A War On The Past, Present, And Future
By Hamid Golpira
The Iraq war is actually a war against the past, present, and future.
It is a war against the past because the occupiers are implementing a program of cultural destruction.
Iraq is one of the cradles of world civilization.
And much of the world's cultural heritage has been lost as a result of the war.
The most egregious example of this was the looting of the National Museum of Iraq after the fall of Baghdad in 2003.
Venezuelan writer Fernando Baez called it the worst act of cultural destruction to befall Iraq since 1258, which was the year Hulegu Khan and the Mongolians conquered Baghdad, destroyed the Abbasid caliphate and burned its capital, killed 200,000 to 500,000 residents of the city, destroyed the libraries of Baghdad, including the Grand Library of Baghdad, which was known as the House of Wisdom, and killed most of the scholars of the city, which had been one of the cultural centers of the Islamic world for many years until that catastrophe.
In an article entitled “Invaders” published in the April 25, 2005 edition of The New Yorker, Ian Frazier wrote: “So many books from Baghdad's libraries were flung into the Tigris that a horse could walk across on them. The river ran black with scholars' ink and red with the blood of martyrs.”
Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003, but no U.S. troops were stationed at the National Museum of Iraq to protect it until April 16. At the time, U.S. commanders said they needed all their soldiers for the war effort, but two dozen soldiers could have prevented the looting of the National Museum of Iraq, which is also called the Baghdad Museum.
Over 14,000 items were stolen from the Baghdad Museum, including 33 major artifacts and 5,000 extremely valuable cylinder seals, and fifteen major items of the museum's galleries were seriously damaged.
In March 2008, UNESCO said that between 3,000 and 7,000 items from the museum's collection were still missing.
Baghdad museum officials say it is impossible to determine exactly how many items are still missing because some of the museum's records were stolen.
The 5000-year-old Warka Vase was stolen from the museum but returned in June 2003, although it had been broken into fourteen pieces, which was its original state when it was first excavated.
The Mask of Warka, also known as the Lady of Uruk, which dates back to 3100 BC, was also looted from the Baghdad Museum but was recovered in September 2003 and returned to the museum.
And the approximately 4500-year-old Harp of Ur, which is one of the oldest stringed musical instruments in the world, was broken, and its gold inlay was ripped out and stolen.
In an interview with Inter Press Service in February 2005, Fernando Baez, the author of The Cultural Destruction of Iraq and A Universal History of the Destruction of Books, said, “One million books, 10 million documents, and 14,000 archaeological artifacts have been lost in the U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq -- the biggest cultural disaster since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258.”
Baez said U.S. troops and other U.S.-led coalition forces had violated “the Hague Convention, which states that cultural property must be protected in the event of armed conflict.”
A large number of Sumerian tablets and seals were also stolen from the Baghdad Museum and from archaeological sites.
Unscrupulous merchants in Jordan and Kuwait have bought stolen Iraqi antiquities and have paid up to $57,000 for a Sumerian tablet, Baez stated.
In addition, serious damage has been inflicted on Ur, Uruk, Babylon, Nineveh, Ctesiphon, Nibru, and other important archaeological sites.
In 2005, it was reported that U.S.-led coalition forces had caused irreparable damage to Babylon and that the 2600-year-old paving stones of the Processional Way of Babylon had been crushed by tanks.
A UNESCO report issued in 2009 said U.S.-led occupation forces caused extensive damage to Babylon and carried out “a grave encroachment on this internationally known archaeological site.”
The report added, “During their presence in Babylon, the MNF-I (Multi-National Forces) and contractors employed by them, mainly KBR, directly caused major damage to the city by digging, cutting, scraping, and leveling. Key structures that were damaged include the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way.”
Commenting on the damage to Babylon in the Inter Press Service interview, Baez said, “Polish troops drove heavy vehicles near the Nebuchadnezzar Palace, which dates back to the sixth century BC, and then covered large areas of the site with asphalt, doing irreparable damage. There were also attempts to gouge out bricks at the Gate of Ishtar.”
“And when soldiers found out that the Sumerian city of Ur was the birthplace of the prophet Abraham, they took ancient bricks as souvenirs,” Baez added.
All of these world heritage sites are still being damaged since they are still not being properly safeguarded.
Thus, it can be said that the Iraq war is a war on the world's cultural heritage.
But what is the strategic goal of waging a war on the past?
