Embassy Baghdad in Decline

by Daniel Pipes
February 7, 2012
Cross-posted from National Review Online: The Corner

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One of Embassy Baghdad's fine buildings.

Ever since the U.S. government announced in March 2004 plans to build “the largest embassy ever run by any country,” I have been on the case, poking fun at its over-wrought size (21 acres), excessive expense (US$750 million), and gargantuan personnel (16,000) and annual budget ($6 billion). I also bemoaned the embassy’s location in Saddam Hussein’s’ old palatial grounds, criticized its isolated self-contained quality, and shuddering at the provocative implications of this diplomatic monstrosity. For an overview, see my article on this topic; for plenty of dismal but entertaining detail, see my 4,700-word blog.

Now comes the news that this hubristic exercise will be cut down to size. Reports The New York Times in “U.S. Planning to Slash Iraq Embassy Staff by Up to Half” that the Iraqi government is not processing visas or permitting food deliveries on a timely basis, that it is confounding security measures, arbitrarily confiscating documents, computers and weapons, spreading conspiracy theories, and otherwise honing nationalist resentments against the White Elephant. Therefore, the staff there will be cut in half.


(1) It’s about time. What planet has the State Department been living on? Had it no idea that Iraqis might be resentful of this diplomatic intrusion?

(2) Studying a little Muslim history would have made this conclusion obvious.

(3) The U.S. government has a history of honorable disengagement from the countries it conquers and occupies; and Iraq is no exception, with all forces pulled out less than nine years after the invasion, with the local government allowed not only to take charge but even to bully Americans.

(4) There’s an informal tradition that wherever the State Department builds its largest embassy, trouble surely follows – Saigon and Tehran being earlier examples. Iraq is now in play. Peking is next on the pecking order. (February 7, 2012)

Source material can be found at this site.

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