Livin' it up, American style

Friday, December 08, 2006

You thought Saddam's digs were fancy? Wait until you see our new embassy.

The Iraqi people may not have sewers or electricity, but they will soon be the proud hosts of the largest US embassy in the world. Most embassies cover about 10 acres, but this new one will be a whopping 104 acres alongside the Tigris River. We're talking a $529 million facility with 21 buildings, an apartment complex, a gym, a pool, restaurants, shops, a beauty salon, a movie theater, a food court, and of course, its own sewer, water treatment plant, and power generator. Of course we wouldn't want to rely on the Iraqi sewers or water or power plants, because frankly, they're quite unreliable, if not mostly non-existent. I for one sleep easier knowing that while the Iraqi people in Baghdad may only get 4 hours of electricity a day and very little access to clean water, the Americans in Iraq will not have to suffer at all. Really, who doesn't believe it's more important for Americans to get their hair done and watch a movie than for Iraqis to have power to run an oven, or air-conditioner, or refrigerator, or lights in a school or hospital?

We're also outfitting the embassy with 15 foot thick walls, cause we don't want to risk the chance that some Iraqi might get inside and see that while they don't get electricity at their house a few miles down the street, the Americans have so much they can run lights all through the night so construction on the embassy can take place 24/7. Well, you may think, I bet all that construction is providing lots of Iraqis with decent paying jobs. Sadly, you would be wrong. The construction company building the embassy is Kuwaiti, and the 900 on-site workers are almost all Asian. It's really too bad these 900 workers couldn't be drawn from the Iraqi population, which has an almost 50% unemployment rate. Security is usually the cited reason. I guess we are afraid any Iraqi workers would get upset and resentful to see how lavish everything at the embassy is compared to life outside the 15 foot walls. Locals are already calling it George W's Palace.

The government is remaining very quiet about the whole issue. Reporters' questions are directed to the State Department, which says it cannot comment because of security concerns. The government has not released any photos of the project, and any unofficial pictures of the complex just show a wall with about 10 large construction cranes behind it rising in the sky. So first Saddam built lavish, expensive palaces while the Iraqi people starved, and now the US is doing the same thing.


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