John Kerry at the Metropolitan Museum, Sept. 22, 2014:
I want you to know that President Obama and our Administration are laser-focused on protecting the cultural heritage of countries all around the world. That is why we’re funding a landmark effort with the American Schools of Oriental Research to document the condition of cultural heritage sites in Syria. And we’re providing additional support to extend this effort into Iraq. We’re also doubling down on our support for Iraqi conservation experts and providing them with critical training on emergency documentation and disaster preparedness and response at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage.Through the National Science Foundation, we’re partnering with the American Association for the Advancement of Science on a project that uses geospatial technologies to track the destruction of the historical sites in Syria. They just released a big study that proves the destruction of these sites publicly. And this is yet another wakeup call, and those who deny the evidence or choose excuses over action are playing with fire as a consequence.Our heritage is literally in peril in this moment, and we believe it is imperative that we act now.
Stirring words. But I noted at the time that Kerry's rhetoric was unaccompanied by any specifics about what action the administration would take, and I worried that it would be limited to the entirely necessary but utterly insufficient actions Kerry was touting -- documenting and monitoring the destruction -- when what was needed was action to stop the destruction likely to occur going forward. Documenting and monitoring won't do that; carefully designed military action arguably will, if only for major sites located in isolated areas.
If it was imperative that we act now in September 2014, what about today?