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Looting of Baghdad Museum and other thoughts about the war.

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Click here for a commentary by Charley Reese, a conservative newspaper columnist. I found the commentary quite compelling (especially because Reese is a conservative) and wondered what everyone else might think. Because my husband is an archaeologist, the looting of the Baghdad Museum hit us really hard. Reading this commentary that touches on this tragedy really made me think.

(The commentary is copyrighted which is why I put the link rather than copying it here.)
post #2 of 25
I think it's sad that the world had to loose that stuff to various causes.
The looting disgust me, from any nation, anyone who would do that, specially to your own countires people.

post #3 of 25
Great commentary! There is one ray of hope - our evening news just reported that several priceless artifacts have been returned to the museum. But the writings are burnt forever. I'm angry that, in view of the sanctions, the looting wasn't anticipated, and once it started not enough was done to protect mankind's heritage.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by jcat
I'm angry that, in view of the sanctions, the looting wasn't anticipated, and once it started not enough was done to protect mankind's heritage.
That's what has us so upset. The powers that be WERE told about the potential for looting and WERE given facts about how to prevent it and what to do to keep everything safe and it was completely ignored! It would have taken very few soldiers to guard the perimiter of the museum (just like it took few of our soldiers to guard the Iraqui oil ministry). It sure seems to me that our higher-ups just didn't care!
post #5 of 25
I think he was eloquent in his thoughts even though this personally affected him (being a scholar and a reader).

I think of all the history that is gone, lost, scattered to the winds now and it just makes me want to cry. Those were the footprints of early civilization, a map of how the world evolved and dealt with the changes- and now, because of an oversite, it is all gone, and our leaders can only say "oops, sorry we goofed!"
post #6 of 25
I personally, don't place blame so much on the worlds leaders, but more in the people who actually DID these lootings.
They obviously have no care for their nations heritage!
It's all very unfortunate, and I'm sure that neither the looters or the world leaders will learn much from this.
At any opportunity there will be looters in any country.
Heck, people destroy and steal all types of things even after college football games, I mean, come on!
post #7 of 25
A lot of the looters went in there, with "shopping lists". They were hired by wealthy private collectors, to steal specific items. This happens in the art world, all of the time. Professional art thieves don't steal anything, unless they already have a buyer for it.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by katl8e
A lot of the looters went in there, with "shopping lists". They were hired by wealthy private collectors, to steal specific items. This happens in the art world, all of the time. Professional art thieves don't steal anything, unless they already have a buyer for it.
Yes, this appears to be true...and the higher-ups were warned that this would happen, yet nothing was done to protect the museum.

This horrifies me at so many levels: 1. That there are people out there willing to arrange for these treasures to be stolen, 2. that some Iraqui people did go in and loot their own treasures, and 3. that our government was warned that this would happen and did nothing to protect the museum.

It makes such a very sad statement about humanity.
post #9 of 25
Not being on the ground and realizing that it was a war zone, I'm going to reserve judgement on the military's handling of the situation.

I do know that protecting human life and securing strategic sites take priority. The anit-war bunch would have screamed bloody murder, if the US military had started shoting looters, though.
post #10 of 25
They are saying now that a lot that was lost was stolen by insiders at the museum!Think about it glass cases not broken? But unlocked!Ya some was looted and burned,but where is the rest? I also come from a army family,our job was to free the people !If the UN nations had done
their job in the first place we would not have been there at all. Just IMO
post #11 of 25
Sherral, that's right!!!

And yeah, I think it's a little more important to protect the people during a war then objects. (Though I know not every person in the world will agree on this.)

None of us, MOST of the world do not know the real circumstances. Ok I'll give the leaders the benifit of the doubt and say that yes they knew about a strong chance of this happening befor the war began, but what are they suppose to do, parachute soilders down to protect these 3 locates BEFORE the war starts? YEAH RIGHT.
You have to realize, Bush doesn't just get a phone call saying "Hey, this museum is being looted, you gotta do something about it!" And he can then snap his fingers and have a whole army at those locations with in one second flat.
It can take hours or days depending on how dangerous the location is, and how far away it is to get troops in there.

And mind you the soilders were still finding "pockets of resistance" while this looting was going on. And what would you have them do, shoot civilians for trying to steal?
post #12 of 25
Althought it was off-topic, Gary wrote about this very thing in our morning meeting notes several weeks ago (we're supposed to write about business stuff, but he was so insensed he couldn't help it).

Actually, Cindy and Angel, it doesn't work like that. The Military knows this type of looting takes place. I don't know if this was a blunder on the part of the military under the Bush Administration, or if it was actually intentional. Inflammatory words, to be sure, but we have our doubts.

...Because the U.S. is well aware of looting that takes place during war-time. Renae is right - not only was the administration "warned" by many organizations long before the start of the war, the U.S. already knows how to and traditionally does deploy military personnel to prevent this type of looting. During WWII the U.S. provided troops to guard all museums and sites of cultural heritage during WWII.

