Tuesday, April 15, 2003

After the Iraqi National Museum of Antiquities was destroyed by looters while the Americans protected the Ministry of Oil (and both Donald Rumsfeld and Geoff Hoon made light of the looting), you might think that the Americans would be particularly sensitive about providing protection against looters for what remains of Iraqi history and heritage. Not so. Looters have now been allowed to ransack and burn down the National Library and Archives, and the library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Endowment was destroyed when the building was burned down. So what is going on?:

  1. It is astonishing that a collection of Korans would be burned down in a Muslim country, and there must be more to this story.

  2. What is happening to the heritage of Iraq reminds me of the legendary destruction of Sybaris in Magna Graecia in what is now southern Italy. Sybaris was not only conquered and laid waste, but the conquerors, in their hatred for the civilization of Sybaris, are said to have diverted the river Crathis so that its water would permanently erase all trace of the existence of Sybaris. The American cavalier attitude towards the civilization of Iraq seems to be intended to leave no trace of the historical documentation for the heritage of the Iraqi people. It is not enough to 'liberate' them; it is not enough to conquer them; the Americans have to humiliate them by allowing the destruction of the evidence that the Iraqis ever had a civilization.

  3. The Museum of Antiquities was looted on Thursday and Friday, and the National Library and Archives and Ministry of Religious Endowment were destroyed on Sunday, which means that the Americans had plenty of time to provide some protection, but did not. Indeed, one report says that the looting of the National Library and Archives took place "under the watchful eye of U.S. Marines".

  4. Robert Fisk actually rushed to the U. S. Marines' Civil Affairs Bureau to tell them about the fact that the library of Korans was on fire, but no one came to help or even see what was going on.

If I may be very, very paranoid for a moment, is it possible that the Americans are allowing the destruction of Iraqi culture as they are clearing away history in order to allow for the idea of Iraq to disappear, perhaps as part of a larger rearrangement of the politics of the Middle East? This sounds crazy, but the neocon ideologues who tell Bush what to do are completely certifiable. They would certainly like to carry on their attack into Syria. If they make up an excuse to attack and control Syria, Jordan and southern Lebanon would come along with it, and the Americans would have created a block of land stretching from Israel to the Euphrates. With that much land, whole populations could be moved, including even the Palestinians, who could be forced into some corner of the new block of land (this transfer would be called 'humanitarian resettlement'). Suddenly, the Americans have created a state similar to what has been called 'Greater Israel'. Indeed, if you add to it the land in Egypt as far as the Nile, you have a Zionist dreamland stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates. Suddenly that odd presentation by Laurent Murawiec on July 10, 2002 to the Defense Policy Board (the board that was at the time chaired by Richard Perle) starts to make sense. Murawiec's PowerPoint presentation ended with the words:

  • Iraq is the tactical pivot

  • Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot

  • Egypt the prize

Is 'Egypt' a code word for 'Greater Israel'? The dream is blocked by the history of the civilization of the Iraqi people, particularly the Assyrian history in the National Museum of Antiquities and the Ottoman history in the National Library and Archives. Examples taken from the Assyrian empire and the Ottoman empire show the Iraqis existing as a nation, and are inconvenient if Iraq is to be described as merely the creation of British colonial planners. Did the Americans intentionally allow evidence of Iraqi civilization to be destroyed?