Mr. S.D. shared this article with me, and it's concerning a story that we've been tracking here - as occasion arises - for the last three to five years. The story is the looting of antiquities from Iraq during the West's military interventions, beginning with the 1991 Gulf War, and culminating in the now infamous looting of the Baghdad Museum in the Bush II invasion of Iraq. (See the following stories on this site:
The gist of my concerns ever since hearing of the Baghdad Museum looting, and the return of the stolen objects of art, was that the operation had all the hallmarks of an "inside job." This much everyone is basically agreed upon, but where we part company is over who was ultimately the "perp", and what they were ultimately after. I have long maintained my own high octane speculation on this whole event, which may ultimately be summarized as follows:
- The "perpetrators" may not have been participants in any nation's "military-industrial" complex, but rather, representatives of private interests aiming to acquire ancient knowledge;
- As such, the real goal of the theft was not the artworks, most of which were recovered and returned to Iraq by Marine Col. Bogdonavich to the Iraqi government, but rather, a vast haul of cuneiform tablets unearthed during the Hussein regime, largely by French and German teams of archeologists that Saddam had been sponsoring.
- Thus, the theft of artworks was planned as a cover for the theft of cuneiform tablets (in my opinion the real goal) of the theft, and could have been done by just about anyone who had inside knowledge of what tablets may have been uncovered, which could just as easily have been French or Germans dressed in US uniforms, as anyone else.
Well, in partial confirmation of this high octane scenario, we now have "backhanded admission" that cuneiform tablets in their thousands were "somehow" spirited out of Iraq beginning in the First Gulf War and that they "somehow" ended up in the hands of private collectors and American universities:
Granted, the tablets referred to here do not contain vast fonts of "ancient high knowledge," but rather the more mundane daily activities of ancient Mesopotamia. But there are a number of peculiarities about the article that raises as many questions as it answers:
- Granted that many thousands of artifacts and antiquities find their way to universities or private collectors via black marketeers and smugglers, who is at the beginning of this chain of activity? This is perhaps the crucial question, since in a military occupation, one can only presume the involvement of the occupying military in the chain of custody at some point, or a willingness on the part of that military to "look the other way";
- This possible or even perhaps probable involvement of occupying military in the chain of custody, or a "willingness to look the other direction," implies at some deep level, a policy in place to do so;
- Where are the inventories or catalogs of these tablets? Are there any summaries of their contents? If there are catalogs? Do the Iraqi government's catalogs square with those of universities, or other nations?
None of these questions, as far as I am aware, have ever been adequately addressed or answered. Indeed, there remains a suspicious pall of silence over even voicing them. That suggests that even the universities and academics involved in sifting antiquities may not know the whole story, and that, if such catalogs exist, they too may be in the possession of those anonymous figures at the beginning of the chain custody. In that respect, it is perhaps an intriguing clue that the article itself mentions that the investigation of the theft of the tablets fell under the purview of the Department of Homeland (In)Security, the Amerikan Reichssicherheithauptamt. In my opinion, that in itself raises many red flags, rather like having the fox investigate the raid on the chicken coup.
See you on the flip side.
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