Archive for Foreign Relations/Foreign Aid
Seems to me the White House is imploding — in an upsetting, but riveting way that many expected…but most hoped would not happen!
What is my take away?
When it comes to the presidency: experience, experience, experience. The Swamp is beginning to look like a rather acceptable habitat! Of course I was not one of those asking for “no experience” because I certainly prefer (good) experience in my professionals.
Would I choose a doctor with NO experience who has no-one with experience helping him diagnose? Nope. Would you?
Choose a lawyer with no experience to get me out of a murder rap? Nope. Given a choice, I want someone who has already been there, done that. Bring Johnny Cochrane back from the dead and I’ll take him over a living attorney!
Choose the pilot who just graduated to take me through a water landing? Don’t think so. I want Captain Sully…(Chesley Sullenberger who made an emergency landing on New York’s Hudson River/2009).
Yes, inexperienced people are capable of doing a great job, maybe even better than the old hands (who were once inexperienced themselves)…but it’s iffy. We still want to choose the experienced professionals…because they’re gone through the fire. Been tested. Good governor…OK, maybe you’ll be a good president too. Good senator, congresswoman, mayor…OK. let’s try you.
But choosing a President? Nah, we don’t need political experience. O-kaaay…!
Just because you’re a good businessman — that does not a good president make, especially when your business is run by your family with no public scrutiny…and no other people to answer to, when you and your family make all the decisions with no outside persons saying: Now wait just a minute!
(By the way, I don’t believe Donald Trump was the person who was really running the Trump empire. I think it may be his daughter Ivanka and the two sons running the companies…and Trump is just the figurehead brand. Of course I may be wrong, but I believe when he tried to run the company, he bankrupted it, ran it into the ground.)
Where is the seasoned businessman, with the savvy, the corporate know-how and Midas touch? Are we looking at a Wizard of Oz scenario?
We gas tank almost empty, No electricity, we oil pressure reading low
Shall we abandon ship, Or shall we stay on it and perish slow
We don’t know, we don’t know, Captain you tell we what to do
I also think the reason some lawmakers are so opposed to Trump may be because they get intelligence briefings and know things we don’t know – things they cannot tell the public.
What are foreign leaders thinking. Read between the lines. Here’s what some have told Mr. Trump or his Vice President:
Canada’s Justin Trudeau:
Any day I get to visit our southern neighbors is a good day in my book…
And any day Trudeau’s counterpart, the American President, gets to visit HIS southern neighbor, Mexico? Oh wait – didn’t happen…because we challenged them and they pushed back – and now Mexicans are demonstrating in the streets against America and putting up resistance.
Trudeau: History has demonstrated time and again that in order to tackle our most pressing issues, both foreign and domestic, we must work with our closest allies, learn from each other, and stand in solidarity as a united voice.
With a level of economic and social integration that is unmatched on the world stage, Canada and the United States will forever be a model example of how to be good neighbors. Winston Churchill once said, “That long Canadian frontier from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, guarded only by neighborly respect and honorable obligations, is an example to every country, and a pattern for the future of the world.”
The U.S and Mexico, on the other hand, will forever be what kind of model? Will the U.S.’s equally long frontier with Mexico be: guarded only by neighborly respect and honorable obligations…(as) an example to every country, and a pattern for the future of the world. Guess we’ll see!
Germany’s Angela Merkel (on free press) with Vice President Mike Pence in the audience:
“I stand by a free and independent press and have great respect for journalists … We’ve always done well in Germany when we mutually respect each other.
…If there are differences of opinion, then we discuss it, but we accept press freedom as a great pillar of democracy.”
Britain’s Theresa May:
“When it comes to Russia, as so often it is wise to turn to the example of President Reagan who, during his negotiations with his opposite number Mikhail Gorbachev, used to abide by the adage trust but verify. With President Putin, my advice is to: engage but beware.”
Mayday! Mayday! We hear all of you. Is president Trump listening, though?
