To Loot Or Not To Loot - That Is Not Our Question
April 12, 2003 12:13 AM   Subscribe

Let The Iraqi Looters Loot: there's pleasure and there's payback in looting! [A little more inside]
posted by MiguelCardoso (44 comments total)
Specially from a tyrannical government's offices. It's not stealing. It's symbolic. It's metaphoric. It's fun. It feels right.

It reminds me of the genius of Joe Orton.

Well, perhaps it is right. Not that we have the least moral right, as bombers and destroyers, to condemn it. An Iraqi citizen said "They stole from us for decades - now stealing back from them is the least we can do."

It's revenge; it's their country; they've got to live in it. I'm almost tempted to go all hippy and karma on you all and say "What goes around..."

Or, in the last resort, that it's definitely a Robin Hood thing and none of our business. Loot away, I say! [That is, if I felt I had a say, which I think I don't...]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:17 AM on April 12, 2003

Miguel periodically makes posts about how good it is to steal things. He's a closet kleptomaniac, and in fact has stolen the period from the end of this sentence
posted by Hildago at 12:24 AM on April 12, 2003

I was 18 when the 25 April 1974 revolution occured in Portugal, after almost 50 years' semi-fascist oppression. I was old enough to be censored, persecuted, interrogated and even jailed. There was no looting - but only because Portuguese culture is tremendously conservative. Still, most of you have no idea of the wonderful anarchic feelings sich a liberation brings about. I thought I should say this, just to put things in perspective.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:25 AM on April 12, 2003

meanwhile ... in the cloak of war in iraq israeli "soldiers" cap an another peace activist trying to protect a family in gaza strip.
posted by specialk420 at 12:58 AM on April 12, 2003

the sheer design skill on that first link made me hard.
posted by Hackworth at 1:18 AM on April 12, 2003

Miguel, it's way past exuberance. There are 33 hospitals in Baghdad. Right now (according to the red Cross spokesperson I heard on the BBC not 10 minutes ago) there are only three open. The rest are all shut, because they have been looted past their capacity to operate, or because the staff are too scared to turn up for work. I don't think ecstatic joy at freedom from Hussein is at work here; rather, every bad hat in the city is taking advantage of the power vacuum.

I don't think there's a strong analogy between an internal revolution, with an incoming opposition (Portugal), and a conquest by a foreign force that has removed all civil authority and failed to replace it (Iraq).

I just heard Rumsfeld express disappointment that the media were focussing on the troubles rather than the benefits of liberation, and claiming that there were just a few minor setbacks. It made me sick. It was he who insisted that there be so few troops on the ground, and it's the absence of armed patrols that's making this mayhem possible.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:02 AM on April 12, 2003

And I forgot to add, I hear the looting is now of private homes. Anyone with anything is a target.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:04 AM on April 12, 2003

Portugal was liberated in 1974? How come I wasn't told about that? I was attending one of the better-reputation Catholic Schools in Los Angeles at the time... (I think I just answered my own question - I certainly know enough to know the sad state of American education is not ALL the fault of our Public school systems; the Private school agendas can be pretty anti-knowledge themselves).
posted by wendell at 2:10 AM on April 12, 2003

From a Leftist perspective it represwents merely and happily a redistribution of wealth...thus, a great thing!
posted by Postroad at 2:45 AM on April 12, 2003

Looting! At last! Common ground! What a welcome respite from all of that maddeningly inscrutable bowing and chanting and warbling and exploding. Here, at last, is something we can understand! Baby's first televised words - "Gimme dat thang!" - in Esperanto pantomime! It's a small world after all.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:32 AM on April 12, 2003

Simply indefensible! - US forces on German embassy and Baathist interior design

"... the shocking taste in furnishings that senior Baath party members obviously aspired to; cheap pink sofas and richly embroidered chairs, plastic drinks trolleys and priceless Iranian carpets so heavy it took three muscular thieves to carry them."
posted by sheauga at 4:38 AM on April 12, 2003

Portugal? Liberated? A bit of damned good news. That Manuel II was really starting to get under my skin.

