B-b-but, people inBaghdad are beginning to exhale!
In Baghdad the mortar fire is growing more accurate and intense. After 30 mortar shells hit the Green Zone one afternoon last July, an American diplomat reported that his colleagues were growing angry about being “recklessly exposed to danger”—as if the war should have come with warning labels.
At least the swimming pool has been placed off limits. Embassy staff are required to wear flak jackets and helmets when walking between buildings, or when occupying those that have not been fortified. On the rare occasion when they want to venture a short distance across the Green Zone to talk to Iraqi officials, they generally have to travel in armored S.U.V.’s, often protected by private security details. The ambassador, Ryan Crocker, is distributing a range of new protective gear, and is scattering the landscape with 151 concrete “duck and cover” shelters. Not to be outdone, a Senate report has recommended the installation of a teleconferencing system to “improve interaction” with Iraqis who may be in buildings only a few hundred yards away. So, O.K., the new embassy is not perfect yet, but by State Department standards it’s getting there.