I think that the theft and destruction of the ancient antiquities in Iraq is terrible. Those pieces of art are essential to gaining an understanding of the history of art and humanity, not to mention that they are a part of Iraq’s history. They are priceless which is obviously why people decided that in a time of vulnerability and dissolution, of not only the country but the people as well, to steal and subsequently sell these priceless artifacts. It is human nature to be willing to do anything to survive.
Honestly, there wasn’t much that the Iraqi government could have done to protect the artifacts initially. They couldn’t have necessarily planned for the conflict that was going to be in their country. If they could have, I have a feeling that protecting the museums was not necessarily the highest priority on their to-do list. Even now I am not sure that they can do much to protect the artifacts that are left, other than by moving them to another safer facility, one where they will be safe from potential vandals and money hungry crooks.
They may be able to salvage what is left of the artifacts, but it would be difficult and potentially unsuccessful. The fact is that in times of war things are going to be destroyed. That is almost the point of war, to just go around and break the other guy’s stuff in hopes of making him agree with you. While the artifacts were probably not intentionally targeted, they were most definitely maimed in the crossfire and that is something that no one will be able to salvage.