Observers might think that the largest, most expensive embassy ever built — the $750 million, heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Baghdad — would be more than sufficient to sustain the diplomatic corps that will remain in Iraq after U.S. troops are withdrawn. In fact, however, that 1.5-square-mile walled complex is, according to the Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, “turning out to be too small for the swelling retinue of gunmen, gardeners and other workers the State Department considers necessary to provide security and ‘life support’ for the sizable group of diplomats, military advisers and other executive branch officials who will be taking shelter there once the troops withdraw from the country.”

The results of an annual survey of U.S. troops show the already-dismal approval rates for President Obama’s performance dropped to just 25 percent among the military respondents. Support for his strategy in Afghanistan plummeted further, and less than one fourth of those surveyed said they approved of American intervention in Libya.   

Dakota MeyerA former U.S. Marine Cpl. who disregarded orders, fighting five times through an enemy ambush in an Afghan valley to help rescue three dozen comrades and recover four fallen American soldiers, received the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military award, in a September 15 White House ceremony. The Marine Corps Times reported that 23-year-old Dakota Meyer was honored “for his actions in the infamous Battle of Ganjgal, a six-hour ambush and firefight that killed some of his best friends on Sept. 8, 2009, in Kunar province, Afghanistan.”

9/11 attacks"At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States became a nation transformed," the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9-11 Commission) said, noting the time at which the first of two planes attacking the World Trade Center struck the north tower. The "transformation" seemed real and dramatic at the time. Even before the shock wore off, the America that some accused of having been on a "holiday from history" since the end of the Cold War was suddenly aroused and united in purpose. The seemingly feckless President became both symbol and spokesman of that new resolve as he stood amid the rubble at "ground zero" at New York, bullhorn in hand, and promised that the people responsible for knocking down the Twin Towers would soon hear from all of us and feel the power of our righteous retribution. Most of the nations of the world, including many that had long been critical of the United States, poured out their sympathy and support. Even the left-wing French newspaper Le Monde published a headline proclaiming, "We Are All Americans."

The U.S. is leaning on the government in Baghdad for a new Status of Forces Agreement that will keep American troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year. The current agreement, signed by the U.S. and Iraq in 2008, requires the removal of all U.S. military forces by December 31, 2011. If nothing changes, Americans will adhere to that deadline, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told the New York Times.

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