Summary of "After the War: Culture; Global Network Speeds Plunder of Iraqi Antiquities” by Edmund L. Andrews
Looting destroys both the tangible and intangible elements of cultural heritage.This impalpable value of art and antiquities is socially constructed, meaning an object’s value is whatever a particular beholder assigns to it, whether it be commercial, aesthetic, or artistic in nature. Beyond this common denominator of subjective value attribution, however, art theft and site looting are conceptually distinct, and it is only relatively recently that criminologists have begun to examine each phenomenon on its own terms.
Whether it chooses to establish a managed art market or continue the enforcement of Iraq's historical patrimony laws, nothing will bring back the thousands of priceless artifacts lost in the April 2003 looting. The Hague Convention states that the world owns cultural property in a collective sense. The ancient history of one nation reflects the history of many. When the United States failed to prevent the looting of antiquities in Iraq, it not only allowed the destruction of Iraqi art - it allowed the destruction of the world's history.