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Education Science

The Destruction of Iraq's Once-Great Universities 444

Posted by Soulskill
from the long-term-casualties dept.
Harperdog writes "Hugh Gusterson has written a devastating article about what has happened to Iraq's once great university system, and puts most of the blame for its total collapse on the U.S. Quoting: 'While American troops guarded the Ministries of Oil and the Interior but ignored cultural heritage sites, looters ransacked the universities. For example, the entire library collections at the University of Baghdad's College of Arts and at the University of Basra were destroyed. The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandresekara described the scene at Mustansiriya University in 2003: "By April 12, the campus of yellow-brick buildings and grassy courtyards was stripped of its books, computers, lab equipment and desks. Even electrical wiring was pulled from the walls. What was not stolen was set ablaze, sending dark smoke billowing over the capital that day."'"
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The Destruction of Iraq's Once-Great Universities

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  • News? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bazorg (911295) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:25AM (#38925553) Homepage

    Some [wikipedia.org] have even suggested that it was on purpose.

    • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @07:01AM (#38925979)

      Mainly Naomi Klein, who is known for just making stuff up as she goes along.
      Seriously though, the primary thing to blame for the end of Iraq's universities is Islam, because it was what fuelled the anger of the looters (against the un-Islamic curricula and against the education of women), because it is what makes Iraq inhospitable to science now and because it is what is preventing the Iraqi government from funding the building of new ones even though there's plenty of oil money available.
      The only thing the US can be blamed for is naïveté. At least the military top and the administration had this attidude of "muslims are just like us, except they call God Allah". This is also why things turned out so shitty when the US didn't keep the oppressive military rule in place and why Iraq's democratic project is coming apart at the seams. Most of Iraq's problems were essentially caused by the US top refusing to do their homework before they went in.
      Then again, the only way to prevent all this would have been to institute a tight (and expensive) military rule followed by a thorough (and expensive) re-education program. I can see the headlines now. ... Maybe the current situation is as good as it can get. The US went in there to prevent Iraq from being a pain in the butt and I think it helped. It's a shame we cannot keep people from each other's throats but even the US isn't powerful enough to do that everywhere on the globe, so yeah. Reality sucks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes.

        The Arab-Muslim world has the highest rates of illiteracy on Earth. Like everything else, the Arabs will of course blame that on America and the Jews, rather than taking a long hard look at themselves.

      • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hey! (33014) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @09:49AM (#38926657) Homepage Journal

        Some [wikipedia.org] have even suggested that it was on purpose.

        ...

        Seriously though, the primary thing to blame for the end of Iraq's universities is Islam.

        This is a good opportunity to put Occam's razor to use. We know that in sudden, widespread disruptive events people loot. It doesn't matter whether it is natural disaster, invasion, or just a neighborhood breakdown in public order. This even includes ordinary people who would not ordinarily steal. I once talked to an anthropologist whose work on a Caribbean island was interrupted by an unusually powerful hurricane. There was looting, but several days later many people sheepishly returned things they'd stolen, unable to explain why they'd taken them in the panic.

        Looting is probably an instinctive human response to the rapid onset of environmental or social disorder. But we don't have to accept that. We only have to accept that disasters cause looting. Introducing the hypothetical intellectual backwardness of Islam simply multiplies causes unnecessarily. The looting would have occurred whether or not Islam was as you characterize it. The looting is neither proof nor disproof of your notions about Islam. Your notions of Islam have no bearing on the looting, even if you had actual evidence (which you don't) of the motivations of the crowd.

        Now as for the looting of important cultural institutions being an intended consequence, Occam's razor applies here as well. The administration's general lack of preparation or even awareness of basic facts about Iraq that was evident in the aftermath of the invasion. That is enough to explain the lack of steps to protect universities and libraries. To suggest that was part of the invasion suggests an awareness of the importance of intellectual inquiry that was not otherwise evidenced in any of the administration's other behavior. This was a president who proudly said he made decisions by gut instead of reason, as if that were an admirable thing. It is more plausible that it never occurred to the Bush Administration that a country like Iraq *had* important cultural institutions .

        It really makes no difference whether the looting was an intended consequence or not -- either practically or ethically. Undertaking drastic, irreversible actions fatal to so many is not excused by ignorance. Doing that in unexamined ignorance is arguably worse than causing many of the things that happened after the invasion intentionally. Arguably somebody who *wanted* those things would have to be sick. Somebody who is just intellectually lazy deserves no pity. The uncaring deserve less pity than the honestly depraved.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by sam_nead (607057)

          This is a good opportunity to put Occam's razor to use. We know that in sudden, widespread disruptive events people loot.

