The five billion dollar "international village" inside the Green Zone being envisioned by the Pentagon. Don't know about y'all but I'd just as soon use my money at Disney World.
I’ve been shying away from much of what passes as news lately just because if I see Reverend Wright one more time on television or hear one more political pundit expound on how Senator Obama’s relationship with him takes precedence over silly issues like the economy, the war in Iraq, or global warming I think I will lose what meager brain cells I have left. I’ve contemplated canceling the satellite subscription just to avoid blowhard pundits like Chris Matthews grovel in the emission of his own pomposity but Dragonwife would affect bodily harm on me if I did anything that caused her to miss American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.
Also causing an alarming degree of mental discomfort is Hillary who like Utah Savage said at her current post offers: “A new face for every little media market.” Lately Hillary’s insipid smile has started to look more and more similar to the one Mitt Romney flashed around while he was actively running for president. Both ooze greasy naked ambition and have me pondering at times if they might be related. The two could be alien or satanic spawn out to destroy humanity. Just when I thought I could at least relax a little with Romney going back off to Mormon Land I see him hanging out with McCain a few weeks ago. Romney was trying to suck the old man’s intestines out claiming he would love to have the Vice President spot on the Republican ticket. I don’t which one in the White House would freak me out more because if McCain did pick the dude I hope his Secret Service detail stays sharp.
Now top it all off after hearing a small blurb on the radio about some sort of Green Zone Development plan being supported by the Pentagon I knew those in the five sided funny farm must have surely lost all their marbles. Because, and I’m not making this up, the development plan also calls for a 500 million dollar amusement park. And to think with all that has been going on since Bush stood under his “Mission Accomplished” banner five years ago no one has been having any fun over there. I’ll just let y’all read the rest. Excuse the Fox Noise link since it was the first and actually the most concise of those I found. It’s almost like no one wanted to run this story.Pentagon Backs $5 Billion Green Zone Development Plan
Forget the rocket attacks, concrete blast walls and lack of a sewer system. Now try to imagine luxury hotels, a shopping center and even condos in the heart of Baghdad.
That's all part of a five-year development "dream list" — or what some dub an improbable fantasy — to transform the U.S.-protected Green Zone from a walled fortress into a centerpiece for Baghdad's future.
But the $5 billion plan has the backing of the Pentagon and apparently the interest of some deep pockets in the world of international hotels and development, the lead military liaison for the project told The Associated Press.
For Washington, the driving motivation is to create a "zone of influence" around the new $700 million U.S. Embassy to serve as a kind of high-end buffer for the compound, whose total price tag will reach about $1 billion after all the workers and offices are relocated over the next year.
"When you have $1 billion hanging out there and 1,000 employees lying around, you kind of want to know who your neighbors are. You want to influence what happens in your neighborhood over time," said Navy Capt. Thomas Karnowski, who led the team that created the development plan.
Karnowski said a deal already has been completed for Marriott International Inc. to build a hotel in the Green Zone. He also said a possible $1 billion investment could come from MBI International, a conglomerate that focuses on hotels and resorts and is led by Saudi Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber.
For the moment, however, it's mortars and rockets — not investment money — pouring into the Green Zone, which includes the U.S. and British embassies, key Iraqi government offices and other international compounds. Militants have escalated their shelling of the enclave since Iraqi forces began a crackdown on Shiite militias in late March.
But developers are clearly looking many years ahead and gambling that Baghdad could one day join the list of former war zones such as Sarajevo and Beirut that have rebounded and earned big paydays for early investors.
Last week, a Los Angeles-based holding company for equity firms, C3, confirmed it was starting a $500 million project to build an amusement park on the outskirts of the Green Zone in an area encompassing the Baghdad Zoo. The first phase, a skateboard park, is scheduled to open this summer.
"There is no sewer system, no working power system. Everything here is done on generators. No road system repair work. There are no city services other than the minimal amount we provide to get by," Karnowski said.
About 50 percent of the area is now occupied by coalition forces, the U.S. State Department or private foreign companies. If all were to go according to Karnowski's plan, only 5 percent of land in the Green Zone will be in foreigners' hands in five years.
Security is nowhere near the level needed for major development projects. Then there is the question of whether the Iraqi government even wants U.S. involvement in developing the center of their capital.
But Both Karnowski and Iraqi officials said the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is interested in hearing U.S. ideas in developing the Green Zone, though many Iraqi leaders have expressed worries and words of caution.
"It's a jungle here," said Hussein, a 28-year-old from Lebanon who started a contracting company about a year ago in Baghdad and rents out living space in the Green Zone on the side. "It used to be like the Wild West — you grabbed some property and said, 'this is mine."
He said the Army plans to move a military hospital in the zone — now located in a former private medical facility — to a base nearby, freeing it up for Iraqi use. Also in the works is the consolidation of Green Zone housing used by American troops.