May 27, 2003

LOOTING UPDATE: Rich Lowry writes on “the museum sacking that wasn’t:”

If you only read The New York Times, you might think the only truly important recent event in Iraq was the looting of the Iraqi National Museum. For art lovers, this branded the U.S. occupation with the worst of all possible labels, worse than “imperialist,” worse than “illegal” — “Philistine.”

Robert Deutsch, an archeologist at Haifa University and a licensed antiquities dealer, shakes his head at all the coverage of the museum sacking. The Times originally reported that 170,000 pieces had been stolen. “Nonsense,” says Deutsch. He points out that there would have to be “miles and miles” of display area for such a massive amount of material to be readily available for the snatching. . . .

“They just had to have something to complain about,” Deutsch says of the museum hype from skeptics of the war. “The war was fast. It was clean. They found a small place where they can complain.” . . .

“I don’t see any big or significant damage from this looting,” says Deutsch. “It was very small-scale. And the historical value of an antiquity is in its publication. Once it’s published, it’s part of our knowledge.” Thereafter, its value is mostly as an object of art.

(Via Bill Quick).