Evacuating the irresponsible

Alright. In one of my recent posts, which you find by clicking here, I wrote about Canada’s efforts to evacuate thousands of Canadians from Lebanon.



Well, as the Globe reports, Prime Minister Harper, who had been in Cyprus “to help in the evacuation effort,” took about 63 evacuees back to Canada with him on his prime ministerial plane yesterday, and, overall, “[m]ore than 1,200 Canadians are expected to arrive in Turkey on several ships over the next day or two”.



This is what our government is doing at great cost and great risk to help our citizens — even if they have dual citizenship, even if most of them were likely in Lebanon voluntarily. And yet some of these evacuees are ungrateful: “The CBC has reported that many who arrived added more complaints about the rescue operations: citing lack of water and food, and that there was no one on board who spoke French, English or Arabic.”



You’ll have to forgive my apparent insensitivity, but: BOO-HOO! What were they expecting? A luxurious cruise out of Beirut — perhaps fine dining and dancing? This is supposedly a rescue operation. A rescue operation to extract civilians who happen to be lucky enough to have Canadian citizenship from a war zone. A war zone? Yes, in a way, but it’s not as if Beirut is like, say, Phnom Penh in 1975 (nor even like Baghdad today). There is bombing, yes, but presumably life goes on as it normally does in much of Lebanon. Normally? Yes. This is Lebanon, not Oregon. An Israeli offensive may not be normal, but it’s not as if that country hasn’t experienced more than its share of violent hardship in the recent past.



Am I insensitive? Maybe. I’m sure these people want out and even at great expense perhaps our government should do what it can to help them, just as other governments are helping their own citizens. (It would look bad not to help them.) But shouldn’t the evacuees and would-be evacuees be held responsible for being there in the first place? TNR’s Martin Peretz puts it well at The Plank:

I have just read the five Lebanon Travel Warnings issued by the Department of State from November 18, 2004 through today, July 19. OK, forget about the last one. It came too late for those trapped in Lebanon now. But people who still don’t take its advice have only themselves to blame. Or they don’t watch television. But the four statements of foreboding that came before — I haven’t gone further back than November 2004 — don’t make Lebanon seem at all inviting, and the insistent travelers — come to think of it — also have only themselves to blame.



In fact, each of the warnings tells you that U.S. air carriers are not permitted to use Beirut International Airport and that the Lebanese carrier, Middle East Airlines, is not allowed to operate in the United States. (Sort of like the warning at Logan Airport warning travelers not to go to Lagos.) The warnings also caution you about suicide bombs, terrorist activities, land mines, unexploded ordnance, and a general atmosphere of violence, predictable and unpredictable. The reader is especially warned against visiting the southern neighborhoods of Beirut, southern Lebanon (especially Sidon), Tripoli, the Bekaa Valley, etc.



Why families would take their kids for long summer vacations into this environment is beyond me. But many have, and a lot of them have been whining on television about how the U.S. government didn’t rescue them promptly (and comfortably) from the touristic mayhem they put themselves in on their own volition and despite the feds’ detailed descriptions of general and specific menace in the country. Many of those who bitched for the cameras seem to me to be especially petulant, even those who have already arrived in Cyprus. They complained about accommodations and the shortage of food, as if they were on a Greek Island cruise boat suddenly deserted by the chef. No sense of individual responsibility either for having put themselves in harm’s way despite State’s effort to keep them at home… or maybe go to Venice instead.



Responsibility. There’s a novel concept.

24 Comments

  1. Yes, Michael. Food, water and clear communications are luxuries and lives are worth less than smug platitudes on reponsibility.

    I would hope that you are not in the medical profession or ever are in a position of responsibility for persons in need of emergency help.

  2. So what, now its immoral to be Lebenese? What about all those people that have their families over there because thats where they work.
    Food and water are necessities and must be provided if you are going to take the responsibility to move people. Furthermore, many people complain about things that are not necessary when they are put into positions of stress, and bitterness when they see all the things they were once proud of systematically destroyed. I would not read too much into these complaints.
    In this type of situation your useless hyperbole is not needed here.

  3. Thank god another voice of reason out there. I watched people b**tching and moaning about what the government is doing on the CBC last night, the majority not even remotely grateful for the effort that the Federal government has gone through to help them.

    I’m not lover of Harper or the Conservatives, but the criticism levelled at there is undeserved.

  4. Funny, though, wasn’t post-Cedar Revolution Lebanon supposed to be the rebirth of the great Paris of the East? Maybe some poor Canadians and Americans actually believed Bush’s rhetoric that, in Lebanon, peace and democracy were on the march. THAT was the mistake.