As for the looting, I'd be all for it if it weren't for all the violence and such. Property rights should break down every now and then... If, in fact, property==social order, then we could all use with a little more anarchy.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:57 AM on April 12, 2003

Facetiousness aside, the Iraqis' future is at stake, and payback's not fun. Civil distubances may also give cover for another form of looting.
posted by sheauga at 5:05 AM on April 12, 2003

yes, yes, what a feeling -- it feels so good, right?

Baghdad museum looted
Looters have sacked Baghdad's antiquities museum, plundering treasures dating back thousands of years to the dawn of civilisation in Mesopotamia, museum staff said.
Looters grab priceless objects from Iraqi museums

Lehigh University Archeology Professor Calls Looting of Ancient Artifacts a 'Tragedy of Great Proportions'

US soldiers have shot and killed a Baghdad shopkeeper defending his business with a Kalashnikov assault rifle against looters

EBay awash in war-related items, but bidder beware
Novelties aside, looting remained a serious problem Friday in Iraq as people reportedly were stealing from banks, hospitals, colleges and government offices. There also was a report that the national museum in Baghdad, which contains priceless antiquities, was breached.
Assyrian and Babylonian artifacts, however, are more likely to arrive on the black market than on eBay

Loot away!
posted by matteo at 6:13 AM on April 12, 2003

Miguel, "when the [...] revolution occured in Portugal, after almost 50 years' semi-fascist oppression.[...] There was no looting - but only because Portuguese culture is tremendously conservative."

And the Iraqi culture is what? Lawless greedy materialistic hordes?
posted by DBAPaul at 6:53 AM on April 12, 2003

Portugal was liberated in 1974? How come I wasn't told about that? I was attending one of the better-reputation Catholic Schools in Los Angeles at the time...
a. There were no US troops there.
b. CNN didn't exist.
c. It didn't happen in the US.
d. You were told, but you are now having a senior moment.
posted by Geo at 7:11 AM on April 12, 2003

Oh well. I guess that if no WMDs are found, we'll be told that they were most likely looted and sold to the Syrians.
posted by pascal at 7:32 AM on April 12, 2003

As MWO noted, I happily await the violent and destructive looting of the offices and homes of Enron CEOs, and expect CNN and other media pundits to say nothing other than their rationalized support for it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:39 AM on April 12, 2003

The United States and the United Kingdom : Making the world safe for chaos.
posted by crunchland at 7:44 AM on April 12, 2003

My wife expressed it best at lunch: extreme oppression over decades. Those folks were wound up like springs. Release the compression and wham!
posted by Dick Paris at 9:02 AM on April 12, 2003

specialK: nice attempt to hijack a thread. From the article you so kindly linked to: "At the end of February he went to Iraq to join the human shields in Baghdad but left before the war."'s too bad he didn't stay in protect the Baath party just a bit longer.
posted by bokononito at 10:04 AM on April 12, 2003

From a capitalist perspective, it represents a potentially extremely high return on zero investment and is therefore a great thing.
posted by y2karl at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2003

Raw video footage from Reuters of the museum's looting...

That place is as destroyed as if a tank had driven through it. The museum staff claims they may never even be able to identify all that was lost, since many of their files were stolen too.

"They have looted or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years... They were worth billions of dollars .... The Americans were supposed to protect the museum. If they had just one tank and two soldiers nothing like this would have happened." - Nabhal Amin, Deputy Director, Iraqi National Museum.

This is a clear violation of the 1954 Hague Treaty for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict... and yet another violation of international law for the Bush administration.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:21 AM on April 12, 2003

The looting was fun two days ago when I saw people coming out of government offices with all sorts of furniture. Now people are looting museums, hospitals and private homes. Total chaos. Lynching.
It makes me feel sick.
posted by ginz at 11:25 AM on April 12, 2003

The increase in looting, now escalated to the wholesale theft of national treasures and degradation of hospital services, is what I was concerned would happen a few days ago if it were not immediately addressed.

