Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, once said “nothing in the world is certain, except for death and taxes.”

He could have easily added: ‘and travel warnings to Lebanon’.

American expats in Beirut often roll their eyes at the almost-permanent stance the Department of State has taken concerning Lebanon. Their latest warning urges all “U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon” due to the fact that “sudden outbreaks of violence can occur at any time in Lebanon.”

Yikes. That sounds scary. Of course, Lebanon is not the only country on the list—there are about 37 countries to which the American government has issued travel warnings. France was outraged when a severe travel warning was issued against it—the country relies heavily on tourism.

But what’s unique about Lebanon is that the travel warnings haven’t changed at all in over twenty-five years. In fact, in an article written in 1992 about whether or not Lebanon is safe for foreigners, the writer reports that few Americans seemed fazed by the State Department’s warning, writing:

“As for the hard-core Americans here, the concerns they admit to run a different course. One worried that the show at the ski resorts would melt before Easter vacation (it didn't). Another figures the potholes are going to ruin her car (there's a good chance of it). Then there's one who can't decide whether to rent a chalet at the beach of in a mountain resort this summer. As with virtually everything else in Lebanon this spring, her decision is pending.”

Decades later, it’s clear that very little has changed! Well, come to think of it, one thing has. This year, the tables turned as some countries (UAE, New Zealand, Bahamas, Bahrain to name a few) issued warnings to their own citizens about travel to the United States in the wake of the violence associated with the recent shootings and police brutality.

What a strange world we live in.

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