The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

It’s too big, and sends exactly the wrong political message. Let’s give it away and build something more like an embassy and less like a viceregal palace.

Not only is the building apparently an astonishing money pit and white elephant &#8212 over budget, over schedule, and below standard &#8212 its sheer size sends precisely the wrong political message. The building proclaims itself as a viceregal palace rather than as an embassy in the capital of an independent sovereign nation.

If we wanted instead to proclaim to the Iraqis and to the world that we do not intend to rule Iraq as a protectorate or occupy it indefinitely, we could give the building to the Iraqi government, or let it be shared by a mix of foreign NGO’s and institutions of Iraqi civil society. Then we could buy or build something more modest.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: