That eleventh day in September was not the first day of infamy involving Washington and a destructive attack on a foreign power.
September 11, 1973 was the day when military forces in Chile, under the command of General Augusto Pinochet supposedly committed treason by attacking the Presidential Palace in Santiago with bombs and troops, seizing power in a bloody coup and ending with the death of the democratically elected and real President of Chile, Salvador Allende.
What was the crime so serious that the Chilean military felt the need to intervene in an otherwise stable nation’s affairs and seize power from the democratically elected President Allende?
It seems all President Allende had been guilty of was introducing policies to reverse the flow of his nations resources out of the hands of Chile’s elites and back into the hands of its ordinary people. That is, he was reducing inequality.
Medical doctor and President, Salvador Allende had sought to nationalize major industries and improve the living standards of the working class in Chile. But he made powerful enemies doing this. After realizing his government was under attack by his own military, Allende supposedly committed suicide in the seat of Chile’s power.
Following Allende’s death in office, military coup leader General Augusto Pinochet rose to rule Chile autocratically, refusing to return authority to a civilian government. Chile was ruled by his military dictatorship until 1990. The violent coup on September 11, 1973 ended more than forty years of uninterrupted democratic governance in Chile.
During the time of Pinochet’s dictatorship, tens of thousands of people were killed, tortured and disappeared, presumed dead.
After first denying any knowledge of the coup, the Nixon administration in Washington was found to have aided abetted, and in some cases supplied the resources necessary for its completion.
Over time, further investigations by the US Congress found the real truth. Truth which is hardly surprising. There was extensive American involvement – via the CIA – in the military overthrow of the democratically elected leader of the sovereign nation of Chile. These types of activities by western nations, particularly the United States, are far from rare or unusual. In fact, they are more like routine.
Commenting on the secret American involvement in the 1973 Chilean coup on February 20, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell publically admitted his country’s guilt and shame,
“With respect to…. Chile in (1973)… and what happened with President Allende, it is not a part of American history that we’re proud of. We now have a more accountable way of handling such matters and we have worked with Chile to help it put in place a responsible democracy.”
What “help” did Chile need from America? Chile already had a perfectly acceptable democratic process in 1973. Democracy that has lasted over 40 years. All Chile, and every other nation needed, and still needs today, is for other large nations to mind their own business.
This is quite a sick joke from Mr Powell, supposedly a highly competant five star General and respected public figure and politician, seeing as just 4 weeks later, on March 20, 2003, the United States demonstrated its supposedly “more accountable ways of handling issues” by launching a full scale and unprovoked military invasion of another nation, Iraq.
Even worse, just 15 days earlier than his public acknowledgement of Washington’s role in deposing the elected President of Chile, Powell had delivered his totally false claims concerning weapons of mass destruction in his now infamous speech to the United Nations on February 5, 2003.
I used to have much respect for Colin Powell and thought he would make a good president one day.
Having now read much about his career, his time in the Bush administration and from stories offered by his associates and peers, my conclusion is that although Mr Powell might have been considered (rightly or wrongly) to be one of the less extreme members of the Washington elite, his brilliant ability to show calm and convincing dishonesty make him no better than a Rumsfeld or Cheney.
I believe Mr Powell knew full well his speech to the United Nations in February 2003, convincing as it was, was totally false. I believe he knew this but went ahead and delivered it anyway out of some warped sense of duty. After all, he had spent his whole life following orders in the military. He was chosen to deliver this particularly critical UN speech precisely because he was the most publicly respected figure in the Bush administration. If Powell says these things, then they might well just be true it was no doubt figured. But his claims were not true and he knew they were not true.
If this is how one of the more respected Washington insiders operates, what chance was there for poor President Allende of Chile on September 11,1973 when he met his death, as a result of the deeds of Washington elites far less charitable than Mr Powell.
Mr Powell has that ability of all successful public and political figures – to convincingly answer difficult questions without causing doubt or chagrine. To speak in public without really saying anything. Or better yet, to make people think he said something when he didn’t actually. Or the gold standard is the ability to lie convincingly and dimiss a question whilst still satisfying the questioner.
Powell did exactly that when answering the audience question about why Washington can be trusted about WMDs in Iraq considering America’s role in deposing the democratic leader of Chile.
He answered the question convincingly that day, he gave his convincing speech to the UN, America proceeded to destroy Iraq a second time in 2003, and then Mr Powell proceeded to retire. His reputation battered but not nearly as much as Iraq and its innocent people were.
Using much the same system, western powers proceeded to successfully employ the same tactics in Syria and Libya amongst other targeted nations.
If this is how one of more respected of Washington’s elites lives his life, is it so far fetched to think that some of Mr Powell’s much less pleasant peers could have had links to that other “September 11”?