News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Monday, July 17, 2017

US Embassy in Baghdad cost taxpayers $750 million, includes 6 lane swimming pool, regulation basketball court. Another $1.2 billion taxpayer dollars are spent each year just for upkeep. The Deep State wants more Iraq construction to be paid for by their slaves, US taxpayers. But we voted in 2016 to be unchained from the Deep State. No more US taxpayer funded construction projects in Iraq

7/14/17, "Trump Wants Authority to Build New Bases in Iraq, Syria,", Jason Ditz

(Above 2013 Trump twitter posted by Free Republic commenter)

3/20/2013, "The US Embassy in Baghdad cost a staggering $750 million," Business Insider, Walter Hickey

Above, 6 lane swimming pool

Above, Regulation basketball court.

Above, dining hall with fresh fruit.

"Ten years ago this week (2013), Americans woke up to learn that the United States had invaded Iraq.

They had been told it would cost $50 billion and that it would end soon.

Forty-two days later the President declared Mission Accomplished, and that the U.S. would be greeted as liberators.

That all didn't work out as planned. What did work out was a luxurious compound in the heart of Baghdad on the banks of the Tigris where the thousands of Americans who would remain behind could work, shop, eat, and relax in a palatial, $750 million embassy."... All images by Reuters via Business Insider

Added: US taxpayers are forced to pay $1.2 billion each year just on maintenance for the US Embassy in Iraq.
2007 Vanity Fair article: US Embassy construction and nation building racket begun in 1950s heralded era of conspicuous US  interventionism. (Today, US Embassies serve as places for terrorists to attack):

10/29/2007, "The Mega-Bunker of Baghdad," Vanity Fair, William Langewiesche 

"When the new American Embassy in Baghdad entered the planning stage, more than three years ago (2004), U.S. officials inside the Green Zone were still insisting that great progress was being made in the construction of a new Iraq. I remember a surreal press conference in which a U.S. spokesman named Dan Senor, full of governmental conceits, described the marvelous developments he personally had observed during a recent sortie (under heavy escort) into the city. His idea now was to set the press straight on realities outside the Green Zone gates. Senor was well groomed and precocious, fresh into the world, and he had acquired a taste for appearing on TV. The assembled reporters were by contrast a disheveled and unwashed lot, but they included serious people of deep experience, many of whom lived fully exposed to Iraq, and knew that society there was unraveling fast. Some realized already that the war had been lost, though such were the attitudes of the citizenry back home that they could not yet even imply this in print.

Now they listened to Senor as they increasingly did, setting aside their professional skepticism for attitudes closer to fascination and wonder. Senor's view of Baghdad was so disconnected from the streets that, at least in front of this audience, it would have made for impossibly poor propaganda. Rather, he seemed truly convinced of what he said, which in turn could be explained only as the product of extreme isolation.

Progress in the construction of a new Iraq? 

Industry had stalled, electricity and water were failing,  sewage was flooding the streets, the universities were shuttered,  the insurgency was expanding, sectarianism was on the rise, and gunfire and explosions now marked the days as well as the nights.

Month by month, Baghdad was crumbling back into the earth. Senor apparently had taken heart that shops remained open, selling vegetables, fruits, and household goods. Had he ventured out at night he would have seen that some sidewalk caf├ęs remained crowded as well. But almost the only construction evident in the city was of the Green Zone defenses themselves—erected in a quest for safety at the cost of official interactions with Iraq. Senor went home, married a Washington insider, and became a commentator on Fox News. Eventually he set himself up in the business of "crisis communications," as if even he finally realized that Iraq had gone horribly wrong.... 

The the largest and most expensive embassy in the world, a walled expanse the size of Vatican City, containing 21 reinforced buildings on a 104-acre site along the Tigris River, enclosed within an extension of the Green Zone which stretches toward the airport road. The new embassy cost $600 million to build, and is expected to cost another $1.2 billion a year to run—a high price even by the profligate standards of the war in Iraq. The design is the work of an architectural firm in Kansas City named Berger Devine Yaeger, which angered the State Department last May by posting its plans and drawings on the Internet, and then responding to criticism with the suggestion that Google Earth offers better views. Google Earth offers precise distance measurements and geographic coordinates too.... 

