Priorities, People

Posted by sepoy on May 06, 2009 · 2 mins read

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.


Yes man | May 06, 2009

embassy land is under american sovereignty. So we're giving ourselves a gift. A very expensive gift. Still though, can't have that whole Iranian thing happen again

elizabeth | May 06, 2009

Leaving aside the question of whether or not US-funded counterinsurgency training is necessarily a thing to be desired, I just want to congratulate y'all on being a threat of pig-flu magnitude (or better, as the funding totals may indicate). Does Diplomatic Enclave house all of the embassies, or just the paranoid imperial outpost ones? It's been striking to see, in the Middle East, just how much more barbed-wiry the Amreekan ones are than those of, say, Britain or France. (And as for the Borges-map embassy or your dreams, isn't that called Puerto Rico?) I am very curious to see how those performance-metrics get applied to the nonmilitary aid Obama's been so vocally enthusiastic about, and also wonder how that $997 mil breaks down-- "address the economic crisis, including agriculture and food security, assist the displaced population, strengthen national and provincial governance, expand the rule of law, and to improve access and quality of education" is a pretty broad array.

Nikolai | May 06, 2009

the city within a city sentiment reminds me of Qing's Forbidden City (China, 1600s-1800s) In the early 20th century the rulers inside the Forbidden City had no idea about the socio-political trends outside their palace and that helped fuel the fall of their dynasty and plunged China into chaos

A M | May 07, 2009

The 5 goals mentioned don't seem that difficult to quantify. Polls, number of bodies, trends in terror incidents etc. to name a few. What's with the lame attempts at humour ? The situation in Pakistan is dire - first and foremost for its own citizens many of whom are preparing the equivalents of life jackets in case the roof caves in.

sepoy | May 07, 2009

CM has been, and will forever be, a lame attempt at "the lame attempts at humour".

Akbar | May 07, 2009

Here is Tom Engelhardt,s take on Washington extremism. 'Last week as well, in a prime-time news conference, President Obama said of Pakistan: "We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state." To the extent that this statement was commented on, it was praised here for its restraint and good sense. Yet, thought about a moment, what the president actually said went something like this: When it comes to U.S. respect for Pakistan's sovereignty, this country has more important fish to fry. A look at the historical record indicates that Washington has, in fact, been frying those "fish" for at least the last four decades without particular regard for Pakistani sensibilities. ' Re'' "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;" If I was Zardari or Kiyani or Sharif, it would be helpful to remember that first they helped Saddam gas and kill his own people and when he outlived his utility then hanged him for killing his own people , and Iraqis are still suffering.

Conrad Barwa | May 07, 2009

So the US is now offering $2.4 billion to Pakistan to delegitimise itself by declaring war on its own population. Bit stingy after that the fact that one fraudster can walk off with $50 billion and AIG even more. I would hold out for a better deal. Surely 170 million Pakistanis deserve more than a few corrupt shareholders! Look on the rbight side at least you guys are beating out Egypt and pretty soon might overtake the grandaddy of gravy trains to firendly countries Israel - PMSL! Zardari aint budging till he gets more: And I am hoping the answer will be billions of dollars, because that is the kind of money I need to fix Pakistan's economy. I love this guy, if his career stalls in Pakistan send him over the border, I foresee a stellar ascent in Indian Politics :^0

Conrad Barwa | May 07, 2009

Whoopps link to the Zardari quote is here:,1518,623134,00.html

a | May 07, 2009

If your embassy in a country has already been burned to the ground once, maybe it's wise to spend a lot on security.

Akbar | May 07, 2009

"If your embassy in a country has already been burned to the ground once, maybe it's wise to spend a lot on security." Yep , however there is a wiser and less costly approach . Tough luck, it needs behaviour modification .

bakatron | May 21, 2009

i hate to say this but there is already mindless amounts of security around and at the exiting embassy. i have to deal with enough traffic detours to work as it is for it on a daily basis. you know its funny - they pay egypt more money to not attack israel than they do to pakistan for the 'war against terrorism'.