On the Other 9/11: Pinochet, Kissinger, Obama

Today is the anniversary of two 9/11’s. The one everyone in the US talks about, and the one not everyone in the US talks about. Greg Grandin, who’s got a new book out on Kissinger that everyone should read, writes in The Nation today about Pinochet’s violent coup against Allende—fully backed by Kissinger and Nixon—and how Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is completing the work that Kissinger, Nixon, and Pinochet began. Forty-three years ago today.

The TPP includes one provision that will, if activated, complete the 1973 coup against Allende: its Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. ISDS allows corporations and investors to “sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their ‘expected future profits.’”…

The principle behind the ISDS—that corporations have an inherent right to demand compensation for any regulation that might impinge on their “expected future profits”—is a perfect negation of a major principle of Allende’s socialist program: that poor nations not only had a right to nationalize foreign property but that they could deduct past “excess profit” from compensation for that property, calculated as anything above 12 percent of a company’s value.

Allende and his Popular Unity coalition not only seized the operations of the Anaconda and Kennecott mining companies but, once the sums were done, handed them overdue bills for even more money. On September 28, 1971, Allende signed a decree that tallied the “excess profit” owed by these companies to be $774,000,000 (as might be expected, US and Canadian mining companies, including the current version of Anaconda, are strong for the TPP.) This decree was a turning point in the history of international property rights, when Washington (which, since the Mexican Revolution, had grudgingly accepted the idea of nationalization) decided that its tolerance of Third World economic nationalism had gone on long enough.

In an October 5, 1971 meeting in the Oval Office, Treasury Secretary John Connally complained to Nixon: “He’s [Allende] gone back and said that the copper companies owe $700 million. It’s obviously a farce, and obviously, he’s a—he doesn’t intend to compensate for the expropriated properties. He’s thrown down—He’s thrown the gauntlet to us. Now, it’s our move.”

Nixon then said he had “decided we’re going to give Allende the hook.”

Connally: “The only thing you can ever hope is to have him overthrown.”

This September 11th, as the Obama administration makes its final push for the TPP, it’s worth taking a moment to realize why all those people in Chile—and in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, and throughout Latin America—died and were tortured: to protect the “future profits” of multinational corporations.

Greg’s conclusion raises another issue: the why of torture. Coming out of the Dirty Wars of the 1970s and 1980s, a generation of political theorists and literary critics and journalists began to talk a lot about torture, framing their inquests around the cruelty regimes perpetrated against the “human body.” The target of torture, in other words, was not a political movement or a political being; it was a bodily subject, a physical abstraction. In tandem with revelations of the rampages of Communism in Eastern Europe and China (they weren’t really revelations but they got renewed attention from French intellectuals and their camp followers in the waning days of the Cold War), torture ceased to be treated as political weapon, an instrument of specific political purpose, the close cousin of war and other conventional political means. It (and its associates in evil) became a stand-in for the predations of the human condition. It was the summum malum of politics, a generalized other, an ultimate evil from which every decent person—even Admiral Mayorga—was to shrink with horror.

The further removed that writing became from the immediacy of the Dirty Wars, the less it focused on the substance and politics of those conflicts: which, as Grandin shows, were often about the particular policies and mundane interests that fall today under the rubric “neoliberalism.” It’s one of the many virtues of Grandin’s work that he restores to our memory of those horrors the specificity of that politics. And to remind us that the house that neoliberalism built rests atop a graveyard.



  1. Bart September 11, 2015 at 10:30 am | #

    Would the ISDS affect the property taken from those wealthy individuals and corporations that fled Cuba?

  2. Cavoyo September 11, 2015 at 4:47 pm | #

    Found something interesting today: an argument against drone strikes using the rhetoric of national security. http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/7/drone-blowback.html

    • xenon2 September 11, 2015 at 11:18 pm | #

      Chase Madar is good.
      Although this is old, I’ll tweet it again.

  3. Glenn September 11, 2015 at 7:47 pm | #

    American Exceptionalism:

    The belief that no matter how many foreign governments and their elections the US subverts; no matter how many baseless wars devastate no matter how many millions; no matter how many are tortured and imprisoned without cause for no matter how long; no matter how many American minorities populate the extreme lower economic classes and its prisons: The Government of the USA would NEVER do anything so cruel, underhanded and deceptive to its own exceptional people.

  4. Glenn September 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm | #

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable. These are not my words. I simply share the same opinion. The words are those of John F. Kennedy.”

