Friday, September 12, 2014

September 11, 1973

El otro 9-11 from Pancho Films on Vimeo.

Yesterday, of course, I joined my neighbors in remembering with shock and sorrow that clear, crisp morning when asymmetric war -- terror -- ripped into our lives. My own father spent part of his birthday watching the smoke pour from the deeply wounded Pentagon. A student who was in my class at the moment of the attacks lost her aunt, and did not return that semester. I also remember the brief period during which E pluribus unum really described our mood. Even in New England, people were polite on the highways. Before a small cabal figured out how to use the attack as a pretext for their long-desired war on Iraq, we even had the sympathy of the entire world (see the murals in Managua as an example).

All of this is to say that I honor the day and what it means for my own country. So I refrained from posting this story on that sensitive date. But I am also a citizen of the wider world, and I cannot ignore another terrible crime of a different September 11 -- a generation earlier and committed not against the United States, but rather with its support.

Henry Kissinger -- who is now called upon for his opinions on thwarting terror -- was an author of the terror that gripped Chile on September 11, 1973. Thought by some to be a brilliant geopolitician, Nixon's Secretary of State argued that Chile -- with its long, narrow shape -- represented a "dagger aimed at the heart of Antarctica."

So it was that the freely-elected,  president of that republic was violently overthrown by his own military, simply for seen as being to the left of center. The video above captures the turmoil and the last moments of a president's dedication to his people. He died at his own hand shortly after the speech, knowing he could hold out no longer against the attack on the presidential palace. The full speech is available on a video and in printed translation from Latino Rebels, and is well worth reading or listening. The aftermath, of course, was the long nightmare of Pinochet, who became of the notorious "friendly dictators" the United States has helped to install or maintain throughout the world.

The declassified record of Kissinger and Chile at the National Security Archive helps to put all of this in context, and to connect the crimes of September 11, 1973 to those that inevitably followed.

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