The US needs to get on top of this wicked fast.

We're the only possible effective police force in Iraq at the present time. And since the US shall be the army of occupation (not the UN) an infrastructure for civil order should have been part of the plan, and already pretty much in implementation. Did no one in the US military or cabinet foresee looting following on "liberation?"

I understand and agree that civilians should not be shot for stealing or looting...and yes, the US is sensitive about being seen bullying the Iraqi populace. But there's a difference between bullying and responsible occupation.

Rather simple: We need to place guards as a deterrent at museums and hospitals before there is no medical care whatsoever, or the entire ancient cultural provenience of Iraq ends up for sale online at Christie's/eBay. [/soapbox]
posted by Dunvegan at 12:00 PM on April 12, 2003

{cough} detroitnewarkwatts...etc {cough}
the post about kleptos is redundant as it begs what ever the real question of this post is. The thieves are gonna come out when the "gettin is good"; this is a common amongst all civilized nations.
(packs his fist pipe...MRS. HUDSON!)

ya know, ABC has that portraits of war at the end of the telecast, Peter gives a line or two commentary. Well, ABC showed one picture with an iraqi with a arm full of cash. Peters comment was "Just like Willie Sutton". I believe that was the precise phrase.
Willie Sutton was the one whom supposedly said in answer to the question:

"why do you steal from banks"

"Because", Sutton replied, "thats where the Money is "

Willie Sutton never said it.
I am fascinated with Miguels' conveyance a back yonder about:
"if you steal from a thief, you will die a 100 deaths"
i believe this is the gist.
why is that? because whom would you rather face, the police or the crooks whom you stole from. In Suttons' time, if you where pinched for something big, a beating was assured.

A thief ill kill ya you steal from him.

It's the murder and chaos that people sneak when this "economic revenge" occurs.

well, America and and Portugal have at least one political event in common:

we both had coups in 1974.

what really kicks my giggles though is that ms. clav rented Kordas "Thief of Baghdad" (with the amazing Sabu...hey, no snark, he was multi talented)..ehhhhh O.K.

The U.S. military way of handling Looters was to shoot after a warning. well, that was a ways back....wasn't it?
posted by clavdivs at 12:20 PM on April 12, 2003

we both had coups in 1974.

Gerald Ford, revolutionary?
posted by Vidiot at 12:36 PM on April 12, 2003

President Ford is up there in age
but I'm sure he did not know John Quincy Adams.
posted by clavdivs at 12:51 PM on April 12, 2003

posted by Vidiot at 1:05 PM on April 12, 2003

revoultionary=old guys back in them thare days of horses and tea and...
JQA son of revolutionary was a revolutionary as he lived in this period.
There has been no revolution since 1861.

A coup is another matter and frankly your ruining my skit.
posted by clavdivs at 1:16 PM on April 12, 2003

posted by clavdivs at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2003


Miguel in a bow-tie
posted by clavdivs at 1:18 PM on April 12, 2003

Let me run that through the Universal Translator for ya:

OjXhno uhnoiJp olYnNa erqahu hiuhFE:k!
posted by y2karl at 1:20 PM on April 12, 2003

ok karl, heres your ever sniffing cogency,

some posts where meant for the Kiosk of rhetoric and commentary. some posts? thats all they are good for.

posted by clavdivs at 1:31 PM on April 12, 2003

now is migs don't like his bow-tie
he can say
i do not like the bow-tie
and i will offer a refund in the currency of apology.
I, myself, find it somewhat charming and endearing.
a tad playful and perhaps a dash of class.

thats all i gotta say bout that.
posted by clavdivs at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2003

[Pirate] Aargh! [/Pirate]
posted by y2karl at 3:27 PM on April 12, 2003

"if you steal from a thief, you will die a 100 deaths"

That would be far more interesting than the actual saying:

Ladrão que rouba a ladrão tem cem anos de perdão, meaning "A thief who steals from a thief is forgiven a hundred times over." Here, btw, is the eye-opening shoplifting thread.

