July 20, 2006

Who Pays For That Ticket to Ride Out of Lebanon?

Hatched by Sachi

After twenty-two years absence, the U.S. Marines have landed in Beirut to help evacuate American citizens who are stuck in the war zone. Not surprisingly, many evacuees are tired, shaken and angry... but rather than being angry at Hezbollah for starting a war of aggression along a peaceful border, many Americans in Lebanon seem angry at the United States for not dropping everything to mount a massive mission to rescue them.

I sympathize with all the innocent people being hurt or threatened in Lebanon; that's why we say "war is hell." But if foreigners decide to live or visit an unstable country like Lebanon -- especially south Lebanon, which has been under total Hezbollah control since the year 2000 -- and despite their own country’s warnings, then those people must bear primary responsibilities for their own lives.

But that's not how a bunch of very demanding Americans and other foreign civilians see it:

Shebbo, now in Cyprus, said she and her husband had struggled to get information from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and had found out about the boat from people in the United States. For four days, they inhaled the fumes from a bombed power plant two miles from where they had been staying.

Others echoed her complaints about the embassy.

"The guard was so rude and said there was no evacuation plan," said Michael Russo, 23, of Tucson, Ariz., of his visit to the embassy. "On Wednesday and Thursday, I asked them if there was a plan, and they looked at me like I was crazy."

They were probably wondering why on earth somebody would travel to southern Lebanon without having his own escape plan.

For many decades, Americans have been taught by the elite media that the federal government is responsible for everything that happens in America. Remember Hurricane Katrina and all the people that blamed President Bush and former FEMA Director Michael Brown -- but who gave a complete pass to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray "the Grand Nagus" Nagin?

Responsibility is always pushed upwards: it's not the state's job, call the feds; it's not the city's job, call the governor; don't protect yourself... call the city police to come protect you! But the farther removed "help" is from that individual in that place at that moment, the less helpful it will be. Reagan always got a big laugh out of his line, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."

Having dealt with the American Embassy in Japan and the Japanese Consulate in the U.S., none of this surprises me. This is a screaming, hair-on-fire emergency... which means the embassy is even more overwhelmed than the Americans demanding evacuation. If embassy personnel act worse than usual, that may be unacceptable -- but it's comletely understandable. And it's not just our embassy:

Many Canadians in Larnaca and Beirut also expressed anger at their government's evacuation effort, either because of the long wait at the port or the lack of planning. About 1,600 were waiting in the hot sun at the Beirut port.

This has all happened before. Twenty years ago, around the time 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French paratroopers were killed by Hezbollah terrorists, the U.S. Government strongly urged all non-essential U.S. Citizens to get out of Lebanon and to call off any planned visit.

A number of westerners had already been kidnapped there; but despite all the dire warnings, a bunch more Americans (mostly journalists) rushed to Lebanon and immediately commenced being kidnapped themselves. Naturally, each and every one of them insisted that we lay aside all the more urgent business we had and send the entire Sixth Fleet to pluck away some guy from CBS... so he could wander straight back into Beirut again (it's Freedom of the Press!)

Obviously, if it's possible and not too damaging to our national goals, there is nothing wrong with the government helping Americans who find themselves in need of evacuation. But strangers in a strange land have no right to demand that this will always happen: when you travel to foreign countries, you assume the risk that something might happen to you.

You're not in the United States; you're in a separate sovereign nation. It's just like going to Singapore, committing a crime under Singaporese law -- and then demanding they not prosecute you because whatever you did isn't against the law in America (or maybe it is, but you don't get "caned" for it here).

Any traveler, regardless of where he is going, must have an emergency Get the Heck Out plan. The government is not always there to help, just like the cops can't always be there the moment you need them. Each individual must be resourceful, because he may be thrust upon his own resources.

A few years ago, I watched a documentary on TV about people who refused to be victims: they successfully escaped from dangerous situations, such as natural disasters and military coups in foreign countries. These people were mostly volunteer workers for non-governmental organizations -- the Peace Corps, religous missionary groups, Doctors Without Borders, and so forth.

They all came hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. None of them waited for somebody else to risk his own life to run help them, nor did they sit around in the dark, waiting for instructions. They individually found a way out for themselves and their companions.

What they had in common was that each had an escape plan going in. They had thought about the dangers and planned for them; when the worst happened, they followed their plans as best they could -- and they made it out alive when others dithered, waited for rescue -- and died.

So always bear it in mind: if you are unfortunate enough to get stuck, then unless the government sent you there in the first place, don't demand that somebody else save your bacon: you and only you are the one who assumed that risk... so pay for your own ticket, please.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, July 20, 2006, at the time of 5:01 PM

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The following hissed in response by: nk

As much as I enjoy visiting this site, it has one major flaw. I very seldom find anything to disagree with, add to, or request clarification of, in our hosts' posts. This post being an exemplar. So that commenting would be nothing more than "Well said!" I'm grateful for monkyboy. He gives me a reason to say something, sometime, but today his comment is so silly, me pointing it out is still "gilding the lilly".

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 6:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Whoever wants out best get out soon:

Army chief tells troops fighting may last a long time

That's a speech given just before a major Battle begins...

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 7:35 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

monkyboy, comment #3:

I am a Reagan conservative so how could I possibly not have a very wide streak of libertanianism? How can there be personal responsibility without personal freedom? And vice-versa? Which is kind of like what our host said?

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 8:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent post, Sachi. I linked here.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 4:55 AM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

Monkyboy wrote:

"America pays Israel over $2.5 billion a year in welfare.

I don't think it would have been asking too much to ask them to hold of using the weapons we supplied them until we get could get our citizens out of Lebanon..."

Monkyboy, people who were STUPID enough to travel to Lebanon at this time, ignoring REPEATED State Department warnings over the last few years, would not have been WILLING to leave Lebanon until AFTER the shooting started so the sooner the Israelis started blasting away the sooner we could evacuate our would-be Darwin Award winners.

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 10:47 AM

The following hissed in response by: leucanthemum

I think the problem is that Israel has spent the past decade showing disproportionate restraint towards the terrorists of Hizballah, Hamas, etc. The Americans & Europeans who settled in Lebanon allowed themselves to be convinced Israel would never overtly act in their own interests. Why would they think they needed their own escape plan?

The above hissed in response by: leucanthemum [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 11:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

Monkyboy wrote "Have I got that right?"

Of course not, Monkyboy. When have you EVER gotten ANYTHING right? I'm not sure I could trust you to come up with the correct answer to "What does 2 + 2 equal?"

If you had EVER travelled outside of the country, which your ignorance on this subject causes me to doubt, you would know that the US Government makes it EXPLICITLY clear that while they will do what they can to help you get home if trouble comes, YOU ARE EXPECTED TO PAY FOR IT! This has been the law for something like HALF A CENTURY! As a taxpayer I don't particularly mind the government waiving this rule in a massive evacuation like this one (it takes a certain amount of time to fill out and process each promissory note, time that might be better spent on other things), but I DO expect that people who have already failed ONE IQ test (going to Lebanon in the first place) should make an effort to pass this one (at least being smart enough to FAKE gratitude for having their stupid and thus relatively worthless lives saved FOR FREE!).

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 1:20 PM

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