Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kerry Speaks at Met on Looting and Iconoclasm by ISIS

Wanted to put this up quickly, and will have more to say after I get a chance to read it more carefully. But I did want to flag three things that pop out:

First, it is wonderful that ASOR and others have succeeded in getting the administration to pay attention to the cultural disaster.

Second, the conflation of looting with iconoclasm is troubling, because the two phenomena are driven by different motives and therefore require different policy responses.

Third, and related to the conflation of looting with iconoclasm, there is no mention of any policy response beyond supporting documentation and conservation efforts -- both of these being laudable and useful things to do, but quite distinct from imposing international bans on antiquities trade, or beefing up INTERPOL and customs enforcement around the world to help enforce bans already in place, or calling on countries we know are conduits or important end-markets for these antiquities to tighten up, etc. etc. 

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