Monday, May 21, 2007

Hey! Look at Us! We Invaded Your Country!

According to the Guardian, the US has decided it is not satisfied simply building an embassy in Iraq. It has to build a fortress the size of the Vatican.

The building, at an estimated cost of £300,000,000 (592 million dollars), is one of the only buildings build "on time and on budget." It is destined to be the largest US embassy on the planet.

The administration originally claimed that the embassy's purpose was to act as a beacon for Bush's plan on spreading peace and democracy across the middle east. It could be argued, however, that it was simply Bush trying to immortalize his role in conquering the country or, perhaps, a statement about the size of his manhood (tiny). Whether it was compensatory or planned for immortality, the city-long fortress covers 104 acres, is made up as 27 buildings and house about 615 people in bomb proof walls.

The US ambassador ... will enjoy a little more elbow room in a high-security home on the compound reported to fill 16,000 square feet (1,500 sq metres). His deputy will have to make do with a more modest 9,500 sq ft.

They will have a pool, gym and communal living areas, and the embassy will have its own power and water supplies.

But commentators and Iraq experts believe the project was flawed from its inception, and have raised concerns it will become an enormous, heavily targeted white elephant that will be an even greater liability if and when the Americans scale back their presence in Iraq.

Really? But... But it's been built in the "green zone" so it must be safe, right? I mean, McCain took a leisurely stroll in the market.

But it is unlikely Bush wanted to give the impression that the US has taken over Iraq, right?

Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 about 1,000 US diplomatic and military staff have been using one of his former palaces as a make-shift embassy, which several observers have criticized as giving the regrettable impression that the Americans merely replaced Saddam's authoritarian rule with their own.

Oh. Snap.

Ironically, officials believe it may not even be large enough to house the sheer number of people who will remain in Iraq, including diplomats, army servicemen, and others rushing in and out of Iraq at any given moment.

Already, however, there have been suggestions that the compound will not be large enough to house hundreds of diplomats and military personnel likely to remain in Iraq for some time. Scores of US officials are currently housed in trailers which are vulnerable to bombs landing on their roofs. According to a report by McClatchy News, staff members have complained about the dangers only to be told they must wait until the new embassy is ready to take them in.

Toby Dodge, an expert on Iraq at Queen Mary, University of London, has just come back from a month spent in Iraq, largely in the Green Zone. He thinks the Americans are unlikely to pull out of Iraq fully until the end of the next presidency at the earliest, and so the new embassy will serve its purpose for several years to come.

"A fortress-style embassy, with a huge staff, will remain in Baghdad until helicopters come to airlift the last man and woman from the roof," he said, adding his own advice to the architects of the building: "Include a large roof."

There is one added irony - the embassy is one of the few major projects the administration has undertaken in Iraq that is on schedule and within budget.

Well, no one said Bush didn't do something right.

By the way, despite the mounting criticism, the embassy is still scheduled to open, fully staffed, in September.

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