July 19th, 2003

dp

More on looting in Iraq

From Opinion Journal (open portion of the Wall Street Journal), pro-war. [Opinion Journal]

"That building was being used as a defensive position. They were fighting out of it. It wasn't like you came here and there was no enemy. The area was completely saturated by enemy positions, and they weren't abiding by the rules we were abiding by," he said. An engaging, articulate man, Capt. Conroy seemed more bewildered than angry at the charges that his troops could have stopped the plunder. "I mean, you're talking about one little building. Yes, it's an important building, but you have to think back to what point we were at. We were just moving into Baghdad, and just to get to this area was a major undertaking."
"The museum is in armadillo mode. They're paranoid and terrified that they're going to get blamed for what happened," said McGuire Gibson, a University of Chicago archeologist who has worked in Iraq since 1964 and returned to Baghdad a few weeks after Saddam's fall. "The museum people did exactly what they should do. They put all the material they could in storage and locked it up. They assumed the Americans wouldn't bomb it, which they didn't, but then they assumed the Americans would protect it from looters."
"Anything that the U.S. military isn't sitting on is being destroyed," said Mr. Gibson. "The collectors who buy this stuff are going to be happy."
"We have lost a lot of material. We have lost some masterpieces," said Mr. George. "But the museum still has its basic collection, and I believe we can go back to work."