|Property is Theft|
Operation Iraqi Freedom has has pretty much bombed the Saddamites into
submission (apart from a few war criminals who still think that Allah's
intervention will provide sudden victory) and many Iraqis have finally come out
of their homes and expressed their feelings about their former
rulers. For many, this expression has involved theft and looting.
Looting and smashing Saddam's palaces may have looked a little uncivilized to
those who just paid for the war through taxes on cable-TV subscriptions, but
few would deny that it is good therapy for Iraqis, and even leftist
anger-management counselors would doubtless approve of the trashing of the
Libertarians too, are likely to rejoice in the idea of the people looting
government buildings. After the government had stolen from the people so long,
they were just stealing some of the stuff back. And looting the UN offices too
may be seen as rough justice after the UN's efforts to prevent the recent
toppling of the Saddamites.
But the looters haven't stopped there - they have started on
hotels, restaurants, private homes and even hospitals.
There are several issues for the Coalition forces to deal with.
- The Coalition forces have to demonstrate they have no interest in stealing
Iraq's wealth, and hence no interest in securing Iraqi government properties.
The best way to demonstrate this is to ignore the Iraqis liberating it
- The coalition must be seen as liberators, not as conquerers - or to be dictating
to Iraqis what their behavior should be.
- Much of the violence will be directed against members of Saddam's Baath
Socialist party members. Stopping this kind of payback is a low priority.
Significantly too, the simple fact is that after a prolonged period of
systematic theft, some redistribution is appropriate. Wealth distribution
is always a contentious political issue, but most would agree that in a corrupt
dictatorship, wealth distribution is not based on any kind of justice. Having
the poor steal from the rich is not something most people would get upset about
when most of the wealth is obtained through exploitation, corruption and graft.
Looting hospitals will clearly cause greater suffering, and they are
the best institutions to protect at this time. But the average Iraqi can't really see the problem with liberating the
possessions of the very rich.
Nor can most other people.