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Iraq War Tragedies

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#61 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 06:38 AM

Drew, on Apr 18 2003, 03:18 AM, said:

Also, it's hard to deter them if they got there *before* the U.S. troops did.
Or better yet if it was the Saddam Regime or elements of it doing the looting.
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#62 Drew

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 06:58 AM

CJ AEGIS, on Apr 17 2003, 10:22 PM, said:

Drew, on Apr 18 2003, 03:18 AM, said:

Also, it's hard to deter them if they got there *before* the U.S. troops did.
Or better yet if it was the Saddam Regime or elements of it doing the looting.
Exactly my point.
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#63 Palisades

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 07:13 AM

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Geneva Convention on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts:
Article 53: Protection of cultural objects and of places of worship
Without prejudice to the provisions of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 14 May 1954, and of other relevant international instruments, it is prohibited:
(a) To commit any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples;
(b) To use such objects in support of the military effort;
© To make such objects the object of reprisals.
This says you can't attack the museum; it doesn't say you can't protect the museum.

Let me draw your attention to Chapter II, Article 8, Paragraph 4 of the Hague Convention (it's sandwiched between paragraphs you quoted):

Quote

4. The guarding of cultural property mentioned in paragraph 1 above by armed custodians specially empowered to do so, or the presence, in the vicinity of such cultural property, of police forces normally responsible for the maintenance of public order shall not be deemed to be use for military purposes.
Since the UN asked coalition forces to protect the museum, it's not against the Hague Convention for the coalition to assign a contingent to do so.

CJ AEGIS said:

Short of physically putting troops fortified in the building with orders to shoot to kill there is no practical way militarily to stop that type of looting in that situation. In order to stop it through nonlethal means that would mean surrounding the building with a numerically larger American force and then chasing down on foot of violators.
Police are able to use nonlethal means to disperse riots even when substantially outnumbered. You don’t need to chase down the violators if they’re running away from the building you’re trying to protect.  If the security force is facing a large mob, and some looters get some artifacts, I’d say just let them have those artifacts for now since it’s more important to stay and protect the hundreds of thousands more that are still in the museum.

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Again drawing in this number of troops is impractical and dangerous to the civilians and troops. You’re dealing with a civilian population that has combatants intermixed with it and suicide bombers. Thus US troops would have to go into every situation expecting every looter to be a potential illegal combatant. You have another recipe for disasters for innocent civilians or when a suicide bomber decides posing as a looter would be a great way to get near US troops without getting shots..
The troops were at risk from illegal combatants whether or not they were protecting the museum. Obviously, suicide bombs are a risk so one of the first things they would do is set up a barrier to keep the crowd back. There wouldn’t have been nearly so many looters if the U.S. had done something about them instead of just watching them steal things throughout the city for the first couple of days. Also, once police start spraying tear gas and shooting rubber bullets, most rioters tend to disperse.

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Secondly as Rov noted many of these sites have underground passages entering them.
I'm sure the museum curators who begged for our help would have pointed out these underground passages (assuming the museum has any) so they could be secured, barricaded, collapsed, etc.

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Thirdly the use of nonlethals in such a scenario puts the troops at great risk to Iraqi Illegal Combatants would could be intermixed with the looters. Try getting close enough to use sticky foam on the guy who has an Ak-47 under his coat.
Obviously, if they’re drawing in AK-47 it’s okay to use lethal force. If it looks like they might be reaching for a concealed weapon, I’m sure that there’s established military and police doctrine, but I don’t know it. Using tear gas, shooting rubber bullets, and firing real bullets into the air or into limbs seem like appropriate responses depending on the circumstances.

Edited by QuantumFlux, 18 April 2003 - 08:03 AM.

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#64 Palisades

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 08:05 AM

Javert Rovinski wrote:

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A pro thief would know every way in, every way out, and would be aware that our troops weren't allowed to follow them into the museum. A pro would be able to find out the best way in, the best way out, and do it all silently. A thief is harder to stop, IMO.... and, again, our troops aren't trained to be a police force.
Okay, you seem to have conceded that these very knowledgeable professional thieves stole genuine artifacts and not fake ones.

Our troops were allowed to go into the museum. I quoted the relevant paragraph in my previous post.

No, our troops aren’t trained to be a police force, but that doesn’t mean they should just stand around and condone looting. Also, we could have sent military police into Baghdad as per the original invasion plan or given some troops basic police training.

The museum curators who asked for our help would be willing to show the security contingent the best ways into and out of the museum so that appropriate precautions could be taken.


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<Also, I'm not sure if a time frame has been firmly establishd.. if it was done before our forces entered Baghdad, this is all moot..>
From here:

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Not only did the Pentagon have prior notice of the likelihood of looting, museum officials reportedly called on troops to stop the plunder just after it began. At the urging of an Iraqi archaeologist, a group of marines with a tank opened fire above looters' heads and
drove them away. But instead of staying to protect the building, the marines left, and the looters returned.

Edit: What's up with the tags in this and my previous post?

Edited by QuantumFlux, 18 April 2003 - 08:15 AM.

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#65 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 01:20 PM

CJ AEGIS, on Apr 18 2003, 01:48 AM, said:

All of them are a violation of The Hague and Geneva Conventions because it requires a garrisoning of the site.  Secondly as Rov noted many of these sites have underground passages entering them.  Thirdly the use of nonlethals in such a scenario puts the troops at great risk to Iraqi Illegal Combatants would could be intermixed with the looters.  Try getting close enough to use sticky foam on the guy who has an Ak-47 under his coat.
Not to mention that tear gas, sticky foam, rubber bullets etc are not standard load outs for combatants- especially when these units are fighting for control of the city.
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#66 Palisades

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 01:38 PM

Talkie Toaster, on Apr 18 2003, 10:04 AM, said:

Not to mention that tear gas, sticky foam, rubber bullets etc are not standard load outs for combatants- especially when these units are fighting for control of the city.
That's a relatively minor logistics issue.

Edited by QuantumFlux, 18 April 2003 - 01:40 PM.

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#67 tennyson

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 01:54 PM

No it isn't, especially if not if those same items are still at depot in Kuwait or all the way back in Fort Bliss or California. They have more important things to move like food, water and fuel among other things for the troops and the citizenry into an area where the air strips aren't fully secure so only the most vital flights would be coming in and going out. Plus you're going to have to find people who know how to use them, stickly foam can be just as deadly as a gun when used improperly and as seen in Somalia isn't going to stop determined roiters or looters for very long once they get out the planks.
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#68 Shaun

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 04:05 PM

So the US intends to use the finances from Iraqi oil to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure which has been damaged or destroyed by US made weapons. Interesting. Isn't that like my going out driving along in my car, minding my own business when someone goes right up the back of my car causes a load of damage and they get out and tell me that not only do I have to pay for the damage to my car, but to his as well.

Also I cannot see how a Coalition which does not comprise the whole UN can unilaterally decide to enforce a UN negotiated cease-fire. Surely it should be up to the UN to decide what action to take. But let's not get into that one again.

The Americans were warned repeatedly about protecting Iraq's cultural heritage, time after time after time after time, yet nothing was done. The military operation was conducted with great speed and effect, but the follow-up has been a shambolic mess.

When one reporter ran to report that the Library of Qu'rans was burning at the Ministry of Religion to the military HQ at the Palestine Hotel, he was greeted by a soldier who shouted to his CO "There's some guy here says some biblical place is burning", nothing was done. When he went back sometime later the building was still on fire and there wasn't one US soldier to be seen.

I'm amused by the comment that plonking a tank outside the museum would be pointless, funny, but wasn't there one plonked right outside of the Ministry of Oil.

The US has failed to meet its obligations under the Geneva Convention and under the Hague Convention and should be dealt with accordingly. IMHO of course.

I found the following articles to be interesting:

http://www.counterpu...mo04162003.html
http://www.counterpu...er04172003.html
http://www.counterpu...ls04162003.html
http://www.counterpu...rn04162003.html
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#69 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 18 April 2003 - 08:10 PM

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Shaun: The US has failed to meet its obligations under the Geneva Convention and under the Hague Convention and should be dealt with accordingly. IMHO of course.

Since we are talking about failing to make their obligations maybe the UN should be held responsible for all the mistakes that this “great” organization for “peace” has made.  This is an organization that is further more responsible of putting peacekeepers on the ground and restraining/saddling them so much that they are forced to standby and watch ethnic cleansing/genocide, rape, and murder unfold right before them.  While being disarmed and tied to a tree in the process.  The gilded walls of the UN are covered with the blood of many innocents.  If international justice were up to par the entire thing would have been surrounded by the NYNG, disbanded, and replaced for being one of the biggest farce and hypocrite in history.  The UN is as much the moral authority of the world as it is the voice of the people of the world happily represented through despots and dictators.        

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QuantumFlux: This says you can't attack the museum; it doesn't say you can't protect the museum.

“©To make such objects the object of reprisals.”  There is the relevant section by fortifying the building we are making it an object of reprisals.  I’ll get into the how later on in this post.  

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QuantumFlux: Since the UN asked coalition forces to protect the museum, it's not against the Hague Convention for the coalition to assign a contingent to do so.

The UN first off would be the first organization to stab the US in the back in the likely event of the situation going south.  Secondly constructing US troops as armed custodians or police forces is more than a small amount of twisting the intent of The Hague Convention.  The reference you point to refers to armed custodians and police forces rather than fully combat loaded troops in armored vehicles. This clause is to protect sites from being struck as military targets when native civilian police forces and/or civilian security staff protect them.  US are troops are neither.

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QuantumFlux:  Police are able to use nonlethal means to disperse riots even when substantially outnumbered. You don’t need to chase down the violators if they’re running away from the building you’re trying to protect. If the security force is facing a large mob, and some looters get some artifacts, I’d say just let them have those artifacts for now since it’s more important to stay and protect the hundreds of thousands more that are still in the museum.
And

Quote

QuantumFlux: There wouldn’t have been nearly so many looters if the U.S. had done something about them instead of just watching them steal things throughout the city for the first couple of days. Also, once police start spraying tear gas and shooting rubber bullets, most rioters tend to disperse.
And

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QuantumFlux: Using tear gas, shooting rubber bullets, and firing real bullets into the air or into limbs seem like appropriate responses depending on the circumstances.

Now setting aside the flopping and twisting of The Hague and Geneva Convention on their side let’s get down to business.

I feel a need to tie these together because there is some move toward equating this situation with a simple law enforcement operation.  This is not a law enforcement operation but rather a military conflict. Police are in the eyes of most crowds are operating within the rule of law and seen as an authority figure when dispersing crowds.  That situation above rather than just setting up policing force creates a situation that the public of Baghdad will perceive US troop as conquerors and occupiers.  The real question is just how well would such nonlethal means work to hold off an unruly crowd.

As TT indicated rubber bullets and foam can be just as lethal as normal ordnance if used improperly.  Indeed in proper use these nonlethals will really maul a person over.  As for shooting bullets into the air or over the crowd we do have the small issue of gravity.  When you shoot a bullet into the air it has to come back down and in an urban environment you’re just asking for collateral damage by firing rounds off in that manner.  In addition the assumption here is that somehow this crowd will behave in the perfect case scenario and simply disperse.

Rather the situation in reality is more likely to create a situation that makes the Battle of the Black Sea in Mogadishu look like a friendly Sunday firefight.  In case you aren’t familiar with that battle potentially over a thousand Somalis were killed and a lot the low end the figures state 300 deaths.  An angry mob intermixed was confronted with armed US soldiers firing into their midst and rather than dispersing they continued advancing.  So the end result was perhaps a 1,000 dead and the United States waking up to see the bodies of Americana soldiers being dragged through the streets by dispersed crowds.  A mob is neither rational nor prone to rational behavior but we do have one reality here that would make this different than the Battle of the Black Sea.

