Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Savagery of Nations

December 21st is a happy day for the Snarkmeister, but one that is also sadly marred as a tragic anniversary that always dampens the otherwise bright spirits of the day. It has been 20 years now since 259 happy travelers lost their lives while journeying home for the holidays on Pan Am Flight 103. Eleven unfortunate souls also had flaming death rain down on them in their homes in the tiny town of Lockerbie, Scotland.

The country of Libya eventually took the blame and provided compensation to the victims' families, but there is ample evidence that they did so, not because they were guilty, but because they desperately needed to get international economic sanctions removed from their country. It is entirely possible that those responsible for the Lockerbie slaughter remain free and unpunished to this very day.

Certainly, it could have been Libya, or it could have been another country. State-sponsored mass murder is nothing new, not even in the history of civil aviation. Most people would find it surprising to see a complete list of civilian airliners that have been shot out of the sky by governments and to know which countries were responsible for those atrocities.

Here is a list of the (so-called civilized) nations and not-so-civilized nations that have shot down large commercial civilian airliners:
  • Bulgaria (Soviet Union) -- El Al Flight 402 -- 1952 -- 58 dead
  • Israel -- Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 -- 1973 -- 108 dead
  • Russia (Soviet Union) -- Korean Air Lines Flight 902 -- 1978 -- 2 dead
  • NATO (disputed) -- Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 -- 1980 -- 80 dead
  • Russia (Soviet Union) -- Korean Air Lines Flight 007 -- 1983 -- 269 dead
  • United States -- Iran Air Flight 655 -- 1988 -- 290 dead
  • The Ukraine -- Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 -- 2001 -- 78 dead
[Numerous additional incidents that occurred during wartime, in which terrorism was involved, or in which the aircraft was not clearly a commercial passenger carrier have been excluded. See The Wikipedia for a complete list:]

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