Clavdivs: you're the top!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:53 PM on April 12, 2003

Cry, the despoiled city
posted by homunculus at 8:17 PM on April 12, 2003

I didn't understand much of that, but it sure was fun.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:24 AM on April 13, 2003

I didn't understand much of that, but it sure was fun.

I call tagline!
posted by Vidiot at 7:24 AM on April 13, 2003

we both had coups in 1974

what about the 1998 attempt?
what about 2000?
posted by matteo at 9:04 AM on April 13, 2003

theft and coups are a different matter.
opps, quite the opposite from what i thought miguel.

I guess it is a matter concerning the ethics of theivery.
perspective and all.
posted by clavdivs at 10:07 AM on April 13, 2003

"The US needs to get on top of this wicked fast."

Oh yeah. Thousands of US troops turning their guns to the faces of the civilians. That's just what we need right now. Prove everybody who was against this "liberation" right. If we did that, it'd officially be an "occupation" of Iraq. Which yeah, that's what it really is, but we were trying to NOT make it that. Many Iraqi civilians are gambling that the "coalition of the willing" won't do that, and I think some of them are looting because they WANT us to draw our guns on them. It'll make us look even worse to the international community than we already do. If that's even possible.

We didn't get all the people who were fighting. Most of them just blended into the civilian population so we can't tell who the bad guys are. The war's still on. The zealots are just playing dirty. You can't fight what you can't see, even if it's right under your nose.

And people wonder why Saddam was such a hardass when in "control" of Iraq? Look at what he was up against. We're looking at the latest generation of a people who have spent thousands of years under harsh environmental conditions, brought up in a Bizarro world culture where violence was the only deterrent, and the only thing worse than getting tortured and killed for your beliefs is dying of starvation and disease.

Did we honestly think a few days of G.I.Joes running around causing a ruckus was gonna erase thousands of years of vengeance and cruelty? God, we're a naive, ethnocentric bunch of idiots we Americans. It's like when the Iron Curtain fell, and suddenly all these people who had hated one another prior to the Communist uprising almost a century before were given the opportunity to remember, "oh yeah! We hate those guys next door to us. Let's go beat'm up now that the commies aren't telling us we're one big happy family."

Why didn't we take out Saddam before now? Why were we actually in bed with Saddam all those years before the Gulf War? Because the alternative was far worse than the status quo. It's better for the lamb to lay down with the wounded lion than get eaten by the hyenas. Y'know whut ah mean, Vern?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:33 AM on April 13, 2003

Interesting post ZachsMind, I think you may be putting the cart before the horse, not that your outlook doesn't have internal logical consistency.
'brought up in a Bizarro world culture where violence was the only deterrent'
Does this remind any one of the foreign policy of the US, at all? More of this in future?
Keeping control of the situation in Iraq after the 'liberation' is the job of the invading force. If they had occupied the main shopping streets and protected hospitals once they were installed in the cities then the looting could have been limited to the government buildings. The prescence of an amoured vehicle would be enough, and these tactics would show the ordinary Iraqis that the US/UK value their lives and property. I am sure the military has better tacticians than I, this is just a suggestion.
Instead we have the wanton destruction of the present looting spree, which can only increase internal ethnic tension as well as benefiting the thugs and criminals who will be the only ones who have the fire-power to protect their spoils.
A cynical mind might suppose that this kind of civil unrest would be beneficial only to companies contracted to rebuild Iraq, as democracy functions best in a country with some kind of infrastructure and respect for social order.
This kind of civil unrest could be used as an excuse to employ a mercenary (Private Military Contractors) company to enforce 'law and order'. Who gets to settle the tab?
posted by asok at 3:05 AM on April 14, 2003

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