$1 Billion Fortress America to be Built In London
I’m not sure how this got approved, but apparently the State Department was budgeted $1 billion to build a new embassy in London:
The United States has unveiled plans for its new $1 billion high-security embassy in London — the most expensive it has ever built.
The proposals were met with relief from both the present embassy’s Mayfair neighbours and the residents and developers of the Battersea wasteland where the vast crystalline cube, surrounded by a moat, will be built.
The decision to abandon the former site in Grosvenor Square by 2016 came after a prolonged battle with residents angered by the security measures demanded after the September 11 attacks.
Surely some accomdoation could have been made on the security measures–it’s not like London is a war zone or anything. And if the Embassy did need to move, I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t some suitable property available for lease given that the UK is going through the same crisis in commericial real estate that the United States is. This is simply a gigantic waste of money.
Also, it goes without saying that the design itself is ugly, and antithetical to the concept of an embassy. Let me defer to my favorite cranky Brit, Warren Ellis, on evaluating the design.
In the proof image above, it looks not unlike a high-end bunker has been simply dropped from space on London, an impregnable and isolated chunk of America. And while security is an obvious and present concern, I think perhaps this building says a little more than it was intended to.
In fact, let’s admit it. IT’S A FORTRESS WITH A FUCKING MOAT. It doesn’t say “welcome to a little piece of America, one of the best ideas the world ever had and a country that welcomes the tired and poor and afraid.” It says “if you even look at us funny we’ll pour boiling oil on you from the roof. Raise the drawbridge! Release the Mongolian Terror Trout!”
It’s pretty funny, really.
Both funny and sad, really. I remember when I was a teenager reading Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which is about a small prison colony on the Moon fighting for its independence against an oppressive Earth government. Suffice to say, there were many parallels to the American Revolution deliberately dropped in there. But one thing that stood out in my mind, then and now, was the fact that it was the Americans who were the most gung-ho about crushing the Lunar Rebellion, decrying them all as criminals and terrorists. When I was a teenager, I thought it was ridiculous to think that the Americans would be the most bloodthirsty group. Now as an adult living through a period of absolutely, clinically paranoid levels of safety-consciousness in all aspects of American culture, from putting leashes on toddlers to being terrified of second-hand smoke, pushing for concealed carry when violent crime is at an all-time low, suspending students for carrying plastic knives for their lunch, and shredding civil liberties in the name of a dubiously defined “war on Terror”, I see Heinlein’s point.
I really think that Americans should pay more attention to the following Spanish proverb: “Vivir con miedo es como vivir en medias.” — “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”