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history iraq
February 2, 2003 8:55 AM   Subscribe

History of Iraq from the Denver Post. "President Bush speaks of the need to 'defend civilization'.. Then I point out the irony of defending civilization against the cradle of civilization".
posted by stbalbach (31 comments total)

 
pfffft.
posted by dancu at 9:03 AM on February 2, 2003


Yeah it's mildly ironic. Scholars don't need to be worried as anything historical, valuable and transportable will be soon in some private collection where they surely will not be bombed to pieces. Anything not transportable will be replicated in a new theme park near Disneyland ; let's hope Mickey doesn't kick Hammurabi out of this planet because I hate Mickey that arrogant I'm holier then you mf.
posted by elpapacito at 9:20 AM on February 2, 2003


tonight on bbc2 (9pm sunday 020203) synchronously:
'...Lost Cities Of Iraq: Architectural historian Dan Cruikshank travels to Iraq, visiting the ancient cities of Nineveh and Babylon, and meeting Iraqis, from Christian monks to devil worshippers'.

in a way it's a bit like those wonderful series of david atenborough, a last chance to see the beauty of the planet before it is destroyed utterly.
posted by asok at 9:37 AM on February 2, 2003


among innovations that came from Mesopotamia, "Laws regarding liability of surgeons (1700 B.C.)"

Maybe Iraq Attaq wll be more about tort reform than regime change
posted by matteo at 9:45 AM on February 2, 2003


You forgot to revise history, baby. Europe is the history of God's civilization.

If this isn't a crusade I don't know what is.
posted by the fire you left me at 9:46 AM on February 2, 2003


For me, the irony that keeps on giving is the importance of one city of 400,000 to three billion Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Any supreme being who would set that into motion has a dark sense of humor.
posted by rcade at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2003


on the subject of iraq and europe: more from friedman

his simplistic columns are really getting annoying. are'nt these "cynical and insecure" europeans our best ally in the war on terrorism? and dont we risk damaging our relationship (and vis a vis the intelligence we get from them) with germany, france and most of britain - with our single minded focus on iraq? didnt most of the terrorists come from these very countries after being hatched in our buddies saudia arabia's terrorism incubator? when was the last time we heard anything about investigations and arrests in that country?
posted by specialk420 at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2003


Good post, stbalbach. Too bad about the more-ironic-than-thou comments. America sez: "History is bunk."
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on February 2, 2003


Hear hear to all of the above.

An explanation for the recent speeding up of proceedings here in last paragraph - Bush is getting worried about Saddam's shepherd and farmer division.
posted by skellum at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2003


didnt most of the terrorists come from these very countries after being hatched in our buddies saudia arabia's terrorism incubator? when was the last time we heard anything about investigations and arrests in that country?

Shhh. It's classified.
posted by homunculus at 12:07 PM on February 2, 2003


"Hey, mister -- wanna buy a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet for $10?"
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on February 2, 2003


Thanks languagehat. Yeah I kinda figured it would go over the heads of most MeFi'ers but then isn't that the point of the article Americans have no sense of history, a curse and blessing.

In 1989 Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and The Last Man which said basically with the downfall of Communism liberal democratic capitalist systems are the end of political history it will eventually take over every other one. To answer his critics man has created maybe not the perfect system, but one that works good enough and better than anything currently in existence so it's only a matter of time before the world becomes a liberal capitalistic democracy. The irony with Iraq is were the first systems of government started thousands of years ago and the battle is now coming full circle to where it all began. That is heavy stuff in the big picture of history and doesn't happen very often. Democracy is the child of the forces set in motion in Iraq long ago.
posted by stbalbach at 12:35 PM on February 2, 2003


Maybe the Muslims were more advanced than our own ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago. But we developed from where we were back then. They've been more or less standing still. That's the difference.
posted by dagny at 12:44 PM on February 2, 2003


Thanks languagehat. Yeah I kinda figured it would go over the heads of most MeFi'ers but then isn't that the point of the article Americans have no sense of history, a curse and blessing

Of course the current regime in Iraq does not date back to the cradle of civilization. stbalbach, your irony is now lost. I don't support a war againt Iraq, but I also don't support stupid arguments and glib statements from fellow anti-war people.
posted by Bag Man at 12:50 PM on February 2, 2003


Maybe the Muslims were more advanced than our own ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago. But we developed from where we were back then. They've been more or less standing still. That's the difference.

