Rich Galen

  • A statement on the US State Department's website earlier this week read:

    No Payments Required of American Citizens Departing Lebanon
    In this extraordinary case, Secretary Rice has directed the State Department 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.

  • There are, according to news reports, some 25,000 Americans in Lebanon. The question is: What the hell are they all doing there? I'll tell you what they're not doing. The are not in Beirut with Jimmy Carter doing Habitat for Humanity work.

  • Beirut has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the region. According to a BBC reporter writing in December 2004:
    The shops have been taken over by the most exclusive and expensive international outlets. Many of the streets where the souks were are now jammed till the early hours of the morning with busy pavement cafes and restaurants.

    There are similar transformations all over town. New hotels, restaurants, beach clubs and vast, gleaming shopping malls have sprung up.

  • And, in a report following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik in February 2005 the BBC wrote:
    Beirut [which] has been pulling in record numbers of visitors, is beyond the average backpacker budget. Most tourists are Arabs from Gulf states on "high-end, high-spend" holidays. It became particularly popular as wealthy Arabs steered clear of the US after [9/11].

  • So, twenty-five thousand Americans were looking for investments, working on behalf of investors, or vacationing - in short, making or spending money on their own behalf.

  • This eruption is not like a volcano, a tsunami, or a hurricane where no one could possibly have predicted what was going to happen. Americans who are in Lebanon knew - or should have known - what the dangers were.

  • The US State Department has on its website, the following:
    Recent events in Lebanon underscore the need for caution and sound personal security precautions . . . Since February 2005, there have been 15 separate bombings in Lebanon, resulting in ten dead and 121 wounded.

  • Rich Galen

    Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.