DO AS I SAY, not as I do?

Why is it that I do not feel better when my country is doing it instead of some other country doing it? Isn’t that what we are all supposed to have learned in Kindergarten?

“ ‘A nation that willfully destroys another country’s heritage would be no better than the criminals who have destroyed irreplaceable sites in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in recent years,’ Sara C. Bronin, a lawyer and specialist in historic preservation, wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in response to Trump’s threats to target cultural sites in Iran.

“ ‘Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do. It’s a war crime,’ tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Japanese tourists visit Persepolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, northeast of the Iranian city of Shiraz, in May 2002.  (Vahid Salemi/AP)
Japanese tourists visit Persepolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, northeast of the Iranian city of Shiraz, in May 2002. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

“In Britain, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned that ‘there are international conventions in place which prevent the destruction of cultural heritage.’ ”

“In March 2017 — only weeks after Trump’s inauguration — the U.N. Security Council, with the United States as a permanent member, unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the “unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, inter alia destruction of religious sites and artefacts” in armed conflicts. …

“According to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, warring parties should take all possible steps “to protect cultural property,” which includes “monuments of architecture, art or history, whether religious or secular,” among other examples.”

These standards of ordinary decency have been confirmed throughout the civilized world from the Geneva Convention (1949 and 1977) to the recently International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1992) and Mali (2012). NPR has a lot to say about this including direct quotes from U.S.Military law.


Trump has threatened to destroy cultural sites in Iran—his way of countering potential repercussions. Despite the fact that we have consistently supported respecting such sites. Leaders as diverse as Germany’s Merkel and Russia’s Putin have vowed to do whatever they can to prevent this outrage. Consider the last time significant civilian and heritage structures were targeted. Yes, consider 9/11. Imagine if the Statue of Liberty and Golden Gate Bridge, Bunker Hill and the Grand Canyon were— threatened because one of our leaders were killed in a foreign country. No, wait: Imagine we assassinated military leaders of two countries in a country we occupied for going-on twenty years. No, wait . . .

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