Okay, guess what the image above represents? A redesign of Manhattan southeast of Houston Street? A sprawling Southern California college campus? No, it’s an architectural plan for the new half-billion dollar U.S. embassy in Baghdad. This is how the architects’ blurb describes it:
[THIS POST BECAME A LITTLE POINTLESS SINCE THE ARCHITECTS TOOK DOWN THE IMAGES OF THE EMBASSY PLAN FROM THEIR WEB SITE!]
This self-contained compound will include the embassy itself, residences for the ambassador and staff, PX, commissary, cinema, retail and shopping, restaurants, schools, fire station and supporting facilities such as power generation, water purification system, telecommunications, and waste water treatment facilities. In total, the 104 acre compound will include over twenty buildings including one classified secure structure and housing for over 380 families.
Tom Engelhardt, in an a smart and hilarious appraisal of the project, notes the ironies in the architectural comparison to Saddam Hussein’s grotesque palace compounds and gargantuan monuments. (Tom also provided the link to the architect’s site from which the above image was drawn — go check it out for more.) And he offers detailed advice to those planning to staff the place. Most importantly, though, he sees it as reflecting an imperial vision already hopelessly doomed.
In Baghdad, Saddam’s giant hands are already on the road to ruin. Still going up in New York and Baghdad are two half-billion dollar-plus monuments to the Bush imperial moment. A 9/11 memorial so grotesquely expensive that, when completed, it will be a reminder only of a time, already long past, when we could imagine ourselves as the Greatest Victims on the planet; and in Baghdad’s Green Zone, a monument to the Bush administration’s conviction that we were also destined to be the Greatest Dominators this world, and history, had ever seen.
From both these monuments, someday — and in the case of the embassy in Baghdad that day may not be so very distant — those lone and level sands will undoubtedly stretch far, far away.
Read the whole thing here.