          They loot libraries? After a disaster I might loot a store, or an abandoned police station/military post, I guess, but a library? For books? "Hey, its the end of the world! Let's go snag some calculus textbooks!"

          • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hey! (33014) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:53AM (#38927659) Homepage Journal

            They loot libraries?

            Well, sure. It's not like people sit down and ask themselves, "what are the highest value places for me to loot today?" It's an instinctive behavior. The anthropologist I mentioned said that people were often mystified by the things they took, because they had no use or practical value.

            I think looting libraries makes more sense if you look at the behavior in terms of its statistical benefit to a displaced population (i.e. like you were in charge of natural selection). If your goal is to have as many people in a community survive, you don't want them all hunting for the same optimal loot to take. You want everyone to go straight to the nearest thing of value and carry it off. They can sort it out later, there will be more diverse loot, and you won't have a lot redundant effort with everyone looting the same few things.

            It's also possible that in a fight or flight situation, grabbing stuff is a low marginal cost addition to flight that occasionally pays off. That would be consistent with the way looting follows in the *wake* of the disaster. Imagine a village being attacked in a cattle raid. In the early stages they grab their weapons and secure their valuables. If they lose the fight, in the later stages of the raid (i.e. the looting and raping stage) it makes sense for the losers to grab anything they can and run away.

        • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Sulphur (1548251) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:17AM (#38927331)

          We know that in sudden, widespread disruptive events people loot.

          Like the Japanese at Fukushima? Not.

          • Re:News? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by hey! (33014) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:43PM (#38928129) Homepage Journal

            We know that in sudden, widespread disruptive events people loot.

            Like the Japanese at Fukushima? Not.

            In fact there *was* looting after the earthquake ( citation [webcitation.org]). However the authorities moved quickly to quell the looting, before the looting ignited a vicious circle. Which brings us right back to the predictability of the looting response and the *effectiveness* of steps taken to restrain it.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Like the Japanese at Fukushima? Not.

            It's amazing how effective a 10-meter tsunami is at dispersing crowds, no?

        • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:16PM (#38927885)

          We know that in sudden, widespread disruptive events people loot. It doesn't matter whether it is natural disaster, invasion, or just a neighborhood breakdown in public order.

          I am sorry but that is a false assertion. It is not a human condition, it is a societal condition. Almost all cultures, mine included, have the idea of "get what you can any way you can get it". They hold the individual above all else. In effect most people are anarchists held in check by laws and controls. When those laws and controls weaken the anarchy comes out. If in one's mind the only thing that stops one from taking someone else's property is the law then when the law can not be enforced one will take it. One the other hand, if the reason one does not take something is the simple fact that it does not belong to you is a different issue. The presence or absence of law enforcement does not change that criteria and one would not take the item in either condition. It has nothing to do with society but with one's individual view of the world.

          There is at least one society on earth where that is not anarchist at heart. When a disaster happened there was no looting, no rioting and the people obeyed what little authority that was there. That society was Japan during the last tsunami.

          Another point is that I am a human and would never loot and hoard. I may recouver resources necessary for survival but I would use them to help as many people as possible and not hoard them as most looters do.

          In the end it is all about the lack of personal honour, personal responsibility, personal control and a reliance on the state to keep one's caveman instincts in check. Japan has evolved beyond that. In those aspect I wish that my society had as well.

          • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hey! (33014) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @01:04PM (#38928327) Homepage Journal

            Again it is simply not true there was *no* looting in Japan after earthquake and tsunami. There was but it was eclipsed in the news by the enormity of the natural disaster and the nuclear situation. The authorities moved quickly and efficiently to stop the looting before it became a secondary disaster.

            Another point is that I am a human and would never loot and hoard.

            I hope so, but you can't really credibly make that claim until you've found yourself in the kind of situation where people loot. But in all probability you won't loot. So far as I know I can't think of any instance of looting where *most* of the people in the population were involved.

            As for myself, I am certain that I am less likely to loot than some, and reasonably confident I'm less likely than most. However, I'm far from certain I would *never* loot under *any* circumstances, no matter how desperate, fearful or angry I got. Haven't *you* ever done or said something under the influence of anger or fear that you would not have after sober consideration? If so, you're a better human being than I am, or indeed any that I have ever met.

