Twelve years ago this morning, the first airliner hit the tower, as I was about to leave for work. When I arrived, I learned about the second hit. My duties that day were to contact top executives of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in New York on behalf of our client, a major developer of computer operating systems, to arrange site visits and one-on-one executive interviews for our client’s research team. What timing! I felt uncomfortable calling, but the account exec’s assistant, an airhead and a Republican, ordered me to go to work. Many of my executive contacts were in the Twin Towers. I got on the telephone. Nobody was answering, and many of the lines were out of order. I did get through and spoke to a man in one of the towers above the fire, who knew he would not survive. He said he couldn’t dial out and gave me his home number. He asked me to call his wife and tell her he loved her. I did. She was pretty hysterical. Who could blame her! That shook me up so much that I went to the account executive’s office, and told him I was done for the day. He asked me what idiot had told me to call into New York under these circumstances. She blushed and left the room. Because of that experience, I cannot think of 9/11 without my heart going out to the people who lost loved ones that tragic day, and I consider it imperative to do whatever we can, within reason, to prevent a reoccurrence. One failing, in that regard, is that we often ask who and how, but all too seldom, ask why. So as we remember the events of 9/11/2001, perhaps it may help if we consider the other 9/11, 9/11/1973.
Twenty eight years earlier, the roles were reversed. Instead of being attacked, the US had arranged and was assisting an attack to overthrow the democratically elected government of Chile, and the installation of one of the most infamous dictators of the twentieth century, Augusto Pinochet. An article by Peter Kornblug from August 2003 describes and explains those events.
On September 14, 1970, a deputy to then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger wrote him a memo, classified SECRET/SENSITIVE, arguing against covert operations to block the duly elected Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from assuming the presidency. "What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets," noted Viron Vaky. "If these principles have any meaning, we normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat to us., e.g. to our survival. Is Allende a mortal threat to the U.S.?" Vaky asked. "It is hard to argue this."
Kissinger ignored this advice. The next day he participated in a now-famous meeting where President Nixon instructed CIA Director Richard Helms to "save Chile" by secretly fomenting a coup to prevent Allende’s inauguration. When those covert operations failed, Kissinger goaded Nixon into instructing the entire national security bureaucracy "on opposing Allende" and destabilizing his government. "Election of Allende as president of Chile poses one of [the] most serious challenges ever faced in this hemisphere," says a newly declassified briefing paper Kissinger gave to Nixon two days after Allende’s inauguration. "Your decision as to what to do may be most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will have to make this year…. If all concerned do not understand that you want Allende opposed as strongly as we can, result will be steady draft toward modus vivendi approach."
Had Washington adopted a "modus vivendi approach," it is possible that Chileans, indeed citizens around the world, would not be solemnly commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. In the United States, the meaning of this anniversary is, understandably, overshadowed by the shock and tragedy of our own 9/11. But Chile reminds us that the topics of debate on US foreign policy today–pre-emptive strikes, regime change, the arrogance of unilateral intervention, unchecked covert action and secrecy and dishonesty in government–are not new. From the thousands of formerly classified US documents released over the past several years, the picture that emerges strikes some haunting parallels with the news of the day.
Chile, it must be recalled, constitutes a classic example of a pre-emptive strike–a set of operations launched well before Salvador Allende set foot in office. Nixon ordered the CIA on September 15, 1970, to "make the economy scream" and to foment a military move to block Allende from being inaugurated six weeks later, in November; the Chilean leader had yet to formulate or authorize a single policy detrimental to US interests. "What happens over [the] next 6-10 months will have ramifications far beyond US-Ch[ilean] relations," Kissinger predicted in a dire warning to Nixon only forty-eight hours after Allende actually took office. "Will have effect on what happens in rest of LA and developing world; our future position in hemisphere; on larger world picture…even effect our own conception of what our role in the world is."
As in the distorted threat assessment on Iraq, this was sheer speculation–unsupported, indeed contradicted, by US intelligence. In August 1970 CIA, State and Defense Department analysts had determined that "the US has no vital national interests within Chile," and that the world "military balance of power would not be significantly altered" if Allende came to power… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <The Nation>
For many years, the United States has treated the rest of the world, particularly third world nations, as the private reserve of an American economic empire, repeatedly using force, usually covertly, any time a nation had the audacity to suggest that their resources should benefit their own people, not US corporations. Neither party is blameless, but the majority and most heinous of such actions occurred during Republican administrations. In the twentieth century, the United States overthrew more democratically elected governments and installed more dictators than any other nation ever has. No nation can stand toe-to-toe against the US on the battlefield, so guerilla tactics are the only option available to nations who would oppose us.
We should also remember that there would be no such thing as Al Qaeda, had not Republicans under Reagan financed it’s formation to perform terrorist attacks against the USSR.
I do not hate this country. I love the USA enough to insist that we return to practicing the principles we claim to profess. These are the lessons we need to learn to prevent future terrorists attacks against the US. If we practice oppression, we guarantee resistance. If we practice partnership, we will usually get cooperation. We need to stop trying to control other countries by force, To forestall terrorism, we must first stop participating in and supporting terrorism ourselves.
For the last lesson, let’s return to the story with which I began. Shortly after the account executive agreed that I was done for the day, the company shut down for the rest of the day too. Several of us gathered around the TV in the lunch room. Knowing that I am politically involved, coworkers asked me what was going to happen. I told them that I thought Bush would use the attack as an excuse to do two things: to invade Iraq and to curtail civil liberates guaranteed under our Constitution. The last lesson is this. If we adopt the tactics of evil to oppose evil, we become no different than the evil we oppose.
Even if we do all that, we must still be vigilant. Sadly there are forces in pseudo-Islam that pursue hatred against America, just as there are forces in pseudo-Christianity that pursue hatred against Muslims, both for their own respective right-wing political agendas. Both are equally dangerous.
This article appeared here previously two years ago. I consider it worth bringing back.