What the Looting of the Iraqi National Museum Tells Us About Iraqi Society





Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is http://www.danielpipes.org.

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Who's to blame for the destruction of Iraqi museums, libraries and archives, amounting to what the New York Times calls "one of the greatest cultural disasters in recent Middle Eastern history"?

The Bush administration, say academic specialists on the Middle East. They proceed to compare American leaders to some of the worst mass-murderers in history.

  • Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University: U.S. political leaders are "destroyers of civilization" like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
  • Michael Sells of Haverford College: They are "barbarians" whose "criminal neglect" makes them comparable to Nero.
  • Said Arjomand of the State University of New York (Stony Brook): The U.S. government's "war crime" renders it akin to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258.

These academics overlook one tiny detail, however: It was Iraqis who looted and burned, and they did so against the coalition's wishes. Blaming Americans for Iraqi crimes is deeply patronizing, equating Iraqis with children not responsible for their actions.

The academics also overlook another fact: the extreme rarity of such cultural self-destruction.

The French did not sack the Louvre in 1944. The Japanese did not burn their national library a year later. Panamanians did not destroy their archives in 1990. Kuwaitis did not destroy their historic Korans in 1991. Yes, looting took place in all these cases, but nothing approached what the Associated Press calls Iraq's "unchecked frenzy of cultural theft."

And a frenzy it was. At the National Museum of Iraq, perhaps the greatest storehouse of antiquities in the Middle East, "the 28 galleries of the museum and vaults with huge steel doors guarding storage chambers that descend floor after floor into unlighted darkness had been completely ransacked," reported one eyewitness.

The devastation at Iraq's national library and archives was worse, for both institutions were purposefully incinerated. Much of the country's culture and records was destroyed; "nothing was left in the national library's main wing but its charred walls and ceilings and mounds of ash." The smoldering shell contained the charred remnants of historic books "and a nation's intellectual legacy gone up in smoke." Iraq's main Islamic library, with its collection of "rare early legal and literary materials, priceless Korans, calligraphy and illumination" was also burned.

This descent into barbarism is so unusual, it has only a single precedent - Iraqi actions in '90-'91.

  • In Kuwait: When Kuwait was an Iraqi province, Iraqi troops plundered the national museum, set fire to the planetarium, ransacked libraries and otherwise crippled the cultural infrastructure.
  • In Iraq: During the instability that followed Iraq's loss, anti-government elements engaged in a looting rampage, pillaging regional museums and other cultural institutions, stealing some 4,000 items. Archaeologists published a catalogue, "Lost Heritage: Antiquities Stolen from Iraq's Regional Museums," to prevent trade in these artifacts.

How to explain this possibly unique Iraqi penchant for cultural self-hatred? The inherently violent quality of modern Iraqi society is one cause.

Writing in 1968, the Israeli scholar Uriel Dann explained that a climate of violence is "part of the political scene in Iraq . . . . It is an undercurrent which pervades the vast substrata of the people outside the sphere of power politics. Hundreds of thousands of souls can easily be mobilized on the flimsiest pretext. They constitute a permanently restive element, ready to break into riots."

The Kuwaiti scholar Shafiq N. Ghabra expanded on this theme in 2001 in the Middle East Quarterly. Noting Iraq's uneasy mix of Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites, urbanites and tribal members, plus other divisions, he noted how unmanageable governments found this diversity, which led them to create "a state devoid of political compromise." Leaders "liquidated those holding opposing views, confiscated property without notice, trumped up charges against its enemies and fought battles with imaginary domestic foes."

The empty shell of the national library testifies mutely to the excesses of a country singularly prone to violence against itself.

The blame for the looting in Iraq, therefore, lies not with the coalition forces but with the Iraqis themselves. Yes, the coalition should have prepared better, but Iraqis alone bear moral responsibility for the cultural wreckage.

This conclusion has two implications. Middle East specialists have yet again confirmed their political obtuseness. And Iraqis have signaled that they will act in ways highly unwelcome to the coalition.



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Stuart Draper - 3/26/2008


Granted Mr. Pipes was writing right after the looting had taken place but, we now know that everything in the Museum was not taken. The most valuable collection of gold coins in the Middle East was left untouched because the thieves couldn't find them.

But the real thrust of his writing is that the Iraqis are to blame for the looting, not the US. Let me see, who has more control over the situation, the poor Iraqi in the street caught up in the invasion of his own country or the US gov't that just had to put a tank in front of the Museum to avoid the looting from happening. Take a guess. Pipes is just another cheerleader for the Bush machine. Keep on passing the buck to those who couldn't do anything and everything will be just fine.

And despite all the crap that's happened in the last five years I feel it also important to remember the events that occurred at the beginning of the invasion. I made an eight minute documentary about the looting of the Iraqi National Museum. I had the good fortune of interviewing Dr. Donny George, the former director of the Museum, and learned a great deal about this tragic, historical, and still misunderstood event. Below is a link to the video. I hope it is insightful about one aspect of the this war that is still raging five years later.
-Stuart Draper

http://www.scribemedia.org/2008/02/07/looting-the-iraqi-national-museum/


NYGuy - 5/12/2003

Since you are the only boy on the block that does not know what happened at the Baghdad Museum and you are unaware of the false and misleading statements by supposedly intelligent individuals, their is nothing I can do to educate you. To do that would require some research, something that those who made false claims refused to do. It seems like a professional defect in modern scholars. Since they have been "educated" facts are no longer required to draw conclusion. Now I am beginning to understand how this works and where you are coming from.


Derek Catsam - 5/11/2003

So you're asking me to prove a negative? Did you miss that day in Logic 101?

Meanwhile WHAT FALSE PROPAGANDA HAVE I SPEWED? This is the third time you have levelled an accusation my way that has not appeared in a single post. Once again, beyond name calling, you have not actually made any points about a thing I have said. You accuse me of spewing falso propaganda. What -- what have a I spewed? Name one thing. You lie about my posts, make hints about wehat i may or may not be an expert in, hide behind a pseudonym, write increasingly unintelligible posts accusing peoiple of things they never said. Once and for all, what propaganda did I spew.

Furthermore, you refuse to acknowledge that it was you who impugned the intelligence and education of others, and then like every other schoolyard bully instantly began crying when someone came back at you with both barrels. What actually happened at the Iraqi Museum is still not fully known, and it is still being debated by experts on both sides. The looters have nmot been caught, and so we do not know who those looters were and fully when everything happaned. Some have criticized the military for their nonintervention and I have said that much of that criticism is too harsh but that if there were mistakes made the leadership needs to be called to the mat for it. What is so damned controversial about that that it would inspire you to such name calling, lying, misrepresentation, and anger, and why does it make ME a spewer of propaganda? All I ask for is one citation of one post where I say what you say I said.


NYGuy - 5/9/2003

You have not refuted anything I said and evidently you still have no clue about the Baghdad looting, but you persist in your attempts to create intelligent debate out of ignorance.

You are the "historical expert in the field" and say that what I say is not true. But, as the scholar who knows about the U. S. military and teaches courses on military atrocities I would think that you would cite examples, from military history, that what I am saying is not true. But, you want me to cite my experience and reading, give you a reading list, etc. etc. which is not what debate is about.

I expressed an opinion and you disagree. And despite your military expertise you can't counter my position. But, in each post you betray a true disregard for discussion. Unable to contradiict my opinion, and come forward with a learned discourse on why I am wrong, you escalate your attacks from being a monkey to being a coward and being shameless.

Not only can't you refute an argument but you can't substantiate your own opinions. Between you and the expert professors who spew out false propaganda, can you understand why people have so much concern about what their children are being taught in college, and who their professors are.


Derek Catsam - 5/9/2003

NYGuy --
You say the following: "My experience and reading show that giving aid and comfort to our enemies during a time of war does cause troops to be wounded, killed and put in a more dangerous position."
What experience and what reading -- cite authors and cite evidence. That is all I have been asking you to do for two weeks and change now and you refuse to do it. Most of the rest of your post is rambling nonsense that does not refer to any of my posts or any argument I have made. I have not defended those who misrepresented what may or may not have happened at the Iraqi museum. Where have I shown a "closed mind"? You are good at making these out of left field accusations that have no connections to anything that people here actually write. I am thinking more and more that your cowardice is second to your apparent shame in keeping yourself anonymous.


NYGuy - 5/9/2003

Your confused posts are only exceeded by your confused statements and restatements. Still I do not see what you are talking about and was unable to get the total post you made.

You have a closed mind and will only accept what you want to accept. If you want to defend historians who make false statements that are not based on any facts,do so. That is your choice and your right.

You may have noticed that today CNN asked Rumsfed and Franks if they got a bum rap on the Baghdad museum looting. Rumsfeld said that he was advised three weeks before the looting that the Iraq professionals had put the antiquies away for protection. This is what I reported on my earlier posts citing similiar statements made by the head of the Baghdad Museum. He added that they had learned from the earlier Gulf War and took measures to protect the antiques. Meanwhile the U. S. Government and the U. S. military was given 4,000 archeaological sites to protect and not one was damaged.

Despite this information which was known to all professionals in the field, some felt obligated to spout out false political rhetoric that accused the U. s. Government and the U. S. military of not protecting the museum, that they were war criminals, they stood around and watched or helped the looters and that the right wingers carried out a "vast right wing" conspiracy by joining with religious muslins and destroing Idols.etc., etc. (So much for serious scholarship). This information was broadcast in headines around the world and shown in Iraq and to other countries which contained terrorists who hate American. It was also broadcast while our troops were in an unstable and dangerous position. Actually the war has not ended and they are still in a dangerous situation.

Today one soldier was killed by a sniper and another by a suicide murderer.

My position is that the irresponsible behavoir of mindless professionals, historians and others put our troops in greater danger and that it no doubt had an influencce on the minds of the two who killed the soldiers, as it gives then not only another reason for their actions, but also gives them the courage and resolve to carry out their killings.

