The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is both the most expensive and largest embassy in the world, and more than ten times the size of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The Baghdad complex—which includes its own power station, water treatment plant, and an Olympic-size swimming pool—and cost over $1 billion. In theory, more than one thousand diplomats and officials from other agencies work there, with security officials inflating that number three-fold.

And yet, more than a decade after U.S. diplomats began moving in, American influence in Iraq has never been lower. True, influence declined with the U.S. military presence, but that does not explain it all. Generations of diplomats have complained about resourcing, arguing that small diplomatic investments save money in the long-run by obviating the necessity for future military interventions.

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