A monument to failure

In September, the world's largest, most expensive and most heavily fortified embassy will open. It is ours and it is in Baghdad.

The embassy compound occupies 104 acres of primo real estate along the Tigris River in downtown Baghdad. If the embassy were in Washington, it would take up most of the National Mall.

For security reasons, the embassy will be out of sight and off-limits to most Iraqis, just as Baghdad outside the blast walls is out of sight and off-limits to the people at the embassy.

Instead, they will live in their own self-contained world with its own power, water and wastewater-treatment plants, amenities we have so far been unable to operate elsewhere in Baghdad on any regular basis.

The embassy will cost $592 million, although Congress is mulling a $50 million request for additional housing. The compound will contain 21 buildings, in addition to the embassy itself, residences for the ambassador and deputy, housing for 380 families, a PX, commissary, theater, schools, restaurants and a firehouse.

The Associated Press notes: "The embassy is one of the few major projects the administration has undertaken in Iraq that is on schedule and within budget." Apparently the concept of modesty and restraint never entered into it's planning, and if the war continues in its current direction, it will stand as a monument to American hubris and overreaching under the Bush administration.