You don't agree. That is fine. But then you can't agree or disagree since you say you are unable to see any connection or follow or understand my arguments. That is fine too. But you can't disprove the assertion either. I have my opinions which I have stated clearly.

You may be able to say that you can not find, based on your historical backgraound, any reason why what I say is true. That is fine too. But, that is not what you said. So what we have here is a disagreement which is what the U. S., and freedom of speech is all about. My experience and reading show that giving aid and comfort to our enemies during a time of war does cause troops to be wounded, killed and put in a more dangerous position.

Remember the Twin Towers, Remember our Troops, Let's keep them safe, "a slip of the lip, sinks ships".


Derek Catsam - 5/9/2003

Whoa, whiney NYGuy -- I made my spelling and grammar comments in response to one of YOUR digs: "so much for today's education." You cannot have it both ways -- you cannot slur and slander the education of others and then get called on it and whine your way through a post. It has nothing to do with elitism. It has to do with your double standard.
What ideas am I not standing behind, NYGuy? How am I a coward? I write what I believe and I use my name. I am standing front and center behind what i write. It is you who writes any damned fool thing he likes and does not stand behind what he writes. You still have not explained your own anonymity even while you condemn others as cowards.
Meanwhile, what are you talking about -- "aliens and foreign students need not apply?" Er, I do my work on civil rights and on race, politics and social movements in the US and South Africa. I have been a foreign student and welcome more, not less into the US. Are you so incapable of making a strong argument that you resort to blanket and utterly inaccurate ad hominems that have nothing to do with anything? What on earth would make you think that I do not support aliens and foreigners, and how does that have anything to do with what we are talking about? To even things up, should I say something equally devoid of content but equally damning as "NYGuy needs to stop fondling young boys"? Would that be fair and accurate and germane?
What are my slanted ideas with which you so stongly indict my grading habits, habits you cannot possibly know? I am just curious -- name one idea I have given on here that makes you think your omniscience is warranted? YOU RAISED THE EDUCATION ISSUE, NOT ME. That you are being hoisted on your own petard is just a pleasant irony that many of us are surely taking.
You keep claiming that exercise of free speech puts soldiers in danger. You need to show evidence of that. Until you can do so, you continue to make assertions without evidence, something even the nonelitists should find disquieting.


NYGuy - 5/9/2003

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. I thought this was a discussion of ideas.

But, you and Derek are now beginning to betray your true elitist attitude and prejudice against those who do not spell perfectly and don’t use correct English grammar. Particularly since most college students have to take special courses in how to write in English, and in some colleges knowing English is not even required to graduate. I certainly would not want to be students being taught by two such bigoted individuals. They would not have a chance if they were marked on there English and not their ideas. But, I guess it all depends on whether they agreed with your slanted ideas or not.

Meanwhile, you show yourself to be the coward since you are again afraid to stand behind what you say and now want HNN to census this board to be “politically correct” for a “non-politically correct” historian. Typical, I understand it. Perhaps I can get all my misspellings corrected.

So far you have not answered the questions posed, but have supported historians who come to conclusions with no facts and pass themselves off as experts.

So far you have said that these same professors have every right to free, but false speech, and that they are correct in passing on these false conclusion to the world, helping the enemy and putting the lives of U. S. troops in greater danger. You may have noticed recently that two soldiers where killed and the ones who killed them were likely inflamed by the irresponsible ranting of a bunch of historians who put their political belief above the safety of the troops.

Is it true the sign on your door reads, “Aliens and foreign students need not apply”.



Josh Greenland - 5/9/2003

NY Guy,
I realized after the fact that I screwed up by putting the word "cowards" in the title of my previous post. I don't mean this, and I apologize. That was going way too far on my part. I stand by the content of the message itself. But I will request that the sys admin change the title if that's what you want.
- Josh Greenland


Josh Greenland - 5/9/2003

Derek, not only do I think you are unfair to retarded monkeys, and to all Ritalin-using simians when you equate their spelling to NY Guy's, but I think you would have been CRUELLY unfair to them if you'd equated their ability to use logic and answer responsively to his.

Excellent point about the pseudonym. I don't go around pounding my chest and blustering about how I'm "protecting" and "defending" people on this board, and I haven't seen you do that, but we're using our real names, while NY Guy won't.

I'm mostly in the Bellesiles discussion here on HNN (about gun ownership by US citizens), and as far as I can tell, every regular there, excepting perhaps only one, uses their real name. While the most pro-war "real man" here is too scared to.


Josh Greenland - 5/9/2003

"You are so used to cute discussions, i.e. I do not stand behind what I write and what I say, the dog eat my homework, what is the meaning of "is", tht you can morph into a camealeon and change your stripes and make noise but say nothing."

No, I'm asking for a simple explanation. I've asked for this in two previous posts so far:

"Please explain how HC Carey's "irresponsible comments about the military" "can result in our troops being killed or wounded" or in "putting the life of the U. S. military personnel in danger."

Are you able to do that?


NYGuy - 5/8/2003

The only problems sir is you have said nothing, at least nothing meaningful about the topic. I misspell since it tells me who are the people who have nothing to say and focus on spelling vs. those who are trying to make a contribution to this board.


Derek Catsam - 5/8/2003

I must chuckle at NYGuy's comment about people standing behind what they write and say as he writes behind the gutless anonymity of a pseudonym. I also like the "so much for today's education" smear from someone who misspells one syllable words and punctuates like a retarded monkey on ritilin. And I do stand behind what I say, brave, brave, anonymous poster.


NYGuy - 5/8/2003

There are non so blind as those who will not see.

You are so used to cute discussions, i.e. I do not stand behind what I write and what I say, the dog eat my homework, what is the meaning of "is", tht you can morph into a camealeon and change your stripes and make noise but say nothing.

You may have lived during the vietnam war but you were not putting your life on the line so you can be flip that Hanoi Jane and the Baghdad misinformed were merely yelling fire in a crowded theatre, and you find nothing wrong with that. So much for today's education.


NYGuy - 5/8/2003

Forget Pipes. Go after the antiwar and hate america groups who made false and misleading statements, as they did with Jane Fond in th Vietnam war. Although they had no basis for their remarks, as you point out in the NY Times story, they still put their bankrupt political opinions above the safety of our troops. Blame those who are really scary.


Josh Greenland - 5/8/2003

"So what exactly were you talking about. Was it the anti-war tactics of the Vietnam war when (I know how to save the world) Jane Fonda went to Hanoi and used her free speech privilidge to blamed the U. S. If you study the history of that period you will see that those troops fighting at that time said she put their lives in danger."

I lived through that time. Vietnam war soldiers were divided politically. i SERIOUSLY doubt that most US Vietnam war soldiers thought that Jane Fonda "put their lives in danger." I keep remembering demo after demo of Vietnam War vets cursing the US military and throwing away their medals. TV coverage of these was just a normal part of the 60s and early 70s. The anti-war vets felt US foreign policy and the US military, not Jane Fonda, put their lives in danger.


Josh Greenland - 5/8/2003

"You started a new thread and used a title that asked the following question:

"free speech = threat to lives of troops???"

Actually, I simply used that new title to reply to a message on an existing thread.

"So what exactly were you talking about."

I asked you a question in the post with the title you quoted that you haven't really answered. I'll repeat my question:

"Please explain how HC Carey's "irresponsible comments about the military" "can result in our troops being killed or wounded" or in "putting the life of the U. S. military personnel in danger."
http://hnn.us/comments/11751.html

I saw no real answer to that question in anything you've posted since then.


dan - 5/7/2003

"Thus we who have been fighting this mindless group were well aware of the facts while the anti-war and hate america types were spuring out there posion and putting the life of American solider in peril."

Well reasoned (NOT)...


dan - 5/7/2003

I'm assuming this comment was directed at the author of the piece people are commenting upon...


dan - 5/7/2003

Boy, but isn't that Bush guy a uniter, not a divider!


dan - 5/7/2003

Not to burst your bubble, but there were a couple of instances where early Presidents were seated under less than kosher circumstances, and there were many unpopular "illegal" early wars... Nary a fork of pitchedness was presented.

Of course, this set of facts flies in the face of the gun lobby's favorite reason that the founding fathers supposedly wanted everyone to own a gun...


Josh Greenland - 5/7/2003

I found the following quote in a New York Times story today. So what happens to Danny Pipes' theory of Iraqi national psychology now?

"In Paris, Attorney General John Ashcroft told an international law enforcement conference that the looting of Iraq's national museum had been committed by organized criminal groups — "who knew precisely what they were looking for" — rather than by mobs, as first thought."

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/06/international/worldspecial/06CND-POST.html?ex=1053256678&ei=1&en=3517d722dc4c1a90


NYGuy - 5/5/2003

You started a new thread and used a title that asked the following question:

free speech = threat to lives of troops???

This entire thread has been devoted to the irresponsible and false comments made by a number of historians which put the U. S. troops in greater danger while they were still fighting in the unstable environs of Baghdad.

I am sorry I misunderstood and thought you were giving an opinion on the poor behavoir and judgement of these historians, which was the topic at hand, with your question.

So what exactly were you talking about. Was it the anti-war tactics of the Vietnam war when (I know how to save the world) Jane Fonda went to Hanoi and used her free speech privilidge to blamed the U. S. If you study the history of that period you will see that those troops fighting at that time said she put their lives in danger.

Or was it some other period where false and misleading statements put the troops life in danger. Or was it just that the grunts get paid to die, get wounded and experience horrible conditions of mankind and these should not interfere with the U. S. intellectuals privildges of free speech? The one I loved is where one accused the "Vast right conspericy" for cooperating with Iraqis to make a political statement which was printed in the San Franciso press. Seems the "Christian" and "some muslim sect" conspired to detroy an "idol" Talk about off the wall?

To answer your questions, I would note that free speech does not extend to yelling Fire in a theatre which could kill and maim people. Therefore my position on free speech is that some of American's more intellectual individuals should have the common sense to know this too, and not yell fire when the troops are in an unstable, dangerous and hazardous theatre of operaiton.

