I bet you thought that, should you and many others find yourselves trapped in the middle of a sudden war, you’d be evacuated without the government asking for reimbursement.
Surprise! Only if you’re British, Italian, German, Canadian, or – well, pretty much anything except American.
From the US Embassy’s Beirut webpage:
This information is current as of today, Sat Jul 15 12:20:12 2006. [Apparently, keeping citizens informed isn’t a priority.]
A message to the American citizens in Lebanon:
The Department of State continues to work with the Department of Defense on a plan to help American citizens depart Lebanon. As of the morning of July 15, we are looking at how we might transport Americans to Cyprus. Once in Cyprus, Americans can then board commercial aircraft for onward travel. Commercial airlines provide the safest and most efficient repatriation options to final destinations.
The Department of State reminds American citizens that the U.S. government does not provide no-cost transportation but does have the authority to provide repatriation loans to those in financial need. For the portion of your trip directly handled by the U.S. Government we will ask you to sign a promissory note and we will bill you at a later date. In a subsequent message, when we have specific details about the transporation arrangments, we will inform you about the costs you will incur. We will also work with commercial aircraft to ensure that they have adequate flights to help you depart Cyprus and connect to your final destination. [emphasis mine]
From the British Embassy:
Message to British Citizens and Nationals in Lebanon
Following the latest security developments in Lebanon, we have amended our Travel Advice and are advising against all travel to Lebanon. A Call Centre to provide information for British nationals has been setup in London.
Beirut airport is currently closed following Israeli air strikes. There is also a naval blockade of all ports and the main Beirut-Damascus highway is closed. Other roads out of Lebanon are also closed, or are unsafe for travel.
We are deeply concerned about the safety of British nationals who are currently in Lebanon. We are not currently advising people to leave – we are advising them to stay put, keep a low profile, exercise caution, keep in touch with the Embassy and heed local advice.
A Rapid Deployment Team (RDT) from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, has arrived in Beirut to assist British Nationals. A military reconnaissance team has also arrived to carry out detailed planning for a possible evacuation.
We were able to make use this morning of the UK helicopters, that brought in the UK teams and EU High Representative Solana, to help approximately 40 very vulnerable British nationals leave Lebanon.
From the Canadian Embassy:
Advice for Canadians in Lebanon: (July 17, 2006 – 1:30 p.m. EST)
In the absence of viable and secure commercial means, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada is working closely with the Canadian Embassy in Beirut and other Canadian missions in the region to develop departure options to assist Canadian citizens who wish to leave Lebanon.
Upon arrival at a safe haven destination (possibly Cyprus), Canadians would then be assisted in making arrangements to their final destination. We will be advising Canadians further on departure details within the next 24 hours.
Now, Americans in Lebanon, for all that they’re going to have to give Uncle Sam some IOUs in return for safe passage home, are still doing better than the Australians whose government cannot (or will not) mount a rescue operation.
From Australia’s ABC News:
Italy has begun evacuating Europeans from Lebanon, despite the Australian Government saying it cannot help the 2,800 Australian tourists and at least 20,000 members of Australia’s Lebanese community living there.
The US, Sweden, France and Britain are also planning a voluntary evacuation of their citizens, by land to neighbouring Syria or by ferry to Cyprus.
But the Federal Government says there is no way for Australians stranded in Lebanon to safely leave.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Theresa Gambaro, says the sea ports are dangerous, overland routes are congested and damaged, and the airport has been attacked.
She has urged Australians in Lebanon to stay where they are and register with the Australian embassy in Beirut.
The Department of Foreign Affairs says the Federal Government is looking at possible evacuation methods if the security situation allows.
I suppose, if the worst were to happen, and Australians and/or Americans are taken hostage (unlikely, but certainly not unheard of) then their governments would be willing to take every action and spare no expense to retrieve them?
Well, maybe the Australians. I don’t hold much hope for Bush being able to comprehend such an event, much less be able to deal with it in any way that doesn’t involve bombing the sh*t out of something.
Sweet Saint Helena! They’re sending Condi?! To do what…show off her shoes??
No…it’s worse than I thought – she’s going to try to “calm the region.”
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice intends to travel to the Middle East to seek to calm the region where Israel has bombarded Lebanon for days and the militant group Hezbollah has fired rockets into the Jewish state.
“At some point in the future, the secretary intends to travel to the region,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
“The first opportunity she can come and make a positive effect in the region I think she will be very well received.”
Right….she’ll be received just like the US troops who are called liberators and are greeted daily with chocolates and flowers… Oh, oops…. Sorry – my fault. That was on the History Channel’s WWII remembrance special.
As Wolcott says: