There’s a brick building at the corner of P and 18th Streets near Dupont Circle that used to be an overgrown wreck. I first noticed it in the fall of 2003. The grass was tall and unmowed, and there was a bare, dead tree inside the fence. It seemed abandoned. For various reasons I was rarely in the Dupont Circle area between spring 2004 and fall 2006. But one day in fall 2006, I was waiting for a bus to arrive at the bus shelter immediately in front of the building. The building had been spruced up and the exterior was neatly groomed. It also bustled with activity.

As I waited endlessly for the bus to show up, I noticed a plaque that I had missed in the past, which identified the building: Embassy of Iraq.

Ah, I thought, that explains its formerly run-down state, as well as its recent rehabilitation.

Blake Hounshell notes the similarly dilapidated status of the embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is also located on a prime bit of Dupont Circle real estate. Ironically, Iraq is higher on FP’s failed state list than the DPC. But I guess it would be pretty embarrassing if Iraq couldn’t keep its US Embassy functioning. I wonder what the embassies of remainder of the top 10 failed states are like.