LESSONS FROM THE PAST

Invisible hand Trouble ahead

By ARITRO GANGULY
  • Published 12.09.05
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It is difficult to define September 11, 2001. Was it an example of macabre poetic justice or an enactment of a revenge tragedy? To seek an answer, one must go back in time to another September 11, now almost lost in the annals of history. ?I don?t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people?? the now infamous words of Henry Kissinger, national security council director of the United States of America, takes us to September 11, 1973, when Augusto Pinochet, commander of the Chilean army, staged a coup d? ?tat at the presidential palace in Santiago. A defiant Salvador Allende died fighting and thus began a period of brutal repression at the hands of the armed and intelligence forces.

Democracy in Chile died a quick death at the hands of the Nixon administration. As early as March 25, 1970 the White House ?Committee of Forty?, headed by Kissinger, had plans to destabilize the Allende government. On September 15, Richard Nixon initiated the ?Track II? plan by ordering the Central Intelligence Agency director, Richard Helms, to prevent Allende?s accession to power and to play a direct role in the coup. The ?operating guidance? makes it clear that these operations were to be conducted so as to hide the ?American hand?.

Invisible hand

This covert offensive was buttressed with economic arm-twisting. A department of state memorandum for Kissinger shows the Nixon administration engaging in an invisible economic blockade against Allende to curtail or terminate credit and loans to Chile. The reason: Allende?s government was a socialist regime.

Other developments had enraged the US government as well. Allende had reopened diplomatic relations with Cuba and China, followed by a $20 million trade pact with Cuba. American business firms were suffering losses as Allende went ahead with nationalizing various enterprises. Attempting to halt raw materials extraction from Chile and their subsequent sale back at inflated prices, Allende nationalized industries and took back rights over minerals. US-owned Anaconda and Kennecott Copper lost their right to extract minerals and profits from Chile. The directors of the International Telephone and Telegraph, who had been warning Nixon of Allende?s socialist zeal, also lost their stake in Chilean Telephone Company as the government assumed operations.

But the economic blockade caused inflation to touch 200 per cent, causing serious social and industrial unrest. Allende, speaking before the general assembly of the United Nations, lamented that Chile has been a ?victim of serious aggression.?

Trouble ahead

There is a crucial link between the two September 11s. In 1973, the coup was the result of capitalist America?s repugnance for a socialist regime. According to Noam Chomsky, the suppression of socialism was necessary to project the ?containing of Soviet Expansionism? to the domestic population during the Cold War.

It is in this context that one understands the link between the two dates. During the latter stages of the Cold War, the US pitted the mujahedin against ?Soviet Expansionism?. America?s obsession to fight the Communists produced the breed of Islamic terrorists who now train their guns on Uncle Sam, because the Soviet threat has disappeared. Thus, the demonic ?Soviet? has now been replaced with ?Islamic terror?.

In Clandestine in Chile, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, writes about how, after being confronted by the people against the imposed emergency, Pinochet had threatened, ?If this continues, we will have to have another September 11.? If the US continues to invent or breed new demons to justify its own neo-imperial expansionism, then September 11s will recur with alarming regularity.