Selective memory: the Other 9/11

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Last week, the world witnessed the remembrance day of the terrorist attacks of the 11th of September 2001 perpetrated by Al Qaeda on American soil.  The attacks brought a new paradigm to the field of IR: war would never be the same. The ‘War on Terror’ was inaugurated by the United States.  This new war has not since followed the traditional rules:it is not a war against a State; it doesn’t have an army as the target; it doesn’t have a location to be waged.

The War on Terror has been enabled through the logics of fear: ‘it can happen anywhere’.  But the statistics don’t agree; terrorism is much more frequent in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria or Syria. Globally, the War on Terror as a consequence of 9/11 attacks has enabled policies targeting particular subjects, toughening borders. It has been further used to justify entering other states’ territories or redefine the concept of torture. Everyone remembers 9/11; everyone remembers the World Trade Centre Towers failing and, of course, the pain of thousands.

However and not as remembered, a previous 9/11 took place in Chile almost 30 years before -in 1973-.  The U.S. provided financial aid and material means to Chile’s Military forces led by Augusto Pinochet to move against the elected government of Salvador Allende. This military movement constituted the 5th Coup d’ Etat in South America, enabling at the same time the rise of Operation Condor articulated by Nixon and Kissinger in order to ‘protect’ American soil from the influence of the socialist wave in South America from the 1950s, in a context of Cold War.

Chile’s 9/11 marked the beginning of a Dictatorship that would last until 1990, in which more than 28,000 people suffered political violence and torture, were executed or disappeared. This 9/11 partially sponsored by the United States is still not yet acknowledged. It is a good example of a selective memory that keeps positing the U.S. exclusively as history’s victim while forgetting its violent involvement in foreign countries, regimes, politics and its overall role as a perpetrator of violence.

Thus, let’s not forget 9/11, the suffering and the victims; but let’s start to remember beyond: the other victims, the other suffering; and to hold the US accountable for its acts in violation of international law, particularly those unlawful interventions that more often than not are invisibilized in mainstream accounts of history.

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