It's today, so I suppose we have to say something about 9/11.
In 1983, while a civil war was raging in Lebanon, where guns and materials were being supplied by the American government (who were at the same time posing as peacekeepers) in the ever-present effort to gain control of another country's government (the endless procession of violence that we bear witness to now, proceeded from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya to Syria), a van carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives plowed into a U.S. Embassy in West Beirut, killing 63.
The Americans immediately screamed foul, claiming - of course - absolute innocence in the war, their desires for peace, their special status for giving people guns to fight with but demanding never to be held account for such action, etc., etc., parked the USS New Jersey offshore outside Beirut and - on December 14, 1983 - fired 11 projectiles from her 16-inch guns (22,000 pounds of explosives) at chosen hostile positions inland of Beirut.
Then on December 24th, Bob Hope did a Christmas Eve USO show on the deck of the New Jersey. Which was nice.
On February 8, 1984, the New Jersey fired almost 300 shells (600,000 pounds) into Druze and Shi'ite positions in the hills overlooking Beirut. Journalists at the time could not help pointing out how often these shells tended to 'miss' or did not seem to be particular specific in their targeting. This was not considered an act of war by the Americans. The Americans also stubbornly refused to acknowledge that they had, in any way, taken 'sides' in the action.
The number killed was never determined. Americans like to say it was a few hundred. Lebanese rather tilt towards several thousand. I don't know why, but in this particular case I tend to favor the people who were actually ashore.
I try to imagine what it must have been like to be in Beirut at the time, to have a view from the hills of the New Jersey sitting very far away, a dozen miles out at sea, completely out of reach. Most days, without a glass, probably wasn't possible to see it at all. Having no certainty whatsoever about what it was doing. Hearing word that there were fucking Christmas parties going on, the crew eating and drinking in comfort while their commanders considered whether or not to bomb the shit out of my city. Something about that just ... really pisses me off. There's something in the general, let's see, what's the word ... entitlement of that action, where the American government feels justified in acting as GOD and EXECUTIONER in situations whenever their so-called innocence is in the leastways challenged. Yeah. There's just something there that gets in the way of my feeling sorry for when something shitty the Americans have done turns around and smacks them in the face.
My favorite cartoon by the very brilliant Ted Rall.
And now it's Syria. A fucked up situation which the U.S. of course in no way produced.
Remember when America used to rendition their political enemies to Syria, because it was against the law to torture and indefinitely imprison innocent people? We in Canada do, you see, because America did that to one of our citizens, Maher Arar. For four years.