Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Success! The Baghdad museum opens! (Again)


Rebecca's noting that Revenge returns with new episodes tomorrow night on ABC. I told her we'd note it here as well. Now to Iraq.

The thing about 'success' in Iraq is that (a) it thus far hasn't taken and (b) if you're not thrilled with a so-called measure of success, wait a few years, and they'll try to sell a new and improved version. Case in point, Xinhua (link is text and audio) reports, "Iraq's National Museum, which was looted after U.S. troops entered Baghdad in 2003, is now partially reopened for visits of diplomatic corps in Baghdad and some foreign dignitaries, an Iraqi official told Xinhua."

We'll deal with the 'success' problem of today's claim but let's revisit the past. February 23, 2009 was a day of 'success.' Iraq's national museum in Baghdad had reopened. And it managed to grab some easy press (such as here) but by this time even the press was growing tired of the false claims.

At the time the Minister of Culture Jabir al-Jabari was stating that no, the museum was not opening while the Minster for Tourism and Antiquities (Baha al-Mayahi). What happened? Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reported it was resolved by "a compromise: The museum will reopen Monday for the first time in six years. But only eight of the museum's 26 galleries will be accessible, and for only a few hours". It wasn't a real re-opening. It was just for show. And a few noted that in real time. The Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog pointed out, "As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) also underscored that key point, "When Iraqis may actually see for themselves a collection of relics and art that spans millenniums was a question even the museum's deputy director, Muhsin Hassan Ali, dared not answer, even when pressed."

Steven Lee Myers went further, reviewing the previous times the museum 're-opened,' "The museum's directors have twice before ostentatiously opened the doors. In July 2003, the American civilian administrator in Iraq at the time, L. Paul Bremer III, toured some displays a few months after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld dismissed the looting by saying, 'Stuff happens.' In December, 2007, the museum's director allowed a group of journalists and politicians inside for a few hours."

So yet another re-opening is underwhelming and the question to ask ("reopened for visits of diplomatic corps in Baghdad and some foreign dignitaries, an Iraqi official told Xinhua") is will Iraqis ever be able to visit their own museum?

A country where the national museume can't be re-opened and running on a regular schedule, where the citizens can't even enter and someone thought they could sell this phase as a success?

The museum, like the electricity, is always going to be fixed. And never is. Every two years, we hear that, in about two years, the electricity situation will be fixed. Today Al Mada reports that Baghdad citizens will receive some free fuel at the start of June for generators.

The following community sites -- plus Black Agenda Report, On The Wilder Side, Antiwar.com and CSPAN -- updated last night and this morning:

Matthew Rothschild's latest Progressive Moment radio segment is on the drone war, "The United States hasn't declared war on Pakistan. The U.S. has no right to rain bombs down from the sky on this country that it's not at war with. This is against the U.N. charter, against international law, against the Constitution, and it's doing us no favor in Pakistan, either, as it's been enraging the entire country. This is Obama's war. He's increased drone attacks by 600 percent from Bush's pace. In Bush's last three years in office, the U.S. launched 39 drone attacks in Pakistan. In Obama's first three years, that number jumped to 241."

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