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The date September 11, is a very significant date because of the two tragic events that rocked the American Continent and the world. These were the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 and the Fascist military coup in Chile on that same date, twenty-eight years earlier, on September 11, 1973.
The terrorist attack on the United States was so blatant, so cruel and so deadly that it is one of those rare occurrences that people who were alive at the time it happened remembered where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.
The international community was outraged by that attack and solidarity with the government and people the United States was almost universal. Countries were ready to give whatever assistance the US needed. This was not confined to the traditional allies of the USA but included those that had disagreements with it as well.
Internally the people of the United States were shocked and very traumatized. Never before was the United States attacked in this manner. The US fought an Independence war more than two hundred years ago and a civil war more than a hundred years ago. During the Second World War the US mainland was untouched. Therefore, the people of the US have been fortunate to never have experienced the ravages of war.
All other wars that the US was involved in were fought far away from its shores. The Korean and Vietnam wars, two of the most prolonged war up to September 2001 were thousands of miles away. Therefore this was a new experience for its people.
It also cracked the confidence of ordinary people that they were safe from wars in the US for the first time people felt vulnerable, no place was/is immune from terrorists attacks.
Those feelings of shock experienced at the time of the attacks did not last for very long. They changed to anger among the people. People wanted to do something about that affront. The leadership of the country began to see that attack as an opportunity, to take actions that they were restrained from taking by international public opinion. They now had public opinion at home on their side.
Using the change of mood in the country, the US authority moved quickly to withdraw from the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) which it had entered into with the Soviet Union since 1972. They were contemplating that since the 1990s but felt constraint.
By then the Soviet Union was disbanded and Russia, which inherited the obligations of the Soviet Union, was weak and in very serious economic difficulties. It was no longer considered to be a threat to the United States or its allies. The US had nothing to fear from it both from the security/economic position.
That withdrawal from the treaty removed all restrictions on the US to develop new weapons of mass destruction. Huge amounts of money began to be spent on both conventional and new nuclear weapons. It was also linked to the beginning of a new arm race in which billions were consumed by the companies producing weapons, mainly in the United States. Indeed, the US spending on military hardware is now more than the next ten countries military expenditures combined. Clearly the US wanted to ensure that their military right would not be threatened again.
Moreover, it saw it as an opportunity to expand its influence on the political situation in the Middle East and in Asia.
Richard Clarke a former security advisor to several US Presidents, in his book, “Against All Enemies”, described how at the very outset President Bush urged him to make the crime committed by the terrorists, stick on Iraq. For a long time the US was looking to establish its control of Iraq. The oil seems too great a temptation to resist.
Moreover, it appears that the US was working on the advice of Israel because of Iraq’s strong opposition to the Apartheid policy against the Palestinian people. The influence of Israel on the United States is very strong. They seem to be able to get the US to do anything it wants. Now it wanted to get rid of one of the strongest opponents in the area and a supporter of the Palestinian cause.
The US immediate target was Afghanistan to root out the prime suspect for the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden. They ended up overthrowing the Taliban government in that country. That was the first regime change if this century.
The international community had no sympathy for the Taliban regime and therefore said nothing of their overthrow. Silence was tacit for US actions.
The problem began when the US installed a government that had no links in the Afghan society. The rest as they say is history. After twenty years the war proved to be unwinnable and the US lost its appetite for the fight. They withdrew from the country without being able to get an agreement with the Taliban to set up a joint administration with the Afghan regime without trying to protect the rights of women in particular and human rights in general. The US did not even include the Afghan regime in any of its negotiation with the Taliban. So the Taliban is now back in government in Afghanistan and the world did not become safer. Instead the opposite has happened; our world is more unsafe now than it was just before 9/11, twenty years ago. A lot of speculation is taking place in many quarters. However, what is clear is that the Taliban has not changed its views and are already implementing laws that belong to centuries past.
Human rights have suffered greatly and freedom of expression suffered major setbacks, not only in countries ruled by despots but in those more developed and societies which pride themselves as being democratic.
