As I was reading this OpenDemocracy column on current U.S. Iraq policy options (conclusion: they’re not leaving anytime soon), I happened across a reference to the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad as the largest in the world. This pricked my interest, so I dug up this column in The Nation from June describing the American embassy under construction in Baghdad. The scale of this massive project is astounding, and illuminating…
The size of 80 football fields, 104 acres. 15-foot thick walls. At $600 million, the biggest construction project in Iraq. Will employ 8,000 people. 619 apartments. Luxurious accommodations. Shops, supper clubs, swimming pool, hair salon, movie theatre. Self-contained and self-sufficient.
The Nation article concludes:
This gigantic complex does not square with the repeated assertions by the people who run the American government that the United States will not stay in the country after Iraq becomes a stand-alone, democratic entity. An “embassy” in which 8,000 people labor, along with the however many thousand military personnnel necessary to defend them, is not a diplomatic outpost. It is a base. A permanent base.
So it turns out that the plan, if that is the right word for the haphazard, faith-based, fact-free and data-scarce decision-making that has been the one constant in this adventure, is to stay in Baghdad and run the country. This is beyond lunacy.
You know, sometimes what appears as incompetence can actually be legerdemain. Or am I paranoid?