What’s the latest on the American crusader castle nearing completion in Baghdad you ask? Well, it’s Congressional testimony on the slave-like conditions of the construction workers.
So, let me get this straight. We build a large fortress in the middle of a foreign capital we occupy, and call it an embassy. We do everything we can to ostracize the locals with this secret construction, including making sure the site very visibly has 24/7 electricity while the rest of the country doesn’t (let alone Baghdad). (Let’s not ignore Bremer’s decision that Baghdad should no longer enjoy a preference for electricity.) We import labor from elsewhere in the world, because we don’t trust the locals whom we supposedly are working to build up to be partners, from countries with strategic stability issues. The workers, who are deceived on where they will work, are mistreated and paid poor wages. And then, the construction is so shoddy, the security force can’t move in.
What a brilliant demonstration of not just short-sightedness, but also of the utter failure of our leadership to comprehend the image we construct around the world.
To work just one point, would it have really have cost so much to pay the foreign workers a good wage (relative to their home country)? This would have not only increased moral, possibly increasing work quality, but also possibly bought off their families at home who benefit from American “largess”.
Perhaps largess isn’t the right word since the embassy, the largest in the world by far, is too small.
The best quote I’ve read (sorry, but I forgot who wrote it) on the US Embassy: it’s like Fort Apache in the middle of Indian country, except this time the Indians have mortars. For more on security of the embassy, read Jason’s post.