In the “Omigod, you’ve got to be kidding” category is a report from Londons’s Financial Times that the Bush Administration is building a new US Embassy in the heart of Baghdad unlike any other of its embassies anywhere in the world. It is less an embassy than a gigantic bubble fortress, enormous and completely self-contained, with all the goodies (swimming pools, shops, and – no doubt – a golf course) that no self-respecting Republican aristocrat would be caught dead without.
Construction of what critics call “Fortress Baghdad” has led to arguments inside the State Department amid fears that the overwhelming diplomatic presence will perpetuate a sense of US occupation and become a focus of local anger.
US diplomats say that just as the armed forces are being stretched to breaking point, the US foreign service is suffering from low morale and operations in the rest of the world are being damaged by the diversion of resources to Iraq.
Officials are also questioning why the Bush administration is sending more civilians into a deteriorating war zone, and the effectiveness of the work they can do.
The embassy compound being built inside Baghdad’s Green Zone covers 104 acres, making it six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York. A city within a city for more than 1,000 people, it will have its own water, sewers and electricity, six apartment buildings, a Marine barracks, swimming pool, shops and some walls 15 feet thick. (emphasis added) Continue reading