Something I don’t hear talked about much about Iraq has to do with antiquities lost. Maybe to some it’s because it doesn’t seem appropriate to worry about stuff when so many innocent lives have been lost. I think too it’s because most Americans don’t have a clue what has been destroyed.
Close your eyes for a minute and pretend in your mind that the Iraq war wasn’t in Iraq. Pretend for just a minute that instead the exact same thing had happened in Egypt. Then imagine all the loss of lives both innocent civilians, local fighters and American soldiers. Then imagine how you would feel if I told you that in addition to the human toll, the sphinx and the 3 pyramids at Giza were all gone. Not only that but sitting where one of the pyramids once stood for all those thousands of years was now a burger king. The burger joint put there so our soldiers have a little comfort from home.
I just finished reading Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson, the third book in a trilogy focusing on the American empire. Empire is not something that I thought we were about here in the good ole USA but these days apparently that is what our fearless leaders are striving for. Johnson goes in depth into the rise and eventual fall of the Roman Empire and the similarities are obvious. Can you say Military Industrial Complex? For early warnings about how this could prove to be our downfall see President Eisenhower’s final farewell speech.
I think he knew a little about the subject being a four star general and all.
Getting back to the loss of the artifacts let me just say that they go back a very very long time. Biblical references to Iraq called it something else…Mesopotamia. Another empire named it Iraq…The British Empire. That Empire didn’t fair to well either as I recall. What we now know as Iraq is where written language may have been first recorded. A million books, clay tablets and scrolls are now gone. Thank George Bush. Rumsfeld didn’t provide for any protection of the museums during the invasion and they were all looted or reduced to rubble or both. When asked about it he said something like “stuff happens…it’s war.” Maybe when this nightmare is all over Bush could donate a few copies of My Pet Goat to Iraq to put on the empty shelves of their new library. (In this infamous video the secret service whispered to Bush about the planes hitting the World Trade Center while he sits there for 7 minutes reading my pet goat to this class)
I know it’s just stuff but when stuff like that manages to survive thousands and thousands of years and then it’s the age that I’m living in that finally destroys it that makes me very sad. For historians, archeologists and scholars I’m sure it makes them very very sad. For the people in Iraq I think they are going to be very very pissed off someday when they get on with living after losing their countrymen, women and children and figure out the extent of what else has been destroyed. The only reason they haven’t yet is they’re still too busy just trying to survive.
The repercussions from this war are yet unseen but one thing not being discussed is returning any found artifacts to the people of Iraq. Several thousand items from the museums we didn’t protect during the invasion have all ready started to turned up in countries around the world including the U.S. I hope the next president takes this issue under consideration and helps return these items as they are found back to the Iraqi people where they belong. National treasure as well as natural resources belong to the people where they are from. One of the reasons countries protect their boundaries is to protect these treasures and resources from plunder. If and when we put any thought into helping put their country back together again I hope some effort is put into stopping illegal trade in these ancient artifacts and in returning them to the place where they belong…in Iraq.
When the ancient Buddha statues where destroyed by the Taliban a few years ago the world was outraged. Read Chalmers Johnson’s book Nemesis and you will be too. One more thing your not hearing about in the U.S. media.