The future histories of empire will have to focus on the American penchant for building “secure embassies”. Take the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Pandemic Flu (pdf) [i love that list, btw]. Pakistan gets $2.3 billion (more than Iraq, Afghanistan or Flu). But towards what end, you ask? Well, it has $897 million for a new secure embassy and consulates in Pakistan plus $46 million for diplomatic operations including additional civilian staff and diplomatic security; but only $400 million for “the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund to build the counterinsurgency capabilities of the Pakistani security forces”. I mean, really? or O RLY? or Huh! or WTF! Lest you worry, the current embassy is in a happily subversive playground called “the Diplomatic Enclave” where the word “enclave” means “city within city”.
Further along in the head-smacking category are the “parameters” for performances:
1. The level of political consensus and unity of purpose to confront the political and security challenges facing the region;
2. The level of government corruption and actions taken to eliminate it;
3. The performance of security forces with respect to counterinsurgency operations;
4. The performance of intelligence agencies in cooperating fully with the U.S. and not undermining the security of our troops and our objectives in the region; and
5. The ability of the government to control the territory within their borders.
In re: 1&3, How is that even measurable? and 2 is that old developmental theory canard. At least we have wiped government corruption from U.S (less Chicago). But 5 is the best one – insofar as the word “control” leads to hysterical laughter around the world.
Here is a revolutionary idea. Put the whole $2.3 billion into building a secure U.S. embassy whose compound walls roughly parallel Pakistan’s state boundaries. And then employ everyone inside for security or diplomacy. Remember, labor is cheap.