Under the Eyes of U.S. Forces and This Happened?
Mr. Arjomand is a professor of sociology at the State University of New York (Stony Brook).
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The sack of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and looting of its unique and most precious relics of the Mesopotamian civilization, probably by organized groups, which went on for forty-eight hours under the eyes of U.S. forces on April 11 and April 12, must be considered a gross dereliction of duty on their part. It was followed, on April 13, by the looting and then torching of the National Library and Archives, which was located opposite the intact building of the Defense Ministry and contained invaluable manuscripts. Our troops, who have been proudly guarding the Oil Ministry, where no window is broken, deliberately condoned these horrendous events. According to the Hague Convention this failure to protect Iraq's irreplaceable cultural heritage constitutes a war crime, as does inaction by an occupying force while witnessing the looting of hospitals. This wanton destruction of the cultural heritage of humanity is for more extensive than the Taliban's savage demolition of the Buddha statues in Bamiyan, and the U.S. must bear the heavy responsibility for it.
In fact, the sack of the Iraq Museum under American occupation is unprecedented in recent history. The Nazis did remove museum collections, but they packed them carefully and kept inventories, which made their return after the war possible. The Iraqis were much berated for taking the collection of the Kuwait Museum during the first Gulf War, but they did so in accordance with the Hague Convention. They were responsible for the collection as invaders--so the packed it professionally, took an inventory, and informed UNESCO at the time that they had taken the collection to Baghdad for safekeeping. The one parallel, sadly, is the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258, when the library was destroyed and its invaluable manuscripts thrown into the Tigris.
There had been at least two meetings between American archaeologists and the
State Department, and a number of communications between them and the Department
of Defense and Central Command, about the possibility of such looting between
the time Saddam's forces cut and ran and the arrival of the U.S. forces. No
one thought such an act of violence against humanity would occur after the occupation
of Baghdad and under the eyes of our troops.
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mona reicht - 6/10/2003
The most recent news concerning the "priceless" artifacts "missing" is quite interesting. I suppose when you accuse someone of war crimes and the evidence you use to back up these accusations turn out to be total garbage, an apology is due. Dont get too exicted though, Said. I wont be holding my breath.
Mitch S - 4/28/2003
Seems to me that there is a left/right split in the way we all process information. Nothing new here right? Well, very simply, for me to put my two cents in, we have to agree that Said Arjomand's intent is to imply that the looting went on under the auspices of American troops. My point is to imply that in order to post at the History News Network, it is important to make sure we are not posting at the "Revisionist History News Network". In order to do that, facts must remain facts and theory must be twisted to support fact, not the other way around. Personally,I can't stand leftist/liberal professors whose ideology dictates how they write an article and always feel it neccesary to blame America for all the troubles in the world. Betcha this guy Arjomand is incapable of writing any positive spin with regard to the American liberation of Iraq. The problem here is that too many young and fertile minds believe his tripe. Shame on Arjomand and rest assured that my kids will never sit in any classes this clown "teaches".
Phil Cavalier - 4/20/2003
Typical bankrupt scholarship.
He wrote: The sack of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and looting of its unique and most precious relics of the Mesopotamian civilization, probably by organized groups, which went on for forty-eight hours under the eyes of U.S. forces on April 11 and April 12, must be considered a gross dereliction of duty on their part.
Do you believe this is true. This guy is a Professor of Socialology. Does he know more then the scholarly professors in the antiquities field who say this was an inside job and do not critize the US or try to politize the issue. If you have any evidence to the contrary let me know. Not only does he not know what he is talking about he is not even qualifed in the field.
However, if you are willing to cheat on a quote you can not be trusted on anything you do or say.
Rafael Gomez - 4/20/2003
What should Arjomand apologize for?
What facts are wrong in his article?
You quote some news saying that a UN panel had concluded that the looting was mainly done by organized gangs, as if these news contradicted Arjomand.
Well, if you didn't read Arjomand's first paragraph (which you should have done before criticizing), here it's part of it:
"The sack of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and looting of its unique and most precious relics of the Mesopotamian civilization, PROBABLY BY ORGANIZED GROUPS, ..."
Where are the "wrong facts"?
You are the one who should write 100 times on the board:
"I should read carefully before criticizing"
Phil Cavalier - 4/18/2003
Seems your facts were wrong. But based on honest scholarship I am sure an apology to our government officials and the military is forthcoming.
But first, write on the board 100 times:
First you get all the facts, then you draw conclusions. Don't let personal animus color your thoroughts.
I am sure your mistakes will make you a better teacher in the future.
On April 17th, the UN at a meeting in Paris concluded that: “Much of the looting of treasures at Iraq (news - web sites)'s national museum was carried out by organized gangs who traffic in works of ancient art, according to experts at a United Nations (news - web sites) conference called to examine the war-damage to the country's cultural
heritage.” "Probably (it was done) by the same sorts of gangs that have been paying for the destruction of sites in Iraq over the last 12 years and the smuggling out of these objects into the international market,"
Gus Moner - 4/17/2003
Rumsfeld didn't create a mess; it's all just a bit untidy, as he himself put it. Regardless of who is to blame, (we'll never know) it is clear the USA had the statutory obligation to safeguard the museum, hospitals and other key sites. Clearly, it did not do so. Evidence that it could have is that it did so at the oil ministry and all the oil fields.
This leaves little room for doubt as to what the priorities are for this administration in this war.
Too Quick, etc. - 4/15/2003
I forgot the link:
Too Quick to Blame USA - 4/15/2003
This is probably closer to the truth than the comments below:
KANAN MAKIYA'S WAR DIARY (The New Republic):
"One friend told me that the looting of the National Museum--something that cut deeply into me--was the work of newly deposed Baathist officials, who had been selling off our patrimony as they saw their days were numbered. As the regime fell, these (ex-)Baathists went back for one last swindle, and took with them treasures that dated back 9,000 years, to the Sumerians and the Babylonians. One final crime perpetrated by Saddam's thugs.
