Our Big Digs in the Desert
(guest blog by Taylor Marsh)
The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the largest of its kind in the world, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq’s turbulent future.
The new U.S. Embassy also seems as cloaked in secrecy as the ministate in Rome.
"We can’t talk about it. Security reasons," Roberta Rossi, a spokeswoman at the current embassy, said when asked for information about the project.
A British tabloid even told readers the location was being kept secret — news that would surprise Baghdadis who for months have watched the forest of construction cranes at work across the winding Tigris, at the very center of their city and within easy mortar range of anti-U.S. forces in the capital, though fewer explode there these days.
U.S. Building Massive Embassy in Baghdad (above photo by AP)
People were surprised about the long-term bases, which have been in the planning since 2004. Well, wait until they get a load of this monster.
It’s a U.S. complex consisting of 21 buildings and 104 acres, according to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You know how big that is? Try Rome’s Vatican City, baby. We’re talking huge.
It’s the largest in the world and sends forth only one message. We’re going to be in Iraq for a very long time, as a serious power challenge to the Iraqis, which will be unmistakable once it’s finished and action starts taking place. Wonder how that’s going to go down?
According to the article, the U.S. embassy will be ready in 2007. I say, according to this article, because there’s not much popping on it anywhere else. The land was transferred to the U.S. in 2004 under a secret agreement. Well, at 104 acres, it’s a miracle it’s been a secret this long, but since journalists can’t roam very far without getting kidnapped, maybe that actually worked to keep it all under wraps. There’s been gigantic cranes working and a lot of action over the months, which will eventually open out on Embassy Baghdad that has its own "defense force, self-contained power and water."
The Senate report talks about it being a "hardened" structure, meaning that it stands alone, without any help from any outside company, electricity, or anything else, because it’s 100% independent, for obvious reasons. It’s "six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington’s National Mall." Think about that a minute. There’s going to be a lot going on in this building and it doesn’t seem plausible that it’s all for Iraq. Surprise, surprise, right?
The project went to First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting, with other contracts going to six other companies, five of which are American. However, no one knows who they are, because they’re working in classified sections of Embassy Baghdad. Want to take a guess?
Congress appropriated $592 million in the emergency Iraq budget last year, but the "original cost estimates ranged over $1 billion." However, if we’ve learned anything from Bush’s preemptive adventure, it’s that the bottom line has no bottom line.
We haven’t heard much about this from anyone, no single Democrat talking about it. We know the Republicans will stay mum. But just like the long-term bases, it sends the signal that’s not altogether comforting. Except for this guy, as the propaganda campaign continues.
Look, no one is naive enough to believe that we’ll vamoose from Iraq, leaving no trail behind. However, between the gigantic long-term bases and Embassy Baghdad, a place that replicates the empire image of Vatican City, this is falling into the I told you so category for permanent residency. It sure would be nice if the pin headed politicians in Washington let us know what we’re spending our tax dollars on. You know, just to inform us that we’re going to be on the ground in Iraq permanently. After all, our plans in Saudi Arabia worked out so well, now didn’t they?