George W's Palace
March 24, 2007 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Construction of the largest embassy on Earth will shortly be completed in Iraq. Roughly the size of Vatican City, and previously estimated to cost nearly 1 billion, (later reduced to a mere 592 million ), this remarkable feat of engineering "...will have its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewater-treatment facility, 'systems to allow 100 percent independence from city utilities,' says the report..." .
posted by Avenger (115 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
[more inside]

No large construction project is without it's minor problems, of course. Some have voiced concern about the non-standard labor practices of First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting, the primary builder on-site: "...When he urged laborers to get medical treatment for rashes and sores, First Kuwaiti managers accused him of spoiling the laborers and allowing them simply to avoid work, he says.
...Once when 17 workers climbed the wall of the construction site to escape, a State Department official helped round them up and put them in “virtual lockdown,” Owen said."


There are also rumors that some of the independent contractors in charge of worker morale may not be fully committed to the cause of Iraqi Freedom: "...Prostitutes, he explains are viewed as possible spies. 'They are a big security risk.'"
posted by cortex at 6:02 PM on March 24, 2007


TY for the [more inside] edit, cortex. I was wondering if it was too long.
posted by Avenger at 6:12 PM on March 24, 2007


Here's another article from the Nation on the matter.

As is, this "embassy" sort of sums up everything, don't it?
posted by Atreides at 6:16 PM on March 24, 2007


It's gonna take a lot of truck bombs to bring that down.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:17 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


That wasn't cortex, it was me. You're welcome.
posted by baphomet at 6:17 PM on March 24, 2007


It's gonna take a lot of truck bombs to bring that down.

Ah, I see, it's a honeypot for truck bombs. Lookit all the lives we're saving with this seven layer anal creampie of an embassy!
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:20 PM on March 24, 2007


the first two links are about a year old, the corpwatch links are from Oct '06, does anybody have any more recent info on the project's completion?
posted by matteo at 6:26 PM on March 24, 2007


Unfortunately, Jack Bauer will still infilitrate it, kill several people and cut off your consulate's finger in under an hour.
posted by saraswati at 6:29 PM on March 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


does anybody have any more recent info on the project's completion?

It's like Penelope: every morning they put a little more up, every evening another "insurgent" truck bomb comes by and undoes it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:30 PM on March 24, 2007


and by the way, First Kuwaiti T&C is a subcontractor of Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown and Root.

not that it's relevant, of course.
posted by matteo at 6:30 PM on March 24, 2007


*consul, not consulate
posted by saraswati at 6:32 PM on March 24, 2007


Are they going to get Swiss guards to patrol it? I like their outfits. They would blend well in Iraq.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:32 PM on March 24, 2007


If you do find yourself needing to go the US embassy in Iraq, please take note of the US State Dept. travel warning notices:


The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq, which remains very dangerous. Remnants of the former Ba’ath regime, transnational terrorists, criminal elements and numerous insurgent groups remain active. Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the International (or “Green”) Zone. Targets include convoys en-route to venues, hotels, restaurants, police stations, checkpoints, foreign diplomatic missions, international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel. These attacks have resulted in deaths and injuries of American citizens, including those doing humanitarian work. In addition, there have been planned and random killings, as well as extortions and kidnappings. U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and several were subsequently murdered by terrorists in Iraq. U.S. citizens and other foreigners continue to be targeted by insurgent groups and opportunistic criminals for kidnapping and murder. Military operations continue. There are daily attacks against Multinational Forces - Iraq (MNF-I), Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi Police throughout the country.

There is credible information that terrorists are targeting civil aviation. Civilian and military aircraft arriving at and departing from Baghdad International Airport for other major cities in Iraq have been subjected to small arms and missiles. Civilian aircraft do not generally possess systems, such as those found on military aircraft, capable of defeating man-portable, surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS). Anyone choosing to utilize civilian aircraft to enter or depart or travel within Iraq should be aware of this potential threat, as well as the extremely high risk to road transportation described below. As a result of a recent security incident at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), the U.S. Embassy is prohibiting all U.S. government employees from departing BIAP on commercial airlines until further notice.

All vehicular travel in Iraq is extremely dangerous. There have been numerous attacks on civilian vehicles, as well as military convoys. Attacks occur throughout the day, but travel at night is exceptionally dangerous. Travel in or through Ramadi and Fallujah; in and between al-Hillah, al-Basrah, Kirkuk, and Baghdad; between the International Zone and Baghdad International Airport; and from Baghdad to Mosul is particularly dangerous.

Occasionally, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from traveling to certain areas depending on prevailing security conditions. There continues to be heavy use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), (especially new-type Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP), and/or mines on roads, concealed in plastic bags, boxes, soda cans, dead animals, and in other ways to blend with the road. Grenades and explosives have been thrown into vehicles from overpasses, particularly in crowded areas. Overland travel should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary and with the appropriate security.

posted by geos at 6:34 PM on March 24, 2007


Damn! Borked link! Pretend that didn't happen. Take two.

