Americans Rescued In Lebanon Should Pay For The Trip Back

From Lebanon:

Americans wiped away tears, hugged relatives and grumbled about evacuation delays Wednesday before boarding a luxury ship that was to carry them from war-torn Lebanon.

Crew members of the Orient Queen welcomed aboard parents pushing strollers and clutching their children.

Many expressed frustration that it had taken the U.S. government so long to get them out of Lebanon while Europeans and Lebanese with foreign passports already have fled by the thousands.

“I can’t believe the Americans,” Danni Atiyeh, a 39-year-old civil engineer from Kansas City, Mo., said as he stood with his pregnant wife and sons Ali, 10, and Adrian, 6, while waiting for buses that were taking them to the ship. “Everybody else has gone home … We’re still here.”

The State Department said Tuesday it had dropped a plan to make Americans reimburse the government for the trip, but Atiyeh said he and others were asked to sign promissory notes to pay for the trip before they could leave.

It wasn’t clear what time the ship would leave port. An estimated 8,000 of the 25,000 Americans in Lebanon want to leave the country.

…Six chartered passenger ships were to be in position off the coast of Lebanon on Wednesday to begin evacuating up to 30,000 Canadians. Authorities intend to evacuate some 4,500 a day, ferrying them to Cyprus.

Asian officials across the Asia-Pacific region also struggled to evacuate more than 30,000 citizens.”

First of all, I have a lot of sympathy for Americans that are stuck in Lebanon. Here they are going to visit family or on vacation and suddenly there’s a war and they can’t leave. You have Israel blowing things up, you never know if Hezbollah might take hostages — it’s certainly a scary situation.

But, this carping and complaining is a little much.

First of all, there was a Travel Warning in effect for Lebanon that was full of warnings about how dangerous it is:

“The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully weigh the necessity of their travel to Lebanon in light of the risks noted below. U.S. citizens in Lebanon are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security in Lebanon.

…Historically, Americans have been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. The perpetrators of many of these attacks are still present and retain the ability to act. American citizens should thus keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should also pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners are generally known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.

…The U.S. Government considers the potential threat to U.S. Government personnel assigned to Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under a strict security regime. This limits, and may occasionally prevent, the movement of U.S. Embassy officials in certain areas of the country. These factors, plus limited staffing, may hinder timely assistance to Americans in Lebanon. Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members requires prior approval by the Department of State.”

But, all these people decided to go to Lebanon anyway.

Fine.

Then war breaks out and Israel blockades the ports and shuts down air traffic out of the country. Relatively soon thereafter, there are complaints that the US government hasn’t ferried all these people out of a country half way across the world. Never mind the fact that the government advised them not to go in the first place and that there are other people from all over the world still waiting to go home. They’re unhappy because they haven’t been rescued quickly enough.

Fine.

But, they’re not being asked to pay for the trip back to the US? Why not? Wouldn’t they have had to pay for their trip back anyway if the government didn’t pick them up? Moreover, it’s not as if they were kidnapped. Of their own free will, they chose to go to an extremely dangerous locale, and so they should be asked to pay for their ride back home. Why should other Americans have to spend their tax dollars to give these people a free ride back to the US? They shouldn’t. Let these people pay their own way back and maybe it’ll help encourage them to pay more attention the next time the US Government puts out a travel advisory.

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