I got to tour the ruins of one of the late, unlamented Saddam Hussein's many palaces. This one is
ironically-named, "Victory Over America", to commemorate Saddam's perception that by remaining in power after the Gulf War, he had in fact triumphed over the USA. The photo on the left is the entrance to the Grand Ballroom, which was remodeled slightly by a 1,500 lb "bunker buster" bomb in 2003. Personally, I like what they've done with the place. This palace had some Medici-like features, including the stairways being uneven in places, so anyone pursuing the dictator up or down the stairs would be thrown off stride, while the fleeing Saddam, who knew where all the quirks were located, could outdistance his enemies. This joint reminded me of Hitler's "Eagle's Aerie" in Berchtesgaden, except this is a Walmart version, with much crappier scenery.
Speaking of scenery, the photo on the right is a view toward Camp Liberty. My detachment office is located on the far side of that anthill-looking thing, called either "Antenna Hill" (no panache' there) or "Strawberry Hill", a possible tribute to Boone's Farm wine. All those man-made lakes were created by diverting Tigris River water from the irrigation canals the local farmers depended upon to grow crops, so Saddam could have houseboats and beach parties. Whatta guy! By the way, there are lots of fish, including some lunkers weighing up to 50 lbs, populating those lakes...I plan to celebrate Christmas by getting my line wet, and trying out different lures and bait contributed by my generous friends back home. "Fish On! Ho, Ho, Ho!"