Are they going to get Swiss guards to patrol it? I like their outfits. They would blend well in Iraq.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:35 PM on March 24, 2007


I can't wait to go visit this monument to (and from) my tax dollars.
posted by Balisong at 6:40 PM on March 24, 2007


Once when 17 workers climbed the wall of the construction site to escape

WHAT ? I have seen job that suck, but I never tried to escape from a ...a..workcamp ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:43 PM on March 24, 2007


From USA Today (4/19/06)
"We are confident the embassy will be completed according to schedule (by June 2007) and on budget," said Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman.
posted by jaronson at 6:46 PM on March 24, 2007


It would be ironic if Iraqis pulled an Iranian style siege on the embassy.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 6:49 PM on March 24, 2007


Meanwhile...Portugal's Baghdad embassy closes.
posted by jaronson at 6:52 PM on March 24, 2007


"THE question puzzles and enrages a city: how is it that the Americans cannot keep the electricity running in Baghdad for more than a couple of hours a day, yet still manage to build themselves the biggest embassy on Earth? "

You want the benefits of a modern civilization? You wan't the Americans and the international community to create it all for you? Well, stop killing contractors. Stop fighting each other and the Americans. Stand up to the religious leaders who encourage the hatred and violence.

Here's a tip... ditch the primitive religion, halt the ethnic fighting, stop biatching about the Americans, and get off your lazy f**king asses and work together to do something productive.

Won't happen of course. Relgious and ethnic hatred are too deeply ingrained into the culture. The primitive Islamic morality is the core problem, and will ensure Iraq never becomes anything more than a desert cesspit.
posted by Meridian at 6:55 PM on March 24, 2007


Whoa, way to troll, Meridian.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:03 PM on March 24, 2007


Meridian: You're a fucking idiot.

Also, what are the coordinates of this place? Does it show up on Google earth yet?
posted by delmoi at 7:04 PM on March 24, 2007


Well, stop killing contractors. Stop fighting each other and the Americans. Stand up to the religious leaders who encourage the hatred and violence.

I don't think those are the one's killing people. America is a pretty violent country, but we tend to do each other the service of separating those who kill from those that don't. I don't say "murder" because everyone has a right to take up arms against foreign occupiers, on pure principle.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 7:10 PM on March 24, 2007


This is bizarre, surreal, and depressing. Thanks for the post. Like a few others, I wanted some more recent stuff too, so I did some digging. Here's what I found:

How the good land turned bad - Peter Beaumont's special report for the Guardian/Observer, March 18, 2007; not specifically on the embassy complex, though it's good, and it mentions it

The Failure of Democratization - Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, March 14, 2007; very long, as above, mentions it, not specifically about it

Bush palace shielded from Iraqi storm - very long and detailed, August 25, 2006, from The Age (Victoria, Australia); referenced by the Zunes article

The problem with building an embassy fit for an empire - Adil Shamoo, op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, March 20, 2007
posted by blacklite at 7:11 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've heard that they are ahead of schedule on the helipad.
posted by sexymofo at 7:13 PM on March 24, 2007


Are they going to get Swiss guards to patrol it? I like their outfits. They would blend well in Iraq.

Definitely! Plus, they just love anything Vatican-related over there in Baghdad!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:15 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whoa, way to troll, Meridian.

No troll. People fear the immediate backlash if they speak freely about underlying causes of conflict, poverty, and oppression. Religion, ethnic hatred, culture and politics. All intertwined. Mention any of these as a cause and you are greeted by hatred and violence.

Meridian: You're a fucking idiot.

Yep, there you go.

There is no plausable argument against the fact that Islam is a cancerous belief system that should be eliminated. This applies to all religions of course, but Islam is a particularly bad example.
posted by Meridian at 7:16 PM on March 24, 2007


Matteo, I haven't found much from any later than Oct. '06. An optimist could suggest that this means the rampant human-rights abuses have stopped since then -- but I've never been much of an optimist when Iraq is concerned.

elpapacito, yeah it's kind of odd for workers to try and physically escape from their employers. It suggests slavery, or perhaps more likely, indentured servitude. I'd never suggest that, of course, as doing so would be shrill and terribly impolite.
posted by Avenger at 7:17 PM on March 24, 2007


No troll. People fear the immediate backlash if they speak freely about underlying causes of conflict, poverty, and oppression. Religion, ethnic hatred, culture and politics. All intertwined. Mention any of these as a cause and you are greeted by hatred and violence.


I don't think you are troll. Troll has become nothing more than a way to label someone with whom one disagrees, but has no rebuttal. We disagree, hopefully there is a synthesis between our worldviews/opinions


There is no plausable argument against the fact that Islam is a cancerous belief system that should be eliminated. This applies to all religions of course, but Islam is a particularly bad example.


Islam is where Christianity was a couple of centuries ago. Part of the reason why some cultures haven't modernized is because of the involvement of the West. It is important to note than there is no single Islamic culture. Turkey is close to being admitted into the E.U. Iran is hated for being Shia. Saudi Arabia is one of America's closet allies and then there is the Non-Middle Eastern Muslim world (Indonesia, Pakistan,etc).

It's not so much Islam, as it is culture. America, a Christian nation, was once a nation of slavery amongst various other odious things. Take away religion and you are left with the Communist countries and we all know how that worked out.

The problem is humanity. Even pacifistic subcultures have their own forms of oppression (psychological violence vs. physical)
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 7:24 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Meridian---
I was willing to meet you halfway, kinda sorta, until your sentence that started with "This applies to..."
Tolerance.
Catch it.
posted by Dizzy at 7:26 PM on March 24, 2007


in Google earth, someone has located it at the following coordinates:
Lat: 33.291660
Long: 44.376460
(not much to see (yet) i'm afraid)
posted by ruwan at 7:28 PM on March 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


People fear the immediate backlash if they speak freely about underlying causes of conflict, poverty, and oppression. Religion, ethnic hatred, culture and politics. All intertwined.

Thank you for those enlightening opening remarks, professor. I'm sure you'll all join me here in the blue in welcoming Metafilter University's ParisParamus Memorial Chair in Middle Eastern Studies.

