Places Political

Understanding the Problem

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I think it’s nice that Doc’s trying to organize an effort to save the looted Iraqi artifacts. However, his ideas of staffing a single television and radio station, and creating a web site to show the artifacts, all created for the purposes of recovering the items won’t be that helpful.

Two types of looters have been identified — poor, little educated Kurds and Shiites who most likely don’t have a computer, a television, or radio, and possibly even electricity; and professionals, most likely part of the museum itself, who could care less.

UNESCO is the organization best equipped for running an international operation to try and rescue the artifacts before they’re sold into private collections. I imagine they’re working with Interpol, and both organizations are quite good at recovery of illegally smuggled artifacts. UNESCO is taking the steps necessary to ensure descriptions of items are released into the hands where they’ll do the most good — traditional dealers of Middle Eastern artifacts. The idea of ‘closing’ the borders to search for artifacts is a good one, but this should also include searching belongings of the military before they come home. It’s not uncommon for military to take ‘souvenirs’ home with them.

Offering of rewards, no questions asked, and proving that people are not going to be arrested is one of the best ideas yet. This should result in returns of artifacts held by the poor who have no contacts in the international community. This won’t stop the pros, though.

However, if we want to do something, we should pressure the Congress to get the United States to own up to our responsibilities in this mess, and to provide support for recovery operations. Not lip service, actual sypport. The US and Britain need to provide money for rewards, and facilities for UNESCO to help in recovery. In this, I agree that we should be communicating this across weblogs — but we have been, even before this war started.

However, if we want to do something from a Web point of view, we could also start looking for artifacts on eBay — they’ll start showing up shortly.

I know that Doc thinks these efforts are ‘insufficient’, but I would tend to trust the experts on this one.

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