Captain, this ship is sinking…Captain, the seas are rough…we gas tank almost empty, no electricity, we oil pressure reading low…shall we abandon ship, or shall we stay on it and perish slow…we don’t know, we don’t know…Captain you tell we what to do.
Photos: Google images
I wonder why President Trump is using his Mar a Lago club/resort in Florida to host foreign leaders…instead of Camp David, with its decades of built-in SECURITY?
According to the White House website:
Camp David, known formally as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, is the President’s country residence. Located in Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Maryland, Camp David has offered Presidents an opportunity for solitude and tranquility, as well as an ideal place to host foreign leaders.
Photos: Google images
was not listed as one of the people who will run the Trump Organization…during President Elect Trump’s administration. In his first press conference after his win, Trump said his two sons will run his organization, but no mention of his daughter…
…which leaves her open for a job in HIS ADMINISTRATION?
Am I the ONLY person picking up on this? Why…?
Are you prepared for more Middle East turmoil? Well get ready.
If Israeli hardliners vote for Benjamin Netanyahu (again), on his “One State” mandate then get ready for more: MORE bombings, MORE beheadings, MORE executions, MORE chaos, MORE despair, MORE nightmares, MORE fear, MORE uncertainty!
And for MORE American intransigence — with MORE European dis-involvement and MORE world-wide disenchantment!
I was in Washington DC when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to storm America’s Bastille: the U.S. Capitol.
Amid super, super-tight security, I’m annoyed that I can’t cut across the Capitol grounds to get to the House Buildings. But I’m really, really outraged that Republicans invite/allow a foreign government to enter their Congress and DICTATE to the American people AND the American government – how America should conduct its foreign policy.
Do you see any other government allowing the U.S. president to address their parliament and TELL them, nay DICTATE to them HOW to run their government? I can’t see it happening. Yet Republicans allowed it because they are:
So blinded by partisan politics, so consumed by their dislike of President Obama, so enthralled with the profits they and their cronies stand to gain from the monetary profits of war, so misguided by their imaginings of the resulting Shangri La from bombing Iran, so enraptured by their Biblical perceptions of Israel as David (forgetting that a nuclear arsenal is NOT a slingshot) – that they not only LET it happen, they orchestrated, embraced and encouraged that protocol faux-pas!
What a misguided precedent for this country!
If Republicans wanted Netanyahu to make his point, it needed to be made before the United Nations. That’s where you go to grandstand and try to influence world politics in your favor. You do NOT breach the parliament of a sovereign nation with your hard-line, extreme right morass of more war and mayhem that will only DRAG America deeper into terrorism and wasteful spending.
Why again must we bomb Iran? To do what bombing Iraq was supposed to do? Bring about world peace? Well we have so much peace now I guess we have room to start another teeny war with another Middle East oil producer – to keep our troops from getting bored.
Except Iran is NOT Iraq.
Iran is a more sophisticated, educated and literate populace. And while many Iranians may not like their hard-line regime, they will hate U.S. bombings even more!
Well, you and I understand that – but not one Republican among the Netanyahu war faction will subscribe to that theory. To them, Americans will be seen as the Great Deliverer and the Iranian government will roll over and play dead. Iran will never think of unleashing a barrage of state-sponsored terrorism against the U. S. Why on earth would they? If Mexico or Canada decided to bomb Yucca Mountain, would you not be well pleased?
No American would see any such bombing of U.S facilities as a threat and retaliate in any way – neither would the U.S. government. See? The Republican point of view makes a lot of sense! But then again, Mexico and Canada are too close by – how about India bombing us because India feels threatened by our cows!
Cows are not a good example because cows do not threaten the world? I say they do, with methane gas and global warning, etc…BUT, assuming you are a Republican who does NOT believe in Global Warming (especially given the 7+ feet of snow we got in Boston, Winter 2015 – which just goes to prove, Republicans claim, that we are facing Global Cooling, NOT warming) I say how about if China bombed the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California because China sees the lab as a threat?