Kevin M. Fitzpatrick - 4/15/2003
Give Central Command credit. They did save the Oil Ministry. But this war is not about oil is it.?
Suetonius - 4/14/2003
Yes, absolutely! Since the WMD have been discovered, the Defense Department has urged patience patience until each find can be absolutely confirmed as definitely WMD. I'd be the first to agree, and if you examine the forum you'll see that my posts toned down shortly after the initial discoveries.
That said...you'll agree with me that in both instances patience is worthwhile, until we know the entire story?
Meanwhile, the shameful looters have managed to burn down the library. Now that _is_ disgraceful. But can we be sure that it wasn't the last gasp of the Ba'athists, who, we are all aware, were willing to put military equipment right up against their own priceless treasures, in violation of the Geneva Convention?
R. Kurdlion - 4/14/2003
Actually, make that 3 times for the letter "s" in "SS troops".
We still have a long way to go before a new 1000-year Reich is proclaimed in Washington
Sophocles - 4/14/2003
Patience from someone in other forums had posted that the US forces had found WMDs even before storyies were confirmed? So patience is needed to confrim somethign that looks bad for teh US forces in Iraq but unconfriemd reports of WMds is fine to post without waiting to see teh true outcome.
R. Kurdlion - 4/14/2003
Bill Maher is right, notwithstanding typos. I WAS concerned about the attacks on September 11th. I still AM concerned. The Secretary of "Defense" failed to defend his own building against an enemy armed with box cutters, and Congress has yet to hold a proper investigation. If we were to scrutinize our intelligence, military, and international policies to the level of detail to which Bill Clinton's sex life was examined, we would need 50 Ken Starrs.
But what is going on now is worse. Not content with being a questionably competent Defense Secretary, Ober-Commandant Rumsfeld now wants to take center stage in shaping a new FOREIGN policy, one in which America becomes a kind of oversized multi-cultural Likud Israel, whose rulers can bomb anywhere, anytime they feel like it, and let world opinion, and America’s long term interests, be damned.
It cannot be denied that Rumsfeld has genuine talent. The high-tech rapid reaction invasion tested out in Iraq has, in purely military terms, been quite impressive. (As was the Blitzkrieg strategy of the Wehrmacht in 1939-40, again speaking solely in terms of military effectiveness). Once Rumsfeld has been properly brought to justice and if (a big if) he shows proper remorse for his arrogant transgressions, one might imagine giving him a new job with our government: issue him a uniform, and send him to Baghdad to help clean up the mess he has made.
Meanwhile, though, the shame of the needlessly-destroyed seven thousand year-old artifacts is something America will have to live with forever.
Sophocles - 4/14/2003
" Our troops, who have been proudly guarding the Oil Ministry, where no window is broken, deliberately condoned these horrendous events. According to the Hague Convention this failure to protect Iraq's irreplaceable cultural heritage constitutes a war crime, as does inaction by an occupying force while witnessing the looting of hospitals." That's from the article. The US occupation force was able to topple a statue and defend the looting of buildings. Why not Museums and National Archives? And we seem to eb the only invading nation that couldn't do this.
ProfPaul - 4/14/2003
You cannot use 9/11 as a justification for everything. Why should the author's reactions to that tragedy be relevant to his anger over the looting of the Baghdad Museum? The Iraqis bear primary blame as the perpetrators, but Americans have secondary responsibility. They removed the civil order and failed to fill the gap. Scholars had been in contact with the administration and listed the museum as the top site to be protected. The military should have moved with some of the same purpose and planning as was exhibited in seizing the oil fields.
This is a mammoth black eye; there is no defense.
Bill Maher - 4/14/2003
Such passion. Kurdlion is to be commended. I just know he was as concerned about 3000 on 9/11.
Suetonius - 4/14/2003
While I share your concern about the looting of the museums, I think we should be patient while we learn more about what has gone on and what has been done to correct this.
It may prove in the end that Iraqis who worked at the museum preventatively looted the place. There was a report in an Australian newspaper (I'm looking for it now) that the employees of the museum had been sleeping at the museum and had trained in taking the most valuable items home with them. When peace and calm is restored, we may well see much of this stuff returned.
Kevin M. DeVita - 4/14/2003
Mr. Arjomand should place most of the blame on the people that perpetrated this act themselves, the citizens of Baghdad. The U.S. military had just recently taken a city the size of L.A. and had to worry about force preservation from terrorist attacks. To call this a "war crime" is totally outrageous. Please stick to Sociology and not international law.
Richard Kurdlion - 4/14/2003
In war effort involving thousands of tanks and hundreds of thousands of soldiers, the failure to protect the museum of the cradle of civilization is unconscionable. We all saw the pictures of U.S. marines toppling the statute, parading through the streets, showing off their booty from the palaces etc.. It defies common sense to think that the museum could not have been protected by American forces.
Confronted with this act of willful and gross negligence, which has horribly disgraced our country, the cowardly and arrogant Defense Secretary not only does not apologize, he scoffs, thus adding cruel insult to his grave injury.
Whatever the ethnic origins of his name, we Americans are not Nazis who loot and plunder other countries. Whatever the real proclivities of Mr. Rumsfeld's advisors and aides, we are not Sharonistas who stand by and let crimes take place under our noses.
After Congress impeaches and removes from power this corrupt and arrogant fool, who has betrayed everything our country stands for, it should demand a full investigation and full punishment of all those who contributed to the negligence he now laughs at.
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