April 15, 2003

Ancient Art

Julie at Lone Prairie is wondering about the looted and smashed archaeology museum.

It is true that, had the U.S. not taken action in Iraq, these treasures of antiquity would still be intact and safe.

But is a ancient clay vase worth more than a present-day human life? Is a map of Catal Huyuk or a Sumerian tablet the equivalent of living without oppression? What is the value of preserving the ancient while the present sinks into bloody oblivion?

Clearly, force protection is number one for the military mind. Rightly.

Second is population protection. Nobody (sane) in the world watching the last half dozen US military actions can deny that our soldiers take extraordinary care to reduce civilian and even enemy casualties.

So I guess Julie's question could be phrased another way: Which soldier do you want to die in exchange for that vase? Which child should be killed to protect that statue?

I heard some people opining today that "yes, the killing is bad, but the museum destruction broke my heart." I pointed out that this has not been the first time in history that the artwork of this region was sacked. (Vandalize comes from the Vandals, after all.) It will resurface some time, some place. Some will be destroyed utterly, some will be rebuilt. I'm still dismayed by the shelling of the Parthenon by Morosini in 1687.

That we are still so close to the jungle is all the more reason to be ready to make peace and to make war. And to know the difference.

Posted by campbell at April 15, 2003 12:49 AM | TrackBack