Personal Responsibility: An Arab-American advocacy group is suing the U.S. government, saying it failed to protect Americans from the fighting in Lebanon. What about the warnings against going there to begin with?
It is a sign of our litigious society and the growing sense of entitlement that Americans evacuated from Lebanon have, well, carped about the pace and aggravation as the country that once hosted them is torn apart, its citizens dying by the hundreds. Some even decided to take the government that rescued them to court.
The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee has filed a suit on behalf of about 30 Americans claiming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld failed to take all necessary steps to protect them in Lebanon after Israel responded to Hezbollah's attacks.
Please. The entire Middle East is a war zone and has been for years. Americans living in, traveling to or working for companies in Lebanon knew well of the travel advisories issued by their government and the risks of being there. Lebanon is a beautiful nation for which there was, and is, much hope, but it is not yet Switzerland.
Evacuating as many as 25,000 Americans on virtually a moment's notice is quite a logistical problem. It's not like calling a cab. If we had decided to put 25,000 troops there, it would not happen overnight. There are considerations, such as U.S. warships that get too close to shore being fired on. Helicopters might be fired on.
Even worse, large gatherings of Americans waiting to be evacuated could be the ultimate terrorist target.
In most cases, these citizens put themselves at risk. We are in a worldwide war on terror. Israel is on our side in that war. We are fighting in Iraq, as Israel is fighting in Lebanon, precisely to protect Americans and civilized people worldwide from the Osama bin Ladens, Zarqawis and Hassan Nasrallahs of the world.
We can understand the necessity of employing the U.S. military to get those who wish to leave out of Lebanon. But once they're out, whose responsibility is it to get them the rest of the way home and who pays for lodging and transportation?
Outrage over the fact that evacuees were initially required to sign promissory notes pledging to repay Washington for costs incurred was expressed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
"A nation that can provide more than $300 billion for a war in Iraq can provide the money to get its people out of Lebanon."
Maybe so, but she forgets a 1956 law authorizing the State Department to charge evacuees for the cost of their extraction and sign such a promissory note. When the law came up for renewal in 2003, Pelosi was one of the 170 House Democrats who voted in favor. The State Department has since waived the fees.
American taxpayers will end up paying for those who made the decision to go to Lebanon and are alive to whine about their rescue. Unlike the Lebanese, they were able to get out of harm's way.