It’s pretty pathetic that even after Congress recently approved $2.46 billion (yes, billion with a “B”) for Boing Boing):, Americans who are now in the wrong country that those armaments are targetting are essentially getting screwed. Americans who are now trapped in Lebanon because of the recent (justified/unjustified/whatever) retaliatory bombing by Israel’s military can expect to be airlifted to Cypress and get a loan for commercial flights home, but (via
One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers, an American in Beirut, reported to Sullivan that the U.S. government’s offer to evacuate Americans to protect them from the Israeli blitz comes with a price tag: “They are finally getting everything together today, but they dropped a little surprise: they are going to be billing us for giving us emergency transport to Cyprus, and then basically dropping us off on our own to get commercial flights back to the US. Most other governments evacuating people here are actually flying them back to their home country without cost. But not the USG.”
MSNBC has more details of the clusterfuck the State Department is dealing with:
In statements e-mailed to Americans in Lebanon and posted on the embassy’s Web site, the State Department has stressed “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.”
Frankly, I’m not one of these people who’s going to hammer on Israel for bombing the shit out of Hezbollah and the arguably sympathetic Lebanese government that can’t/won’t control them. But when USians are in harms way that Uncle Sam has gladly funded, and those same people can’t get out of there without having to pay… something is terribly wrong with our approach to foreign policy in that region.
Update by Michael Hampton: The State Department said today that Americans to be evacuated from Lebanon:
Secretary Rice has directed the State Department in this case to waive the requirement for American citizens departing Lebanon to reimburse the United States Government for their travel costs. We want to do everything we can to facilitate the departure of American citizens from Lebanon. Today’s step removes one potential worry for our citizens at this difficult time.