Flashy U.S. Embassies not worth the cost

Published Jul 16, 2014 at 6:25 am (Updated Jul 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm)

As of this writing, the United States deficit is $366 billion – and that is actually a 26 percent decline from the previous year.

But, despite being more than a quarter trillion dollars in debt, the State Department has proposed energy efficient, over-the-top designs on U. S. embassies and consulates around the world – and the price tag matches the design. For example, the London Embassy, currently under construction and set to open in 2017, is indeed an architectural masterpiece – its sleek, all-glass design would be a focal point in London. It is being constructed of six-inch, blast-proof glass that is, according to CBS News, manufactured in Europe, shipped to the United States with armed guards, inspected, framed and then shipped back to London. The project cost is near one billion dollars, and is already $100 million over the initial estimate.

That’s right – as Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R.-Mich.) exclaimed during a hearing, “A billion dollars!”

These frivolous embassies are part of a new initiative by the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects called “Design Excellence.”

Bush-era embassies, which had a set, standard design, have been called ugly, but there’s no doubt that they were certainly more economical to build. Take the embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Originally a $50 million project, that number soared to more than $200 million to implement the new guidelines set forth by the Design Excellence initiative.

And, the State Department can claim “blast-proof” glass all it wants, but we are willing to bet that the “ugly” embassies built under President Bush’s watch would stand up to an attack far better than an embassy constructed out of glass would.

A House committee has questioned State Department officials on the project, and members of both political parties agree that the new embassies are way too costly. It also sends a message that we are already putting out to the world – that Americans are gluttonous, greedy and flashy. We can think of a number of ways that one billion dollars could be put to use – or not put to use, thereby reducing the national debt to $365 million.

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