Sept. 11 – where are we headed?

On the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy, it’s appropriate to look back and also to see where our country is headed.

On Sept. 11, 2001, our country and the world were shaken by the enormity of terrorist acts using ordinary airplanes as weapons aimed at civilians.

Everyday working people responded heroically to the crisis with countless acts of humanitarianism.

The Bush administration responded to the Sept. 11 tragedy by going to war twice in two years, to the great benefit of its corporate cronies. The administration and its far right friends argued for war by manipulating the fears of the American people. They used fabricated evidence and lies about links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Today, they openly discuss the use of nuclear weapons.

Two years later, they have made the world an infinitely more dangerous place.

At home, this ultra-right administration used fear to force passage of legislation that turned back decades of advances in civil liberties and immigrant rights.

The shock waves of Sept. 11 sped up the economy’s tailspin. But Bush’s tax cuts for the rich are further aggravating the economic crisis. Over 2 million people have lost their jobs and another 3 million have dropped off the charts. Across the country, people worry about their economic security.

And yet, out of the ashes a new mood is growing. Millions here and around the world spoke out against preemptive war. Now, many Americans are questioning why we went to war. A drive to uncover the lies that led to war is under way on Capitol Hill. One hundred and forty local governments have passed resolutions rejecting the civil-liberties-bashing Patriot Act.

The struggle to take back the country from the stranglehold of the far-right politics of fear and war has begun.

The 2004 elections are becoming a rallying point for labor and the people’s movements to turn our country’s policies, foreign and domestic, towards sanity.

Remember Allende!

Thirty years ago, Sept. 11, 1973, the Chilean military under Gen. Augusto Pinochet stormed the Moneda Palace, murdering Chile’s elected president Salvador Allende. Overnight the nation was plunged into fascist terror. Thousands were rounded up and herded into Santiago’s soccer stadium, tortured and murdered by Pinochet’s henchmen. Hundreds more fled into exile. All democratic rights were terminated. Political parties were outlawed. Unions were stripped of their rights. DINA, the hated Chilean secret service, engaged in terrorism worldwide, even in Washington, D.C., where they bombed the car of Chilean patriot Orlando Letelier and his secretary, Ronni Moffitt, in 1976.

Just before the coup, Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger told reporters, “The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves…I don’t see why we need to stand idly by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.” The CIA orchestrated destabilization of Chile, pouring millions of dollars into El Mercurio and other mass media to propagandize against Allende’s program of nationalizing the copper industry, land reform, and milk for every Chilean child. They set the stage for the coup.

Much has changed. Pinochet is disgraced. Democracy has been partially restored in Chile. But Kissinger’s doctrine of intervention in the internal affairs of other nations lives on. Its evil offspring is George W. Bush’s doctrine of preemptive war on nations that have not attacked us. Both doctrines flagrantly violate the national sovereignty of targeted nations. Today, Bush claims the right to occupy Iraq with military force in defiance of the Iraqi people, the United Nations, and world public opinion.

Allende’s Popular Unity government was overthrown to make Latin America safe for U.S. transnational capital. Iraq is occupied to make the Middle East safe for Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Halliburton, Bechtel. We are paying a terrible price in blood and treasure. We, the people, have a duty to fight these doctrines that menace all humanity with war, repression, and corporate exploitation.