JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: SHOCK AND AWE AND ENDURING SHAME – THE EFFORT TO RECLAIM THE MANY ANTIQUITIES LOOTED FROM IRAQ AFTER AMERICA’S INVASION – BUT MANY IRREPLACEABLE ANTIQUITIES FROM THIS CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION AS IMPORTANT AS ANCIENT EGYPT WERE DESTROYED TOO THANKS TO RECKLESS AMERICAN BEHAVIOR   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY RICHARD HALL IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Inside the hunt for Iraq’s looted treasures

“Decades of war and instability made Iraq a thief’s paradise”

 

I wish Wafaa Hassan the very best in her efforts to reclaim stolen antiquities. She seems extremely able and dedicated.

I do think, though, the writer’s sentence about “decades of war,” whether intended to do so or not, softens responsibility for what happened. It was right in the wake of the American invasion that the worst savageries swept Iraqi museums.

It was a time when normal Iraqi society and supervision of institutions had been scattered to the winds. Remember how the Pentagon promised that it would produce, “shock and awe” in Iraq? And it did, with no provision made to protect one of the world’s greatest collections of irreplaceable ancient treasures.

The mindless looting and destruction of Iraq’s antiquities was a highly disturbing addition to the invasion.

One of the things Saddam had been quite good at doing was preserving Iraq’s archeology and art. He made a huge state effort, and many wondrous ancient things were in Iraq’s museums and at its many preserved and restored ancient sites.

Iraq was one of the great early centers of human civilization, one just as important as ancient Egypt.

All of its surviving archeology and art had been cared for and organized to foster study and scholarship.

It was simply disgraceful the way the invaders allowed so many important things to be destroyed and stolen.

While the stolen items may be recovered eventually through the work being done in Iraq, the large amount of material wantonly destroyed cannot be. It truly smacked of “the barbarians at the gates.”

But then what can one say about an illegal invasion which ended up killing at least a million people and reduced what was in many ways the Arab world’s most advanced society to piteous ruins, ruins where clean water and electricity and employment would disappear for years.

 

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