Fortress Embassies: A Tanka or Two

New US Embassy in ProgressImage by Moto Pony via Flickr

Two blog friends, TSB of The Skeptical Bureaucrat and Digger of Life After Jerusalem have both written on the recent dancing in a tide pool about fortress embassies by an outgoing ambassador. After a weekend reading the OIG report on US Embassy Croatia, a very good report I must say, except for questionable staff morale attributed to the location of its new fortress office — I feel I must wade into the tide pool with a tanka or two…

But first, the OIG on that fortress Embassy in rural Croatia:

In 2003, Embassy Zagreb moved into a new embassy compound (NEC) whose fortress-like exterior and remote location are seen by many employees as a source of irritation and an impediment to conducting efficient, open relations with Croatia. Falling staff levels mean that current occupancy is 20 percent lower than the level for which the building was built. […]

US Embassy Zagreb via Wikipedia

Despite unanimous high regard for the Ambassador among the embassy staff and the Ambassador’s and DCM’s attention to the community, staff morale is not quite as high as expected for an operation so well run, in a pleasant and pro-American country. The principal reason appears to be the location of the NEC. This facility, which opened in 2003, has a very attractive, spacious, and well-designed interior, but it lies amid farmland and industrial warehouses, well outside the urban or even suburban reaches of Zagreb. Consequently, Croatians and third-country interlocutors rarely visit the Embassy; every meeting with a government official or other contact requires a bracket of up to an hour before and after in transit time; and the distance factor inevitably reduces the number of such meetings. In addition, the morning and evening commute consumes almost as much time as in cities with 15 times the population of Zagreb. Housing U.S. employees near the Embassy, as is planned, will reduce the commute but isolate them from the life of the country. In 20 years, Zagreb may sprawl outward to reach the Embassy; meanwhile, the NEC’s location thwarts the primary purpose for its existence. Embassy Zagreb is paying for its safety with two decades or more of unnecessary staff transit time and aggravation. In addition to the location issue, the building is at least 20 percent larger than necessary for the staff now required in Croatia.

Second, I did not realize that an OIG report can be quite inspiring as a muse. A tanka or two below:

the new embassy
fortress-like, aggravation
an impediment
to open air relations
a beauty obscured, secured

~ * ~

the new embassy
fortress-like irritation
one big obstruction
to candid conversation
an eyesore for sure, secure

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