What would you do? What would America do?
Nothing, of course – and that is exactly what Iran will do too, if we are smart enough to bomb their nuclear facilities!
The idea, that only the Americans, the French, the British and a handful of nations are the ONLY ones who are bright enough, intelligent enough, dependable enough, SANE enough to have nuclear weapons is the height of arrogance. Nobody should have nuclear weapons – and yes I’d feel safer if more nations did NOT have nuclear weapons – but who are we to punish them for something that we are flaunting with impunity?
America needs to get out of the Middle East and let the chips fall where they may. Where is Kuwait, which America rushed to help in the name of crude and which was instrumental in oiling this slippery slope we’re now slip-sliding on? Where is Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar? They and their over-indulged kids are yachting in Cannes dressed in haute couture, driving exotic, one-of-a-kind sports cars and guzzling Cristal champagne – while American kids, sons, daughters, brothers, husbands and wives are being slaughtered, blown up and executed in a costly no-win, no-reason-we-are-still-there enemy-generating war!
AMERICANS WAKE UP – because Republicans never will!!!
These myopic, clueless politicians play their games – and other people (who may not even agree with their questionable positions) get beheaded!
Photos: Google images
Hey Republicans — President Obama today (6/30/2014) just threw down the Immigration gauntlet…slapped the GOP with a glove…and called them OUT!
Yes…yes, yeesss! (Excuse me! I’m having a shampoo commercial/Herbal Essences moment, aka – a when Harry met Sally moment.) Meanwhile, the Tea Party and it’s splinter group, the Republicans, are having major and frequent Maalox moments…
Tea party supporters are practically FOAMING at the mouth…and spewing vitriol and hate. EXAMPLE…
I left this comment on the Chicago Tribune website (yesterday) June 29, 2014.
THE Executive Order 22-million shadow immigrants are waiting for…
THE Executive Order 50-thousand young U.S. born Hispanics who turn 18 every MONTH – (plus thousands MORE from other immigrant groups) are waiting for…
Rallying cry for Immigrant Voters: Legalize my relatives NOW!!!
I BELIEVE that cowardly republicans should bring the Immigration Bill to the floor of the House for a vote.
I also BELIEVE that these 50-thousand young U.S. born Hispanics who turn 18 every MONTH and the thousands MORE from other immigrant groups who have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents who are undocumented – should IMMEDIATELY register to vote on behalf of their loved ones.
Vote, vote, vote – remember the power of the ballot.
If any Congressman is BLOCKING Immigration Reform, young immigrant voters need to MAKE THEIR VOICE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR.
Legalize my relative NOW…
HERE IS HOW ONE TEA PARTY “CHRISTIAN” RESPONDED:
Fucking freeloading unasimilating non English speaking uneducated disrespectful and American hating pieces of shit. Not just republicans who hate the illegals. Just as many democrats do as well, except they lie and tell you something else. Illegal is illegal is still. Illegal.
And they wonder WHY the majority of Hispanics, Asians, other immigrants and blacks hate them right back — and DON’T vote for them!
All this month I’ve been suggesting, hinting, begging President Obama…
It is time for DAFFA: Deferred Action for Families…of Dreamers.
I mean he IS signing Executive Orders against gay/transgender workplace discrimination…and to ease student debt, so I asked: BUT I DON’T SEE YOU SIGNING AN ORDER FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM. Why?
Please take Executive Action to at least legalize the families of Dreamers and make DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) PERMANENT. Immigration activists, business leaders, the national Association of Evangelicals, other religious groups, law enforcement AND the MAJORITY of Americans (unlike the Tea Party extremists) realize that:
- This status quo of 22-million people living anonymously in the shadows – living under the radar, unknown, unchecked – is NOT acceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.
- That we cannot have this influx of kids crossing the border. More than 50-thousand children since October 2013. Some are as young as 2-years old, crossing the border, often alone. Come on! This is a humanitarian crisis. What if these were 2-year-old American kids crossing into Mexico, alone, heading to Central America?