US forces were pinned down and forced to fight a protracted battle taking casualties because they were under prepared.  They lacked sufficient firepower to simply blow a safe corridor through the crowd and out of the city to ensure their survival in face of what seemed to be an entire city trying to kill them.  Much of the after battle assessments concluded that if US troops had an AC-130 overhead could have simply blasted a corridor out of the city through the crowd and escaped in armored vehicles they didn’t have.  Of course this time around US forces would have that sort of firepower to blow their war out.  Now we have what happens so let us establish the how it happens.  

US forces start to use nonlethals to attempt to disperse the crowd but instead it simply cements the resolve of the crowd who keeps pressing forward.  Sure the nonlethals are taking their toll but they are neither dispersing or effect the crowd as a whole as more civilians are drawn to the scene.  Meanwhile the troops are playing right into the hands of the Regime as the crowd comes to see them as occupiers and stealing the culture/history of Iraq rather than liberators.  Soon a few Iraqi Irregulars see the chance to turn Baghdad into the hornet’s nest that never developed and raise popular resistance against the Coalition.  They intermix with the crowd and start firing on UIS positions.  Soon US forces are surrounded by an angry hostiles crowd and taking fire from hostiles in the crowd.  Their hands are now forced and they have to return fire into the crowd in self-defense to neutralize the attackers.  Perhaps some civilians are hit by accident or even none are but what the mob sees and perceives is the “invaders” firing into their midst.  Now you have a full-scale battle underway with more Iraqis joining it and the besieged US troops have to call more troops and firepower in on the crowd to get out of the situation.

It all comes apart and soon maybe if we are lucky only one hundred Iraqis are casualties, maybe a few hundred, or if the situation goes downhill the Battle of the Black Sea nightmare strikes again and over a thousand Iraqis are killed in a firefight that did not have to happen.  I can see the editorializing now “the good news is the artifacts are intact but the bad news is we had several hundreds Iraqi causalities in the process and the past of Iraq in that museum was protected with the utter sacrifice of the future of the country”.  That is assuming that the museum wasn’t half blasted to pieces in the crossfire like it would probably be.  Indeed a violation of the Hague Convention and probably the Geneva Convention can be tossed in for the coup de grâce.

Exactly how many lives in the now and the future is one museum of artifacts worth?
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#70 Palisades

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Posted 19 April 2003 - 02:30 AM

First, as an interesting aside, here is an interesting blurb on Saddam’s interest in archeology:

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The museum's comprehensive collection was unprecedented. Saddam's secularism and his long-term interest in Iraq's archaeological legacy—in part self-serving; he inscribed his name next to Nebuchadnezzar's in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon—had enriched the National Museum's collection. (According to a Financial Times piece from 2000, Saddam reportedly made extensive suggestions in the margins of all reports filed by Iraq's archaeological director, Donny George. He also made antiquities smuggling punishable by death.)

CJ:

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  The UN is as much the moral authority of the world as it is the voice of the people of the world happily represented through despots and dictators.
The three nations in the UN (France, Germany, and Russia) that led opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq are democracies. Four of the five permanent nations on the Security Council are democracies. Also, it's not like the U.S. doesn't have a bad record of supporting despots and dictators with long records of human rights violations so long as doing so advances U.S. interests.

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“©To make such objects the object of reprisals.”  There is the relevant section by fortifying the building we are making it an object of reprisals.  I’ll get into the how later on in this post.
That clause says that it is impermissible for retaliation to target "such objects."  In other words, if some country commits an act of war against us, we can’t retaliate by destroying their cultural sites.

