Tuesday 4 June 2013

Sofaer's Coins and US Political Killings

Abraham Sofaer collects dugup ancient coins, and coineys are celebrating the fact that his collection has recently been published. Lobbyist Peter Tompa writes:
Yes, numismatists can derive significant meaning from studying coins independent of any archaeological context.  Abe Sofaer is a former federal judge and State Department legal adviser
I suppose one can differ in what one considers "significant meaning". Sidekick Arthur Houghton affectionately continues the theme:
Small and undistinguished people will no doubt carp at the presumed perfidies of Abe Sofaer's collecting.
I would say that besides what this person is on record as representing, his collecting activities may be thought by many to pale into insignificance.  Abraham Sofaer has also 'distinguished himself' precisely from his state department days by his vocal support for the US 'targeted killings' programmes, he is on record condoning the US carrying out state-sanctioned killings off the battlefield, thus flouting international consensus on the rule of law, redefining in the process what it means in the US to give someone “due process”.

This family was unexpectedly blown to smithereens for their alleged
'thought crimes' by a US soldier pressing a button from half way round the world
  And a collector of dugup ancient coins, many of them
from such conflict zones, says it is "right". 

Coin collector is on record saying clandestine  UAV killings in foreign countries are "self defence" and therefore "right".
Many "small and undistinguished" people think - no matter what State Department lawyers opine - this US "execution without trial"/ political murder policy is totally wrong, evil and among other things damaging to America's image abroad. Likewise, many consider the no-questions-asked collecting of dugup ancient artefacts from foreign soil wrong and damaging, including to America's image abroad. Whether or not they are "small and undistinguished" really makes no difference to whether they have a point or not.

[See also on the topic: George Monbiot, 'The shooting of Ibragim Todashev: is the lawlessness of Obama's drone policy coming home?', The Guardian, Monday 3 June 2013].

UPDATE 7th June 2013:
US dealer Wayne Sayles, who likes to present himself as a "military man" and US lobbyist Peter Tompa seem rather troubled by the illustrations that appear in a post on a collector who condones drone attacks. I show the effects of such terror strikes which includes pictures of "terrorist" children killed as a result of drone attacks sent in their name by their government, to make them safe (no US citizen need fear little brown-skinned children in far-off lands). I guess they do not see as many pictures of them in US news sources as the rest of us. I suggest if they see anything wrong with such pictures, that they contact their representatives in government and get this barbaric and un-American (one would have thought) programme stopped. Right now.

The children in the photo died in their homes in Dande Darpa Khel in Waziristan (a favourite target for US terror strikes). Maybe they killed a couple of blokes too who, if they'd been put in a proper court would have been found guilty of a thought crime or two, or  maybe having done something in the past, or then again the same men may have been acquitted. Immaterial now, they were summarily executed by a foreign government without any kind of a trial. The question remains, in whose name?


kyri said...

hi paul,i fully understand where you are coming from about the use of drones but i have to agree with peter hear that the use of these pictures on a portable antiquities blog was not really rellevant to the topic.sofaers political views are nither hear nor there and trying to marry the two [drones with coin collecting]is not doing your arguments any favours.

Paul Barford said...

Well, I disagree. I think it is entirely relevant to the whole ethos of collecting to establish who (what kind of people) are involved, and what attitudes they have to the rest of the world.

When the publication came out, Tompa and others were stressing what a 'great guy' the collector is/was. In my opinion, "great guys" do not support things like what the US is doing with drone strikes in far-off Pakistan. And I say so.

What Mr S. thinks of drones is public record, what the effects of US policy is on the lives of people in the countries where they carry out the terror strikes is also public record. I really see no reason why it is not acceptable to put the collecting attitudes in a broader political context.

If we are to deal with no-questions-asked collecting we need to know who is doing it, and what their attitudes are likely to be. It seems to me that anyone who supports killing brown-skinned people and people around them for unproven thought crimes is not really going to be amenable to listening to any rational arguments about respecting the rights of citizens of other nations to their cultural heritage.

As I say, if Mr Tompa finds pictures of children killed by US missiles as upsetting as the rest of us, he would no doubt be joining me in saying "let us stop this". The fact however that he is criticising me for mentioning it rather suggests which side of the fence he stands.

By the way, I do not know if you spotted that the photo-montage was not my own, but was from an article on US foreign policy and the law. I find the photo of the family home reduced to rubble, when the family was inside no doubt, equally upsetting. As we all should, collector or not.

Paul Barford said...

All it takes for evil to triumph... (you know the rest). "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" Ephesians 5:11. There is no doubt in my mind that both drone terror strikes and no-questions-asked coin collecting are works of darkness.

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