CRP Blog

Friday, June 1, 2007

The New US Embassy in Baghdad: Plans Appear Online, Why It Matters

The new US Embassy in Iraq is due to open in a few months. When I was in Baghdad as a trainer over Thanksgiving last year, the new buildings were just beginning to rise from behind the security wall.

Liberals have whined about the size of the compound: at 104 acres, it's slightly smaller than the Vatican.

Yesterday, plans for the completed embassy briefly appeared on the website of an architectual firm involved with the project. State Department officials were not amused.

The liberals who complain about the new embassy miss the point, as is often the case.

(These guys complain about just about anything this Administration is doing in Iraq, so none of this crying should surprise anyone.)

In reality, the State Department and the White House are doing exactly the right thing to protect the lives of the Americans -- mostly civilians -- who will staff the new embassy.

Given the security situation in Baghdad, it's in the interest of protecting American lives that embassy staff have access to an array of facilities within a secure embassy compound.

By contrast, the new US embassy in Berlin, which is also nearing completion, is an office building. That's all it needs to be. Berlin isn't Baghdad.

In Baghdad, it makes no sense to force embassy staff and their families to live outside of the embassy where they will be the targets of any nut with a grudge. Nor does it make sense to have apartments on the embassy grounds, but force personnel offsite for everything they might need to do during the day.

The State Department is doing exactly the right thing by constructing an embassy in Iraq that not only will serve as the focal point for reconstruction and diplomatic activity for years to come, but one that will also serve to maximize the protection of the American men and women who will work there.

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