Notes Book

Baghdad Busted

How many of the stolen art treasures from Baghdad Museums and Libraries will end up in British or American hands?

This is a question you will not hear asked on CNN, but I would imagine it has occurred to a lot of Arabs.

I presume the Museums and Libraries were owned by the State. If these art treasures had been in private hands, they would have been more effectively protected, even in war. This is another example of the tragedy of the commons. They are in private hands now, those that aren't destroyed.

The cops and the military have taken to getting more and more of their cash from drug busts. The modus operandi is clear. Demonize, invade, and steal. I know of one case where people were busted for small time pot growing. The cops took their chain saw, in addition to their crop, of course. They didn't get a receipt, and they didn't get it back. What did a chain saw have to do with it?

Taxation is boring compared to ripping off money and valuables from drug dealers. All the tax revenue is recorded, and it is a lot more difficult to siphon it off into private wealth, but drug money from busts is immediately available, and most of it is never reported. The thrill of the hunt is irresistible.

Now our government is scaling up the operation and doing it to entire countries. Weapons of mass destruction have replaced drugs as the prohibited item. The people who operated the museum notified the USA that they were worried about getting their treasure stolen. This makes as much sense as a rabbit notifying a fox it doesn't want to be eaten.

The oil fields, of course, were secured as early in the game as possible, but like taxation, these assets will be closely monitored because of the assertion that “It's not about oil”. The assets of the museum are portable and easily sold. The museum was a much more exciting target from the viewpoint of the individual cop, soldier, or spy.

I wonder how many top officials of the Bush and Blair regimes have some trinket of Middle Eastern antiquity in their stash as a trophy of the Great Baghdad Bust?