Baghdad museum

The chaos that is Baghdad right now has thrown up a new disaster, the extensive looting of the National Museum. Naturally, I feel an attachment to Iraq's ancient heritage. Although it would be perverse to feel greater sorrow at the loss of dusty antiquities than for human life, I strongly believe in a nation's right to have its heritage protected. The coalition must stop this looting right now. It is not good enough to cry "we are not a police force"; an invader, legitimate or not, has the responsibility to fill that role. But if this report is correct and 170,000 pieces have been stolen, then it's already too late.

"A museum guard said that since Thursday, hundreds of looters had carried away artefacts on carts and wheelbarrows.

The museum's deputy director said looters had taken or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years.

"They were worth billions of dollars," she said

"The Americans were supposed to protect the museum. If they had just one tank and two soldiers nothing like this would have happened."

Reporters who visited the museum on Saturday saw smashed display cases and broken pieces of pottery."