Humankind is losing its past for a cuneiform tablet or a sculpture or piece of jewellery that the dealer buys and pays for in cash in a country devastated by war. Humankind is losing its history for the pleasure of private collectors living safely in their luxurious houses and ordering specific objects for their collection.
"What happened to your hand, dude?"
"Oh, I was in the war."
"The war in Iraq..."
"Oh, is that still going on? I thought it was over..."
Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isn't all that surprising, given this administration's history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Mr. Bush declared Iran a member of the "axis of evil."
No, what's interesting about this deal is the fact that Mr. [Ray L.] Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be. By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad's disapproval, he's essentially betting that the Iraqi government - which hasn't met a single one of the major benchmarks Mr. Bush laid out in January - won't get its act together. Indeed, he's effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation in any meaningful sense of the term.
America's name is literally stamped on to the missiles fired by Israel into Palestinian buildings in Gaza and the West Bank. Only four weeks ago, I identified one of them as an AGM 114-D air-to-ground rocket made by Boeing and Lockheed-Martin at their factory in – of all places – Florida, the state where some of the suiciders trained to fly.
The same type of missile – this time an AGM 114-C made in Georgia– was fired by the Israelis into the back of an ambulance near the Lebanese village of Mansori, killing two women and four children. I collected the pieces of the missile, including its computer coding plate, flew to Georgia and presented them to the manufacturers at the Boeing factory. And what did the developer of the missile say to me when I showed him photographs of the children his missile had killed? "Whatever you do," he told me, "don't quote me as saying anything critical of the policies of Israel."
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