Last month, Koichiro Matsuura, the Director General of UNESCO, appealed to the Interpol, the International Council of Museum and the World Customs Organisation to jointly ferret out Iraqi archaeological treasures looted after the American 'liberation' of Iraq.
Koichiro gave pointed reference to the 1954 Hague Convention (for the Protection of Cultural Properties In The Event of Armed Conflict), which forbids trade in items stolen during war. With artifacts resurfacing with collectors in the US and other Western counterparts the circle was more than complete. Interestingly U.S remains among few countries as a non signatory to the 'convention'. Historically, the areas between the Euphrates and the Tigris have housed several ancient civilisations like the Babylonians, Sumerians and Assyrians. Ancient Iraq was the homeland of Biblical Abraham, Hammurabi and the founder of Shiite Islam, Imam Ali. As the birthplace of writing code, poetry, law and architecture, this area was more than vulnerable. Immediately after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, the National Museum of Antiquities (established in 1923), which housed priceless treasures of history, was pillaged with tacit support of the Americans. On last count, 80% of the 170,000 antiquities housed at the National Museum were looted.
Simultaneous burning of the National Library decimated thousands of old manuscripts and books. The pillaging continued at Ziggurat at Ur, Babylon, Nineveh and Mosel. The International Council of Monuments labelled the inaction as a 'Crime Against Humanity' & the UNESCO's move to set up an international committee for damage assessment was spurned by the U.S.
The medieval mindset had equally perverted logic. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, also an irregular columnist with B&E, argued that the pillaging was a 'natural and healthy expression' of suppressed antagonism to the erstwhile dictatorial rule! The Iraqi national identity, beyond religion and ethnicity, identified itself with these cultural heritages. Their destruction in this manner was necessary for imperialist designs. With these nodes of identity gone, has the war against terror been more "effective"? We guess not...