      • The only thing the US can be blamed for is naÃveté.

        Oh, please. Dick Cheney in '94: "It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq". http://youtu.be/YENbElb5-xY [youtu.be]

        The Bush administration knew full well what would happen.

      • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by darkmeridian (119044) <william@chuang.gmail@com> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @12:30PM (#38928015) Homepage

        This is utter bullshit. The US decided to disband the Iraqi police force and military, then refused to provide security against looters or criminals because the invasion force was undermanned. Remember the LA riots? Imagine that except we got rid of the police and National Guard, then left the armories open so any moron could walk off with a bazooka. There would be instant chaos even if no one was Muslim.

        The fall of Iraq was caused by the rank stupidity of the Paul Wolfowitz types.

      • I'm glad posters with views that twisted feel a need to post as AC and hide behind the anonymous mod system. That makes them jingoists and cowards.

        The only thing the US can be blamed for is naïveté.

        Acting out a pattern of violence over decades, especially for gain, is never associated with being naive. Not among the civilized or the sane.

        As for making stuff up, I would put Klein's veracity against that of commentators commonly found on Wall St media outlets between 2002 and 2008. Start with yellowcake (made up), aluminum tubes (made up), photos of massed tr

    • Re:News? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rednip (186217) <rednip&gmail,com> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @07:05AM (#38925997) Journal
      Possibly the greatest military blunder off all time was coalition provisional authority order number 2 [wikipedia.org] which dismissed the Iraqi army. This action sent hundreds of thousands young unemployed trained soldiers into the hands of the various mullahs. Arguably, it was the tinder that fuel the Iraqi civil war. L. Paul Bremer [wikipedia.org], the man who committed the blunder was rewarded with the Presidential medal of Freedom.
    • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @08:00AM (#38926197) Homepage

      Some have even suggested that it was on purpose.

      Nah, that would require some sort of planning.

      Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity or whatever the expression is.

  • by VMaN (164134) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:27AM (#38925559) Homepage

    .. I guess you can't blame the looters.. I mean no-one wan looking, so it's like they WANTED all their shit stolen, right?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:36AM (#38925613)

      Bullshit, if you destabilize a government, as much as dictatorial it might be, you ought to take the responsability of the outcome.

      Read the Geneva Conventions if you don't believe me.

      • by overshoot (39700) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:47AM (#38925921)

        Read the Geneva Conventions if you don't believe me.

        Like the Convention Against Torture, those are very handy for us to use for convicting the petty thugs running penny-ante countries when we catch them.

        However, they don't apply to the USA. Or won't, anyway, until some other country has the power to apply them to us.

    • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:38AM (#38925625)

      Agree completely. Everyone (including many in the US) seems to blame the US for everything.
      Looters ransacking universities - oh, that's the fault of the US. Oh, Iranians being cantankerous - well, that's the fault of the US for proviking them. Pirates in the Indian Ocean - that's the fault of the US for not going ashore and pacifying Somalia. Problems in Somalia - that's the fault of the US for going in to Mogadishu in the 90's. Terrorists running around the World blowing innocent folks up - well, that's gotta be the fault of the US for doing nothing or too much (take your pick).

      I'm a non-US citizen and see that the US gets treated as a punching bag by many (even, unfortunately, by my own countrymen). I mean, the US does enough bad stuff by itself (****ACTA!***) that there is no need to go blaming them for stuff that actually isn't their fault. I mean, how come people can't take personal responsibility for themselves and see that others also need to do the same (eg. the looters in this case). This "crying wolf" that the US is (allegedly) at fault for all the sh1t going on is getting lame (unfortunately that lameness doesn't even mean it will stop soon).

      • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:18AM (#38925793)

        The counter point is that if the US want to claim to be the world police then they should be prepared to receive the complaints when things turn sour.

        • Pay attention: part of being the police is never having to say you're sorry. Especially if you're a prosecutor, you can do anything with the power you have and the worst that can happen is it doesn't work. None of it ever comes back to you.
      • by fa2k (881632) <pmbjornstad AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:26AM (#38925833)

        Looters ransacking universities - oh, that's the fault of the US.

        To be fair, the looters probably wouldn't have looted if the US didn't invade Iraq. It's easy to stay on moral high ground when you don't have boms dropping all around you.

