Saturday, October 8, 2016

That's Fortress Embassy Number 133

Image from U.S. Embassy Paramaribo's flicker page

My good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations have opened another new U.S. embassy, this one in Paramaribo. It was designed by ZGF Architects and built by general construction contractor BL Harbert International, has 5,348 gross square meters of space, and cost $164 million.

From the press release, United States Dedicates New U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname:
As a symbol of our enduring relationship with Suriname, Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador Edwin R. Nolan, and the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) Principal Deputy Director William Moser, alongside local officials, dedicated the new U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo on October 5.

The multi-building complex, on an 8-acre site in the Morgenstond development, includes a chancery, support buildings, and facilities for the Embassy community. The new complex will provide embassy employees with a safe, secure, and sustainable workplace.

-- snip --

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, OBO has completed 133 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 53 projects in design or under construction.

Did I read that last part correctly? OBO has 53 more projects currently in design or under construction? Maybe they mean under planning, design, or construction. But no matter. By placing 133 U.S. diplomatic missions in "safe, secure, and sustainable" new office buildings, and to have even low double digits more in some phase of replacement, means that OBO has turned a very significant corner. When you include the 22 new embassies that were built in the Inman program era, it means that, for the first time ever, a majority of our missions are now in Fortress Embassies. The norm for U.S. diplomatic facilities is now a Fortress, for better or worse.

How many U.S. diplomatic missions are there? If you use the most expansive list available, there are 294 of them, but that includes missions to international organizations. It's more like 274 if you count just the bilateral missions. Whichever number you use, more than half of them are in Fortresses.

That is a big, big, change from the situation at the time of the East Africa embassies bombings, when nearly all of our missions were highly vulnerable to attack. Those bombings prompted Congress to provide a continuing program of capital funding for new embassy construction. Unlike in the Inman '80s, when the steam ran out of Congress's interest in embassy security after a few years, this time they were as good as their word. So, yea for Congress!

Image from

There's the old embassy in Paramaribo, all flimsy ticky-tack and too close to the street. Not safe, secure, or sustainable. Or even especially functional. Good riddance.

Here's a travel tip. The city of Paramaribo is way more enjoyable than I would have guessed. The Dutch colonial influence and a lot of history make up for the miserable climate. Should you visit, be sure to take a trip out of town to see Joden Savanne, a World Heritage site located in the jungle but only a moderate drive outside the city. Starting in the 1630s, Sephardi Jews from the Netherlands, Portugal, and Italy attempted to resettle in part of Dutch Guiana and create a plantation economy along the Suriname River. It was one of the earliest attempts at European settlement in South America, and one of the few by a group fleeing persecution. It was ultimately unsuccessful, but the ruins of Joden Savanne's synagogue and cemetery have been preserved. Highly recommended. 


Anonymous said...

TSB: That is a Beauty!! The Real Debate this week was between Cenk Uguyar and Dick Morris. Ugyar, who thinks the most important issue is passing an amendment to overturn Citizens United was defeated by Morris who says it will never happen and is unnecessary anyway because the big money has already lost much of it's power because television ads aren't very effective any more. People are learning fast that you can't believe anything you see on TV!

Morris says that Bill Clinton was a brilliant politician but is now physically and mentally too feeble to do or plan anything. Hillary, on the other hand, is willing to do anything for money as evidenced by the tremendous risk she took with the private server which was used completely for the purpose of hiding all the money the Clintons took personally (books, speaking fees = $103 million) and for the foundation since 2014. As President she will be able to rake in a lot more because the whole US will be for sale! Hillary's political skills are limite to: She will tell the public anything she thinks they want to hear and she will tell the wealthy anything they are willing to pay for. (And now we have the latter for free!! gwb (58 minutes)

Anonymous said...

TSB: Did you see Bill Clinton last nite? gwb

If I was that young and good looking the ladies would be after me too but I guess it's just as well.

Anonymous said...

OH GEE TSB! If only we had known.
In a leaked email sent on August 17, 2014 by Hillary Clinton to her current campaign manager, John Podesta, who back then was counselor to Barack Obama, she admitted that Qatar and Saudi Arabia "are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region." Does this mean Hillary has been lying to us? Thank God there is no bad language in there.

Anonymous said... Hillary Clinton's Axis of Evil
Let’s cut to the chase; Hillary Clinton is ready to go to war against Russia in Syria – with inbuilt, potentially terrifying, thermonuclear consequences.

TSB: Pepe Escobar dismisses Trumps ignorance of the middle east like most of us dismiss Gary Johnson, but views the Pentagon + Hillary as a big threat for nuclear war. He thinks the Pentagon, having been wrong about everything so far is ready to take on Putin militarily with Hillary's no fly zone and probably lose badly. Next step would be Hillary's first strike nuclear policy. He gives good evidence the Pentagon has already gone rogue on Obama while pushing the myth the russians are trying to deny Hillary the White House. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Looks like "Biden was Ridin Alone" gwb (Which reminds me, how come none of these big time candidates have a dog?

Anonymous said...

TSB: Happy New War! US fires 4 cruise missiles at Yemen radar stations! Doesn't blame Putin!

This morning I got up early to hear the C-Span FIRST TIME VOTERS!!! 90% white men, most never voted because their gerrymandered vote never counted before but Bernie and Trump woke them up. 10% woke up because Trump is so gross. No black first time voters. Hispanic laborers all definitely woke up by Trump. Hillary haters all for Stein. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Bill and Hillary defintely have better turd polishers than Bernie or Trump. Of course they have been doing it for 30 yrs. Amy Grunwald is my favorite. She was great in 1992.

Too bad Hillary hadn't heard about Wikileaks in 2014 when she gave this masterpiece to Duetsche Bank! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Tomorrow President Obama will meet with his senior advisors to decide what to do about Syria. Here's my prediction. He will authorize US fighter pilots shoot down Syrian and Russian planes if they feel threatened. This is a no-brainer since that's what the RAF did yesterday. Besides what could possibly go wrong? gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Today the American Psychological Association announced the the people are really 'stressed out' by the election. The worst stressed group are those age 71 and up!!

Fortunately, I won't hit that group til next year so nothing to worry about but I have a suspicion it's the die hard Trump and Hillary supporters who are most stressed and I blame it on too many bad football games in the NFL and college! GO Texas A&M!! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: My vote for "Most Eyebrow Raising Headline of the Week": Obamacare Gives Middle Class A Choice: Buy A House Or Get Health Insurance

"What I love about Obama is the choices he's given me. I can buy a $400,000 house, OR I can have healthcare! Hope and Change baby!!" gwb
Obamacare Gives Middle Class A Choice: Buy A House Or Get Health Insurance

"What I love about Obama is the choices he's given me. I can buy a $400,000 house, OR I can have healthcare! Hope and Change baby!!"

Anonymous said...

TSB: Ok, I was wrong about Obama's Friday top level meeting about Syria. It turns out that the Brits were just blowing hot air about shooting down Russian planes because they only have a couple planes and also today Putin signed a deal with Erdogan to put anti-aircraft missiles on the border and establish a Turkish-Russian defense zone. So Obama sent Kerry to meet with Lavrov again and beg for peace on Saturday. I'm sure we'll learn more about this in the Tuesday debate
when Hillary accuses Trump of being worse than Putin for women. gwb