Occupier Beware!

April 16, 2008

Yesterday, car bombs in Baghdad and in a couple of other places in Iraq continue to explode-open a war which has become so confused and unfettered by the day.
Fifty (at the minimum, probably more) people killed on Tuesday, another 18 on Monday in similiar attacks, which displayed another side of the horror of Iraq: the Sunni insurgency and the never-say-die al-Qaeda In Iraq.

  • I was on my way to the government office when a big explosion occurred near site,” said the witness, who would only identify himself by his nickname Abu Ali. “As I approached the site, I saw cars on fire, burned bodies and damaged shops damaged with shattered glass everywhere.”
    wiredispatch.com/news, (4/15/08)

This coupled with the overwhelming controversy of the Shia militia of Moqtada al-Sadr, whom US GIs are fighting in the streets of Baghdad at this moment, creates a sinkhole, quagmire of which there is really no return.
Except withdraw quickly and in good order as the good and wise Gen. William Odom keeps repeating.

However, there’s this paradox:

  • On April 14, 2008, the Under Secretary for Management signed the Certificate of Occupancy,” for the new embassy, AFP quoted the State Department spokesman Tom Casey as saying Tuesday.
    The certificate gives the United States ownership of the heavily fortified embassy compound and personnel can now move into 27 buildings located inside the Green Zone.
    The Construction of the embassy has cost the American tax-payers almost 700 million dollars and with a staff of 1000 people, its operating costs are projected to be totaling $1.2 billion a year.
    It is a 104-acre complex, which is the size of approximately 80 football fields. It includes two office buildings, one of them designed for future use as a school, six apartment buildings, a gym, a pool, a food court and its own power generation and water-treatment plants.
    Last May, Sen. Patrick Leahy criticized the ballooning size and cost of the embassy in a hearing with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
    “Now, having said over and over again that we don’t want to be seen as an occupying force in Iraq, we’re building the largest embassy that we have -probably the largest in the world- in Baghdad. And it just seems to grow and grow and grow,” said Leahy.
    The US embassy is likely to create even greater Iraqi resentment toward the US occupation.
    While Americans will be living in posh quarters, the citizens of Baghdad are forced to survive with just 5.6 hours of electricity a day. Baghdad was also recently rated the world’s worst city in which to live
    presstv.ir, (4/16/08)

Although taking occupancy is six months behind schedule, two years ago almost to the day, the project was coming up roses on the Euphrates:

  • Three years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, only one major U.S. building project in Iraq is on schedule and within budget: the massive new American embassy compound.
    The $592 million facility is being built inside the heavily fortified Green Zone by 900 non-Iraqi foreign workers who are housed nearby and under the supervision of a Kuwaiti contractor, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. Construction materials have been stockpiled to avoid the dangers and delays on Iraq’s roads.
    We are confident the embassy will be completed according to schedule (by June 2007) and on budget,” said Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman.
    — Barbara Slavin, USA TODAY, (4/19/06)

Then the reality of misbegotten war consumed everything. The embassy is riddled with huge complaints of shoddy workmanship by the main contractor, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Co., just one of a laundry list of crap that was supposed to be investigated by the US Justice Department. But who knows? The ‘justice’ of the US Justice Department leaves a lot to be desired.

Same item over at State: Richard Shinnick, the State Department’s buildings chief, told McClatchy Newspapers on Monday the problems that caused the delay in the opening of the new embassy have been repaired, or rebuilt.
He told the news service that numerous small “punch list” items remain to be rectified.
But they are not vital. … They are not life-safety issues,” he said.

Infamous last words.
Spoken seemingly long, long ago:

  • The embassy is going to have a thousand people hunkered behind sandbags. I don’t know how you can conduct diplomacy in that way.”
    – Edward L. Peck, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq from 1977 to 1980; cited in the Boston Globe, June 26, 2004 (courtesy commondreams.org, (7/8/04)

And so it goes:

  • WASHINGTON — The State Department has instructed all personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad not to leave reinforced structures due to incoming insurgent rocket fire that has killed two American government workers this week.
    In a memo sent Thursday to embassy staff and obtained by The Associated Press, the department says employees are required to wear helmets, body armor and other protective gear if they must venture outside and strongly advises them to sleep in blast-resistant locations instead of the less secure trailers that most occupy
    Associated Press, (3/27/08)

Some kind of flight insurance should be issued to all US personnel in Iraq.


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