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Thread: Embassy Staff In Baghdad Inadequate, Rice Is Told

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Embassy Staff In Baghdad Inadequate, Rice Is Told

    19 June Washington Post - Embassy Staff In Baghdad Inadequate, Rice Is Told by Glenn Kessler.

    Ryan C. Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, bluntly told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a cable dated May 31 that the embassy in Baghdad -- the largest and most expensive U.S. embassy -- lacks enough well-qualified staff members and that its security rules are too restrictive for Foreign Service officers to do their jobs.

    "Simply put, we cannot do the nation's most important work if we do not have the Department's best people," Crocker said in the memo.

    The unclassified cable underscores the State Department's struggle to find its role in the turmoil in Iraq. With a 2007 budget of more than $1 billion and a staff that has expanded to more than 1,000 Americans and 4,000 third-country nationals, the embassy has become the center of a bureaucratic battle between Crocker, who wants to strengthen the staff, and some members of Congress, who are increasingly skeptical about the diplomatic mission's rising costs...

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default New U.S. Embassy in Baghdad evokes suburbia

    "The under-wraps compound being built in Iraq is the architectural equivalent of mission creep."

    By Christopher Hawthorne Times Staff Writer

    The location of the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq is no secret. It's pretty difficult to camouflage 104 acres in the middle of Baghdad — particularly 104 acres over which canary-yellow construction cranes have been hovering for months. And thanks to reports from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and various news outlets, we know the embassy compound on the west bank of the Tigris River will cost $592 million and include 27 buildings behind a series of protective walls. We know it's due to be finished by the end of the summer.
    You've heard of mission creep? Meet its architectural equivalent.

    An embassy is by definition a place of exchange. The BDY renderings suggest something quite different: a fully self-contained compound where the ruling aesthetic approach might be described as extreme hermeticism. An island within the island known as the Green Zone, the compound will include its own water purification and waste treatment systems; its own fire station, power plant and school; and housing for more than 380 families. Its site is a full 10 times larger than the second-largest American embassy, which is now under construction in Beijing.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote:
    You've heard of mission creep? Meet its architectural equivalent.

    An embassy is by definition a place of exchange. The BDY renderings suggest something quite different: a fully self-contained compound where the ruling aesthetic approach might be described as extreme hermeticism. An island within the island known as the Green Zone, the compound will include its own water purification and waste treatment systems; its own fire station, power plant and school; and housing for more than 380 families. Its site is a full 10 times larger than the second-largest American embassy, which is now under construction in Beijing.

    Oh man, I can imagine just how accurate their reporting will be based on their "close contact" with the Iraqis...

    Tom

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Oh man, I can imagine just how accurate their reporting will be based on their "close contact" with the Iraqis...

    Tom
    Hey Tom !
    And, I'm just dying to see this thing at 104 'canary-yellow' acres

    If we could reduce our Embassy from 500 official employees to 13 in four days, perhaps there's still time to save the white elephant.

    Will this end up like the Embassy in Moscow, being built by locals hiding sound devices or rocket launchers in the walls

    Hmmm, While I'm on this pathetic rant, did we buy the 104 'yellow' acres or are we taking it out in trade

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Oooooh with the "Green Zone" and the "Emerald City" and now "yellow acres" (as a stretch for yellow brick road) I can see the FSOs all singing in unison and following Rice around wondering if she is Dorothy or really the wicked witch...

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Hey Tom !
    And, I'm just dying to see this thing at 104 'canary-yellow' acres

    If we could reduce our Embassy from 500 official employees to 13 in four days, perhaps there's still time to save the white elephant.

    Will this end up like the Embassy in Moscow, being built by locals hiding sound devices or rocket launchers in the walls

    Hmmm, While I'm on this pathetic rant, did we buy the 104 'yellow' acres or are we taking it out in trade
    Buy? It is the grounds of a former Saddam Palace ... we took it and got the interim Iraqi government to grant it to us -lets say its an apreciation gift from Iraqi exiles... note I said the interim government (June 2004) set up by Bremer! Its all legal!
    Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

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    Default New U.S. Embassy Rises in Iraq

    24 July LA Times - New U.S. Embassy Rises in Iraq by Alexandra Zarvis.

    Huge, expensive and dogged by controversy, the new U.S. Embassy compound nearing completion here epitomizes to many Iraqis the worst of the U.S. tenure in Iraq.

    "It's all for them, all of Iraq's resources, water, electricity, security," said Raid Kadhim Kareem, who has watched the buildings go up at a floodlighted site bristling with construction cranes from his post guarding an abandoned home on the other side of the Tigris River. "It's as if it's their country, and we are guests staying here."

