Sure I have known about looting, but I never really gave it much thought. When Baghdad was liberated, it entered my mind and was assigned a seat in the waiting room. When I came to re-evaluate it, it was in the context of whether Iraqis are ready and capable of democracy. After all, at the first opportunity for free actions, they chose looting as self-expression of liberty. I know that the looting was over played in the media, but that it did occur was clearly demonstrable.
Now looting has re-entered my waiting room due to Katrina. At first I did not recognize it, for we were in a different country with a different people. And without a doubt it needed to be stopped. Even here civilization is a thin veneer. Which then made me realize that if we live that close to chaos here in the States, yet still are able to function as a democratic society, then certainly the Iraqi can as well. Funny enough, this made me feel a bit more certain that democratization of the Middle East can be successful.
As an aside, when the Kobe earthquake left many people homeless, order and respect appear natural to the Japanese. No looting was reported.
Speaking of Japan, congratulations to Koizumi and his reform platform electoral endorsement!