There is no plausable argument against the fact that Islam is a cancerous belief system that should be eliminated.


. . . and even more exciting, Prof. Meridian has also generously agreed to serve as Visiting Lecturer in Comparative Religion.

Should be an enlightening semester!
posted by gompa at 7:28 PM on March 24, 2007 [7 favorites]


Take away religion and you are left with the Communist countries and we all know how that worked out.



I'm struggling to compose a response to this quote other than "WTF?!?!?!?!?????"
posted by Avenger at 7:28 PM on March 24, 2007


Every construction project that has a "Brought to you by your Kindly American Imperialistic Brotherhood" stamp on the side, should and will be torn back down to gravel. Reconstruction is something the Iraqi's have to do on their own.
Why do people still think we will be greeted as Liberators?

Relgious and ethnic hatred are too deeply ingrained into the culture.

There's a lot of that going around.
posted by Balisong at 7:30 PM on March 24, 2007


Take away religion and you are left with the Communist countries and we all know how that worked out

Like Japan perhaps? Sure, there is Buddhism and Shintoism, but they are little more than rituals.
posted by Meridian at 7:32 PM on March 24, 2007


This MSNBC Newsweek page has an image capture from Google Earth, with the relevant bits highlighted, from last May.
posted by blacklite at 7:32 PM on March 24, 2007


Meridian? Ummm... oh, nevermind.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:34 PM on March 24, 2007


Thank you for those enlightening opening remarks, professor. I'm sure you'll all join me here in the blue in welcoming Metafilter University's ParisParamus Memorial Chair in Middle Eastern Studies.

And gompa goes for the sarcastic ad hominem response rather than address the issue. Because that's easier than looking into the face of truth, right?
posted by Meridian at 7:36 PM on March 24, 2007


(You're not celebrating the anniversary of your joining MeFi a coupla days early, are you, Meridian?)
posted by Dizzy at 7:38 PM on March 24, 2007


BTW, Turkey is really not all that close to actually being admitted into the EU. They just really really REALLY want to be. That doesn't mean it's at all close to approval.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:39 PM on March 24, 2007


(You're not celebrating the anniversary of your joining MeFi a coupla days early, are you, Meridian?)

Ah, I joined on April 1st, 3 years ago!
posted by Meridian at 7:40 PM on March 24, 2007


Face of truth. Is that like Goatse? or the UCB Bucket of Truth?
posted by Balisong at 7:41 PM on March 24, 2007


sexymofo beat me to it: I've heard that they are ahead of schedule on the helipad.

I was going to point out that it's good that we're building such a big embassy, because we're going to be needing one HELL of a big helipad on that roof.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:41 PM on March 24, 2007


Because that's easier than looking into the face of truth, right?

The face of truth? Wow, we're getting all grandiose n'shit around here...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:42 PM on March 24, 2007


Because that's easier than looking into the face of truth, right?

Lo, I am chastened. Your wisdom, it burns with the light of a thousand suns, and I am afeared that my retinas will be seared permanently with the scars of Truth if I look directly at it. My sarcasm is a mirror, whence to gaze, eclipse-like, upon the awesomeness of your Knowledge. Forgive me, I am but mortal.
posted by gompa at 7:43 PM on March 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


Meridian, I'm not even going to start any back and forth with you on the things you've said. The input I will give is that generally anyone who declares themselves to be "the face of truth" is someone who is too closed minded to acknowledge that, in reality, truth has many, many sides to it.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:44 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes.
April Fool's Day.


Kinda implying your trolling is a goof and not truly indicative of such an inflexible and irritatingly racist orthodoxy.
posted by Dizzy at 7:45 PM on March 24, 2007


Meridian, say what you will about Islam but you seriously do a better job at hijacking than all the world's jihadis combined.
posted by Avenger at 7:46 PM on March 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Diz... what's up with the doubleposting today?
posted by miss lynnster at 7:46 PM on March 24, 2007


we're going to be needing one HELL of a big helipad on that roof.

True. The lines last time were unacceptable.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:48 PM on March 24, 2007


Did Metafilter get mentioned in the monthly ayn rand newsletter or something? Did digg turn blue? Seriously, wtf?
posted by stet at 7:49 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]



I'm struggling to compose a response to this quote other than "WTF?!?!?!?!?????"

Ah, I see how you could have that response. I meant in cases of extremism, or other things that are not desirable or harmful to culture (although that become relative). I perhaps said it poorly, but it was meant to express that deleting religion from humanity doesn't mean that extremism or pathology disappears. The communist countries are/were a great example of that. I am not an atheist, but find organized religion to be lacking in the same way as materialism. The ideologies are not the problem, the way humans act is the problem.

There are over a billion Muslims in the world but I have seen the number of extremists listed at 20-30 thousand. It's not extremist inherently, it all depends on how cultures adhere to it. Sweden is technically a Christian country as is Britain, all the while they have some of the highest rates of confessed atheism in the West.




Like Japan perhaps? Sure, there is Buddhism and Shintoism, but they are little more than rituals.

Well the same can be said of many countries these days. Nietzsche started making this argument over a century ago. The fundamentalists of today are only the common believers of yesteryear. It all depends on how we define religious. To an arch-conservative, the rest of society will always be lacking in the proper amount of observance, and to a liberal society might seem to be trailing behind
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 7:49 PM on March 24, 2007


Methinks I've got a sticky "return" button.
Or maybe I've got a cancerous belief system that should be eliminated.
I get them confused.
posted by Dizzy at 7:52 PM on March 24, 2007


miss lynnster in reality, truth has many, many sides to it.

Relative truth has many sides.

