The State Department during the Bush years boasted of its mammoth size as a tribute to the bond between a bright new Iraqi future and the Americans who saved it from monstrous excesses of the late Saddam Hussein. It would rank as the largest embassy in the world much as a university would boast of the biggest football stadium that would seat a mid-city population.
Indeed, we were told it covered more acreage (104) than 80 football fields to accommodate 16,000 employes at a modest cost of, oh...$6 billion a year. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker described the weighty investment as a "new era" in U.S.-Iraqi relations. That came years after uber- hawk Richard Perle declared upon the invasion that within six months, there would be a big plaza in downtown Baghdad named for George W. Bush.
But like so many of the airy feel-good prospects of Iraqi rebirth, the hometown regime had something less sanguine to say about it, even to the point of delaying shipments of supplies to the colony. (Fortunately, it has yet to poison the wells.) For security reasons, the embassy staffers were confined to their designated walled zones.
What to do for damage control? The U.S. State Department says it will cut America's presence in half, with many of outcasts having served as contractors. Is it necessary to report that there is no plaza named for Dubya, and that the length of the conflict far exceeded Richard Cheney's prediction that it would end in a few weeks or a couple of months?