The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Thursday, April 24


You come across all sorts of bits and pieces of information when you surf around the web.

By now, everyone's read all about the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad. But did anyone hear about the military plans to prevent that from happening? Hear that there's even a designated chain of command within the military to safeguard cultural and religious sites?

On April 5, Major Christopher Varhola outlined the US military's plans to protect Iraq's unique cultural heritage. Less than a week later, the museum was looted. The kicker: The ones looking out for Iraq's cultural heritage were even embedded with units.
The U.S. military has integrated measures to identify and protect sites of religious, cultural, and historical importance in Iraq into every phase of its planning and operation, according to U.S. Army civil affairs officers who briefed reporters in Kuwait on April 5.

'Protection of cultural and religious sites is part of high-level planning, all the way down to unit cultural affairs officers who implement the measures to protect such sites,' said Major Christopher Varhola, a civil affairs reservist who is a cultural anthropologist.

Iraq's religious and cultural heritage is priceless, Varhola said. 'It's beyond rating.'
Obviously, the US military failed miserably at the task at hand. Not only did they not prevent the looting, but its fairly safe to say that US priorities facilitated the looting by taking little to no action to stop it. Four marines for one hour in front of the National Museum in a week of looting just doesn't cut it.
Q: Where do you rate Iraq in terms of its archeological treasures?

Varhola: Priceless. It's the cradle of civilization. The source of so much that we owe our culture to. It is absolutely priceless. From the smallest excavation from a tiny, tiny village which lead to agricultural patterns started thousands of years ago to whole social structures. And we aren't just concerned with ancient Mesopotamia structures but also those from the Golden Age of Islam, the 800's, 900's up until the medieval period. There are a number of priceless structures as well. I can emphasize this all day. It's beyond rating.
But then the priority was never Iraq or the people of Iraq, or the culture of Iraq, it was always the oil under the sand. Fire fighters were in Kuwait 6 weeks before the war began. Halliburton had a signed contract. Equipment had been flown in to extinguish oil well fires. But hey, protecting the history of mankind, the cradle of civilization, the Garden of Eden of Genesis?
'Stuff happens,' Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news briefing on April 11, when asked about widespread looting in Baghdad.
Stuff may happen, but it doesn't always have to.


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