    Bad choice for Allende to quote Kennedy to the war mongers that made the same example of Kennedy that they would make of him.

  5. Mushin September 12, 2015 at 6:12 am | #

    Cory Thank you. Few people are aware of this correlation and it is useful in this emergent global conversation.

    The Chilean 911 impacted my professional career in 1984 by entering into a learning relationship with Fernando Flores, Allende Minister of Finance and Commerce, who experienced Pinochet’s Mock Trials and had been released though Amnesty International. A classic by Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores “Understanding Computers and Cognition: A Foundation for a New Design” is considered one of the top classics in the computer industry. Implementing humanness in systems thinking is in its infancy. As a philosophy professor you may be ready to entertain Fritjof Capra’s “The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision” where the new biology based in autoppoiesis leaves behind forever Cartesian thinking.

    What I learned in conversations with Flores is “hope” is useless, wasteful and a Christian notion. We are beyond hope in the truth of reality in this moment. Most writings talk, talk, talk about the weather in a non-directed manner, like women gossiping. This post raises indignation for American Exceptionalism that grows worse by the day pointing to the TTP, and don’t do anything about changing the weather or politics. Non-directed chatter has never changed anything. Donald Trump is a master at creating chatter going nowhere. Authors make a fortune adding to the confusion and defending a point of view their entire lives….

    Why not create a movement to hang Henry Kissinger at the half-time super bowl next year as a splitting away from the Nixon nightmare gripping politics in America and uniting around a good old public hanging. Henry is still breathing. Creative destruction of neoliberalism isn’t going to happen with rich, powerful, insane socio-paths all the sudden being shocked into change by progressive liberals that are confused over gender distinctions in what it means to raise a child beyond the pleasures of economic independence? War is real. Wether your married, on a battlefield, boardroom or a university Indian professor. And war is not going anywhere in the near future. So, let’s really get on it and settle the disputes.

    I haven’t commented on your blog in recent weeks because what is the usefulness and fruitfulness of doing so? Cory that is a question requiring a response in a conversation between you and I. I have taken the time to validate your niche in philosophy in public with many responses only to experience ‘the thunder of silence.’ Your not alone.

    Philosopher’s like to question reality by picking apart what someone else said and creating new deep ontological arguments that are never conclusive about the truth of reality in the moment. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on viewpoint, ‘we are only alive in the moment.’

    Fernando Flores in conversations was like Socrates corrupting the minds of Athen’s with critical thinking and refusing suicide as a modern day solution, and literally burning stupidities in the fire of realization that we human beings live in language as a joyful concern. Live speech acts is what constitutes validating human co-existence and experiences in taking action to human concerns. Human beings don’t need schooling to care, protect and serve our ancestral nobility humanness. As you recently pointed to UI professorial bullsh$t of higher institutional administrative indoctrinations. We live as observers in networks of conversations in live speech not dead philosophical excuses for genocidal attitudes, behaviors and activities. The leaders of the future are skilled virtuous citizens competent in reading the world’s breakdowns and transforming the world by inspiring live speech conversations in this swept along historic drift of 2,500+ years of predatory chaos. Servant leaders crafting a third wave renaissance break the glass ceiling by offering an inspiring vision as virtuous citizenry with biological skin in the conservative game of our shared humanity.

    If we want our ancestral ancient hard-wired humanness to remain the same in the future than things have to change today. American’s are sick and exhausted of the government, corporations and social media with 90% of citizenry agreeing “We the people need to take back our country.” Myself personally find both parties indifferent to the reality of truth in this moment of human history. You want to change the world change “Big Data” by returning responsibility to human autonomy as a third wave renaissance.

    A relevant reference worth exploring regarding Chilean 911

    The New Yorker “The Planning Machine” October 13, 2014


  6. Bruce Rosove September 12, 2015 at 4:37 pm | #

    The NAFTA agreement and many other so called free trade agreements all include clauses that allow corporations to sue governments for anticipated lost profits due to changes in regulations.

    “The principle behind the ISDS—that corporations have an inherent right to demand compensation for any regulation that might impinge on their “expected future profits”—”

    This is not new with the TPP. But it bad.

  7. Carl Freeman September 12, 2015 at 8:14 pm | #

    Alfred De Zayas, United Nations Independent Expert, points out that aspects of TPP and similar agreements are in breach of international law. See: https://dezayasalfred.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/my-recent-report-on-the-adverse-impacts-of-free-trade-and-investment-agreements-on-a-democratic-and-equitable-international/

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