O advanced one, there weren't any Muslims 'thousands of years ago'.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:34 PM on February 2, 2003


I agree Bag Man. The regime we're going to free Iraq from dates to 1968 AD, not 1765 BC.

The trivial, condescending sentiments expressed in this thread are no small part of why the anti-war movement is so marginalized and irrelevant.
posted by mojohand at 1:35 PM on February 2, 2003


Of course the current regime in Iraq does not date back to the cradle of civilization. stbalbach, your irony is now lost.

The article calls it ironic, then proceeds to offer a synopsis of the region's historical significance. The article doesn't say "the current regime is good and doesn't need to be replaced", nor does it equate the current regime with any historic one.

The author is perfectly entitled to point out what he considers to be an irony that frames a present day conflict in a historical context. Just as you're entitled to read a meaning into it that isn't there, get bent out of shape about it and imply that everyone, somehow, is stupider than you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:46 PM on February 2, 2003


The author is perfectly entitled to point out what he considers to be an irony that frames a present day conflict in a historical context. Just as you're entitled to read a meaning into it that isn't there, get bent out of shape about it and imply that everyone, somehow, is stupider than you.

The author's observation is perfectly ok, and in fact it's very intelligent. However, it is not a reason why Mr. Bush's comments are wrong, nor it is a reason not to go to war with Iraq. Having a BA in History, I often chuckle at historical irony, but a fine civilization that existed thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia does not lend the current regime of Iraq any more or less legitimacy. That's like saying Western European counties should always agree with the US because the US helped them out in WWII. Both of these arguments are foolish. I wish the anti-war movement would rally around the real reason why the US should not attach Iraq.

As for whether the current Iraq is "civilized," I think Iraq is a poor example of civilization, but that doesn't warrant a war or a very least a war that world opposes.
posted by Bag Man at 2:04 PM on February 2, 2003


Shhh. It's classified.

thanks for the link... one would think 9-11 families and their congresspeople would be screaming about this....

iraq is a diversion from the real questions.
posted by specialk420 at 2:05 PM on February 2, 2003


iraq is a diversion from the real questions.

Too true.
posted by Bag Man at 2:08 PM on February 2, 2003


but a fine civilization that existed thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia does not lend the current regime of Iraq any more or less legitimacy. That's like saying Western European counties should always agree with the US because the US helped them out in WWII. Both of these arguments are foolish.

Surely these arguments would be foolish if someone was making them. But who is? I don't see it in any of the above comments, and I certainly don't see it in the article. In fact, the article says:
Nor is modern-day Iraq a cradle of modern civilization. Saddam Hussein has created "a culture of death" by elevating "the value of death over life," says David Kazzaz, a native Iraqi who is a research associate at the University of Denver.
I really can't see who you're criticizing so passionately. Nobody here or in the article is taking the position you're refuting. Some people are worried about the potential damage a war would cause to artifacts and sites of historical significance, but that doesn't seem to be the argument you're upset about.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:15 PM on February 2, 2003


I really can't see who you're criticizing so passionately.

One needs to look no further than the thread itself:

"President Bush speaks of the need to 'defend civilization'.. Then I point out the irony of defending civilization against the cradle of civilization".

