A museum employee arrived Saturday to find the offices trashed by looters. The only thing she could salvage was a telephone book-sized volume. With tears, she said, "It is all the fault of the Americans. This is Iraq's civilization. And it's all gone now.''
Not only were unknown amounts of priceless historical objects stolen from the museum, curators have speculated that they may never know all that was taken, because many of their files were also taken during the looting.
So, how many US soldiers would it have taken to protect Baghdad's museums and libraries? A few squads perhaps, with the ability to fire warning shots and even, possibly, shoot to kill?
Of course, this stuff will start to turn up on the black market in a few weeks, and some of it will be bought up by the soldiers themselves, winding up back in the states like so many pieces of Nazi memorobilia and Japanese art did in the past...
"While no one condones looting, on the other hand one can understand the pent-up feeling that may result from decades of repression .... The images you are seeing on television, you are seeing over and over and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times and you think, 'My goodness, were there that many vases?'
Stuff happens ... And it's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things..."
Support freedom. Loot your local art museum today!