They made foolish, false and misleading statements to newspapers, radio and TV, blaming America for the destruction of the Iraqi's heritage, and since no facts were available they knew they had nothing to base their irresponsible comments on and further knew their opinions would be used by the enemy. I believe this was wrong, and noted that many people consider it unpatriotic and unamerican. Actually, as I understand it the war is still going on.

Since you posted on this web I would like to know what your answer is to the Question: free speech = threat to lives of troops???

Appreciate your contribution to this discussion and I look forward to your opinion.


Josh Greenland - 5/5/2003

I don't care what Derek said, and I never said anything about historians in this forum. What ARE you talking about?


NYGuy - 5/4/2003

Hi HC, if I may be that familiar. I enjoyed your reasoned comment and your respect for the flag. There is no disagreement the flag should be flown respectively and even disposed of properly. I grew up in a family that always flew the American flag and I have flown them even before it became popular again.

Like you I have studied war and the horrors that soldiers of all stripes go through, so I don't just consider one side. The soldier does his duty as best he can while the politicians create the conditions in which he must try to survive.

My great-grandfather was at Gettysburgh on the first day and I am well versed in the terrible destruction inflicted on the troops, particularly Pickett's charge. He was also at Channcellorsville and his unit was on the right wing of Hooker's Army and they bore the full brunt of Jackson's initial onslaught. And I lived with a man, the finest human being I have ever known, who, after just turning 18 spent the final two months of WWI on the front lines of the Western Front which was described as "the meatgrinder" and decimated England, France and Germany's best. And I saw and knew those brave soldier of World War II. Relaltives were also at the fiercest fighting in Viet Nam.

So I believe we both can come together in our hatred of war and our anguish about human beings being killed, wounded and maimed. As I mentioned, people on both sides of the issue display their symbols of empowerment, political position and patriotism in different ways.

At this point we can have a legitimate disagreement on when war is or is not worthwhile or even if it is ever worthwhile. I never intended to have a rehash of the wisdom of invading Iraq. I tried to limit my concerns to a small time frame during the war in which the U. S. militiary was in grave danger. I have repeated my position several times and will not do it again.


You say, "My support for the troops is expressed in careful, thoughtful analysis of american history and active engagement in its policies." I respect you for that. I hope you also understand that I try to do the same and I am not launching a personal attack on those with whom I disagree, but only trying to express my sincere believe that there were many inflamatory commnets made that never should have been made.

Congratulations for your courage in standing up for what you believe in. That is what makes us strong.


Cheers
NYGuy


HC Carey - 5/4/2003

We actually don't disagree all that much. I have no idea why you keep mentioning Tim Robbins--I have no idea what he has said as I pay little attention to celebrities. You're also trying to make me into some kind of tied died Phish fan. far fro, reality, I can assure you. I am tired of being told, every time I say something remotely critical of the current war, that I'm not "supporting the troops." And while symbolic gestures of sympathy are powerful, their power is mostly for those who make the gesture-flags on pickups won't restore severed limbs, and they end up cheapening the meaning of a term like "support the troops."

My neighbor has had a flag flying from the house every day since 9-11. It is hanging, crooked, off her back windowsill. It remains out in all weather, at night (unilluminated), and has faded and is beginiing to fall apart. My wife, who grew up on army bases, is always annoyed. Her argument, and mine, is that the flag is a powerful symbol and so its use should be encumbered with serious thought and care, and with respect, and according to the formal conventions of flag use. Flying it constantly from pickups, hanging it off your house in a slipshod and sloppy way, these are empty symbolic gesturesthat make "patriotism" a mere sound.

It may seem hard to believe, but it a sense of the anguish of combat and the horror, danger, and violnece of war that leads me to be skeptical about it. My support for the troops is expressed in careful, thoughtful analysis of american history and active engagement in its policies. I could just go hang a flag off the car antena and go shopping, secure in the feeling that I'm "supporting the troops."


NYGuy - 5/4/2003

This is a reply to H. C. Carey.

You say: “Pleae explain how huffing and puffing about "supporting" the troops actually means a damn thing.” I can’t it is a learned thing and depends on who your teachers was.

It's a fact that the troops will do what they do over there no matter what you or I do.” Again you are right they get paid to be killed and wounded, experience unbelievable events and we should not make any more out of it than that.

“Yellow ribbons on trees,” it is a method of honoring and remembering brave men.

“ flags on pickup trucks”, you mean the ones specially outfitted to accommodate a veteran who had his/her arms or legs blown off. (See I can learn now that I have been advised that women also serve. I thank them for their service).

“ bloviating about "support" on web sites”. I thought some on this board were complaining about such comments as yours, which chill free speech. Oh, I forgot it is the Tim Robbins syndrome.

"does nothing whatsoever for the troops. It's just bluster."
Interesting response.

”But these knd of actions do give some people a comforting sense…” Yes indeed for a gold star mother who wants to let our troops know she is behind them, and in the process comfort her over the loss of her son or daughter. And it also helps a mother and wife left behind and taking care of her family, it is indeed comforting to get that community support, just as it is for the men overseas. These outpourings of affections and love can be very comforting for all those touched in some way by the war, and enables both to continue under very difficult and trying circumstances,

“of empowering self-righteousness.” I wear my flag out of respect for my relative and his fellow soldiers who had completed a special service mission during the first Gulf War and then volunteered to take on one more mission that same night. It was their last and their plane was never recovered. There was cold comfort for the families, however, since the bodies were never recovered, but they did get a medal to keep them warm. I hope the display of American flags and the support for our troops gives them something more.

“and the satisfying chance to denounce their political opponents as tratiors, cowards, etc.” I never made any such comments, but you can see how others can hold that opinion.

“and to serously advance the absurd proposition that criticism is somehow "threatening" to the lives of the troops”. False and inflammatory rhetoric during wartime aids and abets the enemies of the troops in the field and provides the moral support that you condemn American for. In turn this puts the lives of American Troops in greater danger from ordinary citiizens, zealots, fanatics and suicide bombers who are aroused by these false accusations that made front page headlines. Look at the reaction to Jane Fonda.

Of course many who make criticism you make are those who march in the anti-war demonstrations with the green, red and multicolored hair, etc. dirty and dissheveled clothing and wear their emblems of empowerment in their ears, nose, tongue, bellybutton and other sensitive parts. Somehow this is the correct way to be patriotic. Let us just agree that each one celebrates their patriotism in a different way.

You and I have a disagreement, but I want you to know that I respect your constantly standing up for what you believe in and challenging what I have to say. Keep it up. I mean this sincerely that is what makes me proud to be an American.

Remember the Twin Towers, Remember our Troops overseas, God keep them safe and return them to there loved ones unharmed. .


HC Carey - 5/4/2003

Pleae explan how huffing and puffing about "supporting" the tropps actually menas a damn thing. It's a fact that the troops will do what they do over the no matter what you or I do. Yellow ribbons on trees, flags on pickup trucks, bloviating about "support" on web sites does nothing whatsoever for the troops. It's just bluster.

But these knd of actions do give some people a comforting sense of empowering self-righteousness, and the satisfying chance to denounce their political opponents as tratiors, cowards, etc. and to serously advance the absurd proposition that criticism is somehow "threatening" to the lives of the troops


NYGuy - 5/4/2003

Josh this response to Derek on another thread my help you understand. Of course you know you should not falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theatre.

I accept your admission of ignorance. So we have nothing to discuss. Since you are ignorant of what "noted historians" have said about the looting of the Baghdad Museum and who blamed Rumsfeld, the DOD, the U. S. Government and the U. S. military and which comments were published in the New York Times, and other major U. S. and International newspapers. and which comments were circulated around the world, and picked up by the Mid east media as well as other foreign media, we are unable to communicate.

Again these comments were made before Baghdad had been captured, fighting was still going on, there was a threat of suicide bombers and the city had not yet been fully stabilized. In addition I did cite other media outlets for this false propaganda such as in the case of the Hofstra historian who went on TV and also blamed the military and the U. S. Government for the looting. As an aside, I don't think the war has yet ended, but other my differ.

To get a quick idea of the false propaganda that was being spewed out by "noted historians" see the article by Professor Keith Watenpaugh under Historians as Activists on this site. It contains much of the spin that was published. I believe this was originally printed in the New York Times around the time of the looting. Among the accusations he makes is the following:

”What happened in Baghdad over the weekend is cultural genocide and responsibility for it must lie with the US. The failure to protect an occupied country's national heritage is a war crime under the Geneva Convention.”

“I personally cannot escape the conclusion that this monumental tragedy for Iraq's national history was the result of Rumsfeld's willful ignoring of all the warnings received and the unilateralism with which the Anglo-American forces proceeded. I put most of the blame on the civilians at the head of the Department of Defense.”

Another example: Tom Abate, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 12, 2003):
One irony in Wednesday's images from Baghdad, said Christine Knoke, assistant curator at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, is that the statue-destroying Iraqis and U.S. soldiers were collaborating on the destruction of an idol -- an act endorsed, in certain contexts, by fundamentalist Muslims and Christians alike.

And on the current Professor Pipe’s article, which you commented on, he reports:

The Bush administration, say academic specialists on the Middle East. they proceed to compare American leaders to some of the worst mass-murderers in history.

· Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University: U.S. political leaders are "destroyers of civilization" like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
· Michael Sells of Haverford College: They are "barbarians" whose "criminal neglect" makes them comparable to Nero.
· Said Arjomand of the State University of New York (Stony Brook): The U.S. government's "war crime" renders it akin to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258. See his “article” on HNN two weeks ago.