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The UN first off would be the first organization to stab the US in the back in the likely event of the situation going south.
Are you saying that with all the planners and resources at the U.S.’s disposal, we can protect the Oil Ministry but not the National Museum, National Libray, or Ministery for Religious Affairs? Also, I thought that the Bush Administration was claiming that a majority of the UN supported the invasion, and that the U.S. would have had its second resolution if only France would abstain instead of veto. But if indeed the UN is so against the U.S., what does it say about Bush's diplomacy?

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Secondly constructing US troops as armed custodians or police forces is more than a small amount of twisting the intent of The Hague Convention.
The intent of the Hague Convention is to prevent the destruction of cultural property. The intent of the paragraphs you quoted is to prevent cultural property from being used as a shield. How can taking action necessary to preserve a priceless cultural heritage be against the intent of the Hague Convention?

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The reference you point to refers to armed custodians and police forces rather than fully combat loaded troops in armored vehicles. This clause is to protect sites from being struck as military targets when native civilian police forces and/or civilian security staff protect them.  US are troops are neither.
The clause doesn’t say that the armed protectors have to be civilians or police. The intent of the clause is to make it possible to protect a cultural site from vandals, looters, and thieves without violating the Hague Convention.

From here (in reference to the U.S. standing by while looters plundered the National Museum):

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Archaeologists, poets, cultural historians and international legal experts, including many in America itself, accused Washington of violating the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of artistic treasures in wartime.
From here:
Dr. Joseph Collins, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, said with regard to the looting of Iraq's cultural sites:

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that "in no case" had his office instructed military commanders to provide protection for the museum or library.

"We leave such decisions to commanders on the scene," he said.
This senior Pentagon official apparently doesn't feel protecting the museum or library would have been a violation of the Hague Convention. Furthermore, I have yet to see or hear someone associated with the Bush Administration or U.S. military cite the Geneva Convention, Hague Convention, or any international law as an excuse not to protect the National Museum, National Libray, or Ministery for Religious Affairs.

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I feel a need to tie these together because there is some move toward equating this situation with a simple law enforcement operation.  This is not a law enforcement operation but rather a military conflict. Police are in the eyes of most crowds are operating within the rule of law and seen as an authority figure when dispersing crowds.  That situation above rather than just setting up policing force creates a situation that the public of Baghdad will perceive US troop as conquerors and occupiers. The real question is just how well would such nonlethal means work to hold off an unruly crowd.

As TT indicated rubber bullets and foam can be just as lethal as normal ordnance if used improperly.  Indeed in proper use these nonlethals will really maul a person over.  As for shooting bullets into the air or over the crowd we do have the small issue of gravity.  When you shoot a bullet into the air it has to come back down and in an urban environment you’re just asking for collateral damage by firing rounds off in that manner.  In addition the assumption here is that somehow this crowd will behave in the perfect case scenario and simply disperse.
I’ve already cited an article which reports that shortly after the looting began, U.S. Marines with a tank dispersed a crowd looting the museum (without suffering casualties or injuring anyone) by firing into the air. Then the U.S. forces left and the looters came back.

Regarding your alarmist and slippery slope scenario with regard to the museum, see above. Furthermore, the U.S. forces managed to protect the Oil Ministry without either the defenders or Iraqi civilians suffering any casualties.

[Minor edits]

Edited by QuantumFlux, 19 April 2003 - 02:56 AM.

"When the Fed is the bartender everybody drinks until they fall down." —Paul McCulley

"In truth, 'too big to fail' is not the worst thing we should fear – our financial institutions are now on their way to becoming 'too big to save'." —Simon Johnson

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#71 Rov Judicata

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 05:26 AM

I completely forgot about this thread, my bad.

It appears the artifacts were, indeed, real. The fake angle never panned out; I was wrong about that. My bad. I am really surprised.

I am not, however, convinced that it was militarily feasible or politically wise to put tanks in and around a museum.

That being said, here's hoping as many artifacts as possible are recovered. :).
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#72 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 05:37 AM

Quote

QuantumFlux: That clause says that it is impermissible for retaliation to target "such objects." In other words, if some country commits an act of war against us, we can’t retaliate by destroying their cultural sites.

