Monday, May 21, 2007

America's Fortress Embassy

America's embassy in Baghdad. $529 million. 104 acres—the size of the Vatican. The biggest and most expensive U.S. embassy on Earth.

From The Progress Report:

The new U.S. embassy to Iraq being built inside the Green Zone in Baghdad is "destined, at $592 [million], to become the biggest and most expensive US embassy on earth when it opens in September," the Guardian reports. The compound at 104 acres, an area roughly the size of the Vatican, will "include 27 separate buildings and house about 615 people behind bomb-proof walls." In addition, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, will enjoy a 16,000 square foot "high-security home" complete with a pool and gym. Critics fear, however, "that the compound will not be large enough to house hundreds of diplomats and military personnel likely to remain in Iraq for some time" and that the embassy will "become an enormous, heavily targeted white elephant." Such fears were compounded twice in recent days as a mortar attack interrupted British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Saturday meeting with Iraqi leaders and again this morning as a mortar struck the Iraqi parliament. One former diplomat in Iraq asked, "What kind of embassy is it when everybody lives inside and it's blast-proof, and people are running around with helmets and crouching behind sandbags?"

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