Obviously, the Monuments Men were active 65 years ago so you can't expect them to have been around during the Iraqi conflict.
And this group of soldiers was specifically appointed to gather together people who could save national treasures; it was an organized group. They could float around and blend with the population; they were knowledgeable about the art treasures; they were dedicated to saving treasures in many countries. And the various governments and individuals and museums involved had many years of forewarning of the potential conquests and destructions of WWII.
During the initial Iraq conflict (notice the above writer says "invasion"), this country was almost cut off from the outside world. Anyone who tried to enter was carefully scrutinized. The dress habits, color of skin, and language were not common and would have been hard for outsiders to adopt. Thus, outsiders who wanted to save art could not easily enter the few museums and homes that housed treasures. They would have stood out like sore thumbs.
And by the time the outside realized the art treasures were being trashed, they had generally already been trashed. These acts were a secret destruction. Obviously, the BBC and CNN did not have ready access to what was happening in Sadam's regime.
The question can be asked about any of the hundreds of conflicts: Why didn't someone, some magic someone, go in and save art treasures before they were destroyed? Kiki's question is obviously unrealistic and shows a lack of understanding about the real world.
There has not been a group like this since WWII and that is a shame. We must learn from history. They were so successful in Europe, but where were they in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq?? Is it because our military leaders since Gen. Eisenhower do not care to save cultural treasures? Is building permanent structures for the U.S. military more of a priority than saving the treasures from this ancient land?
There have been "groups" like this in the military inventory from WWII onwards. Civil Affairs is a branch-specific entity of the United States Army (and also Marine Corps) which has a mission of interfacing between civil and military operations. During Desert Shield/Storm, I was the military NGO (non-governmental) liaison. Other teams included arts and monuments (as well as government, economics and commerce, public facilities, etc.).
Since 96% of the civil affairs assets are in the Reserve force structure, it has little clout with the Active Component. However, they were employed in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Iraq.
Don't forget what Bush's Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld said after the Iraqi Museum was trashed. "These things happen when there is freedom". Yes indeed, freedom means you can trash and loot a museum. We cannot blame the US Army for this "freedom" because they wanted an MP regiment to enter Baghdad after the combat forces but Mr Rumsfeld vetoed that and insulted the General who proposed it. An MP regiment could have secured the Museum and kept anyone from exercising their "freedom". Don Rumsfeld continues to live happily into his comfortable old age by the way.
I knew a woman whose son was there in Iraq as a soldier and he and some of his unit were sent to guard a museum. They did and then suddenly they were told to stand down and in comes some of the people who worked at the museum and others who then stole many items and then destroyed others right in front of these soldiers. They couldn't believe it was happening. The soldiers were stunned. He came home and said the Iraqi people are to blame for the theft and destruction of their cultural heritage. They didnt place a high value on it and never protected it.
Amazon Customer, Indeed the ultimate responsibility for the art theft in Iraq was on the Iraqi thieves who stole it. My point is that Rumsfeld dismissed a plan made by the Army to send in regiments of Military Police to secure places such as museums and then arrogantly described the looting of the museum as Iraqis exercising "freedom". The US soldiers were there in inadequate numbers to police the city and not because of their decisions. They were betrayed and let down by an arrogant know-it-all safely back in Washington. I do not recall anyone saying that the Nazi art thieves were exercising freedom back during WW2.