Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Poppies On Ludlow Castle

Yesterday, the US Embassy in Iraq opened.

Marines and Crocker

Through halls of vanished pleasure,
And hold of vanished power,
And crypt of faith forgotten . . .
-- Willa Cather, "Poppies On Ludlow Castle"

So the long-planned US Embassy in Bagdhad finally opened after non-stop delays and cost over-runs and the State Dept isn't sure that they'll be able to full staff the embassy. For the last two years, Condi has threatened a 'draft' to staff the embassy and always backed down when a few brave souls stepped forward. There is no indication that a change in presidency makes a difference to career diplomats. Stephanie Gaskell (New York Daily News) noted, "The sprawling complex even has its own power station, water treatment plant, gym, cinema and pool. It can fit more than 1,000 employees, who will use golf carts to get around." Again, that thousand it can fit may not be met in the immediate future. Campbell Robertson (New York Times) explained the dedication ceremony lasted for one hour during an "unseasonably warm morning". Possibly due to all the hot air expelling from those in attendance?

Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles Times) reports, "If superlatives were the order of the day, the ceremony reflected it. Invited guests filtered through extra tight security, walked down yards and yards of red carpet, and watched as white-gloved Marines raised a giant American flag up a massive flagpole that stretched higher than the buildings in the Embassy compound. There was even a gigantic sheet cake decorated like an American flag as big as the table it sat on." Oversize and overcompensating.

Raising the flag

Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reveals some wags "have likened the pink-hued complex along the Tigris River to a prison," and that the hour "was interrupted sporadically by helicopters flying above the compound, partly drowning out the speeches by Talabani, Crocker and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who'd served as the first U.S. ambassador to Iraq after the invasion."

Crocker, Talabani, Negroponte

Chelsea Carter (The Scotsman) points out the obvious, "But as Ryan Crocker, the ambassador, lauded progress made in Iraq during an inauguration ceremony at the embassy, Baghdad was rocked by a second day of violence that saw four car bombs explode in various parts of the city, killing four people and wounding 19 others." And for all the for-show photo-ops of yesterday, that remains the reality. Photos courtesy of US State Dept, paid for by US tax payers.

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mcclatchy newspapers
leila fadel
the los angeles times
kimi yoshino
the new york times
campbell robertson