And generally those who declare others "closed minded" are generally arguing within the constraints of dogma against someone with whom they do not agree and cannot accept the opinons outside of their personal belief system.
posted by Meridian at 7:53 PM on March 24, 2007


A string of bad events had given Othman the sense that time was running out for him in Iraq. In November, members of the Mahdi Army—the Shia militia commanded by the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr—rounded up Othman’s older brother and several other Sunnis who worked in a shop in a mixed neighborhood. The Sunnis were taken to a local Shia mosque and shot. Othman’s brother was only grazed in the head, but a Shiite soldier noticed that he was still alive and shot him in the eye. Somehow, he survived this, too. Othman found his brother and took him to a hospital for surgery. The hospital—like the entire Iraqi health system—was under the Mahdi Army’s control, and Othman decided that his brother would be safer at their parents’ house.

Wow.
posted by delmoi at 7:54 PM on March 24, 2007


Yeah... it's a good thing that we live in a country where we don't cling to things that have become little more than silly rituals.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:55 PM on March 24, 2007


The U.S. built a huge, oversized embassy in another country in the region a few years ago. Here's how that ended up.
posted by gimonca at 8:01 PM on March 24, 2007


K, Meridian, I'll bite.

Consider addressing a criticism such as "stop increasing the division between rich and poor, respect individuals' rights to choose so long as those choices do not harm you, and own up to your environmental footprint with minor sacrifice in the present rather than resource-driven cataclysm in the near future," to all of America.

"America" can't possibly respond because we're not all equally responsible for each of those issues, we aren't all empowered (actually or metaphorically) to affect change in those areas, and ultimately we're left with whatever local action we can do to make a tiny dent in one, maybe two of those goals.

Now, consider that criticism coming from someone who is directly responsible for leveling every major element of infrastructure in the country. Even if it's valid, it's rhetorically hopeless.

Your criticism, as a matter of interest, is also not valid. Does it stand to reason that every member, or even a majority of the Iraqi people is sitting on his or her "lazy ass?" Aside from your rhetoric, aside from however that may make you or your audience feel, does that stand to reason? This is not a country which has been coddled into easy living. This is not a country which has lost all sense of responsibility for its own destiny. This is a country which has been invaded, had a military caste system imposed on it forcibly by folks who refer to themselves as liberators, and they still try to go to work in the morning.

Do I agree in part with your evaluation of the toxicity of religion? Sure. It's toxic when it expressly fosters intolerance. Intolerance such as, say, demanding that belief other than yours is toxic and therefore must be eliminated. Since the notion of eliminating a system of belief is laughable (no matter how "primitive") you must mean eliminating the believers.

First, of course, that's abhorrent. Second, it's ineffective in rebuilding Iraq.
posted by abulafa at 8:04 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, sometimes people who call others closed minded are doing so because they have observed the person in question begin and carry on a conversation where every phrase uttered is one that is obsessed with the speaker being more correct than everyone else. Generally in an open-minded conversation, the speaker invites a calm back-and-forth dialogue with others, listens, and while they might disagree they allow others to share opinions that don't align with theirs without immediately turning to use obnoxious, sarcastic names.

You began your posting in this thread with cursing and calling all Islamic people fucking asses. I have read your words then and since, and I have listened. The way you express yourself has presented me with an image of you.

I stand by my assertion.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:07 PM on March 24, 2007


Amazing how IraqFilter can so quickly change to ReligionFilter. I just wish it would change to WeGotTheHellOutOfThatMonkeyTrapAsSoonAsWePossiblyCouldFilter.
posted by dw at 8:07 PM on March 24, 2007


. . . and even more exciting, Prof. Meridian has also generously agreed to serve as Visiting Lecturer in Comparative Religion.

I'm impressed so far. He'll make Associate Professor in record time -- with tenure!
posted by dw at 8:08 PM on March 24, 2007


Err, I just realized my last comment was meant for the other Iraq thread.

Anyway.

There is no plausable argument against the fact that Islam is a cancerous belief system that should be eliminated. This applies to all religions of course, but Islam is a particularly bad example.-- Meridian

No plausible argument, huh. Islam may have issues, but someone who believes gigascale genocide is reasonable course of action isn't really worth trying convince.

I don't think [meridian] are troll. Troll has become nothing more than a way to label someone with whom one disagrees, but has no rebuttal. We disagree, hopefully there is a synthesis between our worldviews/opinions -- Gnostic Novelist

That's the kind of thing someone who keeps getting called a troll might think.

Islam is where Christianity was a couple of centuries ago. Part of the reason why some cultures haven't modernized is because of the involvement of the West. It is important to note than there is no single Islamic culture. Turkey is close to being admitted into the E.U. Iran is hated for being Shia. Saudi Arabia is one of America's closet allies and then there is the Non-Middle Eastern Muslim world (Indonesia, Pakistan,etc). -- Gnostic Novelist

Thank you for the third-grader book report. Wonderful that this thread has become symposium discussion between two pontificating retards.

And generally those who declare others "closed minded" are generally arguing within the constraints of dogma against someone with whom they do not agree and cannot accept the opinons outside of their personal belief system. -- Meridian

Maybe you should take couple more bong hits, bro.
posted by delmoi at 8:13 PM on March 24, 2007


Since the notion of eliminating a system of belief is laughable (no matter how "primitive") you must mean eliminating the believers.

No. But education, elimination of poverty and freedom from oppression, whether religious or political, would certainly help.
posted by Meridian at 8:14 PM on March 24, 2007


Ah dw, we're just digging in our heels.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:16 PM on March 24, 2007


Seems alright, but I prefer the original.

(Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!)
posted by washburn at 8:17 PM on March 24, 2007


You know who else wanted to wipe out an entire religion... Hitler.

Yeah I took it there. Might as well Godwin this thread.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 8:21 PM on March 24, 2007


You want the benefits of a modern civilization?

they had that at one time

You wan't the Americans and the international community to create it all for you?

no, they want us OUT of there


Well, stop killing contractors. Stop fighting each other and the Americans.

they don't want to ... even when confronted with thousands of foreign soldiers ...

Stand up to the religious leaders who encourage the hatred and violence.

we're participating in the hatred and violence, too ... against the will of what is now a majority of our people

The primitive Islamic morality is the core problem, and will ensure Iraq never becomes anything more than a desert cesspit.

then what the hell gives you the idea that we're going to fix it?

you're just admitted it was hopeless ... why are we fighting a hopeless war?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:24 PM on March 24, 2007


dw, I've noticed the same thing too -- even on an international scale.

I think the ReligionFilter thing is largely a smokescreen, when its used here on the blue or in real life. Focusing on religion (OMG ISLAM IS TEH TERRIST RELGION!!! TEY MAKE THERE WIMMINS WER BURKAZ! WE R SO MUCH BETAR!!!!) keeps people from thinking about very real problems and their very real solutions, like lack of potable water and medical care for Iraqi civilians and what can be done about it.

This thread is a good example of something that happens on a grand political scale, if you think about it.
posted by Avenger at 8:29 PM on March 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Google Earth KMZ file with the new embassy construction area (at least according to what Newsweek says it is)
posted by blacklite at 8:30 PM on March 24, 2007


Yeah I took it there. Might as well Godwin this thread.

No one gets rid of religion like religious people (See Christianity pwning paganism, hardcore)
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:31 PM on March 24, 2007


Islam may have issues, but someone who believes gigascale genocide is reasonable course of action isn't really worth trying convince.

Gigascale genocide? To be fair, that was never suggested, and any such implication was not intended and seems like an overreaction.

Back on topic. You know, sometimes crap happens that's beyond your control. The Iraqi people had their infrastructure bombed out from under them. Their world is in upheaval. But subsequent actions attributable to ethnic and religious factors have made things considerably worse. If that is the will of the people, then so be it. But don't then complain that you are also entitled to the benefits of a more progressive society if your entire system is built around a 7th century moral framework, and cannot move beyond that.
posted by Meridian at 8:32 PM on March 24, 2007


Please just ignore Meridian. He knows he's being provocative. It's intentional. Anyone who seriously wants to engage with a community while asserting an extreme minority opinion does so tactfully. Those who act as Meridian is acting are not wanting productive discourse, they are looking to validate their sense of self-righteousness via alienation. I'm not saying anything we all don't already know, but it bears repeating. A clue to the bad-faith of Meridian's comments: A critique of Islam has almost nothing to do with this post.

And as to the subject of this post? Unfuckingbelievable. It really does say everything there is to know about this travesty of a war and the mindset of those who created it. There's no single better tangible example of American imperialism.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:33 PM on March 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


The problem is, Meridian, you are talking about educating people to become more like your culture, which is not necessarily what would work with the needs of a very different (and much older) culture.

I really want to ask you a few questions out of curiosity because I'm trying to hear out where your attitude is coming from. It makes me wonder, have you ever stepped foot in any part of the Middle East? Or spent any quality time in a country that was unlike yours? Do you believe that all islamics are fundamentalists? What about fundamentalist Christians, are they different? I just found myself wondering where you have gathered your strong conclusions from. Reading? Watching cable? Experience? School? Other people? Or nowhere? Simply curious.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:35 PM on March 24, 2007


Back on topic.

you're not on topic ... why should our troops stay in a "desert cesspit"?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 PM on March 24, 2007


Ooof. I had to post that right after it was said to stop feeding him. But I really am curious how people come about their attitudes sometimes.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:37 PM on March 24, 2007


To educate you probably need some basic needs met: sewage, power, safe transit. To educate on the scale you're suggesting would suggest basic infrastructure needs must be met first.

The suck about education is that it merely provides the possibilty of rigorous process and sound conclusions, it has no magical power to enforce those. A person with a family decimated by the primary and secondary effects of an invasion is especially hard to draw into discourse when a tribal loyalty may be the only thing feeding his or her family. I don't think the religious aspects are important to J. Q. Iraqi at all, but ethnic loyalty makes sense when right behavior is demonstrably irrelevant to your personal survival.

(On preview, what Avenger said.)

Oh wait. Meridian. Seriously. Iraq was a largely secular society, even under Saddam Hussein. Rule of law was not consistent, but was hardly"a 7th century moral framework." Why are you obsessing on the red herring of religion here when the primary cause is not "bad stuff happens" but rather "the US and its allies did bad stuff to these people." For someone so obsessed with the culpability of religions and entire populations you seem pretty comfortable glossing over a willful action which is the immediate cause of Iraqi suffering.

Unless you're suggesting that we wouldn't have had to invade them if they weren't so religiously and morally primitive?
posted by abulafa at 8:38 PM on March 24, 2007


NeoColony
posted by taosbat at 8:38 PM on March 24, 2007


Meridian is proof that sometimes ad hominem attacks are exactly what is required. When the level of debate the offender is offering is at such a low level, there is no real chance at a successful reconciliation so you might as well hurl the insults.

Meridian = Total tard.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 PM on March 24, 2007


Focusing on religion (OMG ISLAM ...) keeps people from thinking about very real problems and their very real solutions

Religion and ethnic rivalry *are* very real problems, and you will get nowhere pretending they are not.

