How telling that U.S. forces so carefully protected Iraq's oil fields while ignoring the looting of Baghdad's internationally renowned museum. The complete, and by all accounts preventable, destruction of one of the world's most significant collections of antiquities is a fit metaphor for current U.S. foreign policy, which causes more serious damage through carelessness than calculation.
The notion that Iraq even has history -- let alone that 7,000 years ago this land was the cradle of civilization -- is not likely to occur to the neocolonialists running a brawny young nation barely more than 200 years old. The United States' earnest innocence is the charm that our entertainment industry markets so successfully around the world, but it is also the perennial seed of disaster as we blithely rearrange corners of the planet we only pretend to understand.
To Donald Rumsfeld, the widespread looting that has ravaged hospitals, libraries and museums in Iraq was simply further proof the U.S. invasion of this fractured Muslim country represents liberation. "Freedom's untidy," he said. "And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes." Translation: You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
It almost sounds as if the Defense secretary is projecting onto the looters a blanket excuse for deadly errors the White House and the U.S. military have made and will continue to make in Iraq: alienating allies, killing civilians, handpicking craven and corrupt Iraqi "leaders" who haven't been in the country for decades. This is, after all, the distillation of the Bush Doctrine: Free countries are free to commit mistakes and commit crimes in unfree countries.
One wonders whether Rumsfeld would extend such tolerance to the United States' own 2 million prisoners. Surely he would not dismiss our country's long history of urban riots as an example of the untidiness of freedom? It is only in Iraq that we believe, to quote a song Janis Joplin made famous, that "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."
Yet neither the awesome display of U.S. military power or the slew of false justifications used to unleash it -- the imminent threat of Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction, now likely to be proved nonexistent, or the unsubstantiated claims that Iraq is linked to 9/11 -- qualifies the U.S. to remake a nation with which we have absolutely no affinity.
If Iraq needs a foreign midwife to assist in its rebirth it should be under the broader sponsorship of the United Nations Security Council, which our macho president continues to disparage for having failed to vote our way. Will the democracy we so glibly promote for Iraq be pushed aside if it similarly fails to produce results to our liking?
Eager to rebuild their country after years of misrule, will Iraqis really swallow the shameless plans of Bush insiders to privatize Iraqi oil while the administration awards billions of dollars in contracts to U.S. companies?
And what if Iraqi Muslim fundamentalists prove as successful at the polls as radicals in Algeria, where the U.S. only mildly rebuked a repressive regime for smashing a popularly elected but theocratic opposition?
If the new Iraq follows the path of Pakistan and Turkey, where the populace is inclined to obliterate any wall between state and church, will the U.S. spin this as a victory for democracy? Will Rumsfeld justify the ethnic cleansing common in a nation riven with competing tribes, clans and religious sects arbitrarily packed together by previous colonialist rulers as the unruly joy of freedom?
Why have the media bought the administration's propaganda that we come to Iraq with clean hands and virgin swords to slay the dragon of Saddam Hussein, when the U.S. did so much to keep him in power? Surely, even embedded journalists recall that it was Reagan administration special envoy Rumsfeld who met with Hussein in the 1980s to guarantee U.S. support for Iraq's war with Iran.
Once again, we're deep in the "nation-building" game that Bush the candidate railed against in 2000. Having blundered in, guns blazing, we should now play to win the peace, slowly backing out and inviting a true multinational rebuilding effort with support from the U.N. and Muslim countries.
And for heaven's sake, can we remember in our next preemptive invasion to assign at least a few of our tanks to protect the hospitals and museums?
Robert Scheer writes a syndicated column for The Los Angeles Times.
Keep up the good work Mr. Robert.
Do you know why you dont hear any comments from the islamic community? Its because your'e watchng CNN... Thats why.
The blame for theft is always with the thief. As much blame will also lay with anyone who deals with the thieves. The black market for the items is restricted to wealthy individuals and without them the items have no value to the theives.
Whilst there is much blame attached to the US military, I don't hear any comment from the Islamic communuty regarding the blame to be attached to the theives themselves. Why has Mr Schier not addressed that issue?
On the other hand, statues (and other such artifacts) bearing a likeness to human beings, after various research on them has been completed, are merely "so much mud and stone" - as a member of the Taliban had so eloquently put it, in response to the widely condemned destruction of two religious relics in Afghanistan. Admittedly, I would prefer that artifacts were held hostage, in demands for economic assistance, rather than Allah's living creations.
As Salaamu Alaikum.
I do hope that the leaders and the people of Muslim countries stand up strong to preserve the treasures of the holy land. After all, we do not want Iraq to be as free as the corrupted American society is.
As for Iraq having part in the 9-11 attack, it is not possible when the US prides it self in having the most sophisticated technology I heard something like they can see a black fly for miles away. So how could they have missed not one but two passenger planes that had no business been there. Having said that, I'm no expert, how is that possible unless they (US) blew up the twin towers themselves?
Since the 9-11 the US has successfully destroyed two countries and working on more for example Syria it's the US threaten to attack that country next? The US actions are going to cause lots of grief for the world. One moms opinion.
you're so 'lack of information' to understand about your country's hidden motives for the invasion.search for more independent news and mingling in this site is such a good move.but I agree with that saddam's henious palaces though.
I assume you are not a Muslim because of your assumption that religion cannot coexist with state. Islam is a complete way of life, which we Muslims believe is divinely ordained. Hence, guidance for the state comes from religion. The problem lies in the fact that majority of the Muslim states oppress their own people, which is against the teachings of Islam.
Your question as to how to control spread of WMD! You and i individually have little energy and the means to prevent its spreading. But what we can do is understand the facts properly without polarizing our intellect. Then let others know what you have understood. A group is more powerful than an individual in most cases.
Robert Fisk in his latest dispatch from Baghdad raised very important questions that must be answered: Who are the arsonists? Who is funding them? Who is sending them from outside Baghdad in white and blue busses into designated targets?
I find it extremely hard to believe that the Iraqis would burn their own ancient manuscripts of the Quran. Why would they do that? Saddam has always oppressed the religious people in Iraq and his regime was a secular Baathist founded by a Christian. So who are those arsonists avenging against by burning the Quranic scripts?
I think that the FOX new channel should read this artilce before they praise our president and Mr. Rumsfeild.