  5. No, Kevin, I’m in the political profession, not the medical one, but the point is, our government, like others, is doing a pretty good job helping with the evacuation. And its evacuating a lot of people who are also Lebanese citizens and who haven’t lived in Canada for a long time, if ever. And a lot of people do live there voluntarily (i.e., weren’t sent there by their employers).

    How is it, Ryan, that you think I’m saying it’s somehow “immoral to be Lebanese”. That’s not what I’m saying. But, look, if you build a house where hurricanes are likely to hit, your house is likely to be hit by a hurricane. There’s some responsibility there, isn’t there? And if you travel to a place like Lebanon, you have to take certain risks into account. I’m not sure it’s the government’s job to provide for the safety of all citizens.

  6. Michael is correct. I would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. If I get stuck on top do I get to have society come to my rescue? I figure that is part of the risk.

    As US citizens we have a measure of protection afforded to citizens while we are within our countries borders. However, while traveling or living abroad we take on the risks which are inherent in such a decision.

    Ryan S
    So what, now its immoral to be Lebanese? What about all those people that have their families over there because thats where they work.

    Show me where Michael made such a statement? Many family members on my mother’s side have traveled back to Lebanon. They did so understanding the risks and chose a time which was most conducive for a safe trip.

    Do people have any responsibility regarding travel or living abroad? How about anyone who wishes to go NOW?

  7. These people should be grateful that their countries are going to great lengths to get them out of there, in the case of Americans with the tab being picked up by taxpayers, not the people who placed themselves in harm’s way. Sure, there should be an expectation of basic necessities during the evacuation. However, when evacuating what is essentially a war zone, you may have to get a little hungry and/or thirsty on the way out. It’s not like these people are dying of thirst or starvation.

  8. Exactly, nobody forced them to go to Lebanon where a known Terrorist organization is very openly conducting operations against a neighbour who just happens to have the 4th largest military in the world.

    Lets take care of our citizens, but the amount of ungratefulness and criticism shown towards our government, even by my own Liberal party has been unjust and overly harsh. A country 9000km away with a very limited military should not be held up to comparison with the vast naval presence of the United States or the limited civilian numbers and locality of European nations.

    There is ALWAYS room to do better, but the attitude being expressed is an insult to the taxpayers of Canada who are helping to fund these missions.

  9. I don’t buy your premise. I think you are being to rough. You are not there, you are here. Go have a latte` and rethink your rant. Insensitive lout.

    Have you ever been evacuated? I have.

  10. Don’t confuse your right to be free to go where you want with my obligation to subsidize or mitigate the risk.

  11. MichaelF

    What the hell does that mean?

  12. You should be free to travel to the most dangerous parts of the globe. There are Americans in Somalia as we type. But you take the risk. You should not expect me to help pay for your risky adventures. If you find a high paying job in one of those areas, part of that pay is compensation for the risk you take. If I have to pay to have you rescuded , in effect I am subsidizing your risky venture . No thanks. You take the risk and you get the reward.

  13. I’m with you, Kevin. I also wouldn’t want Michael in charge of FEMA, he probably would have told all those stranded in their homes to “just swim.”

  14. Actually, am I insensitive? Check out the following cartoon and decide for yourself

  15. MichaelF

    The United States Military expenditures equals 50% of the entire world’s military expenditures combined. Its job, and, our governments job, is to protect Americans everywhere.

    There is no point in spending the money to project power all around the world, maintain military bases all around the world, unless it is intended to protect American interests.

    Are you saying that America citizens are not American interests?

    Furthermore, as an Expat working for a foreign firm, my taxes are worth more than yours because I am bringing money directly into the United States from a foreign source. You are just redistributing money. I, and, people like me, are enriching the United States dirrectly from foreign accounts.

    I, MichaelF, have ALREADY paid for my defense. You are not subsidizing anything, you are just not utilizing all government services available. Why should you get a tax cut because you never go anywhere?

  16. Salmenio said:

    Why should you get a tax cut because you never go anywhere

    Actually I go many places. In fact, this October I am headed to China.

    So you think you already paid for your evacuation should the need exist? Try crunching the numbers and tell me how they work out.

    If you understand economic reality you would know that rescue measures in far off and difficult areas are an expensive proposition far beyond the ability of most Americans to pay If you were required to provide insurance for the prospect of your rescue or to pay the entire tab, you would not take the job. So by definition, you are being subsidized by the tax payer.

    Taking this one step farther, if the Government must pay for your rescue than they have the right to decide which risks are worth taking. Thus Americans would be less free to travel and work abroad as they see fit. If you want that freedom you must accept the responsibility which comes with it.

    Salmenio also said:

    There is no point in spending the money to project power all around the world, maintain military bases all around the world, unless it is intended to protect American interests.

    Are you saying that America citizens are not American interests?