- It should NOT take 10-years for LEGAL immigrants to wait to come to America.
- The Immigration system overall NEEDS to be fixed – illegal immigration is just ONE part of an unworkable, unwieldy BROKEN system.
Imagine rounding up, arresting, detaining and deporting 22-million people…or having them self-deport a la Mitt Romney. Many of these undocumented immigrants also have U.S. born kids who are U.S citizens.
Employers, farmers agree that Americans WILL NOT do the jobs (picking lettuce, strawberries, watermelons, janitorial work, child and elderly care, cooking, janitorial, picking factory orders etc.) that many undocumented people do.
Employers have tried to get Americans to do these jobs, but they come on day one and by day two DO NOT SHOW UP. According to newspaper reports…In 2011, after the Georgia legislature led by Republican Governor Nathan Deal passed a tough immigration bill, Hispanic farm workers fled the state.
Deal decided to use prisoners to pick field crops but many inmates walked off the job early. Farmers in Georgia lost millions of dollars because crops that rotted in the field before they could be harvested. Not even PRISONERS want to do these jobs! It is apparently more cushy in the jail than in the fields. Undocumented Immigrants though are classified as lazy by Republicans!
The Tea Party wants to deport and demonize the Dream Kids who were raised here from babies and toddlers and educated in America; to send them back, instead of letting them become the doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses and scientists we need. Meantime, our minority native-born kids are being locked up behind bars…while thousands of high-tech jobs go unfilled. Answer: let’s issue 65-thousand H-1B visas each year, get high-tech foreign adults (er, Americans) from India, Pakistan and other countries to come fill those jobs instead.
I don’t know what to do about the influx of kids across the border NOW, but I know if the House had passed Immigration Reform last July, we would NOT be having this crisis today!
Mr. President, take executive action NOW! Nothing you do, Mr. President will PLEASE the GOP, so WHY antagonize YOUR base? You deported and where did THAT get you? the title “Deporter-In-Chief” and NOT even the floor of the House for a vote!
Extend DACA to parents of Dreamers. Show Hispanics, Immigrant advocates your good faith – THEN, after the November elections, push more reforms. Forget about Boehner and his faux “lawsuits” there’s nothing about the “law” in his motivation.
He’s on his way out…and he knows it. And if he DOES cry his way back as House Speaker, he will remain a yo-yo between the handful of remaining main-stream Republicans (the rock) and the Tea Party (a hard place!). We need an Executive order to MAKE DACA PERMANENT – AND OFFER THE SAME PROTECTION TO THE PARENTS OF DREAMERS.
That will remove the stumbling block to wider Immigration Reform and let the process move on. YES OBAMA – YES WE CAN. SI, SE PUEDE, SE PUEDE, SE PUEDE! Ahora!
Seems the Washington press think there are ONLY a handful of people – a select few -who can have answers, solutions or opinions about anything…and they call upon these people time and again to tell the rest of US:
- HOW things should be done
- WHY things should be done
- WHERE things should be done and
- WHEN things should be done.
One of these KNOWLEDGEABLE people is former Vice President Dick Cheney.
I think Cheney is really a Kardashian. Except instead of see-through tops, he wears see-through ideology! I mean, he’s as hungry and eager for the spotlight as any Kardashian – and he will do or say ANYTHING to get in the limelight. Here is one EGOmaniac who will NOT go away quietly – or EVER!
Say what you will about George W. Bush or the elder Bush, they’ve gone away quietly. I admire their graciousness in this regard. Cheney will die – and minutes after his burial – he will be staggering up and down the Washington Mall, chains dragging, looking for some reporter to take a statement. Like we really want to know WHAT hell is like!