To deliberately misrepresent and demean the U. S. Government and military without knowing the facts and falsely accusing them of misconduct, including the outrageous quote given in a prior post that "the U. S. military stood around for 48 hours and watched the looting", does increase the danger to the troops. Having the honor of serving my country overseas that is my opinion and may only reflect a cowardness on my part. You may be right that those troops who are alread under fire and already in great danger may not note the difference. Unless some misguided suicide bomber who has been inspired by the irresponsible quotes of sit at home americans weere to wound him or kill one or more of his buddies. Then it might make a difference. Thus for historians and others who mindlessly spout off false facts about the military during war time it is not unreasonable to assume they are putting U. S. troops overseas in greater danger. Many consider such activies as un-American and unpatriotic. You may know of the case of Jane Fonda.

If you want to take this further, check Yahoo, Google or other sources to see what false and inflammatory rhetoric was being used by activist historians.

Evidently none of the above is meaningful to you and your argument is that historians make false and misleading comments, which is part of what historians do, and since their comments are meaningless no one pays attention to them anyway. As I said I did not know this and it seems your argument carries the day.


NYGuy - 5/4/2003

Josh this response to Derek on another thread my help you understand. Of course you know you should not falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theatre.

I accept your admission of ignorance. So we have nothing to discuss. Since you are ignorant of what "noted historians" have said about the looting of the Baghdad Museum and who blamed Rumsfeld, the DOD, the U. S. Government and the U. S. military and which comments were published in the New York Times, and other major U. S. and International newspapers. and which comments were circulated around the world, and picked up by the Mid east media as well as other foreign media, we are unable to communicate.

Again these comments were made before Baghdad had been captured, fighting was still going on, there was a threat of suicide bombers and the city had not yet been fully stabilized. In addition I did cite other media outlets for this false propaganda such as in the case of the Hofstra historian who went on TV and also blamed the military and the U. S. Government for the looting. As an aside, I don't think the war has yet ended, but other my differ.

To get a quick idea of the false propaganda that was being spewed out by "noted historians" see the article by Professor Keith Watenpaugh under Historians as Activists on this site. It contains much of the spin that was published. I believe this was originally printed in the New York Times around the time of the looting. Among the accusations he makes is the following:

”What happened in Baghdad over the weekend is cultural genocide and responsibility for it must lie with the US. The failure to protect an occupied country's national heritage is a war crime under the Geneva Convention.”

“I personally cannot escape the conclusion that this monumental tragedy for Iraq's national history was the result of Rumsfeld's willful ignoring of all the warnings received and the unilateralism with which the Anglo-American forces proceeded. I put most of the blame on the civilians at the head of the Department of Defense.”

Another example: Tom Abate, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 12, 2003):
One irony in Wednesday's images from Baghdad, said Christine Knoke, assistant curator at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, is that the statue-destroying Iraqis and U.S. soldiers were collaborating on the destruction of an idol -- an act endorsed, in certain contexts, by fundamentalist Muslims and Christians alike.

And on the current Professor Pipe’s article, which you commented on, he reports:

The Bush administration, say academic specialists on the Middle East. they proceed to compare American leaders to some of the worst mass-murderers in history.

· Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University: U.S. political leaders are "destroyers of civilization" like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
· Michael Sells of Haverford College: They are "barbarians" whose "criminal neglect" makes them comparable to Nero.
· Said Arjomand of the State University of New York (Stony Brook): The U.S. government's "war crime" renders it akin to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258. See his “article” on HNN two weeks ago.

To deliberately misrepresent and demean the U. S. Government and military without knowing the facts and falsely accusing them of misconduct, including the outrageous quote given in a prior post that "the U. S. military stood around for 48 hours and watched the looting", does increase the danger to the troops. Having the honor of serving my country overseas that is my opinion and may only reflect a cowardness on my part. You may be right that those troops who are alread under fire and already in great danger may not note the difference. Unless some misguided suicide bomber who has been inspired by the irresponsible quotes of sit at home americans weere to wound him or kill one or more of his buddies. Then it might make a difference. Thus for historians and others who mindlessly spout off false facts about the military during war time it is not unreasonable to assume they are putting U. S. troops overseas in greater danger. Many consider such activies as un-American and unpatriotic. You may know of the case of Jane Fonda.

If you want to take this further, check Yahoo, Google or other sources to see what false and inflammatory rhetoric was being used by activist historians.

Evidently none of the above is meaningful to you and your argument is that historians make false and misleading comments, which is part of what historians do, and since their comments are meaningless no one pays attention to them anyway. As I said I did not know this and it seems your argument carries the day.


NYGuy - 5/4/2003

Josh this response to Derek on another thread my help you understand. Of course you know you should not falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theatre.

I accept your admission of ignorance. So we have nothing to discuss. Since you are ignorant of what "noted historians" have said about the looting of the Baghdad Museum and who blamed Rumsfeld, the DOD, the U. S. Government and the U. S. military and which comments were published in the New York Times, and other major U. S. and International newspapers. and which comments were circulated around the world, and picked up by the Mid east media as well as other foreign media, we are unable to communicate.

Again these comments were made before Baghdad had been captured, fighting was still going on, there was a threat of suicide bombers and the city had not yet been fully stabilized. In addition I did cite other media outlets for this false propaganda such as in the case of the Hofstra historian who went on TV and also blamed the military and the U. S. Government for the looting. As an aside, I don't think the war has yet ended, but other my differ.

To get a quick idea of the false propaganda that was being spewed out by "noted historians" see the article by Professor Keith Watenpaugh under Historians as Activists on this site. It contains much of the spin that was published. I believe this was originally printed in the New York Times around the time of the looting. Among the accusations he makes is the following:

”What happened in Baghdad over the weekend is cultural genocide and responsibility for it must lie with the US. The failure to protect an occupied country's national heritage is a war crime under the Geneva Convention.”

“I personally cannot escape the conclusion that this monumental tragedy for Iraq's national history was the result of Rumsfeld's willful ignoring of all the warnings received and the unilateralism with which the Anglo-American forces proceeded. I put most of the blame on the civilians at the head of the Department of Defense.”

Another example: Tom Abate, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 12, 2003):
One irony in Wednesday's images from Baghdad, said Christine Knoke, assistant curator at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, is that the statue-destroying Iraqis and U.S. soldiers were collaborating on the destruction of an idol -- an act endorsed, in certain contexts, by fundamentalist Muslims and Christians alike.

And on the current Professor Pipe’s article, which you commented on, he reports:

The Bush administration, say academic specialists on the Middle East. they proceed to compare American leaders to some of the worst mass-murderers in history.

· Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University: U.S. political leaders are "destroyers of civilization" like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
· Michael Sells of Haverford College: They are "barbarians" whose "criminal neglect" makes them comparable to Nero.
· Said Arjomand of the State University of New York (Stony Brook): The U.S. government's "war crime" renders it akin to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258. See his “article” on HNN two weeks ago.

To deliberately misrepresent and demean the U. S. Government and military without knowing the facts and falsely accusing them of misconduct, including the outrageous quote given in a prior post that "the U. S. military stood around for 48 hours and watched the looting", does increase the danger to the troops. Having the honor of serving my country overseas that is my opinion and may only reflect a cowardness on my part. You may be right that those troops who are alread under fire and already in great danger may not note the difference. Unless some misguided suicide bomber who has been inspired by the irresponsible quotes of sit at home americans weere to wound him or kill one or more of his buddies. Then it might make a difference. Thus for historians and others who mindlessly spout off false facts about the military during war time it is not unreasonable to assume they are putting U. S. troops overseas in greater danger. Many consider such activies as un-American and unpatriotic. You may know of the case of Jane Fonda.

If you want to take this further, check Yahoo, Google or other sources to see what false and inflammatory rhetoric was being used by activist historians.

Evidently none of the above is meaningful to you and your argument is that historians make false and misleading comments, which is part of what historians do, and since their comments are meaningless no one pays attention to them anyway. As I said I did not know this and it seems your argument carries the day.


Josh Greenland - 5/4/2003

"Thank god we have some real men protecting this country."

How exactly are the troops all the way over in Iraq "protecting this country," if that's who you're talking about? (Or are you talking about yourself?) And what exactly is a "real man"?


Josh Greenland - 5/4/2003

"If you believe that you can make irresponsible comments about the military that can result in our troops being killed or wounded, then I defend your to take such a position. In turn you understand that most people believe putting the life of the U. S. military personnel in danger is unpatriotic and unamerican."

Please explain how HC Carey's "irresponsible comments about the military" "can result in our troops being killed or wounded" or in "putting the life of the U. S. military personnel in danger."


mark safranski - 5/4/2003

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,449436,00.html


Tom Gallatin - 5/3/2003


I agree with the tabloid designation, but it strikes me as tabloid-plus-a-bent. There is more to Pipes than sensationalism, and he is here two or three times a month at least, I would guess. I've been watching this site for over 9 months and I don't ever recall a single posting by Al Jeezera, David Irving or any other such dubious, sensationalistic, doctrinaire hate-ridden writings from an ANTI-Wolfowitzian viewpoint.

The "From the Left versus From the Right" mantra you see here is mainly superficial gloss. The most interesting issues of history and contemporary politics don't break down along such lines.


Wilson - 5/3/2003



It just seems that HNN has a tabloid mentality- if it outrages, shocks, or generates discussion, then publish it, substance, or lack thereof, be damned. I'm disappointed. When I discovered HNN a few months ago I thought it seemed like a great thing, but it's become clear that its more trashy and sensational than anything. As for why they publish Pipes, who knows. But it's a good question.


NYGuy - 5/2/2003

As a johnny come lately you no doubt have been unaware of what has happened to the Baghdad Musuem which is the subject of Professor Pipes article. Playing ignorant is only a distraction. Actually I don't see any real contribution you made to the site, but at this late date you want to inject one of your cute comments. What can one think of someone who reads illiterate ramblings and feels he has to comment. Since I can not find any meaningfull contriubtion from you I chose not to waste my time this late hour. If you feel compelled to make further comments, please do so. A lot of other irresponsible people have made meaningless statements on this site, so please join them.


