Wednesday, 25 November 2015

"The world must find ways to intervene and protect antiquities when nation-states cannot do so"

In his latest text, James Cuno argues we should send in the Blue Helmets to Syria and Iraq to "save history" ('ISIS Rampage: A Threat to Cultural Heritage That Belongs to All' YaleGlobal, 26 November 2015)
Deteriorating security in Syria and Iraq, and the tenacity and complexity of ISIS, requires a multilateral response from the international community, and a rethinking of how it can overcome the inherent limitations and obstacles of the nation-state–based regime for the protection of cultural heritage. If the heritage destroyed and under threat by ISIS “belongs to all Syrians and all humanity,” as UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has claimed it, the international community must find a way to overcome the limitations imposed on cultural heritage by the United Nations.
One wonders though whether this is a serious suggestion , or whether the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust is simply trying to score points in his long-running neo-colonialist battle against UNESCO. 

Dr Cuno avoids detailing how this would operate. There is a vicious war going on in Syria and it's not much better in Iraq. How many men and women would be needed to protect one site from ISIL militants intent on looting or destroying the next Nimrud or Mar Elian or the barrel bombs of the Assad regime? How, actually would he like to see this done? What weapons would they us? Light sabres, fighter plane squads strafing anyone who comes near an ancient site in their own homeland?  Who would take the decision which of the tens of thousands of archaeological sites and cultural monuments ("belonging to us all") people will be sent to die and kill for? On which criteria will such a selection be based? Religious, commercial (tourist value), ease of access, archaeological potential?  How many troops would he send into the war-zone what would they do there in real terms and how would their safety be assured while they were doing it?  Do Mr and Mrs Cuno have sons serving in the armed forces who he'd send to save a few nineteenth century graveyards etc. from bulldozing? Would he sacrifice his sons for a Roman arch and row of sun-bleached columns in Palmyra? Really?

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.