The two Sept. 11s - América Latina en Movimiento
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The two Sept. 11s

Isaac Bigio
Clasificado en: Politica, Democracia, DerechosHumanos, Estado, Justicia, Militar, Internacional, Social, Poblacion, Violencia, Economia,
Disponible en:   English       

On this date, the course of international history was changed twice in the past three decades. One year ago, several skyjackers flew airliners into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The Islamic fundamentalists who perpetrated this massacre perhaps didn't realize that exactly 28 years earlier the heart of another American country was attacked from the air.

In 1973, the palace of government in Santiago, Chile ,was destroyed. That action was not carried out by foreign pilots but by armed forces that had been propped up by the CIA, the intelligence agency of the same superpower that would suffer the macro-attack in 2001.

On Sept. 11, 1973 , as in 2001, the world order was altered. Twenty- nine years ago, the first experimental government by a pro-Soviet party in the Western Hemisphere was terminated. Although Chile 's Popular Unity stated that it would submit to the system of representative capitalist democracies sponsored by Washington , the U.S. administration considered the situation intolerable.

Before the coup by Augusto Pinochet, the left had grown at the polls and the social climate was tense. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger held that the U.S. could not allow a country to turn communist just because its people were ignorant.

The military uprising in Santiago served to demonstrate that the principal Western power could not tolerate opposing governments, even if they were elected by universal vote. In addition, Washington encouraged the consolidation or extension of anti-communist dictatorships throughout the Southern Cone.

The new regime, installed Sept. 11, 1973 , would initiate the present economic model, which would become fashionable during globalization. Pinochet's prescription was to renounce the old Keynesian economic system, which protected the national industry and the domestic market, and promoted development by replacing imports and increasing consumption by increasing the people's level of income. The Chicago school sought to open the market to importation and to the free flow of foreign capital. Even though this would imply the initial destruction of many industries that produced goods for the domestic market, along with an increase in unemployment and the reduction of real wages and the downgrading of working conditions, the new economists insisted that in the long run a new accumulation of capital would occur. By turning toward exportation and stabilizing the currency, Chile began to show an economic drive that other nations in South America attempted to imitate.

To the critics of neoliberalism, this was a way to starve the people in order to export. To the money-driven economists, this was the only way to compete in the international market and develop the countries that had taken that route.

Pinochet's coup was one of the moments of greatest conflict between the two world superpowers at a time when both seemed to have reached the '70s evenly matched.

Late that decade, Carter's new administration began to shift toward sponsoring human rights, as a way to undermine the Soviet bloc and provide a social base to any new Latin American governments that might apply economic readjustments.

The military model imposed on Chile on Sept. 11, 1973 , was gradually put aside and replaced by the neoliberal system Carter had begun to encourage. The greatest victory of the takeover was that, in the long run, the very nations that formed the Warsaw Pact renounced their system of planned economics and their regimes of a single (Communist) party, to embrace the capitalist market. Pinochet's currency-driven economics would become a panacea to several circles in Moscow .

On Sept. 11, 2001 , the United States was attacked from the air. The symbols of its military and economic might were attacked. This time, the CIA was not accused of organizing the attack but of having overlooked it or, in the worst scenario, of having ignored it in order to justify a military action.

On both dates, 1973 and 2001, the administrations in Washington were in the hands of hardline Republicans. Bush Jr. and Kissinger today head the hawkish line within the governing party, proposing an immediate war against Iraq , although many Republican leaders doubt if it's convenient to plunge into military intervention without international support or without justification.

In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 , the U.S. launched a major campaign to strengthen its military forces. The arms budget of the only superpower increased to the point that it surpassed the budgets of the seven next largest powers. The greatest coalition of countries ever seen prepared to attack Afghanistan .

One of the world's poorest nations became the recipient of $1 billion in bombs every month. That's the equivalent of the combined Afghan exports for more than 12 years.

The incursion in Afghanistan led to the collapse of the government, which was replaced by a coalition of military warlords, many of whom had a worse record of killing defenseless people and committing war crimes than the Talibans themselves.

Neither bin Laden nor Mullah Omar have been captured. Pinochet was arrested and later released. The people responsible for the two Sept. 11 massacres have been treated differently by the West. Both were CIA collaborators. One was always a friend of the United States , but the other attacked it. The Chilean general was allowed to return to his homeland under pressure from conservatives. The Saudi fundamentalist is being hunted to the extent that 3,000 Afghan civilians have been killed by Western bombardments.

Although the objective of capturing the organizers of the macro- attacks in Manhattan and Washington has not been achieved, the lesson Bush has imparted is that his country is a global policeman and has the ability to impose order wherever it sees fit.

The new doctrine is to treat harshly all those who are designated as terrorists. Along those lines, Sharon started to raze the Palestine National Authority. The fundamentalist Hindu government has increased its actions against Kashmiri separatists and it is possible that the first nuclear war in history will erupt between India and Pakistan . In Colombia , Alvaro Uribe ascended to the presidency advocating a generalized offensive against the guerrillas. In the Basque nation, the government has decreed a ban on Batasuna, a party that brings together more than a tenth of the electorate but which is accused of being the legal arm of ETA.

Many critics of the new hard line maintain that the antiterrorist crusades don't try to solve the real problems that create social violence. The U.S. is accused of ignoring the widening of inequalities between nations and classes, the increases in poverty and the deterioration of the environment, issues that prompt diverse social movements or the action of violent groups. To those who favor the anti-terrorist line, it is necessary to impose order on a worldwide level in order to guarantee investments and the economy.

The two Sept. 11s initially strengthened the Republican right and its agenda of greater military harshness toward its enemies, greater U.S. interventionism and greater concessions for U.S. transnational corporations. In the first instance, the hawkish line of Nixon- Kissinger led to an eventual weakening of Washington and successful anti-American uprisings in Indochina , Nicaragua and Iran . In the second instance, a hawkish line is leading Bush to a policy of military intervention in Iraq that could isolate the U.S. from its various European and Muslim allies and might end up producing new reactions against that superpower.

* Isaac Bigio is an international analyst. He studied at the London School of Economics & Political Sciences, where he earned degrees and postgraduate diplomas in International History and Economic Policy and has been a teacher and researcher.

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