Trump Doubles Down In Threatening To Attack Cultural Sites Despite International Criticism

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We recently discussed the shocking tweet from President Donald Trump that the United States might target cultural sites in retaliation of any response from Iran to our killing of an Iranian general. I suggested at the time that Trump may have been referring to legitimate target with dual cultural significance and strongly suggested a clarification. Well, he has now clarified and doubled down that he may target cultural sites — an act that is widely viewed as a war crime.

While flying back to Washington from Florida, President Trump insisted that he is considering the destruction of Iranian cultural sites. The statement contradicts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who sought to walk back the earlier tweet. Trump told the media that “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way.”

It does work that way because Iran is an outlaw regime that engages in terrorism. That is why it is isolated and denounced. The United States cannot fight such terrorism with a threat of committing war crimes. It not only destroys our long-standing position in avoiding such targets, but it pushes away allies who are not going to participate in operations that violated international law. It denies this country the moral high ground at a time that we must make the case to the world that we have a legitimate cause against Iran.

As I discussed earlier, there are a variety of international protections for such sites, including but not limited to the 1907 Hague Convention, which requires countries to take “all necessary steps” for the protection of “buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected”. There is also a prohibition in Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Convention of “any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples”.

We are parties to those treaties. Indeed, we were the greatest driving force in the protection of such sites and the creation of this international legal principle.

76 thoughts on “Trump Doubles Down In Threatening To Attack Cultural Sites Despite International Criticism”

  1. We do not want a repeat of inconceivable losses, such as when ISIS blew up Palmyra.

    I hope that significant archeological sites are not deliberately targeted, and I also hope that Iran doesn’t try hiding important officials or weapons in cultural sites.

    Yes, innocent human lives are more important than any significant location, but we need to do our best to preserve both.

  2. Awesome! You pulled a random quote from the internet that’s 100% invective and 0% facts, 0% indication of what you’re talking about. Or think you’re talking about.

    From 2017 … you said “the last three years.” It’s 2020. Do try to be tangentially relevant to your own post.

    Yawn. Boring, can’t make a recognizable point or argue way out of open cardboard box, 0/5 stars.

    1. 🙂 Assuming this post was in response to mine, I’m pleased with it. In the future, when you ask for clarity and/or evidence, take a break from trolling long enough to read what’s been provided. If that’s not in your wheelhouse, so be it. Not everyone is emotionally prepared to have that sort of exchange. Thanks for trying.

    1. David Benson is the God Emperor of Making Stuff Up and owes me forty-two citations (one from the OED, one from the town ordinances and two from the Old Testament), an equation and the source of a quotation, after fifty-eight weeks, and needs to cite all his work from now on. – the DoDSec is Not CinC. Just sayin’

    1. Exactly wrong. That is what the line “I suggested at the time that Trump may have been referring to legitimate target with dual cultural significance and strongly suggested a clarification” refers to – a military target that also has cultural significance.

      Those are legit targets under the treaties cited by Prof. Turley. Always have been, always will be.

  3. This may have already been posted, but the situation with Iran took an interesting twist and this might help explain why President Trump is getting so much heat for taking out Sulaimani.

    Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari warned Europeans this week that if they stop trade deals with Iran and do not put pressure on the Trump administration to get back on board, the Iranian regime will leak the names of all Western officials who were bribed to pass the weak deal.

    Ansari’s senior advisor tweeted that not only will Iran reveal which western politicians were involved, but “how much money they had received during nuclear negotiations to make #IranDealhappen.”

  4. Come to think of it when the Democrats A-Bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki…… etc. Get into that word war the left will always lose.Why? They start more wars than anyone else.

    1. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were industrial/port cities. That’s why they were targeted and why Kyoto (former capital, huge cultural significance) wasn’t.

      All you’re saying is that Truman and the WWII US Military could follow these treaties and win the war … when the stakes were a lot higher than anything facing Trump.

  5. I don’t recall ever hearing any complaints when those folks trashed the cultural sites of others. Remember the stone cliff carvings they dynamited?

    1. So you’re saying you remember all the international outcry, but you you don’t remember all the international outcry?

      The whole point is to be better than the Taliban.

