Why do we need an embassy with 17,000 employees?

Amidst all the coverage of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq over the past few days the most shocking fact is that the U.S. is going to keep an embassy for c17,000 employees in Baghdad. Why so many people in a place that’s supposed to be standing on its own?

I’ve found precious little reporting on this question but Al Jazeera has this piece which points to security as a large component. The speculator in me says that given that the U.S. can’t have troops in the country after 2011 there will be a large intelligence and military component hidden in that 17,000.  Still, that’s a huge number and the estimated price tag of $3.8 billion just for the first year of operations is staggering as well.


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