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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Monday, April 21, 2003

 

It's all about the museum looting
Recently, the looting of the Baghdad museum has become a flashpoint for various anti-American groups, even as the looters return their booty. And why not? It demonstrates all sorts of things about America--we're making things worse in Iraq, not better, we're uncultured swine, we only care about oil, we're imperialistic--ok, I have no idea how that comes out of the looting of the museum, but I'm sure it does, somehow!

The typical criticism is something similar to what the Iraqi antiquities chief had to say:
"If the American forces had been here, nothing would have happened ... but it seems they had other priorities than the museum," he said - citing US forces' steps from early on to guard Oil Ministry headquarters.


But let's be honest--any criticism of the US military in this regard is absurd. It's hardly their job to guard every somewhat important building in Baghdad--and in the grand scheme of things, the museum is not even remotely close to their top priority. As a historian, I'm horrified that so many antiquities were destroyed, but as a human being, I'd rather the Marines were busy saving lives than saving vases. And beyond that, consider what Iraqi Ministry of Culture adviser Muayad Damedji said: "We were afraid of bombing. We never thought it would be looted." Hmm... so, if the Iraqi Ministry of Culture adviser didn't think it would be looted, why in the world would a marine have suddenly said, "hey! You know what? I bet they're going to head down to the museum and smash the statues and stuff! We gotta stop 'em!" They wouldn't--the oil ministry, on the other hand, which is something that will be key to keep at least somewhat intact if Iraq is going to benefit from the massive blessing of oil it's got, is a more obvious candidate for looting.

And lets be honest--this "crime of the century" stuff is baloney. It may well be one of the worst cultural losses in quite a while, but if there have been any crimes of the century in Iraq, they were carried out at the behest of a certain tyran who's making himself awfully scarce these days.
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