    Despite its brash scale and nearly $600-million cost, the compound designed to accommodate more than 1,000 people is not big enough, and may not be safe enough if a major military pullout leaves the country engulfed in a heightened civil war, U.S. planners now say...

    "Having the 'heavily fortified Green Zone' doesn't matter one iota" when it comes to rocket and mortar attacks, said one senior military officer.

    Like much U.S. planning in Iraq, the embassy was conceived nearly three years ago on rosy assumptions that stability was around the corner, and that the military effort would gradually draw down, leaving behind a vast array of civilian experts who would remain intimately engaged in Iraqi state-building. The result is what some analysts are describing as a $592-million anachronism.

    "It really is sort of betwixt and between," said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations who advises the Defense Department. "It's bigger than it should be if you really expect Iraq to stabilize. It's not as big as it needs to be to be the nerve center of an ongoing war effort."

    In a stunning security breach, architectural plans for the compound were briefly posted on the Internet in May.

    "If the government of Iraq collapses and becomes transparently just one party in a civil war, you've got Ft. Apache in the middle of Indian country, but the Indians have mortars now," Biddle said...

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    Foreign Policy, Sep-Oct 07: Fortress America
    A citadel is rising on the banks of the Tigris. There, on the river’s western side, the United States is building the world’s largest embassy. The land beneath it was once a riverside park. What sits atop today is a massive, fortified compound. Encircled by blast walls and cut off from the rest of Baghdad, it stands out like the crusader castles that once dotted the landscape of the Middle East. Its size and scope bring into question whether it is even correct to call this facility an “embassy.” Why is the United States building something so large, so expensive, and so disconnected from the realities of Iraq? In a country shattered by war, what is the meaning of this place?

    For security reasons, many details about the embassy’s design and construction must remain classified. But the broad outline of its layout says a lot about one of America’s most important architectural projects. Located in Baghdad’s 4squaremile Green Zone, the embassy will occupy 104 acres. It will be six times larger than the U.N. complex in New York and more than 10 times the size of the new U.S. Embassy being built in Beijing, which at 10 acres is America’s secondlargest mission. The Baghdad compound will be entirely selfsufficient, with no need to rely on the Iraqis for services of any kind. The embassy has its own electricity plant, fresh water and sewage treatment facilities, storage warehouses, and maintenance shops. The embassy is composed of more than 20 buildings, including six apartment complexes with 619 onebedroom units. Two office blocks will accomodate about 1,000 employees.....
    FP subscription required to access full article.

    For more on the author's perspective on embassy design & security:

    Foreign Service Journal, Sep 05: Embassy Design: Security vs Openness

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default The Swamp

    An interesting post and quick read !

    “Architecture is inescapably a political art, and it reports faithfully for ages to come what the political values of a particular age were.” — Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, 1999
    This passage is quickly followed by:

    According to Breyer, decision-makers in a democracy need perspective and they need courage. “You have to be brave enough to turn them [the security experts] down,” he said, “and if we are not brave enough to say ‘no’ whenit really doesn’t make much sense, then what we’ll end up with is buildings that look like our embassy in Chile, which is my example of something that is just horrible.” That structure, designed in 1987 to meet the Inman standards, features nearly windowless brick walls, and is surrounded
    by a nine-foot wall (and a moat). “It looks like a fortress,
    ” Justice Breyer says. “People in Santiago laugh at it.”
    The Chicago Tribune's article titled "The Swamp: U.S. embassy in Baghdad" has some good points and a nice picture (attached).

    "Walled off and completely detached from Baghdad, it conveys a devastating message about America’s global outlook,'' she reports.

    "The United States has designed an embassy that conveys no confidence in Iraqis and little hope for their future,” Loeffler says in her article, “Fortress America.”

    "The embassy in Baghdad is designed to be completely self-sufficient. American diplomats will have their own shopping market, movie theater, gym, and dry cleaners,'' Loeffler reports. "The embassy will be encased by 15-foot-thick blast walls, house a special defense force, and operate its own electrical, sewage, and water treatment plants. There will be no need to interact with Iraqis for anything.

    This is a strong departure from the way America’s embassies historically have been built, Loeffler says. Traditionally, U.S. embassies were designed to further interaction with the community. Diplomats visited with local officials at their offices, shopped at local businesses, and mixed with the general public.

    "Diplomacy is not the sort of work that can be done by remote control,” Loeffler argues. “It takes direct contact to build good-will for the United States and promote democratic values.”
    Last edited by Stan; 01-09-2008 at 08:22 PM.

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