For someone so obsessed with the culpability of religions and entire populations you seem pretty comfortable glossing over a willful action which is the immediate cause of Iraqi suffering.

I'm not excusing the Americans. The stupidity of the thier actions is well known and not worth defending.

It makes me wonder, have you ever stepped foot in any part of the Middle East? Or spent any quality time in a country that was unlike yours?

I have, and in fact have lived for several years outside of my home country.

What about fundamentalist Christians, are they different?

No different in their denial of reality.
posted by Meridian at 8:48 PM on March 24, 2007


Sorry, but 99.9999% of arguments that go something like "we just need to get rid of X belief system or cultural principle then things will be better" are absurd and indicate that the person offering them has little capability for self-examination.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 PM on March 24, 2007


Meridian: and no, you're not in that fraction of a percentage point tonight, sir.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 PM on March 24, 2007


And, gnaw on this one, Meridian: Much of the rest of the world thinks the exact same thing about your responsibility for eight years of George W. Bush.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 8:57 PM on March 24, 2007


strangeleftydoublethink , I'm not American.
posted by Meridian at 8:58 PM on March 24, 2007


I think the troll has had a good meal and should be allowed to go sleep it off under the old bridge now.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 PM on March 24, 2007


Okay people, we've got to educate the Iraqis in the finer points of secular democracy so we can then supply them with the tools needed for basic living.

Burhanistan, you distribute these 8 million copies of The Collected Works of Bertrand Russell. What do you mean they can't speak English? Christ, these fucking Moozlims are the worst! Well we'll open up a community college or something. English only.

delmoi, I want you and pyramid termite to start printing out these pamphlets by Locke and Hume, ASAP. Whats that? They're using the pamphlets as kindling to boil polluted water? See, this is why you just can't reach Moozlims, you try to teach them how to be civilized and humane and they just go all crazy on you.

Shit, we're gonna educate the fuck out of these savages.
posted by Avenger at 9:04 PM on March 24, 2007


Hi Meridian, since you have as yet offered no evidence for your startling ahistorical claims and bald statements, am I expected to take them on, err, faith?
On topic, I was wondering what staffing like at the current largest US embassy. It says here it's the one here in Beijing. They're building a new one, which will have desks for 667 it appears. So the one in Baghdad will have, what, at least twice the US staff (that's assuming most of the 8,000 mentioned in the articles are support workers) as the embassy to the most populous nation in the world/emerging superpower/Pacific rival. Hmm.
posted by Abiezer at 9:05 PM on March 24, 2007


"will have its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewater-treatment facility"

How nice. Meanwhile, the Iraqis themselves are forced to drink and cook with water that contains shit.
posted by homunculus at 9:07 PM on March 24, 2007


Well, I'm glad to know that my money is going here instead of helping me get Social Security when I get older!
posted by oaf at 9:08 PM on March 24, 2007


I am curious where in the middle east you were, Meridian. And for how long? Did you have any involvement with the native culture in that country while you were there? Or was it one of those five star expat hotel kind of experiences? Since your opinions are strong on the subject, have you any first hand experience with Islamic law & how it works? Not the governmental law of countries, I'm speaking of the transitional Islamic social laws which have been in effect in the Middle East for thousands of years and vary from region to region.

What I learned from my time there is that without any comprehension or respect of the social laws in those regional cultures, there can be little true understanding of the the heart of the region itself or the people in it. And that is a large part of how/why we have fucked it up so badly.

See, I'm actually trying to have a respectful discourse with you and to understand you. This level of conversation can be far more interesting than the condescending cursing tirades you started off with.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:08 PM on March 24, 2007


i vote this most depressing conversation ever:

the US government is building gigantic military bases in a foreign country along with an embassy which doubles as some kind of super-survivalist fortress?

Who decided this was a good idea? What is the idea anyway?
Whose money is being spent?

Who thinks the US is really going to withdraw?

Whose fucking country is this anyway?

oh wait, Islam Sucks! No, it doesn't.

Rome meet your fiddlers, your fucking chamber orchestra. Burn Burn Burn.

Goodnight.
posted by geos at 9:10 PM on March 24, 2007


It is huge. What do they possible need all that space for? What a waste of money!
posted by Flood at 9:13 PM on March 24, 2007


Much of the rest of the world thinks the exact same thing about your responsibility for eight years of George W. Bush.

That doesn't say very much about the intelligence of the rest of the world.

It's a shame that we haven't been able to secure Iraq enough so that they can rebuild their infrastructure and simultaneously get rid of all the foreigners who have decided to come in and blow things up.
posted by oaf at 9:14 PM on March 24, 2007


What should I bring to the housewarming party?
posted by papakwanz at 9:17 PM on March 24, 2007


Baked Meridian.
posted by Dizzy at 9:22 PM on March 24, 2007


Looks like he doesn't want to answer my questions.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:42 PM on March 24, 2007


What should I bring to the housewarming party?

IEDs! There'll be swingin' swayin' and records playin', and
dancin' in the streets!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:48 PM on March 24, 2007


You want the benefits of a modern civilization?
These people invented civilization.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:48 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey miss lynnster, not to get all pedantic on you or anything, but considering that the founder of Islam was born in 570 AD it's not really been thousands of years (well, I guess 1 and a half could be plural) of Islamic social law. Not that I'm disagreeing with you or anything, just saying that it helps to be a little more precise when making assertions. It adds credibility to your argument. Now, if you're talking about Arab or Persian history, then that's another matter...
posted by Eekacat at 9:57 PM on March 24, 2007


500+ frickin' billion dollars.