    The concept of American interests refers to our collective interests not each individual Americans interests. Many individual Americans interests are in sharp contrast with the interests of the country as a whole.

  17. michaelF

    What a bunch of selfish BS.

    I am suppossed to believe you idiot conservatives understand economics? What is the national debt now?

    Collective interests? You shouldn’t use words like collective, one might thnk you are spending to much time in Red China.

    Fact is, I cut your laughable theory to the bone. If Americans are not fully enfranchised into the constitution, then there is no constitution.

    The constitution is just a piece of worthless paper without people.

    People should be our first priority, not fattening your bank account while selling out our country.

  18. Anyone who is less than anything but grateful for being evacuated just shows truly selfish they are.

    Only an idiot currently goes on their own volition to Lebanon or anywhere in the Middle East. Want to see your relatives? Great. Tell them to fly here, or meet them elsewhere since, I repeat, only an idiot would go to Lebanon right now.

  19. TO the Kilimanjaro Guy… you are such an idiot for making such comment… these people went o see their relatives or to get married or see someone ill.. they didnt go for an adventure.. a human touch thats all they were they for…

    if you cant appriciate that then you are a moron.

    i hope you get stuck on a mountain and there is no rescue then you might feel how they felt in lebanon

    forgive my spelling and grammer.. im not here to write an essay, just tryin to get my point acorss

  20. michaelf wrote: Michael is correct. I would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. If I get stuck on top do I get to have society come to my rescue? I figure that is part of the risk.

    As US citizens we have a measure of protection afforded to citizens while we are within our countries borders. However, while traveling or living abroad we take on the risks which are inherent in such a decision.
    ****************************************************

    You are absolutely right.

    Mount Kilimanjaro discounted…even if ya stay here at home and stand on a Red Ant hill and stay on it long enough to get stung…ya deserve what ya get.

    Its the take things forgranted all over again michaelf…native born citizens go over seas and try to diddybop around like they were here on the block expecting everything to be the same as if they are at home.

    Naturalized, or dual citizenship citizens that are returning visitors to say Syria or Lebanon, in the legal sense and definition, COULD and SHOULD know what they are walking into.

    Whats been going on over in the middle east isn’t anything new or been kept secret and the U S government for one, at least two decades ago, hung out a big ole CAVEAT EMPTOR sign out for persons traveling abroad…discouraging it, and in some areas forbidding it….but like most other things U S Citizens ignore warnings and diddybop on down the road anyway.

  21. Salmenio said :
    michaelF

    What a bunch of selfish BS.

    I am suppossed to believe you idiot conservatives understand economics? What is the national debt now?

    I’m not a Conservative Salmenio . Stop jumping to conclusions.

    Salmenio also said :

    Fact is, I cut your laughable theory to the bone. If Americans are not fully enfranchised into the constitution, then there is no constitution

    No, you are simply wrong. You also can’t formulate a valid opinion because you don’t have sufficient grasp on the concepts involved.

    Here is a stunning reality. Americans are continuing to go to Both Lebanon and Israel as we speak. As such they put themselves in danger. It’s a poor choice which other Americans should not be given the bill to pay.

  22. jaz
    TO the Kilimanjaro Guy… you are such an idiot for making such comment… these people went o see their relatives or to get married or see someone ill.. they didnt go for an adventure.. a human touch thats all they were they for…

    if you cant appriciate that then you are a moron.

    What a silly response. Of course I can appreciate the fact that some of those people are visiting family. Others went as students and still more went for adventure and travel. But that doesn’t mean they are owed a return trip on the tax payers dollar. Part of international travel involves risk. The traveler takes it, not the rest of us. By the way, I will be taking my second trip to China this Oct/Nov to adopt another child. My wife and I studied the risks involved and made our decision based on current reality. It is our intention to grow our family, but we don’t expect other Americans to back out venture.

  23. these people went o see their relatives or to get married or see someone ill.. they didnt go for an adventure.. a human touch thats all they were they for…

    And many others consider the risks and decide to get married in the US or send a letter to the ill, hoping that it gets to them before the worst happens.

    My wife is a naturalized citizen. Her whole family hasn’t been back to their native country since the end of Vietnam. Why? Because they know the risks. Her parents have talked of wanting to go back but they know that, if they do, they may not return. I asked my wife if she would like to take a trip to Asia and visit her native country. She flat out said no way. She’d love to go and visit China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, etc. However, she said there is no way she would go to Laos under any circumstances. Yes, if she did, she could see her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and many other relatives. However, the risk is too great.

    Seeing as my wife’s family is responsible enough to recognize the risk and decide to either not take the risk or accept the consequences of making such a personal decision, why should they and I be responsible for footing the bill to rescue others who should be able to recognize the risk and make a similar decision?

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