The prime contractor is First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, which for security reasons was not allowed to employ Iraqi laborers, and instead imported more than a thousand workers from such countries as Bangladesh and Nepal. The importation of Third World laborers is a standard practice in Iraq, where the huge problem of local unemployment is trumped by American fears of the local population, and where it is not unusual, for instance, to find U.S. troops being served in chow halls by Sri Lankans wearing white shirts and bow ties. First Kuwaiti has been accused of holding its workers in captivity by keeping their passports in a safe, as if otherwise they could have blithely exited the Green Zone, caught a ride to the airport, passed through the successive airport checkpoints, overcome the urgent crowds at the airline counters, purchased a ticket, bribed the police to ignore the country's myriad exit requirements (including a recent H.I.V. test), and hopped a flight for Dubai. Whatever the specific allegations, which First Kuwaiti denies, in the larger context of Iraq the accusation is absurd. It is Iraq that holds people captive. 

Indeed, the U.S government itself is a prisoner, and all the more tightly held because it engineered the prison where it resides. The Green Zone was built by the inmates themselves. The new embassy results from their desire to get their confinement just right... 

For the most part, however, the new embassy is not about leaving Iraq, but about staying on—for whatever reason, under whatever circumstances, at whatever cost. As a result the compound is largely self-sustaining, and contains its own power generators, water wells, drinking-water treatment plant, sewage plant, fire station, irrigation system, Internet uplink, secure intranet, telephone center (Virginia area code), cell-phone network (New York area code), mail service, fuel depot, food and supply warehouses, vehicle-repair garage, and workshops. At the core stands the embassy itself, a massive exercise in the New American Bunker style, with recessed slits for windows, a filtered and pressurized air-conditioning system against chemical or biological attack, and sufficient office space for hundreds of staff.

Both the ambassador and deputy ambassador have been awarded fortified residences grand enough to allow for elegant diplomatic receptions even with the possibility of mortar rounds dropping in from above.
As for the rest of the embassy staff, most of the government employees are moving into 619 blast-resistant apartments, where they will enjoy a new level of privacy....Elements of America in the heart of Baghdad that seem to have been imported from Orange County or the Virginia suburbs. The new embassy has tennis courts, a landscaped swimming pool, a pool house, and a bomb-resistant recreation center with a well-equipped gym. It has a department store with bargain prices, where residents (with appropriate credentials) can spend some of their supplemental hazardous-duty and hardship pay. It has a community center, a beauty salon, a movie theater, and an American Club, where alcohol is served. And it has a food court where third-country workers (themselves ultra-thin) dish up a wealth of choices to please every palate. The food is free. Take-out snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables, sushi rolls, and low-calorie specials. Sandwiches, salads, and hamburgers. American comfort food, and theme cuisines from around the world, though rarely if ever from the Middle East. Ice cream and apple pie. All of it is delivered by armed convoys up the deadly roads from Kuwait. Dread ripples through the embassy's population when, for instance, the yogurt supply runs low....