And counting.

Remember that the next time they tell us we don't have money for universal health care, public schools or Social Security.

It's all about priorities.
posted by darkstar at 10:01 PM on March 24, 2007


I think the troll has had a good meal and should be allowed to go sleep it off under the old bridge now.

Would this be the old bridge conveniently rigged with an IED?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:29 PM on March 24, 2007


These people invented civilization.

Other people, who lived there before the current occupants, invented civilization.

Remember that the next time they tell us we don't have money for universal health care, public schools or Social Security.

The Republicans have this down to a science. Eventually, someone will have to raise taxes (or cut spending to necessary programs) to pay for all of this spurious bullshit, and it will likely be when Democrats control both Congress and the White House, since President Bush is extremely likely to veto anything that would, you know, raise money to pay for this stupid war.

Once that happens, the Republicans will lambaste the Democrats for raising the tax burden of average, hard-working Americans (when they'd most likely be raising taxes on the wealthy, including the frequently-maligned estate tax). Since the electorate has the collective memory of Clive Wearing (no insult intended to Mr. Wearing), and a good portion of it won't have watched anything but Fox News in the interim, so the Republicans will eventually return to power, promising to "fix" the problem they caused to begin with.
posted by oaf at 10:39 PM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Eekacat, actually I was wondering whether or not he has been to any area in the Middle East on a whole, not just Iraq. Because he said he had been, and I think if he has any experiential understanding of any part of the Middle East that he could share, possibly it would help me to consider/understand his strong opinions. I have not been to Iraq myself, but I've been to Egypt, Lebanon & Turkey & I have close friends from Damascus & Iran. I learned a lot of things from those influences which completely changed my thought processes on some things.

But as for Iraq, BC it was Babylon (& under Assyrian rule prior to that) so there are thousands of years of history there, right? Obviously not the same exact culture as it is now, but neither is any other country.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:42 PM on March 24, 2007


It's a shame that we haven't been able to secure Iraq enough so that they can rebuild their infrastructure and simultaneously get rid of all the foreigners who have decided to come in and blow things up.

The Iraqi resistance/insurgency is overwhelmingly Iraqi, and its attacks against coalition troops and bases have general popular support. Or are you talking the American/British/Australian foreigners who decided to come in and blow things up?
posted by stammer at 10:42 PM on March 24, 2007


Speaking of Babylon... this stuff just makes me physically ill.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:45 PM on March 24, 2007


Oh, and this whole playing three-card Monte with the taxpayers' money reminds me of what Stephen Harper's government is currently doing—taking money that ought to be helping the TTC not fall apart and using it to buy votes in Quebec.
posted by oaf at 10:45 PM on March 24, 2007


To hell with all of you hand-wringers.

Let's just start calling Iraq "New Texas", induct it into the freaking union as the 51st state and call it a f&%*ing day, shall we?

Now, back to your irregularly intended if not quite scheduled narrowcasting...

(no liabilities accepted for lack of snark detection)

Remember the Alamo!

sr
--
sd
posted by objet at 12:08 AM on March 25, 2007


Thank you for the third-grader book report. Wonderful that this thread has become symposium discussion between two pontificating retards.

Long live delmoi
posted by pwedza at 12:15 AM on March 25, 2007


"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

posted by Pinback at 12:35 AM on March 25, 2007


The poem deals with a number of major themes, such as the arrogance and transience of power,

Oddly enough, I've never met an ideologue/political junkie who can admit it. Long live the POETS!
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 12:37 AM on March 25, 2007


It's not so much Islam, as it is culture. America, a Christian nation, was once a nation of slavery amongst various other odious things.

Just to keep a good derail going, I agree, and I'll take from this remark that one shouldn't conflate a religion overmuch with the culture in which it's experienced. When I hear fundies say we're a Christian nation, I can't decide whether to snicker or weep when I think of the Sermon on the Mount vs. the way various things really are and have been in America. I'd rather have a nation with some actual Christians in it than "a Christian nation."

Take away religion and you are left with the Communist countries and we all know how that worked out.

As for that can of worms, I guess some systems have such an idealized view of their adherents (victims?) that they can never work outside of a British library reading room or certain professors' classrooms. Like the abuses of Christianity already alluded to, there's just this inescapable human greed for (mostly illusory) power and control that causes people to miss the point entirely. But Communism's a latecomer; there were lots of tasty polytheistic cultures before the whole monotheism thing kicked in and Communism advocated atheism.
posted by pax digita at 6:46 AM on March 26, 2007


Wow, I started out reading this thread thinking that I was going to learn something about this embassy compound. I was completely unaware of this and I feel like I am in touch with what's going on in the world in comparison to the average US citizen. Unfortunately the thread has become some sophmoric religious studies debate. I think it goes without saying that it will be the biggest target in the middle east and yes, that in general people in the middle east practice Islam in one form or another. I think it might be worth mentioning that the culture of Islam may not be the biggest influence on the action or inaction of people there, it may be more likely that it is the culture of dictatorship and clan loyalty that is the strongest influence.

So anyway, does anyone have anymore info on the embassy, or the contractors etc? Can anyone speak to why this is a priority there? Are there any policy papers about it? Why is this not in the news? Oh hell, what am I asking? Why isn't this, why aren't a whole host of things.

