Today the State Department issued the following warning: “The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats.”
How is such a general, broad warning helpful? As a traveler, this tells me nothing. We are all aware of the Paris attacks, the bombing of the Russian plane, the hostage situation in Mali, and the chaos of ISIS. The world certainly is not a safe place. That goes without saying and certainly without a need for a formal warning.
I don’t know what to glean from this announcement. Is an attack imminent? If so, then how poor is the intelligence that the only guidance is that the world may be dangerous? It seems if ISIS is intent on striking there is as good a chance of it happening on our own soil as abroad. This warnings means that the intelligence community has no clue as to what is coming, where, or when.
When I was in Sharm el-Sheikh the State Department had zero travel warnings about the airport or the city though Britain and Russia had stopped all flights to the airport. It was remarkable that the Brits could deem the city to be safe but the airport not. This was most likely due to the fact that 20,0000 Brits were vacationing in Sharm and telling them that the city was not secure would set off a panic.
The current State Department warning takes me back to the color coded Homeland Security Advisory System of the Bush era. An arbitrary color informed us of how vigilant we needed to be. In today’s world, when would we go back to green which represented a ‘low risk of terrorist attacks’?
Similarly, is the State Department going to come out in a few weeks and rescind this travel warning? Will this make it safe to travel again? Obviously it will not. All it does is create fear and anxiety, something that runs counter to our American ideology.