The Missing Memo

The Washington Times reports that the Iraqi National Museum was #2 on a list of priority sites to be protected by US troops upon occupation of Baghdad. The Oil Ministry was #16. Someone on the ground (again…) didn’t read the memo, which came from General Garner’s office.

Troy

If this is true, then head should roll.

But, I doubt that it is; Washington had plenty of time to enforce the memo even after the looting started, however, Washington still doesn’t seem to be doing anything. As I said, actions speak louder than words, spoken or written.

The Guardian reported the same thing, Garner was supposed to be furious.

Furious doesn’t impress me; heads need to roll or it’s all hot air.

Furious doesn’t impress me; heads need to roll or it’s all hot air.[/quote]

Blah-badee-blah. Tell you what: as soon as you can, without looking it up, name just one thing that was lost, I’ll pay attention.

What a baloney response. Because Americans don’t know what was lost that makes it no big deal? Riiiiight. So if the Smithsonean was robbed, but only stuff you didn’t know about was taken, it’d be no big deal?

God forbid that the stuff that was stolen had some meaning or cultural value to the Iraqi people or the Arab world in general.

Furious doesn’t impress me; heads need to roll or it’s all hot air.[/quote]

Blah-badee-blah. Tell you what: as soon as you can, without looking it up, name just one thing that was lost, I’ll pay attention.[/quote]

The bronze head of an Akkadian soldier from 2,200 BC considered to be the earliest piece of cast-metal art in the world; the stone carving of a woman considered to be the oldest sculpture in the world; as-yet-untranslated fragments of the epic of Gilgamesh. Those are the just the things I can remember as having heard of BEFORE the war. In articles I’ve also seen references to numerous other precious pieces of art, sculpture, metal-working and early writing, all either highly valuable, of immense historical signficance, or both.

Look, Cookie I know you want to downplay this but no matter how you slice it this was a fuck-up by the US. Does it invalidate the entire war by iteself? Of course not. But does it embarrass the US and give ammo to those who label us arrogant dominators who just want the oil? Of course it does. Especially when both the US office of Iraqui reconsruction and a lot of concerned historians and archeologists alerted the Pentagon to the issue. This is something that could have been planned for and just wasn’t considered by the military.

It’s clear in this context, using the military to remove an evil regime, that as Clausewitz said, war is the continuation of policy with the admixture of other means (force). Which also implies that the overall policy (removing Iraq as a threat and replacing it with a less dangerous government) includes not just a vastly successful military attack, but also needs to include a successful peace and rebuilding component. If we end up winning a great military victory only to have Saddam replaced by a revolutionary council of angry shiite clerics who exploit the outraged pride of their countryment to direct hate at us, what have we really accomplished?

So “winning the peace” is just as important as winning the war. And we’ve flubbed early on. Does that mean we are screwed and should throw our hands up and say “Iraq will never be democratic, lets get the fuck outta here”? Of course not - if we handle ourselves well we still have some chance for a good outcome in Iraq (how good I cannot say, but I wouldn’t write off our chances just yet). But handling ourselves well means doing a MUCH better job of all that diplomatic hand-holding the hawks so despised prior to the war and it also means paying attention to the things that stir peoples emotions in Iraq. Based on our current record, we need to start doing a MUCH better job right away.

And just poo-pooing the concerns of a nation with a 5,000 year history of civilization doesn’t cut it. We fucked up on the museum. Now we need to get on with the rebuilding and with setting up a government in a way that doesn’t repeat those mistakes. And one of the first things that requires is admitting we fucked up on the museum.

Dan

Furious doesn’t impress me; heads need to roll or it’s all hot air.[/quote]

Blah-badee-blah. Tell you what: as soon as you can, without looking it up, name just one thing that was lost, I’ll pay attention.[/quote]

An alabaster jar with the first known depiction of a religious procession.

Thousands of cuneiform tablets, many still untranslated.

Royal account ledgers from early Sumer.

I could go on, but I doubt you’d care.

General Garner thought this stuff was important, troops on the ground missed the signal and many important buildings were left unprotected. Government buildings with records of arrests, human rights violations and weapons production. Hospitals. Schools. Private homes.

And yes, a museum. Some people think history matters.

Troy

But hey! At least we saved those oil fields! $7 billion dollars well spent!

In a motion to not only stay on topic but to kill the idiocy, even the NAZIS treated looted French art with more respect than what probably happened to the artifacts and antiquities housed there in Baghdad. My hope is that a large secret society of ancient language translators and archaeologists and other learn-ed types were the ones who looted the museum.

We saved pieces of the oil fields. The New York Times did an article that reported over 200 million worth of spare Caterpillar parts were stolen from one warehouse. This was at a management office in the north which had also been sacked. Sure we protected the processing center but there is a lot more to it than just refining it.

As for the Nazis, you know, Hitler was an artist. He had a real appreciation for it. A book came out recently discussing how much artistic sensibilities were infused into the regime. From uniforms to theology. We’re 200 years old and we don’t have that cultural sensibility of peoples like the Germans. Still Garner got it, or at least someone on his staff realized its importance. It gives you some hope that he’ll do some good, plus his history setting up the Kurdish protectorate.