Does Dick (darn, his momma named him well) Cheney have nobody, no-one in his circle who can suggest he shuts up! I mean he’s NO Colin Powell. Now here’s a republican I can tolerate…that most people will tolerate. Cheney, good god! (as in Cheney thinks he’s a god). I personally don’t think he deserves a capital G…
So the Veep Wonder was on TV (ABC – 6/22/2014) AGAIN, talking about Iraq. Cheney is criticizing the President for Obama’s stance on Iraq. Host, JONATHAN KARL asked Cheney what HE would do about Iraq and he said, quote:
“I’d recognize that Iraq is not the whole problem. We’ve got a much bigger problem than just the current crisis in Iraq.
The Rand Corporation was out within the last week with a report that showed that there’s been a 58 percent increase in the number of groups like al Qaeda, Salafi jihadists. And it stretches from West Africa all across North Africa, East Africa, through the Middle East, all the way around to Indonesia, a doubling of the number of terrorists out there.
The first thing we have to do is recognize we’ve got a hell of a problem and it’s not just in Iraq. I worry about Pakistan. Just a couple of weeks ago in Pakistan, the Taliban, the same group that we just released five of the leaders from Guantanamo, the Taliban raided Karachi Airport.
Why do I care about that?
Well, Pakistan is unique in that it has a significant inventory of nuclear weapons. We have evidence that the man who built the Pakistani program, AQ Khan, offered up recently and that was that the North Koreans have bribed Pakistani officials for sophisticated technology for enriching uranium and that the North Koreans now have some two — 2,000 centrifuges operating to enrich uranium.
We had North Korea try to provide Syria with a nuclear reactor.
The — the difficulty, the spread of the terrorist organizations is not recognized by the administration. The proliferation of nuclear capability and the possibility that it could fall into the hands of terrorists is not really being addressed at all.
And I appreciate the problems we’ve got in Iraq right now…
…But what I think we need is a broad strategy that lets us address this whole range of issues. And that involves reversing a number of the policies of…the Obama administration.
Host, JONATHAN KARL asked Cheney AGAIN:But let me — let me ask you specifically on Iraq, because that — that’s the crisis confronting us right at this moment.
Would you in — would you take war — you know, air strikes against ISIS? (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria…OR…Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
CHENEY: Well, I — what we should have done in Iraq was…
KARL: No, no, what would you do now?
CHENEY: — leave behind a force — well, what I would do now, John, is, among other things, be realistic about the nature of the threat. When we’re arguing over 300 advisers when the request had been for 20,000 in order to do the job right, I’m not sure we’ve really addressed the problem.
I would definitely be helping the resistance up in Syria, in ISIS’ backyard, with training and weapons and so forth, in order to be able to do a more effective job on that end of the party.
But I think at this point, there are no good, easy answers in Iraq. And, again, I think it’s very important to emphasize that the problem we’re faced with is a much broader one, that we need to — an administration to recognize the fact that we’ve got this huge problem, quit peddling the notion that they — they got core al Qaeda and therefore there’s no problem out there…They’ve got to rebuild trust and relationship with our friends in the region…It’s very important to take a broad gauge approach to it.
Let’s break down Cheney’s answer – because it is way too simple for liberals to understand unless one DECONSTRUCTS his wisdom. So Cheney would:
- Have left a force behind. How long for – ask him! Ask him too about his TENSE. What would you do NOW, as in the PRESENT…but then Cheney CAN’T differentiate between past and present – which is why he still thinks HE is running the country!
- Be realistic about the nature of the threat. The White House thinks ISIS is a game with a pretend Egyptian invasion.
- Instead of arguing over 300 advisers (when the request had been for 20,000 in order to do the job right), let’s just wait until Mr. Cheney IS sure, then perhaps we’ll know if he wants to send 300, 33-hundred or 23-thousand to ADDRESS the problem.
- HE would definitely be helping the resistance up in Syria with training and weapons and so forth. Bravo Mr. Cheney. Now that’s decisive. Training – OK. Weapons – OK. So forth? Is that wriggle room, Mr. Cheney, for things like No-Bid Contracts for your cronies and companies you make lots of money from? Like Halliburton perhaps?
