Thursday, July 10, 2008


Well, I'd planned on rolling out the list of my bids for my second tour with great fanfare tonight. Unfortunately, my top choice, a two-year political rotation in the consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, was attacked today by militants possibly linked to al-Qaeda. No Americans or American employees were killed, although three Turkish police officers were killed defending the consulate. I'll forgo the usual sarcasm and offer some comfort, since most of you readers are related to me.

First of all, if you'll note on the map I linked above, this particular consulate is on a hill, with no buildings immediately nearby. This building is very new, less than a year old, and it was built because the old US consulate in Istanbul, dating back to the nineteenth century, was in the middle of the older part of the city and consequently was not very safe - surrounded by other buildings, no room to expand or to establish a security perimeter, etc. Moving embassies and consulates to the edge of town is a growing phenomenon, especially after the embassy bombings in 1998. That event shook up the way we look at securing State facilities, and it's important to note that despite numerous attempts since then, no attack on an embassy or consulate has been successful. I'm not trying to say that security is perfect. I am saying that we don't hire morons to do security for us. You can argue for days (and I assure you, plenty of State people have) about whether or not it's a good idea to present Fortress America as our local, public face to the world. Me, I'll trade some aesthetic pleasure for safety.

There's always an element of danger when going overseas, more so as an employee of the US government in the Middle East. But hell, I face danger walking down the street in DC. So, I know you will still worry, and I can't change that, but at least I can offer you some comforting words and the assurance that this is what I want to do, danger and all.

That's it for tonight. I'll post my bids in the next few days for my second tour, so you can start planning your potential vacations (if you're still willing to go abroad, that is!).


  1. Sounds like this was written with a 53 year old West Memphis broad in mind.

  2. Damnit woman, do you have Turkish skills? Slowly but surely I'm learning Turkish. Me and another ASMSer (Chris Buck) were in Istanbul earlier this week, and I absolutely loved it. I've never felt more comfortable in a large foreign city. After the attack I thought for a moment that perhaps it was a false sense of security, but that won't stop me from going back. I have to go back to Turkey before long, and I've vowed to learn the language. I hope you get posted to Istanbul. Maybe I'll see you there someday!

  3. Hmm, do I know Chris? Name's familiar. Anyway, I have some basic Turkish skills from studying Azerbaijani (very close) and Arabic (lots of loan words). I'm still hoping I can go to Turkey, but I won't know for about a month - if I go, you're welcome to my spare bedroom anytime! How long are you in Turkey/where else did you go?

  4. Ah yes I remember now that you did Azeri. Chris was one of your seniors as well. He's been living in Hong Kong but he's traveling with me for the next month through europe then I'm on my own for another few months to madagascar, some mild middle east, and SE asia. I'm calling it a 9th semester in world architecture--at least that's my excuse. We left turkey on the 9th and we're in greece at the moment. Anyhow, thank you for the room offer, that is completely awesome of you! I'd totally invite myself into you're saudi accommodations as well, but, yeah...

    So, what's up with urban design, are you seriously considering something like that long term? If so, arkansas needs you hd.

    There's an interesting mixed use, "new urbanism" type development going on in Fayetteville called Ruskin Heights. It's a step in the right direction, but even this has been met with a lot of resistance. Not surprising I suppose.

    Oh, and if you have an unbearable quantity of free time in saudi and the need to take side trips, I'll be in bahrain and UAE end of sept, beg. of oct if you want to say hi.

  5. When will you hear about your bid? How many options do you get? Why do you bid before you've even started your first tour?
    P.S. You need to put "all of the above" as an option on your latest poll.