  6. I don’t recall ever hearing any complaints when those folks trashed the cultural sites of others.

  7. But, Turley, didn’t you hear The Donald say he can do whatever he wants, according to his interpretation of Article II? That means he can: 1. ignore any and all subpoenas, from Congress, from a federal or state court, wherever; 2. kill military commanders on foreign soil and, for all practical purposes, declare war without consulting Congress, our allies, or anyone else; 3. commit war crimes that not only violate various treaties to which the United States is signatory, but also our cultural values.

    His days of proving how much he can get away with are numbered. How else is a man with tiny hands and other corresponding tiny anatomical parts, but with a mammoth ego, going to prove his strength, power and toughness than by proxy, using the US military he was too cowardly to join when it was his turn? Besides, Vlad probably approves, too, and Vlad matters more than Pelosi or even McConnell. McConnell will go along with literally anything, and he can just call Pelosi names.

    1. His days of proving how much he can get away with are numbered.

      I think you’re in worse trouble because it is obvious to all of us that you are experiencing surreal pain and suffering thus your days are numbered as to how much more you can tolerate. You should hire an attorney to sue whatever pharma company manufactures your anti-psychotic meds because clearly they are not working or you are not taking them

      It is painful to see you write as you do which is why I mostly skim your psychotic rants

    2. His days of proving how much he can get away with are numbered.
      ___________________________________________
      I am afraid they are not.
      Congress and the news media are doing their part to ensure he gets an additional four more years of this .

  8. The United States cannot fight such terrorism with a threat of committing war crimes.

    You’ve all reduced the term ‘war crimes’ to a nonsense phrase. Thanks, lawyers.

  9. Professor Turley, I’d like to remind you that the principle of RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) applies. This is especially true of the law. In particular, you’ve omitted to state a provision of the law that renders your statements about the Hague false and misleading. As a public service, I’ll emphasize the specific provision of the law that you omitted:

    The Hague IV requires, in pertinent part that: “In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, PROVIDED THEY ARE NOT BEING USED AT THE TIME FOR MILITARY PURPOSES.”

    Thus, if the Iran government sets up or funds military/terrorist operations in any purported “cultural” facilities, near historic monuments, and so forth, then there’s no purported “war crime” resulting from strikes on those military/terrorist operations.

    1. I have to agree with Mr. Feldman’s analysis on the exception permitted in Hague IV as it applies here. While I cannot obviously place myself into the mind of the president as to what his intended message or strategy is with regard to his statement, the terrorist and militia organizations that General Soleimani fostered historically make use of Hague prohibited sites for weapons and materiel caching and as bases to launch attack. There does exist the possibility that the president sought to preemptively declare that those sites will be targeted in the hope that the Iranians will see little political and military value in storing weapons there and perhaps chose other locations and in the end sparing these locations from destruction. It is a long-shot given the Iranians propensity to violate its own promises but if they do choose to cache weapons there they will have really less external political cover if they were so warned.

      From what I’ve read of some of the culture of various bad actors in the Middle East, symbolism takes on great importance in deciding actions–probably at a higher relevance than it does in American Culture. I suspect the president might have been appealing to a sense of this symbolism as evidenced in his use of the 52 hostages/targets in his warning. So one has to wonder if there was some underlying meaning in his use of the cultural sites.

      1. the terrorist and militia organizations that General Soleimani fostered historically make use of Hague prohibited sites for weapons and materiel caching and as bases to launch attack.
        _______________________________________________

        Where is your evidence for that?

        It is amazing that so many people who had never heard of Soleimani a week ago are today pretending to be experts on the man.
        For the last 6 years the militias that Soliemani assisted in Iraq have been fighting ISIS/ISIL. I seriously doubt he was employing tactics that were founded on the assumption that ISIS was following the Hague convention.

        1. You can live in denial Jinn, but it is not up to me to do your own research. I fail to see the need to educate you since it is apparent you will simply refuse to believe anything shown to you that is counter to your own beliefs.

          http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/108477
          https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Hezbollah-uses-Germany-to-finance-terrorism-weapons-purchases-report-609554
          https://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/30/hamas-uses-hospitals-mosques-and-homes-to-attack-israel-video/

          I could go on, but it would be pointless.

          1. You can live in denial Jinn, but it is not up to me to do your own research. I fail to see the need to educate you since it is apparent you will simply refuse to believe anything shown to you that is counter to your own beliefs.
            __________________________________________
            Why don’t you try to provide any evidence?
            The articles you posted said nothing at all about Soleimani.