The U.S. led an international effort to condemn the former Afghan government for destroying the culteral heritage of the Afghanis after they blew up the giant Buddha statues carved into the mountains.

Yet in an even greater irony, from that museum in Iraq, the Hammurabic code was stolen. The oldest code of law ever written, ever recorded. The dawn of "civilization." The orginial tablets. Gone forever. ...along with, actually, 169,999 or so other objects of civilization's cultural heritage.
post #13 of 25
LDG: I'm not saying they were unaware of it, or what to do, and I'm not saying they had their ears and eyes closed on purpose either.

I don't know what really happened or why they decided to do what they did or didn't do.

But I do wonder, if maybe there was some pending situation which would make it dangerous to have sent people there to guard these places.
post #14 of 25
Doubt it. IMO.
post #15 of 25
You are probably right.
But I still like to have hope sometimes.

It makes me sad that this event happend and it makes me sad to think that the world leaders possibly decided to not help prevent it.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
I think that if we had enough soldiers to guard the oil ministry building, we certainly had enough to guard the museum.

I know a couple of folks read the commentary in my original post on this thread. Did anyone else? There were lots of ideas in that commentary that I'd like everyone's thoughts on!

Here is the link again.
post #17 of 25
Wasn't some of it recovered??? Maybe I just dreamed it
post #18 of 25
DL: I believe I heard that too, on the news, though even that might be false.
post #19 of 25
Renae, I'm not sure you really want to know my thoughts on the editorial commentary of Mr. Reese. He raises so many issues that I have been afraid to speak up about "publicly."

Mr. Reese says in his commentary "There is a definitely a whiff of anti-intellectualism — so characteristic of fascist states — in the air. Beware of bully boys who worship the military and scoff at museums and libraries. Beware of people whose limited brains see everyone as either an ally or an enemy. Beware of people who can't tell the difference between patriotism and military conquest...I'm no longer concerned about liberals or conservatives, leftists or rightists. I just pray to God for a non-ideologue with a three-digit IQ. If we don't elevate the level of intelligence and integrity of our government, we are going to end up floating on the cesspool of history."

I echo these concerns and fears. I am proud to be a U.S. citizen, but I am scared of what is happening to our country right now. The "support-your-President or you are a traitor" attitude of so many in this country and of so many in the media is, to me, completely terrifying. Part of what we should hold sacred as citizens of this country is our ability to freely express ourselves without fear of retribution. It is our duty as U.S. citizens to speak up when we do not agree with our leaders.

That "we" enabled the looting of the Iraqi museum, in my opinion, is not just an oversight, it is a crime of neglect. I agree that the heart of the debate about this issue is not whether one is right-wing or left-wing. It does smack of "anti-intellectualism," which is a hallmark of national socialism.

Thomas Jefferson also said "Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have nor do they deserve either one." The creation of the "Homeland Security" department, and the ability the police now have to randomly pull me over and search me and my car, (which happens fairly routinely on my trips into New York city), or for the FBI to demand information from libraries on who's reading what, or infiltrate religious organizations undercover, and the cooperation and sharing of information by the FBI and the CIA (there was a "chinese wall" for a REASON)... all smack of facism to me. ...and I believe it is happening because of a lack of intelligence in our leaders and a general attitude of military "worship."

...and what scares me even more is the attitude of so many. "If you have nothing to hide, then why should you mind?" I feel like I'm living in Germany in 1931.

What I want to know, though this may seem a bit off-topic, is why NO ONE is asking for Bush's resignation based on the fact that he used false testimony to convince congress to grant him war powers. His testimony, available on-line just a month ago, is now deemed "classified" and is no longer available to the public. The media has already revealed several CIA documents pertaining to weapons of mass destruction were falsified. The constant use of "may" "could have" and "might have" as regards to the containers they're finding in Iraq is making me naseous. You can't smuggle evidence of the creation of weapons of mass destruction out of a country with a few months notice.

I'm glad that Saddam Hussein's government has been brought down. But the U.S. is not the world's police, and it is not our "right" to invade foreign governments because we do not like their policies. That smacks of military worship.

And if anyone thinks that war is over, they're fooling themselves. Just because Bush has declared it so does not mean we will not have military personnel there for many years. It does not mean our country will not continue to spend billions of dollars policing Iraq. Let's not forget it was this same Colin Powell who told us the war was over and the job done back in 1991.

I agree with Mr. Reese. I'm not concerned about "liberals or conservatives, leftists or rightists." I, too, pray to God for a non-ideologue with a three-digit IQ. I agree that if "we don't elevate the level of intelligence and integrity of our government, we are going to end up floating on the cesspool of history." Or worse. I fear that if we don't elevate the level of intelligence and integrity of government, we are going to loose even more of the rights that were a hallmark of our democratic republic.
post #20 of 25
I have to say, I did support Bush going into the war. I didn't like everything they have been doing in the name of "Homeland Security", but could see some of the rationale for it (like the expanded surveillance powers granted to the FBI - we have evolved technologically, and the laws should reflect that).

