Posted by: Randy Allgaier | July 19, 2006

Katrina Redux?

The American response to evacuate Americans from the war torn
Middle East has lagged behind the efforts of the Europeans.  Why have the Germans, the French and the rest of the members of the European Union been able to mobilize an effective evacuation quicker than the powerful United States?

Many are equating this response to the response of the federal government in the wake of Katrina.  There are some similarities.  It seems that this administration needs to be kicked in the head before it acts on behalf of its own citizens. We certainly wasted no time in our invasion of Iraq but we took our time in responding to the devastation of Katrina and again in evacuating scared Americans from Lebanon and other countries in the crosshairs of the Mid-East war. 

“We at the embassy don’t have the experience to move a lot of people,” said U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey D. Feltman. “Luckily, the U.S. government does,” he said. “Security and safe travel were what’s on our minds.”  An estimated 8,000 of the 25,000 Americans in Lebanon want to leave.

European countries began moving hundreds of their citizens to Cyprus on Monday. Nearly 1,000 were on a Swedish-chartered ship that left Beirut on Tuesday, and a British warship and Greek frigate transported nearly 600 of those countries’ nationals away from Lebanon. 

Many Americans in Lebanon were angry.  One American said, “The embassy is providing us with sketchy information and they are being rude to us here at the gate,” he said. “We have other options, like leaving through Syria, but they keep stringing us along day after day.” 

Is this the way to run an evacuation?   Finally on Wednesday a larger scale evacuation commenced- with the capacity of 1,000 or so Americans to leave daily.  Fortunately too- the government is waiving the requirement to reimburse the expenses related to the evacuation.  It is beyond this writer’s comprehension why that was ever even a question. 

While now the evacuation is happening- is it enough?  Are those that will remain in Lebanon over the next few days waiting for their evacuation be safe?  Why is it that our government’s response to aid its citizens – either here or abroad- takes so long?   I cannot answer these questions.  I hope that the answer is not that the administration doesn’t give a damn until it is called on its inaction- that would be terribly cynical.  But I seem to be getting more and more cynical the longer this administration is in power.


  1. The worst part about the evacuation was the attempt to charge Americans to get them out of an area that is being bombarded with American-made bombs. Only under media pressure did they relent.

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