Thursday 24 October 2013

The Antiquities Trade, Handyüberwachung and Other US International Image Disasters

Cultural sensitivity was never the strong-point of anyone involved in US antiquity dealers' lobby group, the ACCG. It therefore comes as no surprise to see Dave Welsh exhibiting blithe disregard to how his latest blog discussion piece ('Blathering Barford', Thursday, October 24, 2013) will be read outside Tea-party circles in these days of the continual (almost day-by-day at the moment) erosion of US soft power and trust over here in Europe.

I pointed out that members of his circle were 'reminding' CPAC that CCPIA limits the freshly-imported cultural property the US can regulate by means of the MOUs to just two categories of the fifteen postulated by Article 1 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention. I suggested that this was not what the rest of us would consider honouring the Convention (like saying you "honor" other principles such as refraining form political assassination, or torture and then doing it, calling it something else and claiming "national interests"). Mr Welsh claims "national interests" and intimates that it is me who does not understand. Well, logic was never his strong point either.
"You want me to sign this? Hmm, let me see, well, yes, I think we can agree to do all that... except that [strikes it out], and that [deletes it], oh and we cannot agree to that, or that and that, sorry, no [crosses it out], well those three are definitely out, no way [removed from list], that no, this nope, and that, absolutely not [deletes all three with his big red congressional pen] - but the other two, well we can agree to all that. I'm sure you'll find that satisfactory".
Since Mr Welsh did not understand (or is trying to deflect attention from) the rhetorical question,* I'll repeat it. " ... what the point is of becoming State Party to a Convention which you are not going to honour?"
 * (that's one to which the writer expects everyone to be in accord Mr Welsh, the answer which is obvious for the rest of us, but you obviously do not see is "very little point at all")

Current affairs reference US dealers' lobby would do well to read around and think about: Roger Cohen, 'The Handyüberwachung Disaster', New York Times October 24, 2013.

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