,072 people guilty of nothing more than civil disobedience to the military dictatorship.
While the two 9/11’s have different origins and Allende’s governance of Chile was by any measure economically incompetent and likely to be removed sooner or later anyway, there are many parallels between them. First, there is that number, 3,000. Both events resulted in the unlawful deaths of over 3,000 civilians from each country. Two, both events directly resulted in the removal of constitutional protections of civilian rights. Three, both events were conceived, planned and directed by foreign provocateurs. Four, both events had long term, deleterious consequences.
Once Chile was able to rid itself of military rule, the political life of the country returned to normal and, in part, due to the definite economic improvements achieved under the dictatorship and the subsequent elected governments, the nation achieved prosperity. Conversely, our nation suffered economically, and continues to suffer, under two Presidential administrations that have lied to the citizenry about what the attack on the Towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania crash meant. Under both administrations the direction in which the nation should proceed has been perverted into continuing assaults on civil liberties and the squandering of the nation’s wealth.
Bad as the 9/11 coup in Chile and its aftermath have been, it pales in comparison to the rampant militarism and wars conducted by the government of the United States. There is simply no way to know the total loss of life inflicted on the nations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is no way to measure the damage done to those living in the war zones of those nations. There is no way to measure the retribution we, as a nation may suffer for generations to come. There is no way to know how we can make up for the destruction of and damage to our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and other government “assets” killed or wounded in these ongoing wars. There is no way we will ever recover the opportunity costs inflicted upon us by these Presidents insisting on expending trillions of dollars on endless war while neglecting vital domestic needs necessary for us to maintain our position in the world.
At least, when the perpetrators of the Chilean 9/11 had power, they made intelligent investments in the economy. They did not squander the economic future of their nation on senseless wars involving millions of people who had nothing to do with the attacks of our 9/11.