Ralph E. Luker - 5/2/2003

Dear NYG (whoever you are), You apparently do not read any better than you spell. No one on this thread has, as you insist, said that American "troops looted the IRAQI'S and robbed their heritage." You can't effectively criticize a position you don't agree with unless you can accurately summarize it.


NYGuy - 5/2/2003

Yes I defintely know what a blowhard means. I read all your posts. Thanks for reminding me.

If you believe that you can make irresponsible comments about the military that can result in our troops being killed or wounded, then I defend your to take such a position. In turn you understand that most people believe putting the life of the U. S. military personnel in danger is unpatriotic and unamerican. Finally we have reached agreement. But, please don't start crying like Tim Robbins and Sarandon about our disagreeent. It breaks my heart.


NYGuy - 5/2/2003

Thanks Cassandra. The so called right knew what was happening two weeks ago and were constantly attached by the know nothings. All it required was a little research. There were many comments posted by resonable posters to wait and get the facts since what had been said and reported by reputable scholars made it clear that the so called left was only carrying out there bankrupt policies by accusing the military of wrongdoing. Thus we who have been fighting this mindless group were well aware of the facts while the anti-war and hate america types were spuring out there posion and putting the life of American solider in peril. While it may come as a surprise it does not come as a surprise to those who knew what was going on and asked that the looting not be politized.

Remember the Twin Towers, Remember our troops overseas. Let's keep them safe.


Bill Heuisler - 5/2/2003

Derek,
My guess: We agree far more about Vietnam and Mylai than you might think. Robert Strange's book merely confirmed the immoral political cynicism that fueled the conflict beyond altruism and any strained rationale for shedding more blood.

Teaching this subject will be grim and heartbreaking, but we might agree the lesson's been learned. The conduct of the troops in Iraq bears this out and brings us full circle to the museum.
Bill


cassandra - 5/1/2003

Here we go again, creating straw men to cut down. Two weeks ago in this space, the assault came from the left. Now it comes from the right.
But neither side has the facts of what happened in Iraq for their screeds. Read the New York Times piece of today, which says the looting wasn't as great as first portrayed, although some 25 items _ including some of extraordinary value _ are still missing. The same article, which is linked on the front page of HNN, says that that the books from the library were taken away a week before the bombing for protection and before the library was burned. This is along the lines the Wall Street Journal was reporting two weeks ago, and far from the scare stories on TV.
Is it too much to ask for facts before we start decrying the loss to civilization of trashed treasures, or decrying how the massive destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage reflects basic Iraqi self-hatred. No, it's damn the facts, full speed ahead. Jeez.


Tom Gallatin - 5/1/2003


S Fred Singer. See http://www.dickrussell.org/news/Gelbspan.htm
among mamy other references appearing on google. A key difference being that Singer at least has accreditation as a bonafide academic in his field.


Derek Catsam - 5/1/2003

Bill -- Obviously the point of this strain, and of my post, was not to engage in a discussion of My Lai and I certainly am not making any contemporary parallels with Iraq now --- you know that, but I do not want others to misinterpret me or to use my post for whatever purposes, whether to lay the hammer down on me or take me out of context or whetever.

I just did a great deal of reading about My Lai in order to prepare to teach it, and to a large extent I agree with you -- Calley clearly deserves the brunt of the blame, so too probably Ernest Medina, though the evidence was not there to hit him. And of course Charlie Company had been thrown into a hell of a mess, were understaffed, etc. etc. But we do not abdicate responsibility. We don't allow the "I was following orders" argument to reign. Men raped (at least one) young girl before killing her. That was personal choice, no matter what tragic hell they had been through. Men executed praying women, children and the elderly. That was personal choice, no matter how wretched their leadership. Yes, it took more than a year before Life got wind of the story, and the Pentagon, Congress, and White House refused to acknowledge the claims of those who did try to bring it. But even in the most hellish conditions some of the men did not take part, and other groups of young men elsewhere in country were equally harried, left for dead, shunted off to the side and they did not do such things. At some point, whatever my sympathy for their situation, there are certain things we can not forgive or excuse. If we are "better than them," as some believe, we are better than them because of what we don't tolerate, what we can't accept, and what we stand for even when it means looking at our lesser nature when it appears. Look, I've never been in that sort of hell. I tread lightly when it comes to passing judgment, especially for those who had no power there. I'd like to think i know what i would or would not have done, and at least with my experiences in southern Africa and Northern Ireland I am certainly not an innocent when it comes to conflict, the sorts of things that turn your stomach and break your heart. So I raise the issue of My Lai gently but firmly.
I agree -- Line up the leaders, call them accountable, though I bet you and I disagree as to what exactly they are accountable for, and let's hope that something like My Lai never happens again. Further, surely at different stages of the war different accountability needs to be taken into account. I do not want to get into the "what Kennedy would have done" parlor game, because at the end of the day we have no idea, and history is based on contingency, and it's too easy to descend into using history for our own agenda. But surely Johnson and MacNamara but also Kissinger and Nixon and dozens of others have a reckoning coming their way.

In any case, let there be no confusion -- I raised My Lai because it was an example counterpoised to something you wrote, but there are no My Lais in Iraq now, and the conduct of the military, particularly the men in the field, seems to be such that we should come to praise it, not bury it.

As for NY Guy's comments a few lines back, yes, I think there is some blame amongst some of the military brass for not anticipating that this might happen. I think it is a wee bit pollyannaish to paint a picture of the military in which their conduct is utterly unassailable, especially when you look in the context of my comments in which I maintain that on the whole, when the rubber meets the road, the military comes out of this looking better than thge civilian leadership -- and I am an ardent believer in civilian control over the military. I just don't know how much blame there is, and I agree with Bill that where this was an inside job, it is tough to know what those on the ground could have done once the die was cast.


HC Carey - 5/1/2003

Does the term "blowhard" mean anything to you? You have no idea what I have or haven't done. All this sanctimonous huffing and puffing about the troops! Such self righteousness!


Those of us who take the responsibilities of free citizenship seriously beliwve that the army is not above criticism. It is indeed a very large branch of the federal goverment, and every bit as prone to waste, fraud and inefficiency as any other branch of the federal government not checked by private sector competition. It has also aquitted itself very well in iraq. Bravo troops. Your cause was dubious--nearly all causes are--but you acted bravely!

I still have the right to criticize them if i want, NY Guy. It's in the constitution, no matter how much huffing and puffing you do. But keep puffing away




Thomas Gallatin - 5/1/2003


Thanks for the insights. Have you any idea why HNN feels so obligated to suck up to his history-lite demagoguery ?
He must be among the top two or three writers featured here.


NYGuy - 5/1/2003

Mr. Luker your clever but not being honest. You said: "Since when has it become an unpatriotic act to be critical of any regime in the United States?" Perhaps you have not been following the discussion on this thread and your comments were just a throw away to get a reaction. No one is taking about being critical in the U. S. The discussion, if you have the chance to go back and get up to speed, is about mindless experts putting our troops in Iraq and other overseas locations at risk by claiming that those troops looted the IRAQI'S and robbed their heritage. Words have consequences and can get people killed. Do you want to discuss the scandal at the Air Force Academy or gays in the military that is fair game. But inflaming radical Iraqi's by telling them the U. S. military robbed their heritage is dangerous and gets people killed. Getting U. S. troops killed is never a patriotic act, even if you believe the U. S. government should be overthrow.

Remember the Twin Towers, Remember our troops overseas. Let's keep our troops safe.


Bill Heuisler - 5/1/2003

Derek,
After typing the question to Mr. Luker my mind touched Mylai and rejected it as not germain. Enlisted men and junior officers of Charlie Company were sacrificed by the Army to public opinion for the killings of civilians in Mylai, but the Mylai story broke twenty months after the fact and no one criticized the men of Charlie Company while they were in Country. In fact, the real criminals of Mylai were senior officers in search of body-counts at any cost who didn't replace a mine-decimated company of green troops only in Vietnam three months.

Charlie Company 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, Americal Division died for two hours in an enemy minefield one awful morning in February 1968. 32 young men were killed and maimed; the rest were broken by the nightmare of blood, severed limbs, torn flesh and helplessness. The hollow-eyed, shell-shocked survivors who stormed Mylai three weeks later were psychologically twisted wrecks who should never have been in combat.

Calley was a cold-blooded killer; Mylai was horrible - as much for tattered remnants of Charlie Company as for dead Vietnamese civilians - but there was a larger psychosis, a greater evil. McNamara Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Rush? Were they ever called to account for Mylai? Patriotism is a wasted word in this context.

Remember, Derek, Charlie Company's destruction in the mine field went unreported because nobody gave a damn. Hell, this subject has disgusted me beyond any more words.
Read "Destroy or Die" by Martin Gershen. You'll see.
Bill


Bill Heuisler - 5/1/2003

Derek,
After typing the question to Mr. Luker my mind touched Mylai and rejected it as not germain. Enlisted men and junior officers of Charlie Company were sacrificed by the Army to public opinion for the killings of civilians in Mylai, but the Mylai story broke twenty months after the fact and no one criticized the men of Charlie Company while they were in Country. In fact, the real criminals of Mylai were senior officers in search of body-counts at any cost who didn't replace a mine-decimated company of green troops only in Vietnam three months.

Charlie Company 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, Americal Division died for two hours in an enemy minefield one awful morning in February 1968. 32 young men were killed and maimed; the rest were broken by the nightmare of blood, severed limbs, torn flesh and helplessness. The hollow-eyed, shell-shocked survivors who stormed Mylai three weeks later were psychologically twisted wrecks who should never have been in combat.

Calley was a cold-blooded killer; Mylai was horrible - as much for tattered remnants of Charlie Company as for dead Vietnamese civilians - but there was a larger psychosis, a greater evil. McNamara Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Rush? Were they ever called to account for Mylai? Patriotism is a wasted word in this context.

