More on the pillage of Iraq

Another troubling aspect of the plundering still going on in Iraq is that lots of vital official documents either will be or have been destroyed in the looting. Which means it becomes that much more difficult to find out the truth about Iraq’s NBC programmes. It also means it becomes harder to root out diehard Ba’athists, but since the party police in Bagdhad is being rehired anyway, this hardly seems like a consideration for Washington…

It’s hard to believe that the plundering wasn’t deliberately encouraged, even more so than the British already admitted to. After all, the more difficult it becomes to piece out the truth about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, the easier it is to accuse Syria of having them…

The warmachine needs to be fed; it would be a shame to have all those troops there and not use them. More and more it seems like the greatest paranoid fears of any sensible person (as well as the fondest wish of the warbloggers) are coming true: Iraq as the stepping stone to further military adventures in the Middle East, ending in total US domination. After Iraq, Syria, after Syria, Iran?

Looting and pillaging

Via John Quiggin comes the news that British soldiers were actually encouraging looters:

The British view is that the sight of local youths dismantling the offices and barracks of a regime they used to fear shows they have confidence that Saddam Hussain’s henchmen will not be returning to these towns in southern Iraq.

One senior British officer said: “We believe this sends a powerful message that the old guard is truly finished.”

Armoured units from the Desert Rats stood by and watched earlier this week as scores of excited Iraqis picked clean every floor and every room of the Baath Party headquarters building in Basra after it had been raided by British troops.

Villas owned by the elite, army compounds, air bases and naval ports and even some of the regime’s former torture chambers and jails have been ransacked in the past week.

The results of which are now on view in Baghdad:

Iraqi mobs looted priceless antiquities from Baghdad’s premier cultural history museum on Friday –turning archaeologists’ worst nightmares into stark reality.

A dozen looters roamed undisturbed among broken and overturned statues that littered the ground floor of the sprawling National Museum of Iraq, according to Agence France-Presse. Two men were seen hauling away an ancient door frame. Empty wooden crates were scattered across the floor.

The museum housed more than 100,000 artifacts spanning 8,000 years, including irreplaceable sculptures, inscribed tablets and carved reliefs from a half-dozen cultures, including the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Upstairs, portions of the museum seemed to have been spared from Friday’s assault, and there was hope that the museum’s 30 senior archaeologists had moved the most important collections to safety before the war.

In the comments to the post Quiggin wrote about this, several people excused the British actions. Because they had only called for the looting of Baath party headquarters and similar remnants of Saddam’s regime, they were supposedly blameless for the more widespread looting that actually occurred. This is wrong in several ways.

Looting, even “symbolic” looting, just is not a good idea. It’s clear what the UK and US tried to do by allowing the toppling of Saddam’s statues, the plundering of Ba’ath offices and army barracks:
recreating what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989 –but Iraq 2003 is nothing like East Germany 1989.
In East Germany, people freed themselves, a spontaneous revolt from below, there wasn’t the chaos of
invasion and the civil authorities were still present and able to keep order. In contrast, Iraq as a functioning state doesn’t exist anymore, there is nobody but the occupying forces to keep order and since they didn’t, things got more out of hand then they bargained for.

But apart from that, even allowing “symbolic” looting was stupid. Plundering the ill gotten gains of the
Ba’ath party faithful doesn’t help the country as a whole; it just means a redistribution of wealth
towards a new group of bastards with guns. What any responsible “liberators” would’ve done is make
sure that Ba’ath party resources would be available to actually help the country, e.g. to help pay for its rebuilding.

Instead, for the sake of symbolism hospitals, universities and musea have been stripped bare of anything valuable, while American and British soldiers looked on. Hey, at least the oil wells have been secured!

On war and protest

The first thing we should all remember is that this war was never inevitable, that this is a manufactured crisis, started by a small self proclaimed elite for reasons far different from those we’re told this war is fought for.

This really is the key to understanding the mess we’re in. The people responsible for this know full well that Iraq was not a threat to the US, that there is no link between Saddam and Al Quada, that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction were largely non-existent by now.