America didn't use to be like this. Traditionally it was so indifferent to setting up embassies that after its first 134 years of existence, in 1910, it owned diplomatic properties in only five countries abroad—Morocco, Turkey, Siam, China, and Japan. The United States did not have an income tax at that time. Perhaps as a result, American envoys on public expense occupied rented quarters to keep the costs down. In 1913 the first national income tax was imposed, at rates between 1 and 7 percent, with room for growth in the future. Congress gradually relaxed its squeeze on the State Department's budget. Then the United States won World War II. It emerged into the 1950s as a self-convinced power, locked in a struggle against the Soviet Union. 
This was the era of the great diplomatic expansion, when no country was deemed too small or unimportant to merit American attention. The United States embarked on a huge embassy-construction program. The Soviets did, too. The Soviet Embassies were heavy neoclassical things, thousand-year temples built of stone and meant to impress people with the permanence of an insecure state.
The new U.S. facilities by contrast were showcases for modernist design, airy structures drawn up in steel and glass, full of light, and accessible to the streets. They were meant to represent a country that is generous, open, and progressive, and to some degree they succeeded—for instance by simultaneously offering access to libraries that were largely uncensored, dispensing visas and money, and arranging for cultural exchanges.
A fundamental purpose for these structures at that time remained firmly in mind.
But no matter how sunny they seemed, the U.S. Embassies also embodied darker sides that lay within the very optimism they portrayed—America's excess of certainty, its interventionist urge, its fresh-faced, clear-eyed capacity for killing. These traits have long been apparent to the world, though by definition less to Americans themselves. It would be illuminating to know how many local interventions—overt and covert, large and small—have been directed from behind U.S. Embassy walls. 
The count must run to the thousands. An early response was delivered on March 30, 1965, when a Vietcong car bomb destroyed the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, killing 22 people and injuring 186.
Referring recently to the attack, the former diplomat Charles Hill wrote, "The political shock was that an absolutely fundamental principle of international order—the mutually agreed upon inviolability of diplomats and their missions operating in host countries—was violated." A shock is similar to a surprise. Did it not come to mind that for years the same embassy had been violating Vietnam? Hill is now at Stanford's Hoover Institution and at Yale. Explaining more recent troubles at U.S. Embassies abroad, he wrote, "What the average American tourist needs to know is that the American government is not responsible for these difficulties. It is the rise of terrorist movements, which have set themselves monstrously against the basic foundations of international order, law and established diplomatic practice."... 
U.S. Embassies are not pristine diplomatic oases, but full-blown governmental hives, heavy with C.I.A. operatives, and representative of a country that however much it is admired is also despised. The point is not that the C.I.A. should be excluded from hallowed ground, or that U.S. interventions are necessarily counterproductive, but that diplomatic immunity is a flimsy conceit naturally just ignored, especially by guerrillas who expect no special status for themselves and are willing to die in a fight. So it was in Saigon, where a new, fortified embassy was built, and during the suicidal Tet offensive of 1968 nearly overrun.
The violations of diplomatic immunity spread as elsewhere in the world. U.S. Embassies and their staffs began to come under attack. High-ranking envoys were assassinated by terrorists in 
Guatemala City in 1968,  Khartoum in 1973,  Nicosia in 1974,  Beirut in 1976, and  Kabul in 1979.
 Also in 1979 came the hostage-taking at the embassy in Tehran, when the host government itself participated in the violation—though in angry reference to America's earlier installation of an unpopular Shah.
In April 1983 it was Beirut again: a van loaded with explosives detonated under the embassy portico, collapsing the front half of the building and killing 63 people. Seventeen of the dead were Americans, of whom eight worked for the C.I.A. The embassy was moved to a more secure location, where nonetheless another truck bomb was exploded, in September 1984, with the loss of 22 lives. These were not isolated events. During the 10 years following the loss of Saigon, in 1975, there had been by some estimates nearly 240 attacks or attempted attacks against U.S. diplomats and their facilities worldwide. On October 23, 1983, also in Beirut, terrorists carried out the huge truck-bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks, killing 242 American servicemen in an explosion said to be the largest non-nuclear bomb blast in history. One could argue the merits of American foreign policy in the long run, but in the immediate it seemed that something had to be done. 
The State Department set up a panel to study the question of security. It was chaired by a retired admiral named Bobby Inman, who had headed the National Security Agency and been second-in-command at the C.I.A. Ask a security question and you'll get a security answer: in June 1985 the panel issued a report that called predictably for the wholesale and radical fortification of roughly half of the 262 U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas. Modest security improvements were already being made, with the shatterproofing of windows and the sealing of doors, as well as the installation of steel fences, potted-plant vehicle barricades, surveillance cameras, and checkpoints in embassy lobbies. Inman's report went much further, recommending the relocation of embassies and consulates into high-walled compounds, to be built like bunker complexes in remote areas on the outskirts of towns.
Equally significant, the report called for the creation of a new bureaucracy, a Diplomatic Security Service to be given responsibility for the safety of overseas personnel.
The program was approved and funded by Congress, but it got off to a slow start and had trouble gathering speed. No one joins the foreign service wanting to hunker down in bunkers overseas. The first Inman compound was completed in Mogadishu in 1989, only to be evacuated by helicopter in 1991 as angry gunmen came over the walls and slaughtered the abandoned Somali staff and their families. A half-dozen other compounds were built to better effect—at enormous cost to American taxpayers—but by the late 1990s construction was proceeding at the rate of merely one compound a year. Eager to open new facilities in the former Soviet states, the State Department began putting as much effort into avoiding the Inman standards as into complying with them.
 In August 7, 1998, however, al-Qaeda drivers bombed the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing 301 people and wounding about 5,000 more.
Both embassies were enlightened center-city designs, and neither had been significantly fortified. Twelve Americans lay dead, as did 39 of the U.S. government's African employees. In frustration, the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles at Sudan and Afghanistan, and back home in Washington engaged another retired admiral, William Crowe, to look into embassy defenses....
When Colin Powell seized the reins in 2001, he gutted and renamed the agency's facilities office (now called Overseas Buildings Operations, or O.B.O.), and in early 2001 brought in a retired Army Corps of Engineers major general named Charles Williams to accelerate and discipline an ambitious $14 billion construction program. The main goal was to build 140 fortified compounds within 10 years. Soon afterward came the attacks of September 11, adding further urgency to the plans.... 
A dynamic is in play, a process paradox, in which the means rise to dominance as the ends recede from view. The United States has worldwide interests, and needs the tools to pursue them, but in a wild and wired 21st century the static diplomatic embassy, a product of the distant past, is no longer of much use. To the government this does not seem to matter. Inman's new bureaucracy, the Diplomatic Security section, has blossomed into an enormous enterprise, employing more than 34,000 people worldwide and engaging thousands of private contractorsall of whom also require security. Its senior representatives sit at hundreds of diplomatic facilities, identifying real security risks and imposing new restrictions which few ambassadors would dare to overrule.... 
In Baghdad the mortar fire is growing more accurate and intense. After 30 mortar shells hit the Green Zone one afternoon last July, an American diplomat reported that his colleagues were growing angry about being "recklessly exposed to danger"—as if the war should have come with warning labels. 

