MESSAGING THE CONFLICT. Via Laura Rozen, MSNBC has this about the evacuation, which confirms the American commitment to keeping the embassy open and an American presence in Lebanon. I should note that this is probably also a gesture of support for the Lebanese government, and not just the Israelis.

U.S. Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen, who is coordinating the evacuation, estimated that more than 6,000 Americans will have been evacuated by the weekend, most of them on ferries and Navy ships.

Despite the increased efforts, some expressed frustration.

�I can�t believe the Americans,� said Danni Atiyeh, a civil engineer from Kansas City, Mo., waiting earlier Wednesday with his pregnant wife and sons, ages 6 and 10, for a bus to take them to the cruise ship. �Everybody else has gone home ... We�re still here.�

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it had dropped a plan to make Americans reimburse the government for the transport, but Atiyeh said he and others were asked to sign promissory notes to pay for the trip before they could leave.

An estimated 8,000 of the 25,000 U.S. citizens in Lebanon want to be evacuated, but Jensen emphasized that the U.S. Embassy in Beirut will not close and that America �is not deserting Lebanon.�

�We are assisting those Americans who choose to leave. Many, many are choosing to stay,� the general said at the airport in Larnaca. [Emphasis added.]

If officials think the diplomacy of this thing is complicated now, wait until American citizens get killed by Israeli bombs because they haven't been evacuated. That will be tough to explain.

--Garance Franke-Ruta