In my own self proclaimed ignorance I was surprised to learn that many of Iraq's archaeological museums, libraries, and historical monuments and sites have been looted, damaged or destroyed over the years of war and turmoil in this Country. It further maddens me to learn that much of this global crime occurred under the eyes of Coalition Forces after the fall of Baghdad in early April 2003. These losses are detrimental to human heritage, world archeologists and the knowledge of all of humanity. No other museum could rival the collections of ancient Mesopotamian artifacts in the Iraq Museum in Bagdad prior to the conquest of Baghdad by U.S. troops in April 2003. It saddens me to view just some of the 15,000 documented items that are now confirmed to be have been stolen or damaged like the Sumerian The Warka Lady which dates back to 3000 BC. Further more it pisses me off that so many of my fellow students have just resolved themselves to the thought they have no power to change the future. Has my older generations mistakes taught you nothing? To accept that war must remain as all historical wars before them is a lame excuse. To believe that there is nothing that can be done is a weak response. You do have the power to affect change and improve the future. We must educate ourselves and others. We must express our opinions to all of our elected officials. We must e-mail and call these officials with our opinions. It is easy to do with the internet. We must let our voices be heard. Some people may still steal and cause harm to others, but civilization and world government must take global responsibility put obstacles and protections in place to control the masses.
There are international laws governing atrocities such as these, even in times of war or natural disaster. The United Nations may have been able to have some impact on minimizing these losses had the United States entered this war with proper UN approval and global alliances. Organizations such as UNESCO, Interpol, the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement could have had more involvement prior to the war in 2003.
It appears that most, if not all, of the looting was by the Iraqi people themselves who may have found themselves in life threatening situations; and had seen the prior regime hoard the wealth. Who am I too judge. But let's hope that our US military is not responsible for any of these losses. There are a combination of existing relevant United States statutes pertaining to the importation, possession, dealing and transfer of objects of cultural heritage from Iraq. Pursuant to the United States' implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the import into the United States of any stolen objects that had been documented as part of the inventory of a museum or other public institution is prohibited. I was curious to find out if my own relatives and friends that served in Iraq were ever made aware of any of these laws. To my dismay none of the five veterans I spoke too had ever been informed. Nor had they even considered the possibility that it might be an issue. To these few I spoke with, it was simply a matter of what is right or wrong. All agreed that it would be wrong to loot or damage anything of historical importance in any circumstance.
I my humble opinion I believe it is critical for the United Nations to review International Law and determine what failed in this case. Then world leaders should correct or strengthen policies and International Law to address these failures. The United States should enter into agreement with all other nations to make every effort to protect and defend world archeology, global historical sites and human antiquities and cultural art even in the time of war. World leaders need to ask the same questions we should ask ourselves. Yes, war will be brutal, but has mankind learned nothing from history? Or as skeptics say, is history bound to repeat itself? How would we American's feel if in the future we lost our global dominance and another Country destroyed our historical sites, museums and archeological sites?
Hague Convention on the protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict