Any illusion about our true intentions in Iraq are being erased by the mother of all embassies being erected.
According to a report in the administration-friendly Washington Times, the new embassy compound dwarfs other such embassies around the world and will be quite pricey. The Times reports, "Original cost estimates were more than $1 billion, but Congress appropriated only $592 million in the emergency Iraq budget adopted last year. Most has gone to a Kuwaiti builder, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting, with the rest awarded to six contractors working on the project's "classified" portion -- the embassy offices.
One would assume that future money will be funneled into this center, which is described as follows, "The embassy complex -- 21 buildings on 104 acres, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report -- is taking shape on riverside parkland in the fortified Green Zone just east of al-Samoud, a former palace of Saddam Hussein's, and across the road from the building where the ex-dictator is now on trial."
Additionally, it's got, "its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewaster-treatment facility, 'systems to allow 100 percent independence from city utilities,' said the report, the most authoritative open source on the embassy plans.
"Besides two major diplomatic office buildings, homes for the ambassador and his deputy, and the apartment buildings for staff, the compound will offer a swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club, all housed in a recreation building."
As for safety, consider this, the complex is,"within easy mortar range of anti-U.S. forces in the capital, though fewer explode there these days."
So, still think we're not gearing up to establish a permanent presence and base in that country?
Let's put it in perspective. This is how the article begins, "The fortresslike compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the world's largest of its kind, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq's turbulent future."
Just the sort of message we want to send to the Iraqis....we're not going away. And, if your infrastructure seems to be chaotic, ours will be independent and function without a hitch.
Yeah, that should encourage Iraqis to get their act together.