Remember, Derek, Charlie Company's destruction in the mine field went unreported because nobody gave a damn. Hell, this subject has disgusted me beyond any more words.
Read "Destroy or Die" by Martin Gershen. You'll see.
Bill


NYGuy - 5/1/2003

Since you have never put your life on the line you can be flip. As Shakespears said, "he jests at scars who never felt a pain." Thank god we have some real men protecting this country.


HC Carey - 5/1/2003

fro the awful criticism of academics. I mean, that's the sense I get. The poor troops over there, supprted only by 100s of billions of dollars, by thier buddies, by the world's best weaponry. by my taxes, by whatever religious faith they maye have--how can all that compare to the criticism of some academics? Thank god Bill, NY Guy, and some of the otherswho wandered over here from "free republic" are on the job. the danger of ridicule...I shudder to think 'ont

On the other hand, there's the constant drumbeat of scorn heaped on anyone who says anything even midly critical of the poor fragile troopies. Armchair thoerists, useless ditherers, irrelevant--we also hear this all the time, from the same people. Interesting. Criticism of the troops is irrelevant, and criticism of the troop is so dangerous that it has to be denounced and rooted out even where it doesn't exist

ridiculous? You make the call. As for me I'm pretty sure the marines can stand it if I criticize them. I haven't but I'm sure they would not give a rat's ass if I did. So relax Freepers, They don't need your clamorous defense


Ralph E. Luker - 5/1/2003

Hear! Hear! Derek Catsam ought to be teaching some fortunate undergraduates -- maybe even graduate students -- in some fortunate institution!


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 5/1/2003

Thanks for the defense, Ralph.

And I'm not sure what Mr. H's post was all about. No, I don't think very highly of the Bush administration, not at all, but that hardly makes me sympathetic to the old Soviet Union. I never was a fan of Bill Clinton's, but then, he sure looks better and better every day.

Yes, I think our military--led by such as Donald Rumsfeld--is fully capable of a philistine, and hence malign, neglect of looting antiquities and the civilian leaders of the Pentagon quite capable of sympathy for the interests of well-organized, wealthy art collectors and indifferent to the pleas of archaeologists, who're probably liberal academics anyway, right? If markets are conspiracies, why then so be it that an impoverished country has "conspired" from the grassroots to secret police and gone for whatever opportunities presented themselves.

I do not think that "patriotism" is a real issue. Even so.... It's right-wing garbage. I believe that it was Lord Acton--no flaming liberal--who called it "the last refuge of scoundrels." I hardly think--however you argue it, pro or con--that a war against Iraq conducted by a regime that has expressed confused and duplicitous motives should be immune to criticism because to question it, on grounds pragmatic and moral, is somehow "unpatriotic." Mr. H, if it's unpatriotic to question an administration led by an over-privileged thug of a dry drunk who never achieved anything in his life without the help of his daddy's friends, a carpetbagger by this fifth-generation Texan's standards, why so be it.

Back in the bad old days, Marine Commandant David M. Shoup--reacting to domestic political activity by the Joint Chiefs and especially the CNO--publicly stated (I think I remember this accurately) that,"My boys are trained to kill, not hate." I liked that very much when I heard it. I have recently heard, much to my despair, that Marine Corps company commanders at Camp Pendleton have been allowed to pump Rush Limbaugh into the barracks of there men. Medal of Honor winner Shoup is probably turning over in his grave. A recent commandant was aired saying that after bootcamp his fresh graduates went home on leave and felt themselves "morally superior" to the society they returned to. A right-wing-indoctrinated Marine Corps does not fight for the freedoms of us all, Mr. H. Just for you patriots, I guess. At least the Corps as Chesty Puller knew it were gangsters for United Fruit--what are we building now?


NyGuy - 5/1/2003

I agree it may be misplaced priorities, but by whom. Most are blaming and assuming it was the military. Yet it has been repeated here that everyone knew this was going to happen. Who were these people, what did they do, why did they not do more.

One historian who appeared on TV was asked, what did you do to prevent the looting. Her answer was she wrote a letter to a Col. and he said he would pass it up the line. Doesn't seem to me there was much concern about looting by this expert.

The more responsible historians have tried not to make this apolitical issue. However, a few mindless few don't want to stop and get the facts they just want to blame the military and in the process will get many of our troops killed or wounded. Even your even handed approach seems to betray this tendency to think the military must have done something. Creating havoc that gets people killed is indefensible. Things are now calming down but go back and read the statements made at the time of the looting. One article on this site claimed that the military sat around for 48 hours and watched the looting going on. Do you think this irresponsible, incorrect comment can get soldiers and civilians killed?

First you get the facts, then you form an opinion, do not let your personal animus color your think. Follow this rule and our troops overseas will be a lot safer.

Remember the Twin Towers and our troops overseas. Let's keep them safe.


NYGuy - 5/1/2003

Sure you can cheer for your favorite team, the Iowa Hawkeyes, which I believe is in the Grand Ole U. S. A. and at the same time ask for a new coach who will also work in the Grande Ole U. S. What one should not do is incite and inflame those who do not live in the U. S. against American's overseas. All that does is put your friends, family, military personnel, etc. in greater danger. It is the type of irresponsibiltity that gets people killed.

But it is different to say you root for the soldiers overseas, who are outnumbered and dealing with millions of people, while at the same time telling the local people that these same soldiers are your enemy who are looting your country, destroying your heritage, etc. when these are factually incorrect statements. Many of these locals are nuts and dangerous

Remember the Twin Towers, Remember our troops overseas. Let's keep them safe.


Derek Catsam - 5/1/2003

Bill -- You asked: "cite a time in US history when it has been a "patriotic obligation" to criticise our troops while they were in the field of battle."

If the standard is a single time? My Lai. March 16, 1968.

I think it is certainly patriotic to question United States policy if one thinks that it is wrong. I think that it is also appropriate and indeed patriotic to criticize the military leadership when they are wrong. If soldiers do something like My Lai, they too should be criticized. But My Lai is the outlier here. The chain if command and the way militaries are organized is such that beyond atrocities, it would strike me as rare for it to be appropriate to blame the soldiers on the ground for something like "looting of Iraq's heritage."

It seems to me that there is more heat than light on this question right now -- knee jerk attacks on the military and the administration followed by knee jerk defenses. Something clearly went wrong at the Iraqi museum. I doubt that it was willful on the part of the dministration or Pentagon inasmuch as I do not believe that they sat around saying "let's let iraq's heritage sites be destroyed." It may well be a matter or priorities, or misallocation of resources (I believe we could have protected oil AND artifacts and have had enough left over to impose our will elsewhere). It also may be that the critics are unwilling to look at the argument that Bill is making, or at least one of them, which as I read it is this: most of the "looting" was an inside job that our military is not equipped, or at least best suited to handle. That would be a failure of intelligence, or perhaps a failure to prepare ourselves for the equivalent of white collar crime when we had all sorts of other things to deal with.

At the same time, I do think mistakes were made, compounded by Rumsfeld's unbelievable arrogance, and that there may have been a way to protect more than we did. I know this might be skirting the yellow line of moderation, but all debates don't have to break down into a Manichean division of black and white, right and wrong, strong and weak, evil and virtuous. I'm still very leery of the administration, of the way they have shifted their terrain on justifications and post facto rationales, on how they are handling things on the ground and with our allies and with the awarding of copntracts and about a dozen other ideological points. But goodness, is there anyone out there who opposed this war willing to acknowledge that on the whole, we did everything that we could to limit suffering -- even at times if that meant putting our soldiers in danger -- that we seem to have protected a great deal worth saving given that were this three decades ago we'd have simply bombed it all to kingdom come, and that maybe, just maybe, the Iraqi people might get to breathe the crisp air of freedom once all of the dust has cleared? Is that such an awful thing?


Stephen Kriz - 5/1/2003


Not expecting an abundance of reason to spontaneously emanate from you, but let me try a football analogy:

So, by your logic, I can't cheer for my favorite college football team (the Iowa Hawkeyes), while at the same time hoping they get a new coach?

Please explain and analyze.


Bill Heuisler - 5/1/2003

Mr Luker,
Tim Robbins recently used your argument. According to him, criticizing the US is patriotic, but ridiculing the critic isn't.
Employing this tactic avoids issues but confesses prejudice.

So, defend Leckie's conspiracy-theory and his careless slur on our troops or save your lectures for sophomores. Questions of Leckie were aimed at a fanciful conspiracy of Mukhabarat with US collectors, assigning malignancy to our military and his use of "it" when referring to our country. Do you agree with him?

As to your poorly-aimed question, my critiques of President Clinton did not posit the malignancy of our military.

Many find it repulsive when poseurs equate criticism of our young men and women in combat with trendy-Left mutations of patriotism. So, Mr. Luker, since you employed a straw-man, cite a time in US history when it has been a "patriotic obligation" to criticise our troops while they were in the field of battle.
Bill Heuisler


NY Guy - 5/1/2003

Mr. Leckie let us get things straight: The military did what they were told and protected each of the 4,000 sites the archaeologists said were the most important. Not one was looted or damaged.

As you said, “Regional museums in Iraq were looted after the first Gulf War” That is why the scam by the professionals worked so well. They knew this was a golden opportunity to become rich like the big oil barons. But, they had to distract the military by giving them over 4,000 targets to protect,amd minimizing the threat to the Baghdad Museum. That is why the Iraqi’s told the military that they had learned from the Gulf War and made their own plans to protect the Baghdad Museum. The next step was to line up wealthy collectors from around the world and take orders for the antiques. Since they had mislead the military it was Childs play for the Iraqi insiders to gave the thugs the keys to the museum and then show them the most valuable treasure for their wealthy customers in France, Germany Saudi Arabia, China, etc. Finally they got a bunch of malcontent anti-war people and those who hate America to hide the true story by blaming the U. S. Government and the U. S. military. Thus they were able to pull off the biggest heist of cultural objects since the beginning of time. I can’t wait to see the movie.


