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There is something that bugs me about that New York Times story - the one with the entertaining tidbits about wilted lettuce and rationed chicken wings - and it has to do with the photo that accompanied the story. That's it, above.
The story also had a slideshow consisting of photos taken in the nicely appointed chancery, staff apartments, dining hall, pool, gym, and tennis courts, all of which give the impression of an up-scale resort.
But nowhere did the Times comment on those big shades that cover the tops and sides of the compound's buildings. What are those things? Over-sized sunscreens?
There is no reason to be coy about them, since they have been mentioned rather extensively in official documents that are publicly available. They are 'overhead cover' structures, and they are there to protect building occupants from indirect fire weapons such as mortars and rockets. Those weapons have been impacting on the embassy compound all along, ever since it was being constructed. You could Google it.
This official source of information describes them succinctly:
"Overhead cover is a necessity to protect against the threat of indirect fire at vulnerable office, housing, recreational and dining facilities."
So on the one hand, we have the NYT's photos of embassy staffers in the pool and the tennis courts, and turning up their noses at unsatisfactory salad in the dining hall. But on the other hand, you have to use your imagination to appreciate that those U.S. government employees are living the good diplomatic life in a place where every now and then an anti-personnel weapon detonates outside.
I would call that a lifestyle trade-off.