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The "Other" 9/11

Twenty-eight years before September 11, 2001 became a symbol of American tragedy, another country, Chile, had its own "9/11." On September 11, 1973, the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende, was assassinated in cold blood in the Presidential Palace by members of the Armed Forces, who then "elected" one of their own, Augusto Pinochet, dictator.

Allende was a left-leaning leader, like some one else we know, who initially started out quite popular with the electorate, and then became increasingly unpopular, as the impact of his ideology and inefficiency made themselves felt. "Socialist" doesn't really describe him; "Communist" is more like it. At the end, he retained his natural consituency of some 30%-35% of the population, but the middle one third had deserted him in droves, thereby reducing the legitamacy of his rule. (The rightmost one-third was against him from the start.)

No American President needs to fear being overthrown in a coup d'etat, but American Presidents would do well to remember Allende's lesson; that personal popularity doesn't translate into legislative popularity, and that hurting the majority to help the minority is never popular anywhere. And one of Allende's mistakes was to "buddy" with Cuba's Castro, which brought not only the Chilean military, but also the US CIA on his back.