I am also highlighting a larger, mush more important issue: Problems with the anti-war movement. More of the leading activists need to concede Saddam Hussein is bad, while they assert we should not go to war.
posted by Bag Man at 4:13 PM on February 2, 2003


Bag Man, you seem to be arguing for the sake of arguing, which is particularly weird since you oppose the war. Nobody here is denying "Saddam Hussein is bad"; nobody I'm acquainted with denies it; nobody, as far as I know, denies it except maybe a few of the loonies at ANSWER. Obviously Saddam is "bad." So are the rulers of Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, &c. &c. &c. The world is full of bad rulers. Why go after Saddam now? As far as can be known, he had nothing to do with 9/11. You know this perfectly well. The post is simply pointing out that Iraq isn't just a part of the (nonexistent) "axis of evil," it's the site of ancient civilizations and thus is full of relics that will be in great danger in the event of a war, not to mention the lives that will be wiped out. This is a useful reminder, considering how little historical awareness Americans have. So what's your problem?
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on February 2, 2003


one would think 9-11 families and their congresspeople would be screaming about this....

The families are engaged in a lawsuit that probably prevents them from being more vocal (and they may also be afraid of the rumors that the administration may ask the court to dismiss the suit.)

I guess the moral of the story is, if the President doesn't protect the people who protect the people who finance the terrorists, the terrorists will have won.

I don't get it either.
posted by homunculus at 6:02 PM on February 2, 2003


Thanks again languagehat. Seriously, this is a post about history, not about politics or war or anti-war. The "irony" statement has no political meaning one way or another, both pro and anti war camps can find meaning, but that wasnt the point of the post, it's to raise awareness of the history of Iraq in the context of current events. Nothing in that article is pro or anti war there is no propoganda here except by a few posters makeing it somthing it's not.
posted by stbalbach at 6:25 PM on February 2, 2003


How can you square this comment:

Seriously, this is a post about history, not about politics

with this one:

President Bush speaks of the need to 'defend civilization'.. Then I point out the irony of defending civilization against the cradle of civilization".

stbalbach, your link between Bush's statement (i.e. his political strategy) and history was obvious. It sounded a bit like an anti-war argument. This got me thinking about how foolish the anti-war movement can be and frustrated I an that so few are making good arguments or at least how often they get lost.

considering how little historical awareness Americans have. So what's your problem

So I'm dumb American? I guess all of those ancient history classes I took in college and high school make me stupid, right. I am quit aware that the first civilizations came out of Mesopotamia.
posted by Bag Man at 7:10 PM on February 2, 2003


the terrorists will have won?

ha.... radically reduced freedoms in the US, inflamed divide between islamic and non-islamic countries, teetering goverments in many middle eastern countries, division amongst the US and its allies, horseshit stockmarket ...


ah... i guess we'll see.
posted by specialk420 at 7:21 PM on February 2, 2003


Dagny - "Maybe the Muslims were more advanced than our own ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago. But we developed from where we were back then. They've been more or less standing still. That's the difference."

Amazing what colonialism can will do, in terms of halting development....in South America, North America, Africa, the Middle East.... I guess these cultures the Europeans conquered were inferior? Maybe not (see: Jared Diamond, "Guns, Germs, and Steel").
posted by troutfishing at 9:53 PM on February 2, 2003


What an amazingly patronising article. The irony lies in the fact that such a great culture was, as troutfishing says, fucked up by colonialism then taken taken hostage by a mad, incompetent fool like Saddam Hussein.
posted by Summer at 4:06 AM on February 3, 2003


The worlds oldest Christian monastery is near Mosul in northern Iraq (no fly zone), it was founded in 4th C. by Saint Matthew, and suffered some damage during the continuous US/UK bombardment of the past 12 years.
The willful disregard displayed by the allies in the bombardment of Iraq is more akin with the behaviour of the Taliban than a civilised culture.
Having watched the Cruikshank programme, I can say that one of the most touching scenes for me was the English speaking (!) female museum curate, who said that she would defend her museum to the death.
posted by asok at 4:21 AM on February 3, 2003


Re: US as Taliban? - I'm still looking for an attribution of a dimly remembered Taoist quote: "Ideologues should be caged - like dangerous wild beasts..."
posted by troutfishing at 8:46 PM on February 3, 2003


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