There might be a misinterpreting of the intent and exact text of Article 52 of the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts
I quote:

Quote

Article 53: Protection of cultural objects and of places of worship
Without prejudice to the provisions of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 14 May 1954, and of other relevant international instruments, it is prohibited:
(a) To commit any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples;
(b) To use such objects in support of the military effort;
© To make such objects the object of reprisals.

There are three separate actions that nations are not allowed to carry out.  The first A bans directly attacking the cultural objects of a nation and B disallows the use of them in a military effort such as using them as a shield.  In this case C is relevant because it makes it illegal to make such objects the object of reprisals.  By stationing troops on the site we would be violating subsection c by placing the artifacts in proximity to US forces that the Iraqis are seeking to attack.    


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QuantumFlux: Let me draw your attention to Chapter II, Article 8, Paragraph 4 of the Hague Convention (it's sandwiched between paragraphs you quoted):

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4. The guarding of cultural property mentioned in paragraph 1 above by armed custodians specially empowered to do so, or the presence, in the vicinity of such cultural property, of police forces normally responsible for the maintenance of public order shall not be deemed to be use for military purposes.
Since the UN asked coalition forces to protect the museum, it's not against the Hague Convention for the coalition to assign a contingent to do so.

Check the text of the section you quoted.  That section refers to the use of armed custodians and police forces.  US troops despite the wishes of some are not the Baghdad Police Force and that clause is to prevent attackers from hitting a site because a member of a police force is guarding it.  An armed custodian refers to the use of civilian security guards or personnel such as forestry/park rangers.  Section 3* prior to this totally debunks your argument by clearly starting that a center will be deemed to be used for military purposes when military personnel are stationed at the site.  So again the stationing of armed troops even to guard the site violates section three by stationing troops on the site.  

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* 3. A centre containing monuments shall be deemed to be used for military purposes whenever it is used for the movement of military personnel or material, even in transit. The same shall apply whenever activities directly connected with military operations, the stationing of military personnel, or the production of war material are carried on within the centre. .

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QuantumFlux: Are you saying that with all the planners and resources at the U.S.’s disposal, we can protect the Oil Ministry but not the National Museum, National Libray, or Ministery for Religious Affairs? .
It is a violation of the Hague Convention as I stated in my argument above.

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QuantumFlux: How can taking action necessary to preserve a priceless cultural heritage be against the intent of the Hague Convention?

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3. A centre containing monuments shall be deemed to be used for military purposes whenever it is used for the movement of military personnel or material, even in transit. The same shall apply whenever activities directly connected with military operations, the stationing of military personnel, or the production of war material are carried on within the centre.  

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QuantumFlux: The clause doesn’t say that the armed protectors have to be civilians or police.

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4. The guarding of cultural property mentioned in paragraph 1 above by armed custodians    specially empowered to do so, or the presence, in the vicinity of such cultural property, of police forces    normally responsible for the maintenance of public order shall not be deemed to be use for military purposes.
Hague Convention: Chapter II, Article 8, Section 3 just prior to it states that the site is deemed to be used for military purposes whenever military personnel are stationed on the site.  

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QuantumFlux: I’ve already cited an article which reports that shortly after the looting began, U.S. Marines with a tank dispersed a crowd looting the museum (without suffering casualties or injuring anyone) by firing into the air. Then the U.S. forces left and the looters came back.

Can you point me to that article again? Simply put dispersing a small crowd of looters while passing through the neighborhood is fairly easy.  Now setting down to guard a location and having a fixed location for a crowd to gather around and focus on is al all together different matter.  Again though this debate is irrelevant due to the violations of the Geneva and Hague Conventions.

Edited by CJ AEGIS, 23 April 2003 - 05:38 AM.

"History has proven too often and too recently that the nation which relaxes its defenses invites attack."
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"Their sailors say they should have flight pay and sub pay both -- they're in the air half the time, under the water the other half""
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