Worldwide Travel Alert
The United States Department of State issued a worldwide travel alert for U.S. citizens in the wake of the Sydney terrorist attack where two hostages were killed.
According to the warning:
The lone wolf attack in Sydney, Australia on December 15, 2014, resulting in the deaths of two hostages, is a reminder that U.S. citizens should be extra cautious, maintain a very high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security.
What does this mean exactly? Are we at a greater risk of traveling now then we were before the Sydney attack? There certainly isn’t any evidence presented in the State Department’s alert.
Here At Home
The truth is that there have been numerous similar events here in the United States in the past few years. Mass shootings have almost become an epidemic here and yet there is no official alert about going to the neighborhood movie theater.
This post is in no way meant to be political in that I am not trying to debate gun control or other issues. Americans are already so afraid to leave the country and an alert like this just reinforces what are mostly false beliefs about other countries and their peoples.
While I do recognize that we should always be cautious and diligent when traveling, it doesn’t need to be said in an official ALERT from the State Department. This alert doesn’t give us any specific information other then telling us to constantly look over our shoulders and be alert in public places.
The very general language of the alert continues:
An analysis of past attacks and threat reporting strongly suggests a focus by terrorists not only on the targeting of U.S. government facilities but also on hotels, shopping areas, places of worship, and schools, among other targets, during or coinciding with this holiday period. U.S. citizens abroad should be mindful that terrorist groups and those inspired by them can pose unpredictable threats in public venues. U.S. citizens should remain alert to local conditions and for signs of danger.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
If I had a dollar for every time I spoke to an American who is scared of traveling, then I would be a rich man. In my opinion this alert is both irresponsible and way overblown. What exactly does it accomplish?
To put it in context, the State Department regularly issues travel alerts and warnings for a variety of issues ranging from political instability to disease. The difference between those alerts and this one is specificity.
Am I Wrong
While I am not an expert on terrorist threats, I have spent a good portion of my life over the past 8 years traveling around the world with my family. The world that I was taught existed outside of our borders doesn’t exist. Instead it is a much safer & friendlier place.
If you are interested, you can read the entire alert on the State Department website and I would love to hear what you think. Is this alert a form of fear mongering or is the government just doing its job to protect us with warnings like these? Let me know in the comments!