What you and others don’t realize and understand is that by making false accusations about this issue, in order to make a bankrupt political point, you create a dangerous situation which gets U. S. troops, as well as civilians killed or injured. I am sure your comments and similar ones by others of like mind, are being used to inflame suicide bombers, religious zealots, and others who want to harm American troops and civilians overseas. Do you wonder why people like you and the other mindless propagandist about the military and the U. S. Government are perceived as unpatriotic and un-American.


Ralph E. Luker - 5/1/2003

Bill, Since when has it become an unpatriotic act to be critical of any regime in the United States? Were you anti-American in the Clinton years? Did that make you a Serbophile?Since when has it become an unpatriotic act to be critical of the American military? It is a patriotic obligation for citizens of a democracy equally to offer praise and criticism where it is due.


Wilson - 5/1/2003



Leckie makes a good point though. Although Pipes presents himself to the media as a scholar and academic authority, inside the colleges and universities, no matter people's politics, he's taken about as seriously as the holocaust deniers. Or- the one academic scientist who denies global warming, whose name I can't remember. Bush also hired that guy.


Bill Heuisler - 5/1/2003

Mr. Leckie's historical acumen has now been exceeded by his reasoning power. He comments: "If I were to hazard a guess, the Bush regime was...largely indifferent...and probably had sympathy for...wealthy collectors in the US anyhow."

So, Mr. Leckie believes W is indifferent to antiquities theft because wealthy US collectors connived with Baathists and the Mukhabarat to loot museums and libraries before the defeat of Saddam and the occupation of Baghdad? Alarmingly insightful. Think of the tortuous logistics. The conspiracies. Leckie must be so proud; such profound conclusions defy lucid analysis.

But then he unconsciously explains his delusions by giving us a glimpse into a convoluted mind: "Given all the hype about the regime's benign goals for Iraq, it seems to me not unreasonable to hold it and its military accountable for malign neglect."

"It" and "its military"?

What country does Mr. Leckie inhabit? Syria? Or perhaps he hates all countries except the old Soviet Union. Or maybe, like President Clinton, Leckie just loathes our military.

Unfortunately the US Marines will continue to defend old Leckie's right to scorn them. But get something straight...
the malignancy in question is all his.
Bill Heuisler


William H. Leckie, Jr. - 5/1/2003

I have no clue as to who NYGuy is, but let's get something straight.

The Pentagon was informed well ahead of time by concerned archaeologists about the danger Iraqi antiquities were in. It was also subject to lobbying by private collectors seeking access to Mesopotamian artifacts. Their significance transcends national interests, and anyone who argues they don't is a philistine, pure and simple. Looting--and not just of museums and libraries--could have been anticipated; so could have the plundering by organized thieves. Those activities are not a reflection of anything inherent in Iraqi society.

Regional museums in Iraq were looted after the first Gulf War; the imposition of sanctions and their long duration spurred ordinary Iraqis to pick up shovels and go a-digging. If I were to hazard a guess, the Bush regime was and probably still is largely indifferent to what happened and probably had sympathy for the interests of wealthy collectors in the US anyhow.

Given all the hype about the regime's benign goals for Iraq, it seems to me not unreasonable to hold it and its military accountable for malign neglect.

As for Daniel Pipes, anyone who takes him seriously cannot be reasoned with. As for the moral character of our regime, I think it makes Bill Clinton look like a saint.


HC Carey - 5/1/2003

Since as i said, my post was a criticism of Pipes and not the US military, nor did it adress other debates going on at HNN. You seem to want to accuse me of a wide variety of "crimes" you think other people have committed


NYGuy - 5/1/2003

HC – Interesting Reply.

You wrote: Jackass; I'm not "blaming the military", you dope--read the post--i don't say anything other than what Pipes himself says about the military.

But you wrote to Bill; “Or do you just want to mock historians who are upset at seeing valuable artifacts of antiquity stolen? You are irked at them because they arged the US should try and protect these artifacts?

Isn’t this what you wrote? “

You are obviously ignorant of what has been going on these past two weeks, but I defend your right to make a fool of yourself. Pipes, Bill and I do know what happened. We are not mocking the historians who truly cared and did not inflame the situation. As I tried to explain to you the U. S. Government and the Coalition military were the ones who protected Iraqi antiquities, it was the thugs and professionals who looted the museum. And even though many historians knew this they tried to make a political issue out of the looting and thereby put American and Coalition troops in great danger. Not a very patriotic effort on their part.

But here is what Pipes wrote:
The Bush administration, say academic specialists on the Middle East. They proceed to compare American leaders to some of the worst mass-murderers in history.

· Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University: U.S. political leaders are "destroyers of civilization" like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
· Michael Sells of Haverford College: They are "barbarians" whose "criminal neglect" makes them comparable to Nero.
· Said Arjomand of the State University of New York (Stony Brook): The U.S. government's "war crime" renders it akin to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258.

Actually the message from the above historians was even more inflammatory than Pipes writes, and in one case it is suggested that the military watched for 48 hours as the professionals looted the Museum.

Read Professor Watenpaugh’s article under Historians as Activists on this site. You will find much of the spin that the advocacy historians were using:

i.e. protected the oil ministry, were told in January about the danger, stood by and watched, taken place under the US guns. What happened in Baghdad over the weekend is cultural genocide and responsibility for it must lie with the US. The failure to protect an occupied country's national heritage is a war crime under the Geneva Convention. The US forces were perfectly capable of guarding the *Oil Ministry* buildings. This monumental tragedy for Iraq's national history was the result of Rumsfeld's willful ignoring of all the warnings. I put most of the blame on the civilians at the head of the Department of Defense. It was foreseen; it was preventable; it was horribly stupid and tragic; it will have long-term negative effects on the Iraqi perception of the US role; and it contravened international law. The American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP) reportedly contacted the Pentagon and the state department in Washington prior to the start of the invasion of Iraq lobbying to facilitate the import of Iraqi and other Near Eastern antiquities into the United States, etc., etc.

As admitted above, these inflammatory comments “will have long-term negative effects on the Iraqi perception of the US role.” Knowing this rhetoric would put U. S lives in danger, the historians went ahead with their political attacks.

These are some of many mindless comments and attacks by historians and newspaper columnists, who were using inflammatory language to bolster there political animus. As I said the military carried out its part in protecting Iraqi heritage and antiques. This was an inside job and even though many experts knew this they still insisted on blaming the U. S. Government and the military putting the lives of American military personnel in danger.

Obviously you’re a PhD, but your intellectual skills and your communication skills need a little honing. I hope you didn’t use jackass and dopey when you defended. But then again in today’s world of historian advocacy I could see that if someone who was defending was to say: "George Bush was a jackass and dopey" he would be considered an intellectual giant worthy of a PhD.


HC Carey - 5/1/2003

I'm not "blaming the military", you dope--read the post--i don't say anything other than what Pipes himself says about the military. My quarrel is with Pipe's characterization of "iraqi society." I have absolutely no idea who is responsible for looting the museum. I agree with Pipes that "Yes, the coalition should have prepared better." I disagree with his chracterization of "iraqi society" as "inherently violent," which is the point of my original post, as you will see if you actually bother to read it. I'm not the slightest bit interested in blaming the military and i'm not interested in that staggeringly tedious debate

But it is much easier to make unfounded attacks--and then, amazingly, accuse others of the very same thing. You accuse me of making attacks on the US military which I manifestly did not do.


NYGuy - 5/1/2003

HC Carey,

Can't beleive that you, and other trained professionals, have become pawns for the antiquities profession and their friends, the thugs who looted the museum. Those who support the unfounded acsusations against the military in the Baghdad Museum looting only support the thugs who pillaged the museum and support,and encourage there efforts to steal and loot more antiquities in the future.

HNN certainly is part of that support, as noted by their printing of an outdated, propaganda article by an "expert", Professor Watenpaugh, who didn't have a clue to what happened. Even though HNN knew that it was a bogus, outdated article, that had been disproved by the facts they printed it because it contained all the spin of the professors who hated the military, (See Pipes article), even thought they did not have the full facts.

The looting of the Baghdad Museum has been discussed for the past two weeks on HNN and the knowledgeable ones have concluded that the military was deliberately mislead by the academics to enable the thugs who have been active for over 20 years in profiting from trade in antiques to do their job. For over 20 years the antiquities business has been a big and highly profitable business, and the end of the war was viewed by knowledgeable people as the tme for a big payoff.

The antique experts in Iraq said they learned from the first Gulf War and told the military not to worry about the Museum since they had a plan to protect the museum. Meanwhile the military was mislead earlier by the experts who emphasized and overloaded the military with over 4,000 detailed sites to protect. At the same time the Baghdad Museum keepers said keep away, we have learned how to protect the Museum and did not need the help of the U. S. military.

The U. S. military kept their part of the bargain and not one of the 4,000 sites where damaged. Because of their telling the U. S. military to stay away, the thugs and the experts had a free hand to give out the keys to the museum and showed their friends, the looters, where the valuable items were, and pointed out the real thing vs. the imitations, etc. Since they had mislead the military there was no fear of being stopped.

The final part of the plan was to get historians like Mr. Carey to blame the military so the real thugs could get away with no one looking for them.

Antiques are a big business just like the oil industry. Many in the know profited handsomely from this deception of the U. S. military and it is likely many professionals in the field will be able to retire and live off the profits of this well planned scam.

One has no problem with anti war speech and appreciates it since it is a part of our democracy. Where their is disagreement is with those who deliberately, and falsely degrade the military and put them in greater peril that results in killing and wounding of American troops. It is this mindless practise that results in calling such people unpatriotic.


HC Carey - 4/30/2003

from you--ad hominem attacks which have zero to do with the specific article in questions. Tirades must be one of the consolations of age


Grant Fritchey - 4/30/2003

Umm, just a little more than 200 years ago, people living around this area attacked and overthrew a government because it was taxing them at 3.5%. I suspect those same people would be leading the charge to "loot the U.S. Treasury."


