Washington has abandoned a plan to open a consulate in northern Afghanistan after signing a 10-year lease and dishing out more than $80 million for the site, the Washington Post reports. American officials cited rising security concerns, but planners apparently overlooked problems from the beginning in a rush to prove America's commitment to Afghanistan. Among them: a feeble protective wall made of straw, mud, and manure, and surrounding buildings from which enemies could easily launch attacks.
A bombing at a mosque down the road and the discovery of a sophisticated plan to attack the consulate site were the last nails in the coffin. According to a memo from the US embassy in Kabul, Richard C. Holbrooke was behind the hasty consulate plan after becoming US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. Holbrooke "pushed hard to identify property and stand up an interim consulate, on a very tight timeline,” the memo read, and the US "granted exceptions to standards to move forward quickly, establish an interim presence and raise the flag."