It is apposite here to draw attention to the great suffering of Julian Assange, a courageous journalist who is sick and probably even dying in a prison cell in the UK and of Edward Snowden of the United States who is in forced exile from his homeland.
Their crime, trying to give people information of the great dangers that was facing the world and themselves.
Under the guise of the need for security whole nations are being spied upon; personal privacy has become a luxury. Journalists who have tried to discharge their assignments professionally are being murdered with alarming frequency in all parts of the world.
We are worse off in terms of our rights and freedoms than at any period since the end of World War II. Over this period the amount of terrorist groups has grown and is even operating in the developed countries. How ironic when the war on terrorism was to eliminate that danger and prevent these extremist elements from growing. Now terrorists’ attacks in various parts of the world have become almost common place.
Clearly the message from that attack on 9/11/2001 was not heeded. It really should have advised us about the terrible inequality that exists in our world, the grinding poverty that leads to extremism and the humiliation faced by people grounded down on poverty, the hopelessness caused by the socio-economic situation.
It was also an indication of the racial and national oppression which not only exist but which are being supported by many of the most powerful countries. The most stalk and glaring example is the apartheid situation the Palestinian people have to face every day.
The time has therefore come for us to deal with the real problems that exist in our world. Issues of climate change, Disarmament, the present and future pandemics and the glaring inequalities within and between countries are demanding immediate attention. These can only be done with global cooperation and not by wild baseless accusations against each other.
On this 20th Anniversary of the Terrorist attacks on the US we should make a sober assessment and change course for the betterment of our world and all the people who inhabit it.
The other 9/11 occurred in Chile in 1973 when the democratically elected Unidad Popular government led by Salvador Allende was brutally overthrown and thousands of patriots were killed and thousands of others were made to disappear.
It was one of the most bloody coups in the world.
Why did this happen? The main reason was that the United States was opposed to a Marxist led government in the region. This was despite the fact that it came to office by free and fair election.
Chile did not pose any threat to the US, in fact it wanted good relations with all countries.
That did not cut any ice with the US. They even tried to prevent Allende from being sworn in as President of the country; the CIA arranged the assassination of the head of the army, General Rene Schneider Chereau on October 25, 1970.
So even before the government was established the US began its hostility. That killing began paving the way for Agusto Pinochat, the head of the coup in 1973.
What one may ask was responsible for this unprovoked attack on a government democratically elected. The answer is that the US did not want to see any successful government that proposed a socialist course of development. They were afraid of the example of such a state! They therefore used the enormous power which they possess to ensure that they destroy any such attempts at an alternative path of development.
This explains the hostility that the US has towards Cuba. They have made Cuba’s economy scream and are trying to use the hardship that the economic blockade has caused as evidence of socialisms failure.
In the case of Chile, they decided to strangle it at birth. Failing that they worked desperately to do so in its infancy. They succeeded on September 11, 1973.
That coup in Chile allowed for another military dictatorship in Argentina. Here too thousands of ordinary people were butchered and made to disappear.
The continent is still suffering from some of the effects of what took place in Chile. Grave human right violations continue in many countries on our continent. Ordinary people are forced to flee the grinding poverty and the military lockdowns in countries of Central America. This has led to the added problem of migration. Many of the dictatorships were inspired by the events of 9/11/1973. We must therefore learn from that event to make our America a better and safer place.
The main lesson to be drawn from this is that the peoples will should never be subverted by encouraging coups and violence. The link between socio-economic progress and human rights are real and has been proven over and over again. We must always consider people’s customs, their way of life and the will of the masses. Democracy is strong enough to encompass people’s specific conditions.
Intervention should be done to give solidarity and support to people fighting for democracy and to defend the will of the masses, to defend the rights of peoples to self determination.
History has shown that frustrating the will of the masses is a recipe for disaster.
One shining example of this was the massive support which the Guyanese people received in their struggle to uphold the will of the people in the aftermath of the March 2, 2020 General Elections in Guyana.
It was heartening to see the CARICOM countries, the US, UK, Canada and the EU countries standing up in solidarity with the Guyanese people to defend democracy and people’s freedom. This was real solidarity for the good of a nation!
All should learn this lesson from the two 9/11s.