Thursday, April 17, 2003

Here's a thought:

While there's no doubt that many of the archeological treasures that were looted over the last week-or-so have been destroyed, many (possibly most) may not have been. Pretty much everybody who is in charge in Iraq (for what that's worth) is no doubt going to be anxious to have these things returned to the Iraqi people as a whole, safely kept within the museums within which they belong. However, a "get tough" law and order approach to this will be possibly more trouble than its worth, as it'll be fairly simple to smash/burn/whatever the artifacts, and I for one don't give a rats ass about punishment as opposed to getting those treasures back safely.

So whoever does eventually run the show over there, I have a suggestion: complete amnesty for those that return the artifacts, including (perhaps) a reward for their safe return. Does this mean that this may reward thieves? Yes, but punishment of theft, no matter how great, is of vanishing importance compared to the historical record itself. It would also set them apart from Saddam's regime, who would have no doubt taken a hard (read: murderous) line on anything like this, and the shock of the differing treatment may do wonders for convincing people that the new boss is not the same as the old boss.

If this step has already been taken, then fine, no problem, great minds and suchlike. If it hasn't, however, it should be considered. This is the history of civilization here, and it's more important than vengeance.

Edit: that being said, some thought should be given as to the larger responsibility here. I had thought that this was an unanticipated accident. According to this, however, we appear to have ended up in another situation where the basic incompetence of the Bush administration is demonstrated, and its the one thing that Bush was supposed to be good at: they never, ever listen. At least, to anyone outside the Movement.

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