The Shining City on the Hill… 29 October 2007Posted by marisacat in Culture of Death, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, WAR!.
A dynamic is in play, a process paradox, in which the means rise to dominance as the ends recede from view. The United States has worldwide interests, and needs the tools to pursue them, but in a wild and wired 21st century the static diplomatic embassy, a product of the distant past, is no longer of much use. To the government this does not seem to matter. Inman’s new bureaucracy, the Diplomatic Security section, has blossomed into an enormous enterprise, employing more than 34,000 people worldwide and engaging thousands of private contractors—all of whom also require security. Its senior representatives sit at hundreds of diplomatic facilities, identifying real security risks and imposing new restrictions which few ambassadors would dare to overrule.
Safety comes first, and it is increasingly difficult to achieve. In Baghdad the mortar fire is growing more accurate and intense. After 30 mortar shells hit the Green Zone one afternoon last July, an American diplomat reported that his colleagues were growing angry about being “recklessly exposed to danger”—as if the war should have come with warning labels.
At least the swimming pool has been placed off limits. Embassy staff are required to wear flak jackets and helmets when walking between buildings, or when occupying those that have not been fortified. [so... we are to assume no debauchery in the pool house? -- Mcat]
The ambassador, Ryan Crocker, is distributing a range of new protective gear, and is scattering the landscape with 151 concrete “duck and cover” shelters. Not to be outdone, a Senate report has recommended the installation of a teleconferencing system to “improve interaction” with Iraqis who may be in buildings only a few hundred yards away. So, O.K., the new embassy is not perfect yet, but by State Department standards it’s getting there.
What on earth is going on? We have built a fortified America in the middle of a hostile city, peopled it with a thousand officials from every agency of government, and provided them with a budget to hire thousands of contractors to take up the slack. Half of this collective is involved in self-defense. The other half is so isolated from Iraq that, when it is not dispensing funds into the Iraqi ether, it is engaged in nothing more productive than sustaining itself. The isolation is necessary for safety, but again, the process paradox is at play—and not just in Iraq. Faced with the failure of an obsolete idea—the necessity of traditional embassies and all the elaboration they entail—we have not stood back to remember their purpose, but have plunged ahead with closely focused concentration to build them bigger and stronger. One day soon they may reach a state of perfection: impregnable and pointless.
All it lacks is the ramparts and a hot oil defense system, which would seem appropriate – considering the true “mission”.
… the location of the compound is well known in Baghdad anyway, where for several years it has been marked by large construction cranes and all-night work lights easily visible from the embattled neighborhoods across the river. It is reasonable to assume that insurgents will soon sit in the privacy of rooms overlooking the site, and use cell phones or radios to adjust the rocket and mortar fire of their companions. Meanwhile, however, they seem to have held off, lobbing most of their ordnance elsewhere into the Green Zone, as if reluctant to slow the completion of such an enticing target.
One thing is certain, in classic fashion those dispatched to outposts of empire will be drinking themselves to death, inside the luxe prison.
Good Luck. Don’t write…
Posted on Jun 09, 2007 @ 10:12 AM -
WASHINGTON – The high hurdles faced by congressional Democrats in their efforts to end the Iraq war make electing a Democratic president in 2008 the best way to finish the conflict, Democratic party chairman Howard Dean said Saturday.
He noted his party has made little progress toward ending the war, the cause, he said, that returned them to power.
“The American people hired Democrats last November to ensure that we end this war,” Dean said during the weekly Democratic radio address. “So let me be clear, we know that if we don’t keep our promise, we may find ourselves the minority again.
Dean put the blame for the lack of progress squarely on the White House and congressional Republicans for blocking his party’s attempt at tying war funding to deadlines for troop withdrawals.
“We have to face the reality that Republicans in Congress are standing with President Bush as he stubbornly wields his veto pen,” Dean charged. In response, he proposed that the “one way to truly ensure we end this war” was to elect a Democrat as president in 2008. [pound it into the brains of the little Democrats -- Mcat]
A former presidential candidate himself, Dean contrasted the field of Democratic and Republican candidates who participated in separate party debates earlier this week, saying only Democrats would end the war.
Democrats also seek to shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, restore damaged relationships with other countries and provide the military with “the resources they need,” Dean said.
Good luck. Don’t write… don’t phone either…