Well, when people are cut off from their cultural, religious, and civilizational roots, they lose their identity and become confused. And confused people with an identity crisis are easy to control.
George Orwell described the situation eloquently in his book 1984, where he wrote:
“Who controls the past… controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
The Iraq war is also a war on the present since the occupiers are fanning the flames of ethnic and sectarian strife.
Of course, there were ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq before the war began in 2003, but the occupiers are making efforts to exacerbate the discord.
Over one million Iraqis have been killed in the war, and a large number of those casualties occurred in incidents that appear to have been false flag operations meant to generate endless cycles of communal violence and revenge attacks.
Although the country is over 60 percent Shia and it was expected that they would win a proportionate number of votes in elections, giving the Shias a parliamentary majority and the opportunity to form a government, when this happened, many of the Sunni Arabs illogically got the impression that the occupiers were favoring the Shias.
The democratization process was bound to empower the Shia majority, but the Sunni Arabs still feel slighted.
And this feeling of resentment has thrown fuel on the fire of sectarian strife and helped the occupiers implement their “managed chaos” plan.
In addition, the Arab-Kurd conflict is not resolved.
The major bone of contention is Kirkuk and the surrounding areas, which have vast oil reserves.
Most of the Kurds regard Kirkuk as part of Iraqi Kurdistan, but it is currently not officially part of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Its final status is to be determined by a referendum, but no date has been set for the referendum.
And the Turkmen of Iraq also regard Kirkuk as their cultural center.
Kirkuk and the surrounding areas were majority Kurd until the 1980s, when former dictator Saddam Hussein stepped up the Arabization program that the Baathist regime began implementing in the 1970s. Over 500,000 Kurds were expelled from the region and Arabs from other parts of Iraq were brought in and given the houses and properties of the relocated Kurds. The Arabization program continued into the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century and only ended when Saddam was deposed in 2003.
Kirkuk has become the flashpoint of Southwest Asia. If a major conflict breaks out in the city, it could become a conflagration that engulfs all of Southwest Asia. Some political analysts say a conflict in Kirkuk could even escalate, spin out of control, and set off a world war.
The occupiers know all this and are playing the Kirkuk card in order to realize their objectives.
And the Iraq war is also a war on the future since the U.S. military has used the mutagenic weapon depleted uranium, which is definitely a war crime, a crime against humanity, and an act of genocide.
The use of depleted uranium artillery and tank shells has given Iraqis genetic damage, caused a significant rise in birth defects in the country, and irreversibly irradiated large swathes of Iraq.
On impact depleted uranium is partially pulverized, producing depleted uranium dust, which is then carried by the wind, contaminating the air, land, crops, irrigation systems, rivers, wells, and other water supplies. Since depleted uranium dust can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin, it is not safe for people to live in contaminated areas.
Some of these areas are so irradiated that they will be uninhabitable for millions of years. And this is one of the main issues of the Iraq war, but no one wants to talk about it.
Exposure to depleted uranium causes genetic damage, birth defects, cancer, immune system damage, and other serious health problems. In addition, many medical experts believe depleted uranium is the cause of Persian Gulf War Syndrome.
Physicians in Iraq have documented a threefold increase in childhood cancers and a fivefold increase in birth defects since 1990. The U.S. military first used depleted uranium weapons in Iraq in 1991.
In order to get a better understanding of the impact of depleted uranium weapons, go to the following websites to view images of the babies born with severe deformities as a result of genetic damage caused by depleted uranium weapons:
So what must be done?
In response to the war against the past, the masses of Iraq must be educated about the need to protect the country's cultural heritage. Indeed, the masses of the world must be educated about the need to protect the world's cultural heritage, wherever it might be.
In response to the war against the present, efforts must be made to ensure that the Arab Sunnis, the Arab Shias, the Kurds, and Iraq's other ethnic and sectarian groups all feel they have a fair share in power and the decision-making process in Iraq.
In response to the war against the future, a movement must be started to end the use of depleted uranium weapons and to draw up an international treaty to ban this genocidal weapon forever.
Also, areas that are so irradiated that they cannot be decontaminated and are thus uninhabitable must be cordoned off and the residents of those areas must be relocated.
But all this requires education.
Education is the key. Educating the people of the world about what is happening through efficient dissemination of information is the correct path to take.
What you don't know can hurt you.
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