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“Fortress America” opens in Baghdad

Having bid farewell to the Green Zone last week, U.S. forces today opened the brand new Baghdad embassy, which will house “1,200 employees, including diplomats, troops and staff from 14 federal agencies.” For a detailed look at America’s new digs in Iraq, it’s worth revisiting architectural historian Jane Loeffler’s analysis of the structure from the ...

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Having bid farewell to the Green Zone last week, U.S. forces today opened the brand new Baghdad embassy, which will house “1,200 employees, including diplomats, troops and staff from 14 federal agencies.”

For a detailed look at America’s new digs in Iraq, it’s worth revisiting architectural historian Jane Loeffler’s analysis of the structure from the September/October, 2007 issue of FP, written before it was constructed:

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 second-largest mission. The Baghdad compound will be entirely self-sufficient, 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 one-bedroom units. Two office blocks will accommodate about 1,000 employees. High-ranking diplomats will enjoy well-appointed private residences. Once inside the compound, Americans will have almost no reason to leave. It will have a shopping market, food court, movie theater, beauty salon, gymnasium, swimming pool, tennis courts, a school, and an American Club for social gatherings. To protect it all, the embassy is reportedly surrounded by a wall at least 9 feet high—and it has its own defense force.[…]

If architecture reflects the society that creates it, the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad makes a devastating comment about America’s global outlook. Although the U.S. government regularly proclaims confidence in Iraq’s democratic future, the United States has designed an embassy that conveys no confidence in Iraqis and little hope for their future. Instead, the United States has built a fortress capable of sustaining a massive, long-term presence in the face of continued violence.

Yeah, it’s safe to say there’s going to be a sizeable U.S. presence in Iraq for a while.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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