June 13, 2003

Museum Story Part II

For a few weeks, the Iraqi Museum looting story was the best thing going for the Western liberal press that had opposed the liberation and was grasping for negatives to hype. It was the "crime of the century". Then the story fell apart as it became apparent that something like 33, instead of 170,000 artifacts were in fact missing, and those were likely the product of an "inside job".

Turns out the head of the Iraqi Antiquities commission was a Baath Party official, and he was "angry" about the liberation, so he lied about the extent of the looting, and the western press bought it eagerly and "without an ounce of skepticism" according to Charles Krauthammer. He cites one example of the "deeply satisfying antiwar preening" that the museum looting story provided.

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!

So now that the truth is revealed, do these same naysayers admit their folly? Of course not. They merely change the subject to the supposed "lying" about, or more kindly, the "hyping" of the WMD threat, which is currently the rage among antiwar media types. Krauthammer demolishes the "arguments" put forth by the WMD conspiracy theorists, (and others remind us of who said what in pre-war times). He notes the real purpose served by the media feeding frenzy over the absence of WMD's:

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.

For now though, the issue serves the Left nicely as a club with which to verbally beat George Bush and Tony Blair over the head. That is, until WMD's are found and they are once again proven wrong. I'm all in favor of an evaluation of the intelligence apparatus that generated our information on Iraqi WMD's. But the logical contortions required to buy the notion that Bush willfully deceived the nation about the extent of Saddam's weapons programs are too silly to be taken seriously.

UPDATE: Daniel Henninger thinks that the documentary evidence from 12 years of inspections ought to be enough to convince skeptics who care enough to look at it.

Posted by dan at June 13, 2003 11:11 AM