Bill Heuisler - 4/30/2003

Odd, Mr. Carey?
Sorry my point is so difficult for you. Age has evidently dulled my communicative skills. Allow me to plod through it all again.
Try these questions:
Is it odd chair-bound historians who've recently signed anti-war petitions would indulge in gratuitous military bashing?
Is it odd to wonder how those locks and vaults were opened, half-ton statues and wall-sections moved, careful selections made?
Is it odd to project the crime back a week or two when the war became hopeless for the Baathist regime...or maybe to wonder about shipping heavy items before roads were closed?
Is it odd to inquire why educated men and women can't see beyond their biases to inquire about a world-class crime-scene?
Is it odd to speculate how blaming America may delay recovery?

Mr Carey, the lack of real curiosity by some historians seems oddly agenda-driven when coupled with wails of bottomless woe. Mockery might be appropriate for armchair critics whose self-importance blocks intellectual function and whose instinct is to blame the US for everything - even when it might get in the way.

By the way, there are one or two historians on this site who have the stones for an intervention (parachute or not, Derek Catsam comes to mind). And isn't it exceedingly odd how all your concerned historians didn't make their profound concern public until after their anti-war jeremiads flopped?
Bill Heuisler


HC Carey - 4/30/2003

Or do you just want to mock historians who are upset at seeing valuable artifacts of antiquity stolen?

You are irked at them because they arged the US should try and protect these artifacts? Is that it?

You find them presumptuous for having urged this? And you are suggesting that they should have been parachuted in to protect the artifacts themselves--presumably as a punishment for having urged the army to protect the artifacts?

You're an odd guy Bill


Stephen Kriz - 4/30/2003


I am not advocating violence or anything of the sort. I was merely making the observation that 200 years ago, if an American president had come to power under extremely questionable circumstances and immediately launched two preemptive wars, started systematically dismantling the Bill of Rights and his cronies began looting the U.S. Treasury, a crowd of angry citizens would have marched on the White House with pitchforks and torches and led the tyrant to the gallows!

The American people have become lazy and indifferent and fascism has taken root in America. Jefferson said that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance". Unfortunately, we have dropped our vigilance - The Tories are in charge.....


Bill Heuisler - 4/30/2003

Mr Carey,
There was no intent to argue with you in my earlier post; Pipes' opinion of Iraqi volatility completely misses the mark. From a historical viewpoint there are few peoples more warlike and quarrelsome than my Scots-Irish or German ancestors. Who cares?
As to historians blaming America for cultural atrocity, your solution would solve nothing and cast suspicion on the US after the museum was found empty. Surrounding or occupying an empty or mostly-empty museum would have been not only futile, but suspect.

In my opinion, those bravely worried historians who warned the US military about the coming catastrophe should have been halo dropped into Baghdad before the final days. After landing on the museum roof, they could have defended the world's heritage with their valuable, learned lives. Brings a tear, doesn't it?
Bill Heuisler


Wilson - 4/30/2003



It's a family tradition. Pipes's father was a cold warrior Russianist who chaired the history department in which Pipes earned his Ph.d.

Now the son has become one of the mullahs of the current ideological campaign to inculcate hate and deprive the American people of civil liberties.

If G W Bush were as true to the more respectable political traditions of his family, George Sr and Prescott Bush, we wouldn't be in this mess. As for Pipes, someone had to be the Bush administration's pseudo-intellectual mercenaries. So far, they've been able to come up with Ajami, Bernard Lewis, and Pipes. Of the three, Pipes, unlike Ajami and Lewis, has no respected scholarship, so he's the one who has to descend the lowest to keep his place on the payroll.


Thomas Gallatin - 4/30/2003


Pipes' self-righteous egoism knows few limits. In his multitude of hate-laden writings on this website, has he ever managed to do anything other than finger-point ?

Iraqis suffered decades of brutal repression and degredation under a dictator suppported for most of that time by the same hypocrites now claiming victory over him. Did the Rodney King rioters behave any better than the Baghdadis ?


NYGuy - 4/30/2003

You are the greatest. As I said before read the artilce in question before you go to your script book and pick out an anti-Bush message.

Strange, as one who is against war you are advocating violence and war against the U.S. government. Seems like you speak out of two sides of your face. It also appears that you have a violent agenda in mind. Your peace stance is just a cover up for more violent behavoir. That is why you have no real principle position and every time you write you change your position to create heat, not light.

Keep posting, it betrays you every time.


Stephen Kriz - 4/29/2003


This article, which is extremely thin on fact and rich with conjecture, speaks more about the thinly veiled bigotry of the neoconservative movement than it does about the Iraqi people. As a shill for Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, Mr. Pipes is routinely paid to tout the intellectual and cultural superiority of white American males.

Maybe Mr. Pipes can explain for us the cause of lynchings of black Americans by the Ku Klux Klan, the homophobic murders that are occuring to this day in America or the daily villification and slandering of liberals by Murdoch and his yellow, hack journalists.

This is a pathetic fluff piece we have come to expect from the neo-nazi, I mean, neoconservative movement in America. Given the fact the Iraqi people lived in desperate poverty for decades while the strongman Hussein and his cronies lived in luxury, this behavior is not surprising at all. What is surprising is that the American people have not yet risen up to topple the tyrants who currently illegally occupy the White House. It may happen soon, however.


HC Carey - 4/29/2003

But you'll notice I wasn't making any of those claims, simply saying "yes, the US could have and should have done more." This is very very similar to what Pipes hmself said: "Yes, the coalition should have prepared better." I phrased it as I'm shocked to find myself in agreement with Pipes on any point. but my post does no make any of the claims you say it does. It does not "blame the US." My point was thaat specific iraqis. not "iraqi society" were to blame. I took exception to Pipe's absurd argument that there is an "inherent tendency to violence" in "iraqi society."


What might the US have done? Occupied the museum, I should think, or surrounded it as it did some banks. But again, i'm not criticizing the US here, I am criticizing Pipes



Bill Heuisler - 4/29/2003

Mr. Carey,
You say of the missing artifacts, "Yes, the US could have and should have done more stop it."
Keys were used in many instances, Museum staff are gone, bomb-proof vaults were opened, statues and wall-sections of immense weight are missing, the beginning-time of the crime is not ascertained, artifacts have been seized in other countries and no objects of value were photographed, seen or documented as taken during or after Marines' presence.

So, why the rush to (even partially) blame troops or military planners when evidence is emerging there was systematic theft of valuable cultural treasures hours or days prior to Baghdad's investment. Could the Baath party or Mukhabarat have planned a worse-case scenario? Or Saddam's criminal family?

Why jump to blame the US? Tell us what precisely could the US have "done"? And if there is no cogent answer to this question, let's at least agree to withhold our judgement.

Also, would the chronic doom-sayers have been happier had we finished the job in 1991? Would Sumerian artifacts have been saved if HW had not lost his nerve and caved to the so-called moderates at State? Why not blame them? But God forbid we blame Saddam or false-caution or criminals; let's just blame the American Marines on that tank. They can't defend themselves.
Bill Heuisler



A Stern - 4/29/2003

If Mr. Pipes followed his line of reasoning to its logical extension, then he would have to call the United States military inherently larcenous, murderous and incompetent because some of its members have have been guilty of engaging in looting in Iraq, and intentionally and unintentionally killing their comrades and Iraqi civilians. Shame on you, Mr. Pipes! So much for your razor-sharp scholarly analysis...


NY Guy - 4/29/2003

Jonathan

I assume you are a PhD in history and should be aware that antiques were looted thousand of years before capitalism. Not sure what your point was.


Suetonius - 4/29/2003

Your two examples are intriguing ones, but I would urge caution in using the 'capitalist' description to the international antiquities hunt.

It was only a few years ago that the Russians acknowledged that Schliemann's treasures of ancient Greece had in fact been looted from Berlin at the end of World War II and 'accidently' ended up in Moscow.


h. c carey - 4/29/2003

Pipes uses the term "inherently violent," as in "the inherently violent character of Iraqi society." What does he mean by this--that Iraqi'a are genetically violent? That violence is their basic nature? Seriously--what does "inherently violent" mean?

The looting is, in his opinion, not the act of a specific set of people, but rather the act of "iraqi society." What society is this? The regime in charge had collapsed by the time of the looting. Their are lawless elements everywhere--if police authority collapsed in Washington DC, would people loot the national agllery? I think yes. I'd be appalled and dismayed, but I don't doubt it would occur if civil authority collapsed here to the extent that it collapsed there. Do you think people would loot the Metropolitan Museum in New York if all civil government collapsed? I do.

Would this then mean that "american society" was "inherently violent?" Would it indicate "a possibly unique [American] penchant for cultural self-hatred" or would it be poor people grabbing the main chance?

I agree--this looting was done by iraqis, not US forces. Yes, the US could have and should have done more stop it. But does this mean that "all iraqis" have an "inherent" tendency to violn3ece? Surely Pipes knows there is no "iraq" exxcept to the degree that the state was created as a legacy of colonialism. There are shiites, sunni's, Kurds, and turkmen in iraq--which "iraqi socitey" does he mean?

Is there any historian who is not alarmed by Pipes's penchant for wild generalizations and grotesque charges?

Bush has nominated Pipes to the US Institute of peace!!


Jonathan Dresner - 4/28/2003

Daniel Pipes' argument limits itself to "looting" but there are other examples of cultural plunder and destruction which are on a par with what happened in Baghdad. Two of the most interesting come from China: the seizure of artifacts, art and historical manuscripts by the Chinese Nationalists who transferred them to Taiwan before retreating there permanently; and the destruction of historical and cultural materials in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution.

There is also the world market for antiquities of all sorts, which is a sort of slow, capitalist exploitation of historical and artistic treasures, not as dramatic as the events in Baghdad, but very disruptive to historical and archaeological study and quite destructive of objects and manuscripts that do not seem immediately "valuable."

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