- He admits there are NO good, easy answers in Iraq. You don’t say!
- He wants the administration to recognize that we’ve got this huge problem. Did you know that we’ve got a huge problem in Iraq? Do you think perhaps we should TELL the White House about this big problem in Iraq?
- Cheney would quit peddling the notion that the U.S. got core al Qaeda and therefore there’s no problem out there. Would THAT be before or after he said (about Iraq): “And I think they’re in the — in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency”… OR “Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region”.
Cheney just did not realize to WHOM those benefits would go. Surely these benefits are NOT going to American taxpayers or the soldiers who return with PTSD or their families or to the U.S. economy or to the millions of refugees fleeing their homes in Iraq and Syria. Or does last throes mean to him: just beginning to arise?
If the U.S. bombs ISIL, America comes across as anti-Sunni — and if America moves too openly against Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, the unsatisfactory Nuri al-Maliki, then it is seen as anti-Shiite. WHICH side does Cheney want us to support? On which side does he see America coming out a winner? When he looks through HIS looking glass, where does it foretell a VICTORY? I suppose it would be whichever one can ensure his interests in Halliburton keep bearing juicy oil dividends?
Now I know Cheney is wrong, always thought he was wrong (and maybe you thought so too) but when his very OWN republican colleague – and a likely front-runner for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016 (Rand Paul) says:
“Many of those clamoring for military action now are the same people who made every false assumption imaginable about the cost, challenge and purpose of the Iraq War. They have been wrong for so long, why should we listen to him — listen to them again?”
…don’t you think it is time, BEYOND time, for Dick Kardashian, spotlight hogger, limelight chaser and attentionaholic – to get the hint. Pssst: Cheney! How much clearer can Paul get? Pack up! Go away! Shut up! IRRELEVANT!!!
Photos: Google Images, Reuters and others.
Have you seen the SIZE of the US embassy in Iraq…
A $750-million building that I’m beginning to hear may need to be RAZED down if the Iraqi government falls?
Repeat: Do you see the size of this thing. According to Wiki: 4-million-700-thousand square feet (or about 81 football fields. Football field is 57-thousand-600 square feet). At 104-acres…it is the largest and most expensive embassy in the world – nearly as large as Vatican City, with:
- Six apartment buildings for employees
- Water and waste treatment facilities
- A power station
- Two “major diplomatic office buildings”
- Recreation, including a gym, cinema, several tennis courts and Olympic-sized pool.
Were we planning (OK, not ME per se – or YOU either, for that matter) but was America planning…better still was the US government planning as in (republican hawks planning) to move the Capitol to Iraq?
Now if or when ISIS arrives in Baghdad, do we:
- Burn everything and take off…
- Try to sell the building to whomever wins?
- Hold on and dig in – big enough to have our own airspace?
- Refurbish and turn it over to house all those Americans who lost their homes during the wall street crash?
- Just leave it as a monument to misaligned ideology?
- Anyone has a better idea?
I came across this:
June 5, 2014
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for the U.S. Government-sponsored Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. This program directly supports the goals of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement to enhance mutual understanding and strengthen connections between the people of the United States and Iraq through academic exchange.
I suppose the leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may be looking to send some members to spend a year of non-degree graduate-level study, leadership development, and professional collaboration with U.S. counterparts.
After all, the program’s goal is to provide future leaders and policy makers in Iraq with an understanding of U.S. society and culture, as well as professional experience that will provide a basis for lasting, productive ties between Iraqis and their professional colleagues in the United States.
I don’t think that bringing a few Iraqi officials to the U.S. will change the dynamic in Iraq – But what do I know…? Said fellow may return to Iraq thinking the ways of Western infidels are the way Iraq should go – that we are definitely NOT the Great Satan like Iran claims – that we should indeed continue to support Israel and well – there should be a McDonalds and a Wal-Mart (selling guns and alcohol) on every corner in Baghdad!
