Mona Charen

"Bush Panel Members Quit Over Looting: Cultural Advisers Say U.S. Military Could Have Prevented Museum Losses" -- The Washington Post, April 17, 2003

You just knew that they'd find some reason to bewail U.S. conduct. The United States has just achieved one of the cleanest and most humane military triumphs in the history of warfare -- toppling a vicious dictator while simultaneously tending to the needs of the civilian population. U.S. forces have behaved with chivalry toward enemy forces (showering them with opportunities for surrender), as well as respect for the religious symbols of the Iraqi people and rapid attention to the humanitarian needs of the population.

The parade of horribles widely predicted before the war: the rise of the Arab street, terror strikes in the United States, oil well fires, use of chemical weapons, the entry of Israel into the conflict followed by a wider Middle East war -- evaporated like the Republican Guard.

This left some liberals hard up for gripes.

So the looting would have to do. Eleanor Clift wondered whether the United States might face war crimes accusations over its failure adequately to protect the antiquities in the National Museum of Iraq. NPR commentator Daniel Schorr quoted critics of the White House with approval and added: "The administration doesn't like the word ‘occupation,' preferring to speak of liberation. Call it what you will; when you take over a country, you have a certain responsibility for protecting its heritage." The Boston Globe editorialized, "The awful truth is that the U.S. government bears a shameful responsibility for not preventing this crime against history." And The Washington Post gave prominent attention to two resignations from a body it was pleased to call "Bush's panel."

In a letter to President Bush, Martin E. Sullivan, chairman of something called the President's Advisory Committee on Cultural Property, chided the administration, saying, "While our military forces have displayed extraordinary precision and restraint in deploying arms -- and apparently in securing Oil Ministry and oil fields -- they have been nothing short of impotent in failing to attend to the protection of (Iraq's) cultural heritage."

What the Post neglected to point out (though the Weekly Standard noticed) is that Sullivan and the other flamboyant resignation-waver were Clinton appointees, and Sullivan at least was about to replaced anyway, a fact he acknowledged saying, "From a practical perspective, my resignation is simply symbolic."

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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