By Charles Krauthammer


 "It took only 48 hours for the museum to be destroyed, with at least 
170,000 artifacts carried away by looters."
       New York Times, April 13

"You'd have to go back centuries, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 
1258, to find looting on this scale."
       British archaeologist Eleanor Robson, New York Times, April 16

      WASHINGTON  Well, not really. Turns out the Iraqi National Museum 
lost not 170,000 treasures but 33. Baghdad Bob was more accurate. You'd 
have to go back centuries, say, to the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 
1258, to find mendacity on this scale.
      What happened? The source of the lie, Director General of Research 
and Study of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities Donny George, now says 
(Washington Post, June 9) that he originally told the media that "there 
were 170,000 pieces in the entire museum collection. Not 170,000 pieces 
stolen. No, no, no. That would be every single object we have!"
      Of course, George saw the story of the stolen 170,000 museum 
pieces go around the world and said nothing. Indeed, two weeks later, he 
was in London calling the looting "the crime of the century."
      Why? Because George and the other museum officials who wept on 
camera were Baath Party appointees, and the media, Western and Arab, 
desperate to highlight the dark side of the liberation of Iraq, bought 
their deceptions without an ounce of skepticism.
      It played on front pages everywhere and allowed for some deeply 
satisfying antiwar preening. For example, a couple of nonentities on a 
panel no one had ever heard of (the President's Cultural Property 
Advisory Committee) received major media play for their ostentatious 
resignations over the cultural rape of Baghdad.
      Frank Rich best captured the spirit of antiwar vindication when he 
wrote (New York Times, April 27) that "the pillaging of the Baghdad 
museum has become more of a symbol of Baghdad's fall than the toppling 
of a less exalted artistic asset, the Saddam statue."
      The narcissism, the sheer snobbery of this statement, is 
staggering. The toppling of Saddam freed 25 million people from 30 years 
of torture, murder, war, starvation and impoverishment at the hands of a 
psychopathic family that matched Stalin for cruelty but took far more 
pleasure in it. For Upper West Side liberalism, this matters less than 
the destruction of a museum.
      Which didn't even happen! What now becomes of Rich's judgment that 
the destruction of the museum constitutes "the naked revelation of our 
worst instincts at the very dawn of our grandiose project to bring 
democratic values to the Middle East"? Does he admit that this judgment 
was nothing but a naked revelation of the cheapest instincts of the 
antiwar left  that, shamed by the jubilation of Iraqis upon their 
liberation, a liberation the Western left did everything it could to 
prevent, the left desperately sought to change the subject and taint the 
victory?
      Hardly. The left simply moved on to another change of subject: the 
"hyping" of the weapons of mass destruction.
      The inability to find the weapons is indeed troubling, but only 
because it means that the weapons remain unaccounted for and might be in 
the wrong hands. The idea that our inability to thus far find the WMDs 
proves that the threat was phony and hyped is simply false.
      If the U.S. intelligence agencies bent their data to damn Saddam, 
why is it that the French, German and Russian intelligence services all 
came to the same conclusion? Why is it that every country on the 
Security Council, including Syria, in the unanimous Resolution 1441, 
declared that Saddam had failed to account for the tons of chemical and 
biological agents he had in 1998? If he had destroyed them all by 2002, 
why did he not just say so, list where and when it happened, and save 
his regime?
      If Saddam had no chemical weapons, why did coalition forces find 
thousands of gas masks and atropine syringes in Iraqi army bunkers? And 
does anybody believe that President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and General 
Franks ordered U.S. soldiers outside Baghdad to don heavy, bulky, 
chemical-weapons suits in scorching heat  an encumbrance that increased 
their risks in conventional combat and could have jeopardized their 
lives  to maintain a charade?
      Everyone thought Saddam had weapons because we knew for sure he 
had them five years ago and there was no evidence that he disposed of 
them. The WMD-hyping charge is nothing more than the Iraqi museum story 
Part II: A way for opponents of the war  deeply embarrassed by the mass 
graves, torture chambers and grotesque palaces discovered after the war 
 to change the subject and relieve themselves of the shame of having 
opposed the liberation of 25 million people.

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