Wednesday, July 19, 2006

'I fled Lebanon and all I got was this T-shirt'

Many of the 25,000 Americans stranded in Lebanon during the first few days of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict are carping that the U.S. didn't act fast enough to rescue them. Other countries reacted faster, some say.

Well, aside from the fact that other countries might have been better positioned geographically and logistically to move into the region, my question is bigger: Who's dumb enough to vacation in a war zone -- and the Middle East is one big war zone these days -- and then complain that they weren't rescued fast enough?

Various reports list 25,000 American nationals in Lebanon, but nobody has yet come up with a firm figure on how many of those are actually interested in being evacuated. One TV report said "about 10,000," but it remains unclear. I don't oppose sending U.S. ships, planes and helicopters to get them out, but their whining about the timing is wearing thin. They picked a treacherous place for holiday, and it just ain't gonna be a four-star experience. Going to Libya would have been safer, fergawdsakes.

It just goes to show ... a lot of people only think they're adventurous.


Michael Gillespie said...

Let me see if I understand this situation correctly: The U.S. Government (that's us, fellow taxpayers) subsidizes the state of Israel to the tune of about $3 billion dollars per year, not including the high tech weaponry and munitions the Israeli military demands and gets from the U.S. government. The military hardware and munitions are, by law, supposed to be used only for the defensive purposes.

For days now Israeli rockets, bombs, and artillery ordinance manufactured in Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, and various other states have been falling around and on the heads of Lebanese civilians and foreign civilians visiting that battered country, thousands of American citizens among them. Scores of Lebanese civilians have been killed, and some foreign nationals have also been blasted to bits by U.S. manufactured ordinance delivered by U.S. manufactured jet fighter-bomber aircraft, helicopters, and howitzers operated by the Israelis courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

Our president has proclaimed that Israel has a right to defend itself and has been in no apparent hurry either to evacuate Americans or to bring the diplomatic influence of his government to bear in behalf of a ceasefire effort. The U.S. Department of State, meanwhile, has announced that U.S. citizens evacuated by their government would be billed by the government for the cost of their evacuation!

This must be something new under the sun: The U.S. government uses our (and our children's and our grandchildren's) tax dollars to subsidize a foreign government's military "defense", and then, when American citizens find themselves in grave danger under a bombardment green-lighted by the president, proposes to charge those citizens for their evacuation, if and when the U.S. military gets around to evacuating them.

Your question, Ron: "Who's dumb enough to vacation in a war zone?" seems a tad small-minded. Many of the American citizens in Lebanon, as you well know, are, or were, there on business. Others are, or were, college and university students pursuing educational opportunities there. Yes, some are, or were, tourists, but, more to the point, all are now in grave danger, largely as a result of the Bush administration's disastrously failed Middle East foreign policy. If, as you say, "the Middle East is one big war zone these days," who is more responsible for that than the administration, which told us American troops would be welcomed with flowers and sweets in the streets of Baghdad and that the Arab and Muslim Middle East would welcome U.S. efforts to export democracy?

Perhaps a better question would be, "Who could be dumb enough to believe the nonsense spouted by administration officials whose incompetence, greed, haste, and malfeasance is directly responsible for the horrendous--and still worsening--mess in the Middle East?" Apparently this latter group of believers, early on at least, included most Americans.

Your final comment on this situation, "It just goes to show . . . a lot of people only think they're adventurous", seems callously flippant, given that thousands of our fellow citizens' lives are in real danger, through no fault of their own. After all, the way things are going, next week it could be you or I, and your family or mine.

That Cleaning Lady said...

Yup, I agree, shouldn't be there, then there's not sucha problem getting home. The whiners I saw on the news appeared to be workers too - not just vacationers, but what the heck are they doing there anyway? Don't they know American's are not only unwelcome but unwanted? Just one more invitation for Americans to get shot at, spit upon and looked down on. Enough of that goes on here on our own soil. Hopefully those people have to pay for transport on those cruise ships being sent to get them, and for the gas to run the defense ships and the wages for the soldiers to guard them safely home... Seems an intelligent idea is to close our borders - to outgowers. Stay home - see the U.S., work in the U.S.

Ron Franscell said...

Michael -- You seem to be arguing that poor ol' Hezbollah was just minding it's own business and got slugged for no reason. And that our support of Israel is evil. I presume you aren't anti-Semitic and I know you're worldly wise, but that sounds deliberately Polly-annish.

As for Americans in Lebanon, I'm sure they all can speak a reason (work, school, vacation, adventure, etc.) but the logic remains: It's a place where conflict is in the air every minute of every day. The student who chooses American University -- where not so long ago, professors were abducted by Hezbollah -- must certainly weigh the risks. The worker who goes to Lebanon certainly must have asked his employer about an exit strategy. The vacationer ... well, that's just dumb.

"Through no fault of their own"? Were they kidnapped and taken to Lebanon against their will? Come on, it was their choice to go there and while I favor rescuing them as fellow Americans now, I won't sing praises of their wisdom. And their whining about it is grating.

I, too, thought the U.S. demand that evacuees pay for their rescue was ridiculous, but you neglect to mention that this short-lived policy was killed within 48 hours after it was announced. The evacuees are being rescued at the U.S. taxpayers' expense, as you wished.

In some ways, this is the same feeling I get about people who build their homes in a Mississippi flood zone without insurance. They get wiped out, then expect the feds to bail them out ... so they can rebuild in a Mississippi flood zone. Dumb choices should not be reinforced by the taxpayers (I know what you're thinking ... "George Bush was a dumb choice and he's paid by the taxpayers" but you know what I mean.)

And if you and I are the targets of war next week, in Iowa and Texas, it won't be because I chose to parachute into a war zone ... even though Southeast Texas politics sometimes resemble Israel-vs-Hezbollah!

Spudzine said...

I agree with Ron. These people played the odds and they threw snake-eyes. They should STFU and be happy that the USA military arrived within a week to rescue them. Bush opponents would criticize him for anything he does and they want us to believe these stranded tourists were getting shot at or dodging bombs. They weren't do-ing any such thing. I get the feeling most of them were searching for the nearest TV camera to bitch and moan! Everybody got evacuated at taxpayer expense and nobody was hurt end of story. the far left can get on to other critiques of the White House now