It would be too easy to say the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is a metaphor for the arrested development of our highly anticipated new “strategic partnership” with Iraq, but in many ways it is the most poignant symbol we have. Not only is it a symbol of the hubris with which Americans designed this 104-acre complex in the heart of the Iraqi capital—smack among Saddam Hussein’s old palaces in one of Baghdad’s busiest business districts—but it also stands for America’s once sweeping vision of rebuilding Iraq in its own image, big and bold and reliably accommodating to Washington’s interests....“The whole thing was designed around a fantasy,” says Peter Van Buren, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer who last year published We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. Van Buren, who has been suspended from his job since posting a link on his personal blog to classified State Department material released by WikiLeaks, spent 2009 in Iraq on a Provisional Reconstruction Team (PRT) and is now a full-time critic of U.S. efforts there. “Designed in 2003 as a symbol of America the Conqueror, the Baghdad embassy included buildings for an international school that never opened. A lawn was planted to beautify the embassy, outdoor water-misters installed to cool the air. Even the stark reality of the desert was not allowed to interfere with our plans,” Van Buren told TAC.
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The American Conservative