Yesterday I accompanied my partner to the small (for U.S.) embassy here in Podgorica, Montenegro to deal with a passport issue. (photo right) As usual I expected a prison-like campus surrounded by walls or tall fences. I was not disappointed. Here in this ‘remote’ corner of the Balkan mountains, in a tiny country of fewer than 700,000 people the United States of America has built a mini-fortress that sits behind steel bars, bullet proof windows with a lock-down mentality.

Isn’t this a pathetic irony: the world’s most generous, charitable, helpful and by far biggest financial, medical and social donor sits behind bars in virtually all of it embassies around the world. Over the years I have had reason to walk past or visit numerous American embassies and they all have the same prison or fortress appearance.

How has it come to this?

Granted there was 9/11 and the African embassies bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that have contributed to today’s embassy bunker mentality. But why those devastations despite enormous financial and personal contributions to Africa and other developing countries?

Many answers could be proposed that lead to endless complicated  and political arguments for this pathetic contradictory situation at our embassies.

I find it a very sad, harsh, offensive statement about American foreign and military  policies over the past 50 years. We have been enormously kind and at the same time have shot ourselves in the foot. This is the way forward to a better civilization on the planet? Serious reflection is called for .

Richard Ammon
May 10, 2012