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So, I'm home sick today. I'm seriously streptolicious. It would have taken some major gumption to get off the couch and come in and infect my fellow BOTN'ers and TOTN'ers. There are only two things that could have propelled me into work, scarlet tonsils 'n all. One is this cake that Sarah makes (and she's a pushover, so she'd probably bring it to my couch). The other is the esteemed journalist, pilot and general suave-itude that is William Langewiesche. First of all, it's not just that he's generally in the middle of the biggest stories, getting the best quotes, but his prose is like... well, it's as good as that cake Sarah makes. The man can write. So, why am I still at home if Langewiesche is going to be on TOTN today? Because he's in London. Drat. However, the piece he's talking about "The Mega-Bunker of Baghdad"** is definitely worth hearing about — especially if you're wondering what 600 million dollars will get you in an embassy nowadays (for one thing; a food court). Any questions? Post 'em here. Spelling his name correctly feels really good — even if you have strep.

*Also, vice versa.
**No link, unfortunately... you'll have to either buy it, or stand and read it at your local CVS, Barnes and Noble, or dentist's office, depending on what errands you have to run.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

What does 600 million dollars buy in Baghdad? Safe and secure American presence in Iraq for years is the simple answer. Protecting assets and interests in Iraq makes sense. Iraq is important to stability in the middle east and through out the world. The big picture is that American presence is needed and taking measures to make an impact are steps in the right direction. What I want to know is how can the middle east become more stable

Sent by jordan | 1:09 AM | 10-5-2007

Shopping, tennis courts and movie theaters will contribute greatly to relieving the civil unrest, road side bombings and daily assassinations. What I would love to see is a picture of US military playing tennis in full body amour and combat boots. I would guess the only reason they did not add a golf course is because the surrounding area is too noisy.

Sent by Gary | 10:53 PM | 10-6-2007

Regarding an earlier comment: I think Gary has missed one, rather obvious, point: this is a *diplomatic* compound, not a military compound. There will be military personnel, but it is not a military installation per se. The conversation was about the diplomatic corps, not the Marine Corps.

As for the author's comments about just "picking up a paper" to find out what's going on in (his example) Azerbaijan, is he really naive enough to believe that you can get real news from the mainstream media? Admittedly Embassy personnel will have their own bias, but the war in Iraq has demonstrated to the world just how easily the media can be persuaded to publish anything given it. Regimes often restrict journalists' activities, thus news outlets rely upon any pablum they can get. In addition, just how easy does the author think it is to "pick up the paper" and find relevant information about any particular country? Most major media organizations have slashed not only their overseas bureaus, but the amount of content allocated to such material so as to allow more space for Brittney Spears, Monica Lewinsky, and other "important" news of the day.

I am by no means defending Embassy Baghdad, let alone the current administration. I simply feel the author's comments were surprisingly uninformed.

Disclaimer: I am married to an employee in the US Foreign Service.

Sent by Neal | 7:44 PM | 10-10-2007

Fortified Embassy are not necessary. We can talk to other countries from Washington. The Embassy becomes a target especially since our government is not popular. We do not spread good will this way. The best use of the Iraq mega Embassy would be a great gift for the people in Iraq as a University site.

Sent by Mary | 5:22 PM | 2-22-2008

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