      • by tokul (682258) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:31AM (#38925847)

        Agree completely. Everyone (including many in the US) seems to blame the US for everything.
        Looters ransacking universities - oh, that's the fault of the US.

        They toppled Iraq's legislative, judicially and executive powers. Guess what happens when you remove basic administrative controls from the mob.

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Heh. I find it rather fascinating that the argument basically boils down to "the US is bad because it wasn't as ruthless at terrorizing the populace as Sadam's regime".

      • by ianare (1132971) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @07:02AM (#38925985)

        It's true that the US sometimes gets blamed unjustly, but in this case the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the US military and government.

        Iraqis had been living in poverty for over a decade due to the first Gulf war and then UN sanctions. Now, almost overnight, there is no more police, military or government. It's pretty obvious that in this type of situation people are going to loot. The same thing would happen anywhere.

        As the occupying power, it is the responsibility of the US for ensuring the security of the people and the infrastructure.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @07:20AM (#38926057)

        The US eliminated the police and military system that provided security for the universities and everything else in Iraq. They were obliged to take over the job and provide security. A huge job. But other than securing oil fields, their efforts genuinely sucked. Their stated reasons for going in there were bogus, and the priorities made no sense. The most clear example of this is the fact that as the military rolled into Baghdad, you'd think that securing all the sites with the supposed "weapons of mass destruction" that were the reason for invading would be the #1 priority. Instead, the oil fields were promptly secured, and the military rolled right on by nuclear facilities and didn't bother to secure those sites until much later. The local Iraqis were rolling out drums of uranium yellow cake from nuclear facilities at will, with nobody to stop them. Thankfully, people weren't interested in anything nuclear, they just wanted the drums to store water, so they emptied the yellow cake onto the ground. Nobody was there to stop them.

        It's pretty sad that even for the stated goal of stopping a WMD program, the US didn't properly secure relevant sites. They were too busy securing the oil. And if securing WMD sites wasn't a priority, obviously universities weren't either, but that's the point: when the US set priorities for securing the country in the aftermath of the invasion they were negligent on a grand scale.

    • by iusty (104688) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:43AM (#38925645) Homepage

      That's not quite right.

      The problem is that US went in and replaced the security structure (policy, army, etc.) of the Iraqi state with its own troops. However, in the process of doing so, they provided this only for some parts of the country.

      Look at it this way: before US went in, Iraqi police (probably) protected the universities. After US went in, noone did. Yes, of course, the looters are the ones that actually stole the stuff, but US has its own part to blame in this, IMHO.

      • by Jaktar (975138)

        If we look at it the way you describe, for this particular argument it makes sense. If we looked no further it would seem like a good argument.

        What of the some 200,000 Kurds that were killed? I guess they weren't a good enough reason to get rid of Saddam? If you could put a good number on exactly when enough is enough that would be wonderful. How many of the police were involved in those killing and how would you sort out the innocent from the guilty? Does it not seem better to remove all those from po

        • by lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @11:32AM (#38927459) Homepage

          What of the some 200,000 Kurds that were killed? I guess they weren't a good enough reason to get rid of Saddam? If you could put a good number on exactly when enough is enough that would be wonderful. How many of the police were involved in those killing and how would you sort out the innocent from the guilty? Does it not seem better to remove all those from power and start from scratch?

          Yes, the command structure should of course be put to the boot asap, BUT, that doesn't mean that it's a smart move to disband the police and army. After all the allies kept several German Army units under allied command active as police for several months after Germany surrendered after WWII to ensure an orderly change over. (And it's not as anybody thought they were angels in any way shape or form.)

          The same should of course obviously have happened in Iraq as well. It's occupation 101. But the US "leadership" (and I use the term loosely) managed to forget what they knew back in 1945.

          Of course, the Kurds in particular do not really enter into the equation, that situation was by no means an emergency. And of course, it was the invaders who had supported Sadam when he committed the worst atrocities in the eighties. In fact, Dick Chaney was the then envoy to Sadam and told him after the gassings of the Kurds to stop doing that because it made it more difficult to support him in the US. Indeed the senate on the news were so appalled that they passed legislation to ban any further support to Sadam. Legislation that Reagan promptly vetoed... So not keeping control of the armed forces both to use them to keep the order and to control their future behaviour and whereabouts because of some sudden concern for past crimes against the Kurdish people would make no sense what so ever given the previous policy. In fact quite the opposite. If you want to be able to properly deal with army and police you keep them in their barracks until you can get around to dealing with them. You don't just cut them lose

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Once the looting starts, what is the point of standing by and doing nothing? I would like to think at least some of the looting was by people who intended to safeguard national treasures.
    • in the university system. they should be thanked, and perhaps given high paying 'security consultant' jobs.

