Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Preserving Iraqi Culture

Before the onset of the ongoing conflict in Iraq, approximately 10,000 archeological sites magnificently displayed an Iraqi culture dating back to the dawn of civilization. Now, in light of the conflict, those same poorly guarded sites are continually plundered, financing the insurgents who abscond with these artifacts and deprive future generations of Iraq’s personal art history, according to Matthew Bogdanos, a Marine Reserves Colonel and co-author of a book on the subject, in a New York Times op-ed Tuesday. Failure to protect these antiquities, for which the U.N. and NATO also do not take much responsibility, is convincing Iraqis and others in the Middle East that the U.S. does not care about the preservation of Iraq’s culture.

One solution Bogdanos proposes is to extend the foreign sponsorship of previous archeological digs to include forces to protect the sites. These include, Bogdanos writes, “the Germans at Babylon and Uruk, the British at Ur and Nimrud, the French at Kish and Lagash, the Italians at Hatra, and the Americans at Nippur.” At each of the sites, the respective nations, given Iraqi approval, could then post guards around the clock to prevent further looting. Forces would also train Iraqi recruits, forcing terrorists to seek other funding and showing concern for Iraqi culture.

Some European governments, however, believe that such a proposal is a support statement for the war. “But surely they could be persuaded that it would be a humanitarian effort to protect a cultural heritage rich with common ancestry that predates the splits among Kurds, Sunni Arab and Shiite,” Bogdanos says.

Additionally, Bogdanos says that U.S. troops should be required to receive cultural training before deploying, like the seminars conducted by the Archeological Institute of America at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

For the complete op-ed, click here.


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