The thing is, I'm getting a bit worried about the glaring LACK of evidence of WMD that was the supposed reason for going to war in the first place. I realize that Saddam had plenty of time to hide things, but shouldn't there be *something* by now? I'm also disturbed by the lack of concern for the timeless treasures that have been lost.

Laurie, I love that quate from Jefferson. Very smart man. We usually use that in our arguments against gun control, but the premise is the same. Clinton really started the erosion of personal freedoms, it can't be completely blamed on Bush Jr. When Bush was elected I thought he would give us back the small portions that Clinton had taken, not take more.

This isn't a left or right argument anymore. Fact is, both sides are now willing and wanting to take away freedoms from the public. Although Clinton slashed the military budget by the billions, he also used the military in more "police actions" than any previous administration. Now Bush has ousted two governments, the second with little to support the ousting now that it's gone.

I support my country with everything I have, I support the President and the institutions that our government was created on. I believe it is the best system around, but the system is being slowly decayed. I supported Bush, but I am really starting to question his actions.
post #21 of 25
There's little I can add - I completely agree, though I must admit that I have never liked Bush and still question the legitimacy of his presidency. Another thing that really disturbs me is that there are so few questions being posed or opposition being given in Congress. It's as if they're afraid to express any dissent. "Homeland Security" can go much too far, as can "preemptive military intervention". Have they made us, or the world, safer? I very much doubt it.
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
Laurie, I am so glad you read the commentary. I was amazed when I read it because Reese is usually a pretty left-wing conservative and what he is saying is basically that the current administration is on the road to becoming a fascist government!

I also greatly appreciate the comments about the gov't being like a bully. Early on in this whole mess, I had commented to my husband that Bush and his advisors were bullies: They have all of this bluster and bravado and call other nations names (axis of evil). They even say we're gonna whoop their butts (to Iraq and North Korea), but - just like with a bully - when North Korea proved that they aren't some little country that can be walked all over by the Bush administration, Bush backed down and went and invaded Iraq instead! Just like a bully.....the bully picks on only the weak kids and carefully avoids picking on those who might fight back! If you look at the situation in a detached way, North Korea is a much greater threat to the USA, our allies, and the world in general, but they are big enough to make Bush back down. If what this war was about was getting rid of weapons of mass destruction, why did we go into a country that was no real threat to the USA and avoid doing the same to a country that could do real harm?

With that said, I don't want to invade North Korea! I use that only as an example of the big bully I think Bush is trying to be and of the idea that I believe his priorities are completely messed up!
post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 
I want to add that bullies typically pick on weaker others to prove to themselves and everyone else that they are more powerful than anyone else. Since Bush seemed to have had a radical change in personality since the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, perhaps this war-mongering is his way of proving to the world that despite what happened on 9/11, he is stronger and more powerful than anyone else.

I fear that what often happens to bullies will also happen to Bush. Eventually, the little people get fed up and whoop the bully's rear. I wonder how long it will take for US Americans who feel their civil liberties are being eroded or for other countries who feel the USA is using its power against them will rise up and make the Bush administration go away.
post #24 of 25
Interesting, Renae.

I'd like to add that Bush's father won a war against Iraq but lost the election due to the state of the U.S. economy, and Bush Jr. is well on his way to following in his father's footsteps.

But in the meantime, what's also scary is that several months ago the U.S. Policy Committee published new guidelines, and one of those is that it is now the policy of the U.S. to pursue to disarm countries (Sorry, I don't remember the word... "antagonistic" heads of state? Maybe it just simply said dictatorships...anyway,) with weapons of mass destruction, with force, if necessary. Obviously, on the list are Syria and North Korea. 16 countries were listed.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Begin quote
This is not a left/right, liberal/conservative issue. It's not a question of patriots versus traitors, as the morons among the neoconservative crowd try to paint every human being who refuses to click his heels and salute their guru, Richard Perle, and their emperor, George Bush. This is a cultural issue. Three great treasures — the museum, the National Library and the largest collection of Koranic writings in the world — were looted and burned. Since we had destroyed the Iraqi government, it was our responsibility to protect them.

I don't blame President Bush. I'm sure he's unaware of their existence. After all, he brags about not reading. But what would we say if the crowds who have rioted in Washington in the past had been allowed to loot and burn the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress? Do you think we would have accepted an excuse that there weren't enough cops to protect those two treasures?
End quote

Lotsocats here...
This sums up my thinking about the Baghdad museum. If Bush considered the museam as even remotely important, it would have been protected. Obviously, he did not. While I'm not sure that Bush is as clueless as Reese suggests, the fact that we allowed the museum to be destroyed is evidence that either Bush really is clueless or that he just didn't give a darn. I don't know which is worse.
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