Tuesday 10 September 2013

The forgotten victims of September 11

Since the atrocities in 2001, the date September 11 has become a national day of American mawkishness and self-pity. The remembrance ceremonies in 2013 will be particularly Orwellian, given that Al Qaida, the official perpetrators of the 9/11 atrocities, were back in vogue with the US government under their new brandname ISIS.

It would take an extremely blinkered view of history to not know that in the 1980s the US funded, supplied and trained Al Qaida in Afghanistan, when they were considered "brave freedom fighters" against the Soviet occupation. It would take more historical ignorance/revisionism to fail to realise that the US intervened to fight alongside Islamist militias in Kosovo in the late 1990s, support for Islamist fanatics that was provided several years after the first Al Qaida attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.

Over the space of just a few years Al Qaida morphed from US funded and supported allies into supposedly the greatest ever threat to American freedom in history. A threat that has been used to impose all kinds of unconstitutional and totalitarian attacks on the liberties of American citizens (and citizens of the rest of the world) such as the "Patriot" Act and the incredible expansion of NSA spying activities. This rapid conversion of Al Qaida from US allies to dangerous terrorists was bad enough, but the 9/11 remembrance ceremonies in 2013 were marred by the fact that the US government were straining at the leash to help Islamist terrrorists in Syria by bombing the Syrian government and creating yet another Iraq style power vacuum for them to thrive in.

Just 12 years since after the 9/11 attacks and the US administration imagined that the American public were so gullible and compliant that they would accept the US openly siding with the same kind of Islamist terrorists as those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and have killed countless American soldiers (and inordinately more innocent civilians) in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last decade too.

The extreme ignorance and gullibility that would be necessary for the American public to accept the idea that the US political establishment openly siding with Al Qaida in Syria, simply because their terrorist activities there coincide with American imperialist interests, is also on display in the fact that so many Americans still believe the absurd narrative that "America fights for freedom and democracy across the World".

40 years ago the US backed a violent coup d'etat in Chile and the
imposition of a brutal neoliberal regime led by Augusto Pinochet.
One of the clearest demonstrations of the American determination to undermine and destroy freedom and democracy came in Chile after a US backed military coup that took place on September 11th 1973.

This coup marked the birth of the toxic neoliberal ideology pushed by the Chicago school pseudo-economists. In 1973 neoliberalism was a fringe anti-communist economic ideology supported by virtually nobody, today this bankrupt pseudo-economic gibberish is the global economic orthodoxy adhered to by almost all political parties in the West and enforced across the globe by the machinery of the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.

To say that neoliberalism had a painful birth in Chile would be an understatement. The man that the neoliberals backed in Chile was a brutal dictator called General Pinochet. During his dictatorship over 3,000 people were "disappeared" (captured and tortured to death) whilst another 28,000 were detained without trial, most of them suffering torture and in many cases sexual abuse too. Aside from those tortured and killed and the families that survived them, other victims of this brutal US backed dictatorship included protesters that were burned alive in the streets by the police and musicians that had their fingers broken before being machine gunned to death.

This brutal and oppressive Chilean regime was supported by the US administration because to successive American governments and their corporate backers, military dictatorship, imprisonment without trial, torture, rape and extrajudicial killings were an insignificant price to pay when it came to securing access to the Chilean economy so that it could be used as a playground for the neoliberal pseudo-economists from the Chicago School, and opened up for exploitation by US corporations.

The Chilean regime was part of the US financed Operation Condor, which was a plan to control the population of the southern cone of South America through the instillation of numerous brutal military dictatorships. The members of this anti-democratic group were the Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile, the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay, the Banzer military dictatorship in Bolivia, the Brazilian military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985 and the 12 year military dictatorship in Uruguay. 

Undoubtedly the most brutal members of Operation Condor were the US backed Argentine Junta that joined in 1976, after the military coup against Isabel Perón.

Photos of the disappeared in Buenos Aires, 2004.
The US backed military dictatorship in Argentina was yet another playground for the Chicago school neoliberal pseudo-economists. Whilst the US backed military dictatorship were busy murdering an estimated 30,000 Argentine civilians and torturing countless thousands more, the Chicago Boys were imposing their favoured economic ideology (deregulation, privatisation, lax tax enforcement, massive tax cuts for the rich, regressive tax hikes for the poor and ordinary, destruction of welfare provision, revocation of rights and liberties, wage repression ... ), resulting in poverty and chaos for millions of Argentines. The state terrorism of this savage regime meant that few people dared to speak out against this economic vandalism.

Some of the favoured tactics of the Argentine junta included torture, extrajudicial killings, throwing people out of aeroplanes without parachutes (death flights) and the kidnapping of pregnant women in order to steal their babies to give to supporters of the regime, after which the mothers were executed without trial.

In the late 1970s the US and the Argentine junta collaborated in "Operation Charly" to export their model of brutal right-wing dictatorship to Central America (Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) and in 1980 the Argentine junta, the US administration and the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie collaborated to assist the "Cocaine Coup" in Bolivia which installed Luis García Meza. Meza was another brutal dictator and upon his instillation in power he immediately outlawed all political parties, exiled opposition leaders, banned trade unions, silenced the press and oversaw the murder of over 1,000 people in just 13 months in power.

The 40th anniversary of the US backed military coup in Chile passed virtually unnoticed in the United States and great swathes of the public will continue to believe the comforting lies that the US has a history of promoting democracy and freedom, rather than a demonstrable history of deliberately and callously undermining them.

The millions of victims of the vile US backed Latin American dictatorships are not the only people that should be remembered on September the 11th. The countless global victims of the vile "greed is a virtue" neoliberal pseudo-economic ideology devised by the Chicago boys, supported by the US government and born in Chile on this day in 1973 also just as worthy of remembrance as the victims of the September 2001 atrocities.

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