  • And The Museums (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:28AM (#38925567)

    I remember seeing footage of a curator of a Baghdad museum weeping at the destruction that had been wrought upon the building and its collections.

    • by decora (1710862) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @08:11AM (#38926245) Journal

      written about it, Thieves of Baghdad (9781582346458): by Matthew Bogdanos + William Patrick.

      some iraqi troops used the museum as a base from which to fire at the invaders. so the US couldn't attack it, because it would have been completely wiped out by crossfire. but while those troops were based there, there was a massive theft. bogdanos was on a special unit that was sent purposely to try to secure the museum, and his team were able to recover a huge amount of material through somewhat ordinary police procedure (he had been a cop in new york), but his opinion is that there was probably an 'inside job' with someone in the iraqi bureaucracy looting the museum. i.e. in the case of the museum, the US did not have a good chance to secure it from the mobs... someone else had beaten the mobs to the punch.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:33AM (#38925597) Homepage Journal

    Even in videogames, you can not develop technology to attack or defend your virtual community without taking care of the essentials for your population first: making sure they are fed, clothed, housed, and educated.

    The Iraqi universities are not the only victims of a failure to recognize the importance of these social pillars.

    The First Nations of Canada have many communities where even those basic needs are not properly managed and delivered to the people.

    Heck, the whole COUNTRY of Canada suffers from a government which places an emphasis on imprisoning people for growing plants that the majority of the population wants to see legalized, taxed, and regulated in poll after poll.

    Without an educated and comfortable population, a nation has no hope of competing on the global market and being a "real player." Education creates jobs, it creates technology, and it improves the processes of business and society. Even people like Marx recognized that society would evolve into a "communist" or "socialist" state as the people became educated and concerned about more than their own personal needs. (Marx never espoused a revolution such as Russia or China had; he was merely discussing where he saw society evolving to.)

    • by msobkow (48369)

      I click too quick.

      The problem with the Harper Government's emphasis on their omnibus crime legislation is that it's taking away funding from education, retirement plans, and even medicine. It's a seriously screwed up set of priorities that man and our government has about where and how to spend our national and provincial budgets.

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:35AM (#38925605)

    "While American troops guarded the Ministries of Oil"

    That is what happens when you think cowboys are the epitome of culture. Still:

    "In the months preceding the 2003 Iraq war, starting in December and January, various antiquities experts, including representatives from the American Council for Cultural Policy asked the Pentagon and the UK government to ensure the museum's safety from both combat and looting. Although promises were not made, U.S. forces did avoid bombing the site. On April 8, 2003 the last of the museum staff left the museum. Iraqi forces engaged U.S. forces from within the museum, as well as the nearby Special Republican Guard compound. Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz of the U.S. third Infantry Division stated that he was unable to enter the compound and secure it since they attempted to avoid returning fire at the building."

    "According to museum officials the looters concentrated on the heart of the exhibition: "the Warka Vase, a Sumerian alabaster piece more than 5,000 years old; a bronze Uruk statue from the Acadian period, also 5,000 years old, which weighs 660 pounds; and the headless statue of Entemena. The Harp of Ur was torn apart by looters who removed its gold inlay."[3] Among the stolen artifacts is the Bassetki statue made out of bronze, a life-size statue of a young man, originally found in the village Basitke in the northern part of Iraq, an Acadian piece that goes back to 2300 B.C. and the stone statue of King Schalmanezer, from the eighth century B.C. In addition, the museum's aboveground storage rooms were looted; the exterior steel doors showed no signs of forced entry. Approximately 3,100 excavation site pieces (jars, vessels, pottery shards, etc.) were stolen, of which over 3,000 have been recovered. The thefts did not appear to be discriminating; for example, an entire shelf of fakes was stolen, while an adjacent shelf of much greater value was undisturbed."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_Iraq#Damage_and_losses_during_2003_war [wikipedia.org]

    I guess these cowboys did what they could to protect the museum, but "forgot" about other parts of culture, like the university library. Protecting that oil must have appeared as more important.

