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Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered

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Why did the invasion of Iraq result in cultural destruction and killings of intellectuals? Convention sees accidents of war and poor planning in a campaign to liberate Iraqis. The authors argue instead that the invasion aimed to dismantle the Iraqi state to remake it as a client regime. Post-invasion chaos created conditions under which the cultural foundations of the stat Why did the invasion of Iraq result in cultural destruction and killings of intellectuals? Convention sees accidents of war and poor planning in a campaign to liberate Iraqis. The authors argue instead that the invasion aimed to dismantle the Iraqi state to remake it as a client regime. Post-invasion chaos created conditions under which the cultural foundations of the state could be undermined. The authors painstakingly document the consequences of the occupiers' willful inaction and worse, which led to the ravaging of one of the world's oldest recorded cultures. Targeted assassination of over 400 academics, kidnapping and the forced flight of thousands of doctors, lawyers, artists and other intellectuals add up to cultural cleansing. This important work lays to rest claims that the invasion aimed to free an educated population to develop its own culture of democracy.


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Why did the invasion of Iraq result in cultural destruction and killings of intellectuals? Convention sees accidents of war and poor planning in a campaign to liberate Iraqis. The authors argue instead that the invasion aimed to dismantle the Iraqi state to remake it as a client regime. Post-invasion chaos created conditions under which the cultural foundations of the stat Why did the invasion of Iraq result in cultural destruction and killings of intellectuals? Convention sees accidents of war and poor planning in a campaign to liberate Iraqis. The authors argue instead that the invasion aimed to dismantle the Iraqi state to remake it as a client regime. Post-invasion chaos created conditions under which the cultural foundations of the state could be undermined. The authors painstakingly document the consequences of the occupiers' willful inaction and worse, which led to the ravaging of one of the world's oldest recorded cultures. Targeted assassination of over 400 academics, kidnapping and the forced flight of thousands of doctors, lawyers, artists and other intellectuals add up to cultural cleansing. This important work lays to rest claims that the invasion aimed to free an educated population to develop its own culture of democracy.

40 review for Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered

  1. 5 out of 5

    TJ Petrowski

    “Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered” is a devastating critique of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. The cleansing of Iraqi culture began “in the very early days of the invasion, with the wide-scale looting of all of the symbols of Iraqi historical and cultural identity. Museums, archeological sites, palaces, monuments, mosques, libraries and social centres all suffered looting and devastation. They did so under the very watchful eyes of th “Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered” is a devastating critique of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. The cleansing of Iraqi culture began “in the very early days of the invasion, with the wide-scale looting of all of the symbols of Iraqi historical and cultural identity. Museums, archeological sites, palaces, monuments, mosques, libraries and social centres all suffered looting and devastation. They did so under the very watchful eyes of the occupation troops. American forces in Baghdad guarded only, and very carefully, the Iraqi Oil Ministry, which securely kept all oil data, as well as the Ministry of Interior…” Iraq’s cultural and historical heritage has suffered catastrophic damage in violation of international law. Many important cultural heritage sites were taken over by U.S. occupation forces and converted into military bases. As one author describes, “The digging, bulldozing, filing of sand bags and blast-barricade containers, the building of barracks and digging of trenches into the ancient sites have destroyed thousands of years of archeological material, stratigraphy and historical data.” These include Ur, the famed birthplace of Abraham, which is now “littered with trash” and has suffered extensive damage since being converted into a U.S. military base; Babylon, the capital of Mesopotamia, which was bulldozed by U.S. forces to build a helicopter landing pad, and where U.S. soldiers used sand bags “full of artifacts” as barriers; the use of Khan of Rubua as a weapons disposal site; etc. Museums, libraries, and institutions of higher education were all deliberately destroyed. Over 15,000 Mesopotamian artifacts have disappeared from the National Museum; the National Library, with more than a million books, and situated directly across from the Ministry of Defense, was twice deliberately burned in April 2003; and 84% of Iraq’s universities and colleges have been destroyed. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of educated Iraqis of all faiths and ethnicities have been assassinated. These include teachers, doctors, professors, curators, etc. One author in the book uses Baghdad’s College of Dentistry as a case study in the campaign to eliminate educated Iraqis, since, I would assume, one would probably not expect dental professionals and students to pose a significant threat to U.S. or other armed factions in Iraq. On December 20, 2004, Hassan Abd-Ali Dawood Al-Rubai, Dean of the College of Dentistry at Baghdad University, was assassinated while he was leaving the college with his wife. On November 15, 2005, Fkhiri Al-Qaysai, a faculty member of the Dentistry College, was critically injured in an assassination attempt. On April 24, 2007, a bomb detonated inside the Dentistry College, killing a student. On January 23, 2008, Munther Murhej Radhi, Dean of the College of Dentistry, was assassinated in his home. In 2008, U.S. forces twice raided the Faculty of Dentistry at al-Mustansiriya University, destroying laboratories in the process. The evidence indicates a coordinated and deliberate campaign to eliminate Iraqi intellectuals. First, the victims include Iraqis of all religious and ethnic persuasions, including Kurds and Arabs, and Shias, Sunnis, and Christians. Secondly, the assassinations seem to be unaffected by overall levels of violence (i.e., an increase or decrease in overall violence did not seem to impact the number of assassinations). Thirdly, the assassinations of educated Iraqis “are marked by an unusual level of professionalism. Very few of the intended targets survive and the killers, who frequently make use of one or more vehicles to stage their attacks and make their escape, display an intimate familiarity with their victims’ lifestyles and movements,” causing one former Iraqi general to note that the assassins “have special training and their purpose is to make Iraq empty of any professionals.” The assassins also leave behind “no direct evidence of which party or parties are responsible,” and to date no one has claimed responsibility for the murders of educated Iraqis. I’d highly recommend this book!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mustafa Basree

    Editors and authors of this book believe that the planners of the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq were not simply grossly negligent in allowing Iraq to descend into this hell. Their argument is that the planners consciously facilitated the dismantling of Iraq's intellectual, academic and cultural apparatus in order to wipe the slate clean as a prelude to the rebirth of the country as a neo-capitalist secular democracy that would serve as a model for change across the Middle East. "To be remade, a s Editors and authors of this book believe that the planners of the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq were not simply grossly negligent in allowing Iraq to descend into this hell. Their argument is that the planners consciously facilitated the dismantling of Iraq's intellectual, academic and cultural apparatus in order to wipe the slate clean as a prelude to the rebirth of the country as a neo-capitalist secular democracy that would serve as a model for change across the Middle East. "To be remade, a state must be rendered malleable", as the editors of this volume observe. A great book to study the current events and condition beset Iraq and its people. It's immensely full with facts and statistics to back up the argument!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wael Al-alwani

    The book is very good.. The book is a collection of articles related to the issue, however, this made it lack the extended details I was looking for, and made the transitions between the topics not smooth enough. What happened to Iraq and its culture (heritage and the assassination of its academics and brilliant minds) is very sad. Syria might face the same issues if this wasn't taken care of and acted upon proactively.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Neil Sandage

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mina demian

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    Anasse

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    Raghad

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy Walker

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    Marwa

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    James Aird

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Cross

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Prohaska

  13. 4 out of 5

    Graeme

  14. 4 out of 5

    BOUIBA Abdellatif

  15. 4 out of 5

    HM

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    O. A.

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    Will2power

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    Julie H.

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    M-The Last Shaw

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    Indigo Crayon

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    Imene

  38. 4 out of 5

    Raffaele Mauriello

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    Laika

  40. 5 out of 5

    Wesam

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