rn:from Chile, France: meaning of Sept. 11


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

The first article came to me via the executive director of Friends of
Nature, Rudy Haase & Sierra Club executive director, Elizabeth May by post,
so I will only copy excerpts. Thankfully, the second article, by Ariel
Dorfman, is available in its entirety.

all the best, Jan

"An enemy. At last."
by Ignacio Ramonet

On September 11 aircraft were diverted from their normal flight routines.
With fanatics at their controls, they headed for the heart of a big city,
intent on destroying the symbols of a hated political system. In the
explosions that followed, buildings were shattered. Survivors fled the
wreckage. The media were on the spot broadcasting live.

I am not talking about New York in 2001 but Santiago de Chile on 11
September 1973. With the complicity of the United States, General Pinochet
staged his coup against the socialist government of Salvador Allende, which
bgan with the bombardment of the presidential palace by the air force.
Dozens of people were killed. It was the start of a regime of terror that
was to continue for 15 years.

With all compassion for the innocent victims of the attacks on new York, it
has to be said that, of all countries, the US cannot be described as
innocent. It has a long history of involvement in violent, illegal and often
clandestine political actions in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and
Asia, with the accompanying personal tragedies of death, disappearances,
torture, imprisonment and exile.

Osama Bin Laden is a creation of the US. Now, with all the violence of Dr.
Frankenstein's creation, he has turned against his maker. In assembling a
war coalition against him, the US is prepared to rely on Saudi Arabia and
Pakistan, which for the past thrity years have contributed most to the
spread of radical Islamic networks around the world, where necessary using

The men around George W Bush are veterans of the cold war. They may have
reason to be pleased with the current events, in a sense a godsend. At a
stroke the attacks of 11 September restored what had been missing since the
collapse of the Soviet Union 10 years ago - an enemy. At last. The enemy may
be known officially as terrorism but everyone knows that the real name is
radical Islam. And we can now expect alarming side-effects, including a
modern McCarthyism directed at the opponents of globalisation. You enjoyed
anti-communism? Your going to love anti-Islamism. 

Translated by Ed Emery
From: "Helen Forsey" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: A Chilean reflects on Sept. 11
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001 10:16:52 -0500

Subject: [TURKISTAN-N] TN: Americans Must now Feel What the Rest of Us Have

by Ariel Dorfman


3 October 2001

One way for Americans to overcome their trauma is to admit that their
suffering is not unique

During the past 28 years, 11 September has been a date of mourning, for me
and millions of others, ever since that Tuesday in 1973 when Chile lost its
democracy in a military coup, that day when death irrevocably entered our
lives and changed us forever. And now, almost three decades later, the
malignant gods of random history have wanted to impose upon the same country
that we blamed for the coup that dreadful date, again a Tuesday, again an 11
September filled with death.

The differences and distances that separate the Chilean date from the
American are, one must admit,
considerable. The depraved terrorist attack against the most powerful nation
on Earth has and will have
consequences which affect all humanity. Whereas very few of the six billion
people alive today could
remember or would be able to identify what happened in Chile.

The resemblance I am evoking goes well beyond a facile and superficial
comparison -- for instance, that both in Chile in 1973 and in the United
States today, terror descended from the sky to destroy the symbols of
national identity: the Palace of the Presidents in Santiago, the icons of
financial and military power in New York and Washington.

No, what I recognise is something deeper, a parallel suffering, a similar
pain, a commensurate
disorientation echoing what we lived through in Chile as of that 11 September.

Its most extraordinary incarnation: I still cannot believe what I have been
witnessing -- is that on the
screen in the weeks past I have seen hundreds of relatives wandering the
streets of New York, clutching the photos of their sons, fathers, wives,
lovers, daughters, begging for information, asking if they are alive or
dead. The whole United States has been forced to look into the abyss of what
it means to be desaparecido, with no certainty or funeral possible for those
beloved men and women who are missing.

Over and over again I have heard phrases that remind me of what people like
me would mutter to themselves during the 1973 military coup and the days
that followed: "This cannot be happening to us. This sort of excessive
violence happens to other people and not to us, we have only known this form
of destruction through movies and books and remote photographs." And words
reiterated unceasingly, 28 years ago and now again in the year 2001: "We
have lost our innocence. The world will never be the same."

What has come to an explosive conclusion, of course, is (North) America's
famous exceptionalism, that attitude which allowed the citizens of this
country to imagine themselves as beyond the sorrows and calamities that have
plagued less fortunate peoples around the world. 

In spite of the tremendous pain, the intolerable losses that this
apocalyptic crime has visited upon the
American public, I wonder if this trial does not constitute one of those
opportunities for regeneration
and self-knowledge that, from time to time, is given to certain nations. A
crisis of this magnitude can lead to renewal or destruction, it can be used
for good or for evil, for peace or for war, for aggression or for
reconciliation, for vengeance or for justice, for the militarisation of a
society or its humanisation.

One of the ways for Americans to overcome their trauma and survive the fear
and continue to live and thrive in the midst of the insecurity which has
suddenly swallowed them is to admit that their suffering is neither unique
nor exclusive, that they are connected -- as long as they are willing to
look at themselves in the vast mirror of our common humanity -- with so many
other human beings who, in faraway zones, have suffered similar situations
of unanticipated and often protracted injury and fury.

The terrorists have wanted to single out and isolate the United States as a
satanic state. The rest of the
planet, including many nations and men and women who have been the object of
American arrogance and intervention reject -- as I categorically do -- this

It is enough to see the almost unanimous outpouring of grief of most of the
world, the offers of help, the expressions of solidarity, the determination
to claim the dead of this mass murder as our dead. It remains to be seen if
this compassion shown to the mightiest power on this planet will be

It is still far from certain that the men and women of this nation, so full
of hope and tolerance, will be
able to feel that same empathy towards the other, outcast, members of our

We will find out in the years to come if the new Americans forged in pain
and resurrection are ready and open and willing to participate in the
arduous process of repairing our shared, our damaged humanity. Creating, all
of us together, a world in which we need never again lament not one more,
not even one more terrifying 11 September.