The people responsible for this war certainly don’t care for the Great Liberal Dream of Liberating Iraq. Read your history. Every involvement of the US and the UK with Iraq has been to the detriment of the people of Iraq. There’s no democracy in Iraq because every time it looked like breaking out, either the UK or the US made sure to put it down. The UK did so by starting the tradition of gassing the Iraqi people in the early 1920tiers, while in 1963 the US thought it was really neat to help an obscure political party into power, a small obscure party called Ba’ath. To make sure it stayed in power, the CIA helpfully supplied the names of thousands of communists, socialists and supporters of the previous president Kassem –actually the only Iraqi leader to have come into power without outside help. Incidently, this coup also started Saddam Hussein on his road to power. Way to go.

But if its our mess, shouldn’t we clean it up now, by overthrowing Saddam and making Iraq a democracy? Shouldn’t we support Bush and co in their efforts now to do so, even if this war started under false pretences?

If you believe this, answer me this: why should we trust them to do this? What makes you think Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and even Blair care about the Iraqi people? These are the same people who had no problem supporting Saddam when it was convenient, who had no problem letting their armies kill thousands of Iraqi civilians during the first Gulf War, no problem with installing murderous sanctions against them, letting them continue long past the point where it was clear they were only hurting the Iraqi population, not Saddam, who had no problem with Saddam “gassing his own people”, or even with selling him the same weapons of mass destruction they’re now agonising about.

There’s a lack of historical perspective, a boundless naivity in believing anything good can come from this war I’ve seen in far too many people, both those in favour and those opposed to this war, to which this post is a response. Because of the history the UK and the US have with Iraq, because of the personal history of the principals involved, nothing good will come of this. That’s why even now, especially now you should protest against this war, demand an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of the troops from Iraq. That way we can still limit the damage that’s being done, the loss of lives.

Don’t let anybody tell you that protests are now useless, because the war has started and we failed to prevent it. That’s as silly as saying that because we failed to prevent the passage of the USA PATRIOT laws, we should now stop protesting it. Of course we don’t.

We need to stay visible, to let the government[s] know this war is still opposed, that we reject what they’re doing, to show others that they’re not alone, there is in fact a large number of people who did not get swept up in the war fever.

We need to make it as difficult, as costly as possible for Bush and Blair to continue this war, we need to fight them every step of the way, or we will be waging war against Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, China and France next.

Keep on blogging in the real world

This week, Shelley of Burningbird has been blogging for two years. To commemorate this, she provided a little history of her blog, doing the usual musing one does at those events, in the course of which she wrote this:

Remember Tubby the Cat? The quizzes? Googlewhacking? Those were the days, weren’t they? All of a sudden now, weblogging is News. Capital ‘N’ news. Serious stuff.

For instance, NBC news just had a story tonight on warblogs. They did a Google search on the term ‘warblog’ and mentioned that over 300,000 entries show up. They showed the Google results, and PapaScott, you showed up in the results! Did you know you were on national US TV tonight?

Before it was cats. Now it’s war. I’m not sure this is an improvement. The intimate little party, the golden age when we could write unemcumbered by the real world is over. Knock, knock. The world wants in.

I can understand where Shelley’s coming from, but I think she’s wrong here. Has it ever been possible to “write unemcumbered by the real world”, without shutting your eyes to it? I never had this golden age, as the weblogs I followed from the beginning were all too involved with the real world of politics and war, as my own are too. What’s happening now is not new; though it is certainly more pervasive.

Apart from that, happy anniversary, Burningbird and I wish I had known you earlier.


In a few months there will be local elections in the UK. To mark the occasion Iain Coleman has presented his Rules of Letterboxes:

1) A letterbox should be horizontal, and at waist height.

2) The letterbox should be no less than 20 cm in width.

3) A heavy duty spring is _not_ required.

4) Neither is an arrangement of furry brushes on the inside of the letterbox.

5) Under no circumstances should the letterbox be accessible to any dog that might happen to be in the house.

6) I really mean it about (5).

As an ex-postie, I can only agree, especially about (5). I used to dread one particular house on my route, as they had a dog the size of a small mammoth, judging from the way the ground shook when it came running to the door and the way the door bulged when it lunged at the mail and my hand… Was always afraid one of those days the door would not stop it…