The Fellowship of the Right-Wing: Return of the WMD’s! Seems to me ISIS is a more clear and present WMD that any we’ve uncovered in Iraq so far!
How about some Fellowships for the thousands of 2014 high-school grads who are looking for similar opportunities at US colleges they CANNOT afford. Or student loan relief, eh, republicans…?
Check this article I found…about the US embassy in Iraq:
The shiny new dining facility, or DFAC, at the embassy features gleaming refrigerators filled with a seemingly endless supply of Gatorade, cola, and even near beer. There are over half a dozen separate food stations, including one where fresh Caesar salads are assembled on the spot. The cafeteria is run by KBR, which hires third country nationals — mostly Indians and Sri Lankans dressed in formal attire — to serve the food.
The food is not only all-you-can-eat, it’s also all-you-can-take: Employees can prepare to-go meals and are allowed to take unlimited amounts of soda and drinks back to their rooms. “The carrot cake, you’ve got to try the carrot cake,” one of my lunch companions insisted. (There’s an entire station for baked desserts, featuring several different types of freshly baked cakes and cookies; there’s a separate station for ice cream, both regular and soft serve.)
What is interesting about the dining facility — and what makes it unlike other embassies in the world — is that, at least for the Americans, it’s a social equalizer. Everyone from construction workers to diplomats eat in the DFAC. The only incongruous element is seeing the occasional office worker with pressed khakis and crisp-blue shirt sporting a holstered weapon at their side.
After lunch, I headed to the PX, passing by a large glass window with two dozen butts raised in the air: Yoga class. Next door was the American Club, where a glittery disco ball with lights was being tested out for a party. Outside one of the main buildings, barbeque grills were set up next to picnic tables. And inside, a Subway franchise was open, as was Green Beans Coffee.
Not that the embassy is really the lap of luxury. With no landscaping, harsh fluorescent lighting and monotonous adobe-colored buildings: the complex looks like a prison, down to the guard tower at the gate. The only decoration in sight was a mock street sign placed near the entrance with names that read: “Pennsylvania” and “Hollywood.”
Some would like to see the U.S. Embassy as a symbol of empire, evidence that the U.S. government had plans to dominate in Iraq for many years to come. If only it were so well thought out. In fact, as I walked among the buildings, the only impression I was left with is short-sightedness. The compound has a tennis court, basketball court, and indoor swimming pool, but apparently, not enough housing for all the staff.
And ironically, just as the massive embassy was opening in January, the rest of the International Zone was emptying out. The two main restaurants serving expatriates — Freedom Restaurant, which serves Iraqi food, and its uncreatively named neighbor, Chinese Freedom Restaurant, which serves dishes like “Cube + Milk + Nugget” — were all but vacant. Even Foreign Service officers are questioning the size of the staff in Baghdad, noting that it’s taking away resources from other embassies.
The real problem with the sprawling embassy is that the seemingly absurd parts are all purely logical: the elaborate dining facility is needed because there’s nowhere else to eat; the entertainment facilities are required because there’s nowhere else to go; and the overwrought security is needed because it’s still not safe for embassy staff to go anywhere. Those things all make sense.
What doesn’t make sense is what everyone is doing there and what they’re supposed to accomplish. Some 1,200 people live and work in this embassy. What exactly are they doing? U.S. embassies are supposed to represent U.S. interest abroad, or as the Foreign Service website puts it: “formulate, represent and implement foreign policy.”
These days, however, most of the employees don’t leave the embassy grounds, let alone the confines of the International Zone. So, it’s difficult to understand just what work they’re doing in Baghdad that couldn’t be done from Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, with its endless supply of soft-serve treats and sugary drinks, has become the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone. Without a clear mission, it exists only to serve itself.
FROM: Empire on the Run: Welcome to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad by Sharon Weinberger.
Here’s to: “1001 Ways to Spend U.S Tax Dollars”.
All photos – from related articles, Google Images or other online sources including REUTERS/Lucas Jackson