:: Friday, 18 April 2003 ::
We were afraid of bombing. We never thought there would be looting.
This from an advisor at Iraq's Ministry of Culture, about the damage to the contents of the Museum at Baghdad.
Incredible. What planet is this guy on? He and others from his Ministry are charged with responsibility for the care and presentation of priceless antiquities, they watch a military buildup for months, watch as bombing begins and military action continues for several weeks, and they do not imagine that those priceless antiquities would form a target for theft? That is what looting is, theft. Theft under cover of chaos and upheaval, practiced by pigs in the gamble that the chaos and upheaval will cause them to avoid detection.
I do not believe that Iraqi advisor for one single second.
This man is asking me to believe that he and his colleagues are so uncaring of the history in their care that they do not perceive risk in a time of war, are so lazy that they are satisfied just to write letters to the Americans demanding no bombs as the way to minimise the risk, and are so incompetent that they do not actually move the contents of that museum around to secure the really important stuff. That is what he is asking me to beieve.
I do not believe him. I believe he is complicit in the theft. Either expressly, or by his obscene negligence.
I believe he was caught by surprise at violence and wanton destruction by his compatriots, because, like persons who work in the arts and cultural fields the world over, he has no idea how some people just do not give a fuck about art and histroy and what he does for a living, and some people see art and history as nothing more than money on a stick.
And I believe he is not absolved one iota for the loss we now all sustain at the damage done to Baghdad's museum.
And the Americans. How fucking hard is it to drive a fucking tank into the goddam grounds of the museum, and put the place up in lights, on the day that statute fell? Before it got attacked.
The Americans knew that spot needed their protection, knew the Iraqi Ba'athists would play dirty and make the museum hard to protect, knew the Iraqi Ministry of Culture would be as incompetent as every other Iraqi Ministry under Ba'athist rule.
This whole business was avoidable, and it was not avoided. Credit where it is due - the museum is secure now and people are giving some stuff back. Americans doing their bit and Iraqis doing their bit too to right the wrongs of the past few days.
And criticism where it is due too. The Iraqis should never have plundered their own museum, and the Americans should have acted to stop or at least minimise that plunder earlier.
Disgusting. Who do I loathe more? Well, the plunderers of course. The ones who are to blame. Pigs.
:: WB 6:49 pm [link+] ::