Thursday, November 20, 2008

Latest Opportunity to Beat Up on the US Military

An upcoming UNESCO Report will offer yet another opportunity to rehash damage done to the site of Babylon by US and Polish troops in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. For more, see:

The ancient Mesopotamian City, conquered in turn by the Assyrians, the Persians and then by the Greeks under Alexander the Great (who died there), was last the subject of serious archaeological exploration over a century ago. More recently, Saddam Hussein sought to aggrandize his regime through an association with the site. The results weren't pretty. Saddam sought to rebuild the city as a tourist attraction, complete with a modern palace in the shape of a ziggurat. Many of the bricks he used were even inscribed with his name in imitation of the ancient Babylonian kings. For more, see At the time, however, there was not much of an outcry from the archaeological establishment. After all, Saddam had funded Iraqi archaeology lavishly for the very same reasons that he took interest in Babylon, and Iraq was a friendly place for foreign archaeologists (as long as they did not "rock the boat" at least).

In any event, despite a long history of abuse and neglect of the site, the Iraqi government has apparently asked UNSECO to focus a report about Babylon on damage to the site caused by US and Polish troops which had a base there. This was already the subject of substantial coverage in the media following an outcry from members of the archaeological establishment, many of whom had vehmently opposed the war.

While bashing the US Military might fit in well with the agendas of UNESCO, members of the archaeological community and certain Iraqi politicians, I'm not sure what another report will do to help ensure that the site will be properly rehabilitated.

The US has already agreed to throw more money at the site. However, with increasing concerns about Iraqi government corruption, one wonders whether this money will be well spent. See generally, (noting that the Iraqi government has dismissed fraud monitors in government agencies, including the Ministry of Culture).

1 comment:

Brian said...

As most of the military bashers seem to be of the same political persuasion, hopefully under the new President they will refrain from trashing as often our underpaid, under-appreciated, gallant young men and women of the armed forces.