September Eleventh

It has been my observation both as a historian and a clinician, that traumas tend to happen on the anniversary of other traumas Terrorists know this and often strive to orchestrate catastrophic events on an anniversary of social and political traumas . These specifically dated events are designed to draw attention to something unresolved. On a national scale, Americans would see this manifest in the horrors of September 11, 2001 which can be seen as both the cause and result of other cycles of violence. If we choose to highlight the use of historical events rather than transitional dates to delineate historical eras, then this now totemic date of September 11, 2001 serves to mark the inception of our new millennium The second plane, as most everyone knows, was the one that hit the world Trade Center’s second tower. And, it was this second plane, as Martin Amis wrote a few days later, that utterly annihilated any hope that what was happening on that clear Tuesday morning might have been nothing more serious than a tragic aviation disaster. For the thousands in the South Tower, this second plane meant the end of everything. For the rest of us, its terrifying glint was the worldflash of a coming future.

A series of events which took place on or around that date are now compressed into digital shorthand as: 9/11. Attacks involving the airlines, World Trade Center and the Pentagon were immediately blamed on Islamic terrorists, and a “clash of civilizations”. This perception laced with religious overtones, served to justify wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and now Libya, as well as an ongoing policy of endless war. Our day of infamy, and loss of sovereign America –as-sanctuary, was also the eleventh anniversary of a “New World Order” speech that George Bush Senior, former CIA director and the then President of the United States, made to a joint session of Congress. On this occasion he chose to announce his government’s decision to go to war with Iraq in the First Gulf War. It is also interesting to note that the construction of the Pentagon, one of the 9/11 targets, began on September 11, 1944.

September 11th has a tragic resonance in the Middle East as well. On that date in 1922, ignoring Arab grief and outrage, the British government issued a mandate in Palestine which promised European Zionists a national home for Jewish people. This, in turn set the stage for ongoing conflict, terrorist attacks and wars. Again on September 11th, a Palestinian terror group named Black September took hostages at the Munich Olympics and killed eleven Israeli athletes.
Internet rumors have suggested that September 11th echoes the dates in 1683 of the Battle of Vienna, considered to be a final turning point in the conflict between the forces of the Christian West and the Islamic Ottoman Empire. In September of 1697 the Ottoman Turks lost a large amount of East European territory after another devastating defeat by the Austrians. However, the exact sates of these temporal correspondences cannot be confirmed given that the dates of the Islamic lunar and Western solar Gregorian calendars are not the same. Another clash of civilizations began on September 11, 1906 when Mahatma Gandhi announced plans for a non-violent resistance to British rule. And then, on another Tuesday, September 11th, President Nixon, Henry Kissinger and the CIA backed an aerial bombing and coup which resulted in the overthrow and death of democratically elected Salvador Allende. The subsequent regime of General Augusto Pinochet was responsible for the “disappearances” of thousands of people, firing squads, concentration camps and torture chambers that opened throughout the country.
Now in 2011, as Chile marks the anniversary of their September 11th, Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman discussed the event in an interview with Amy Goodman (, 9/9/2011). Now recognized as one of Latin America’s greatest writers, Senor Dorfman sadly lamented the tragic consequences of our vengeful cowboy diplomacy.

Chile reacted to the terror that was inflicted upon us with non-violent resistance. In other words, for instance, we did not go and bomb Washington because Washington had ordered and helped to create the coup in Chile. On the contrary, we created a peaceful revolution against Pinochet. If you contrast that to the United States, to what Bush did as a result of this very small band of terrorists, the results have been absolutely terrible. If this was a test – and I think great catastrophes are always tests of national will – alas, the United States has failed that test terribly. If you look, I mean of the results of September 11, 2001, it has been just terrible what has happened.

While it is not at all clear as to how many of the events of September 11th were consciously or unconsciously planned for that date, or were a result of pure coincidence, this long fractal is likely to continue given the lingering doubts, distrust and animosities surrounding the tragedies of 2001.

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