At least the swimming pool has been placed off limits. Embassy staff are required to wear flak jackets and helmets when walking between buildings, or when occupying those that have not been fortified. On the rare occasion when they want to venture a short distance across the Green Zone to talk to Iraqi officials, they generally have to travel in armored S.U.V.'s, often protected by private security details. The ambassador, Ryan Crocker, is distributing a range of new protective gear, and is scattering the landscape with 151 concrete "duck and cover" shelters. Not to be outdone, a Senate report has recommended the installation of a teleconferencing system to "improve interaction" with Iraqis who may be in buildings only a few hundred yards away. So, O.K., the new embassy is not perfect yet, but by State Department standards it's getting there.
What on earth is going on? We have built a fortified America in the middle of a hostile city, peopled it with a thousand officials from every agency of government, and provided them with a budget to hire thousands of contractors to take up the slack. Half of this collective is involved in self-defense. The other half is so isolated from Iraq that, when it is not dispensing funds into the Iraqi ether, it is engaged in nothing more productive than sustaining itself.

The isolation is necessary for safety, but again, the process paradox is at play—and not just in Iraq. Faced with the failure of an obsolete idea—the necessity of traditional embassies and all the elaboration they entail—we have not stood back to remember their purpose, but have plunged ahead with closely focused concentration to build them bigger and stronger. One day soon they may reach a state of perfection: impregnable and pointless."... 


No comments:


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I'm the daughter of an Eagle Scout (fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Mets) and a Beauty Queen.