Why? How could they do this? Why, when the city was already burning, when anarchy had been let loose -- and less than three months after US archaeologists and Pentagon officials met to discuss the country's treasures and put the Baghdad Archaeological Museum on a military data-base -- did the Americans allow the mobs to destroy the priceless heritage of ancient Mesopotamia? And all this happened while US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, was sneering at the press for claiming that anarchy had broken out in Baghdad.

1. “A Civilization Torn to Pieces” by Robert Fisk of the UK Independent

Who set these fires? For what insane purpose is this heritage being destroyed?

And the Americans did nothing. All over the filthy yard they blew, letters of recommendation to the courts of Arabia, demands for ammunition for troops, reports on the theft of camels and attacks on pilgrims, all in delicate hand-written Arabic script. I was holding in my hands the last Baghdad vestiges of Iraq's written history. But for Iraq, this is Year Zero; with the destruction of the antiquities in the Museum of Archaeology on Saturday and the burning of the National Archives and then the Koranic library, the cultural identity of Iraq is being erased. Why? Who set these fires? For what insane purpose is this heritage being destroyed?

2. “The Sacking of Baghdad, Burning the History of Iraq” by Robert Fisk of the UK Independent

"It looks as if part of the theft was a very, very deliberate, planned action," said McGuire Gibson, an Iraqi specialist at the University of Chicago. "It really looks like a very professional job... They were able to obtain keys from somewhere for the vaults and were able to take out the very important, the very best material. I have a suspicion it was organized outside the country. In fact I'm pretty sure it was."

3. “Bush’s Cultural Aides Quit Over Sack of Baghdad’s Treasures” by Oliver Burkeman of the Guardian

“They even took all of our water bottles and food cans,” said Mohamed Abdul Wahab, a mission official. “They behaved like common thieves.”

4. “U.S. Troops Raid Palestinian Mission” in Iraq by AP

5. “Looting of Baghdad” -- Caught in the Act

The looting of Iraq’s National Library and Archives, constitutes cultural genocide, which was deliberately allowed—and encouraged—to take place under the watchful eye of the U.S. military occupying forces, which had been ordered not to interfere. Iraq’s 5,000-year history has been wiped out, in less than a week. The only sites protected by the U.S. military, were the Oil Ministry, and oil production facilities.

6. The New Dark Age – An excerpt from the Australian Alert Service, CEC Council of Australia

7. “U.S. Soldiers Fire on Iraqi Protesters – 13 Dead, 75 Injured” by AFP Reuters

By waging an unprovoked war on Iraq, we are about to create another generation of America-haters, even though the supposed purpose of this war is to avert future terrorist attacks. For the sake of humanity I hope I am wrong, but deep in my heart, I fear the worst is yet to come.

8. “The War That Created More Terror” by Vanessa Hradsky

“They are aggressors,” wheezed Ali Ahmed, 17, lying in a hospital bed as a tube drained fluid from his lungs. “They destroyed us. They put us in war and didn’t let us sleep. They just raided Baghdad.”

“They didn’t want to protect these places – only the oil ministry,” he said. “Why the oil ministry?”

Looting that has plagued Iraq’s cities has been the cause of much of the people’ anger, and many blame the Americans for encouraging it. Donny George, director for research at the Ministry of Antiquities, complained that the Americans let Iran’s museums be sacked.

“This is what the Americans wanted,” he said. “They wanted Iraq to lose its history.”

9. “Many Iraqis Turn Anger Toward the U.S.” by Niko Price, Associated Press

"If I was an Iraqi and I read that," an Arab woman shouted at me, "I would become a suicide bomber." And all across Baghdad you hear the same thing, from Shia Muslim clerics to Sunni businessmen, that the Americans have come only for oil, and that soon very soon a guerrilla resistance must start.

No doubt the Americans will claim that these attacks are "remnants" of Saddam's regime or "criminal elements". But that will not be the case.

Because there is also something dangerous and deeply disturbing about the crowds setting light to the buildings of Baghdad, including the great libraries and state archives. For they are not looters. The looters come first. The arsonists turn up later, often in blue-and-white buses. I followed one after its passengers had set the Ministry of Trade on fire and it sped out of town.

So who are they, this army of arsonists? I recognised one the other day, a middle-aged, unshaven man in a red T-shirt, and the second time he saw me he pointed a Kalashnikov at me. What was he frightened of? Who was he working for? In whose interest is it to destroy the entire physical infrastructure of the state, with its cultural heritage? Why didn't the Americans stop this?

10. “Welcome to the Occupation” by Robert Fisk of the UK Independent

There will be future attacks on U.S. civilians here and abroad. These things could have been avoided if the U.S. foreign policy was based upon the spirit of the U.S. Constitution and the need to get the good word out through examples and deeds as opposed to creating dissent and hatred by "in your face" contempt of international law and using force to settle scores and to conduct diplomacy.

11. “Operation Iraqi Occupation” by Dr.Henry Stone

You can no longer convince anyone that you will bring democracy to those very countries--whatever their political system may be--whose children you have slaughtered, whose cities you have devastated, whose historical and cultural treasures you have allowed to be ransacked. Therefore you should either be frank and spell out your real intentions or get out of the Middle East and go home.

We are well aware that you will do none of the above, that you will keep telling lies. But whatever the mask you choose to put on, we now know you well and we declare to the world that you and your accomplice Mr. Blair, and you and Mr. Blair's men constitute the largest and gravest threat to the environment, to culture and to human life.

12. “An Open Letter to Bush and Blair” from Professional Bodies and Unions In Turkey

While the US has promised help in bringing law and order to Iraq, the involvement of DynCorp has caused concern as it has been involved in a series of recent high-profile scandals involving personnel in sensitive missions overseas.

DynCorp personnel contracted to the United Nations police service in Bosnia were implicated in buying and selling prostitutes, including a girl as young as 12. Several DynCorp employees were also accused of videotaping the rape of one of the women.

13. “Scandal-Hit U.S. Firm Wins Key Contracts” by Antony Barnett of The Observer

“Bomb before you buy”

Entirely absent from this debate are the Iraqi people, who might—who knows? —-want to hold on to a few of their assets. Iraq will be owed massive reparations after the bombing stops, but without any real democratic process, what is being planned is not reparations, reconstruction or rehabilitation. It is robbery: mass theft disguised as charity; privatization without representation.

A people, starved and sickened by sanctions, then pulverized by war, is going to emerge from this trauma to find that their country has been sold out from under them. They will also discover that their newfound "freedom"--for which so many of their loved ones perished—comes pre-shackled with irreversible economic decisions that were made in boardrooms while the bombs were still falling.

14. “Look Out, Privatization In Disguise” by Naomi Klein of The Nation

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