  • by spectrokid (660550) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @05:41AM (#38925635) Homepage
    has done wonders in the past....
  • Dumb, in debt and split.
    "Special Report Scientists become targets in Iraq" Nature (29 June 2006)
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7097/full/4411036a.html [nature.com]
    Then you have the luck that is "Iraqi arms scientists killed before they talk" http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/aug/23/20040823-124014-3141r/?page=all [washingtontimes.com]
    Someone has been clearing out many Iraqi scientists and intellectuals. Whats left seem to be getting "money went to American universities to do curriculum development".
  • 10 years of war, and that's what you are worrying about?

    People kill each other in dozens and hundreds at one moment, in tens of thousands over time.

    Good work, /.

  • GW Bush (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Required Snark (1702878) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @06:41AM (#38925893)
    Has everyone forgotten that the goal of the Iraq war was to get access to their oil? (And get revenge for the first Gulf War.) It was never about "weapons of mass destruction". The warmongers who came in with Bush (i.e. Cheney and his crew) were calling to overthrow Hussein the entire time Bill Clinton was in office. This is all well documented, even if it was never reported in the main stream press.

    So Iraq was supposed to be a push over, and the US was going to install a puppet government that would do what the US oil cartel wanted. This would be a counterbalance to Saudi oil power. Remember Bush and Cheney are both originally oil men, and they wanted to go back to the "good old days" of western dominance of Middle Eastern oil production.

    There was no planning about anything except securing the oil resources. They made no plans about securing any civil society, not just the schools. They didn't even have a real plan to secure any weapons, or even the known stockpiles of uranium ore (yellow cake) that Iraq had obtained. Access to weapons was one of the things that made the following civil war so bloody, and made it hard for the occupation forces to restore order.

    All the top military US military leaders left right after the collapse of the Hussein regime because they knew that it was going to be a disaster, and they didn't want their legacy to be associated with the resulting fuckup. Something like half the administrators who went over in the first wave to try and restore some kind of government did not have passports! They had never been outside the US. A sizable chunk were people who had worked for the Bush/Cheney election campaign and had no relevant experience. In short, completely clueless.

    The winner on all of this has been Iran. Their regional power and influence in the Arab world has increased dramatically. A lot of the weapons that were looted during the lawless fall of Iraq ended up in Iran, by the way. Meanwhile, the US has been mauled by asymmetrical warfare in both Iran and Afghanistan. They win, we loose. The unexpected result that thwarted Iran has been the Arab Spring, specifically the near civil war in Syria. Otherwise they are well on their way to being the dominant Gulf power. They may still come out on top.

    So here is the bonus question: Why has GW Bush been the invisible man during the current presidential campaign? The US withdrew combat troops from Iran and Bush's name never came up. That's like talking about the US Civil War without talking about Lincoln, or WWII without FDR or Churchill or Stalin. You would expect that he would be asked about the end of the conflict he started. We get nothing.

    Now the press is all over the perceived weakness of the Republican contenders. It would be reasonable for someone in the press to ask the last elected Republican candidate, even if all they got was a "no comment". Again, nothing. When the Republicans scream about how Obama hasn't fixed the economy, no one, Democrat or Republican talks about how the Bush administration screwed it all up. Remember TARP and it's bailout were authorized when Bush was still in office. If you look at the press accounts, it's like our economic mess fell from the sky without human intervention.

    I'm wondering what will happen during the Republican convention. Will Bush show up? Whoever the nominee is, do you think they want to be seen with Bush on stage? It would be like being endorsed by Charlie Manson. If Bush is a no show, will the press ignore the non-event? I assume that McCain will be there, and Palin will get some air time, so how could they not talk about Bush?

    The disappearance of GW Bush is emblematic of the memory hole that now dominates US political discourse. We don't need the complexities of New Speak or the Ministry of Truth. Collective amnesia in the media is so much more effective.

  • by overshoot (39700)
    It's all a matter of priorities. And like water and power systems, there really wasn't much profit to be made from universities.
  • Were the western friendly college kids who could safely walk down the streets before we invaded.... for what reason again?
  • Where was Sharia? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by meburke (736645) on Saturday February 04, 2012 @09:06AM (#38926467)

    It seems to me that there should have been a big pile of detached hands somewhere. Martial Law and Civil Law are still supposed to work together.

    Some people here deride religion, but real religion is good for society as a whole. (This does not mean that it should be imposed on people by Government.) Religion teaches moral values in a way that Law can't, and in the absence of Law, those without moral values will act in ways detrimental to society. Sharia would have been better than no civil law.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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