I'm tired.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 12:41 PM on March 26, 2007


Yeah, me too, Belle. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 12:43 PM on March 26, 2007


It's a 104-acre complex (about the size of the Vatican City) in the Green Zone (map of location), "within easy mortar range of anti-U.S. forces in the capital." The complex will have 21 buildings that include six apartment buildings, plus "a pool, a gym, a food court, a beauty salon, and, of course, the American Club" and "is designed to be entirely self-sufficient and won't be dependent on Iraq's unreliable public utilities." About 5,000 people will work at the embassy.

US mum on huge embassy in Baghdad:
First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting, a subcontractor of Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown and Root, was granted the $592 million construction contract. By December it had been paid about $483 million.

The company is a relative novice in embassy building and has been criticized for its treatment of Asian workers, who, critics say, are imported because they can be paid low wages, and because they work under hard conditions. About 900 laborers live on site as they build the complex, according to a report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has congressional oversight responsibility for the project.
This more recent article puts the cost at $1 billion.

New embassy in Iraq a mystery
Giant U.S. embassy rising in Baghdad
Bush's Baghdad Palace
Baghdad Embassy Bonanza: Kuwait Company's Secret Contract & Low-Wage Labor
posted by kirkaracha at 2:12 PM on March 26, 2007


“a State Department official helped round them up and put them in “virtual lockdown,” “

How’d they get those VR helmets on them?

“the US government is building gigantic military bases in a foreign country along with an embassy which doubles as some kind of super-survivalist fortress?”

Yep. Been doing that for years.
(More and more Bushco is looking like Mr. President’s government from ‘Death Race 2000’: “I have made the United Provinces of America the greatest power in the known universe.”)

“Other people, who lived there before the current occupants, invented civilization.”

(I thought Sid Meier invented Civilization)


“Who decided this was a good idea? What is the idea anyway?
Whose money is being spent?”

The big idea is - spend lotsa money on arms, war, etc. rule by threat (nearby military base) to get economic policies put through. It works pretty good to a point. Where it fails is that it’s not self-sustaining. You see, we keep financing war through subsidy. It’s why Bushco can cut taxes and yet raise money for war. You couldn’t do that with another kind of program spending. You couldn’t, say, cut taxes and then go spend more money on education. You can pull it off for war tho because the defense industry/U.S. dept. of defense is leveraged to the gills. It’s not a problem ‘cos war is peace. It creates that 1984ish kind of economic stability. Of course, if not everyone is playing ball, the system will crash. The only way to keep the system from crashing is to create internal and external dictatorships to keep those controls in place (why d’ya think we keep propping up dictators in other countries?).
And of course we can withdraw. That’s not a problem as long as we have a base there. U know how hard it is to attack a U.S. base? The problem is the U.S. can land all sorts of ordinance and men on a base P.D.Q. So you have to take a base really fast in order to keep reinforcements away and maintain the intitiative. To do that you have to mobilize a LOT of people and material. Do that and our surveillance will tip us off and we’re back to square one -oodles of reinforcements landing on your turf before you can really hit the base.
So you might as well draw them out, off the base, and make them fight you on your turf and hit and run and run and run....and if you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in Iraq, you’ve just gone “aha!”

“I think it goes without saying that it will be the biggest target in the middle east”

By design - our angle is to support whomever the local government is from our base so we don’t get drawn out. Nice big obvious target. Meanwhile we force them to fight each other - and because there’s instability we justify our presence there. On the base. Nifty circle there, eh?
Anyone read what the F.B.I was doing with the Black Panthers in L.A.? Bloods, Crips, alla that? If gang violence stopped, LEA’d be out some serious funds. Same sorta vested interests in provocation and instability here.
It has to look like it’s failing, but getting better - all the time. That’s when it’s most successful. Bovine Scatology 101.
People bitch at me when I say we’ve won the “Iraq War” (note the quotations). We did. It’s about exactly where we’d want it to be right now given the objectives of maintaining a funding stream to the military industrial complex (defense industries. contractors, weapons makers, all those folks).
Hell, yeah, look who’s building this thing. That’s jobs there, that is.
Similarly - young black men, unskilled workers, are put out of the workforce and they become gang members and sell drugs. Everyone makes money off that.
This is not to say I favor such things. Nor indeed to overlook the gigantic social ills created. Indeed, I find the downsides so obvious in nature they don’t require comment. Merely the - also obvious - qualifier that this system is unsustainable.
But this is what’s going on. And the losers don’t get much play because they don’t get media coverage. And even when they do, not too many people care. So really, why the hell should the media run with those stories? The small group of people who do care raise hell for the media, kick their ass all over town - so why bust your chops when the choices are keep pushing a story no one cares about (although it’s true and affects those people) and get your ass kicked or just report whatever’s easy and don’t make waves - (and only a few people paying attention grumble). Think that’s not by design?

As long as it’s the “primative” screwups in some other country taking the hits (or the black gangbangers), and we get jobs or a bit extra money, or whatever, why should I care?
(Again - obviously a short term and indeed myopic POV - but that’s the gist)
And if we can convince some idealistic young kids to go off and do the violence for us, so much the better. It gives the idealistic young kids who won’t or don’t believe in fighting someone to hate other than us. Other idealists are dichotomized in other ways (Dems/Republicans - et.al - with similar song and dance and some profit making on the contentiousness...or hadn’t you noticed the radio and t.v. shows?)
On all those terms the “Iraq War” is being won.
The real question, the question almost no one ever asks is, if it’s being won - who’s winning?

And again, if you’ve been following all this....aha! S’pretty obvious really.
And obvious who’s losing. ‘Cause a LOT of us are losing.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2007


Pinback: Yeah. I get “Ancestral voices prophesying war” as well.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
...
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:25 PM on March 26, 2007


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