            Were you bluffing? Did you think I would not look at them?
            You have provided no evidence at all for your claim.

            You might want to look at the things that the terrorist the US govt have been bankrolling are doing. Those happen to also be the terrorists that Soleimani was helping Iraq to defeat.

            Do you support funding terrorists with US tax payer money?
            https://gabbard.house.gov/news/StopArmingTerrorists

            1. I am not bluffing. What part of this is not obvious to anyone other than you? All one has to do is simply refer to the organizations that Soleimani supported through his leadership of the Quds Force. But you apparently are unwilling/unable to connect the dots between them. Soleimani headed the Quds Force which supplies materiel, logistical and intelligence services to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthi movement, the PLO, and several others. If you cannot see these facts which are readily available anywhere on the internet then you are either being deliberately contrarian or are profoundly foolish. Either way, it is a waste of time to further argue this point.

              1. All one has to do is simply refer to the organizations that Soleimani supported through his leadership of the Quds Force.
                _____________________________________
                Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon may have had Soleimani support but he is not responsible for everything they do.
                ________________________________________

                But you apparently are unwilling/unable to connect the dots between them.
                _______________________________________
                provide some dots that can be connected.

                The tactics of the terrorists groups your articles describe are also the same tactics used by the terrorists that the US govt is funding.
                Does that mean you would support somebody doing a drone strike on Pompeo?
                That seems like a pretty easy set of dots to connect or are you somehow suddenly no longer able to connect dots?

      2. That was my concern, as well, that they would use cultural sites as a shield. They have a history of using hospitals as cover, too.

        “Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are using hospitals as military command posts, thereby deliberately putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk, according to a new report into Yemen’s long-running civil war.”

        https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8666/yemen-human-shields

    2. The Hague IV requires, in pertinent part that: “In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, PROVIDED THEY ARE NOT BEING USED AT THE TIME FOR MILITARY PURPOSES.”
      ___________________________________________
      Trump said he would target cultural sites
      Had he said he military targets i doubt Prof Turley would have written anything about it.

    3. Reading is Fundamental … and so is comprehension. Try rereading the second sentence:

      “I suggested at the time that Trump may have been referring to legitimate target with dual cultural significance and strongly suggested a clarification.”

      A dual use (cultural & military) site is a legit target. Cultural sites by themselves are not. Prof. Turley suggested Trump should have clarified that. Trump doubled down on “Look at me, I’m a tough guy!” instead.

      Sheesh people, it’s not that hard.

      1. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/05/iranians-flood-twitter-photos-favorite-cultural-sites-trump-threatens-them

        “Fastest way to unify all political factions in Iran against you is to assassinate the general who led Iran’s fight against ISIS,” tweeted Independent correspondent Negar Mortazavi. “Fastest way to unify Iranians of all walks of life against you is to threaten to destroy their cultural heritage. Trump did both this week.”

  10. Iran has a population of 80 million and more than half are under the age of 35. The Muslim religion has two main branches with 90% being Sunni Muslims and 10% being Shia Muslims. Iran’s Muslim population is 90% Shia Muslim. Iran has the largest population (40%) of Shia Muslims in the world. Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Iraq are the other predominantly Shia Muslim countries.

    https://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/

    Thus Iran is an adolescent-young adult population of fanatical Shia Muslims who do not represent the true 90% Muslim religion. There is nothing sacred about the Shia Muslims.Their historical origins confirm this

    The Sunni were the dominant Islamic branch in Iran until the 1500s when Ismāʿīl I converted from Sunni to Shia and became the 1st Shah of Iran. From then Ismāʿīl I mandated the persecution and killing of Sunni Muslims and soon Iran was declared a Shia Muslim country. The killing by Shia Muslims has never stopped since their beginnings. It is in their ethos to kill those who disagree with them much like Democrats today

    https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ismail-I-shah-of-Iran

    To understand Iran today one must understand their history. Few Americans know their own American history never mind Muslim history. For this reason most commentary on Iran is erroneous because they fail to understand the mindset of killing bynShia Muslims

    1. Iran’s median age right now is about 7 years younger than that of the United States and similar to that of the U.S. in 1985. It is slightly higher than Israel’s median age as we speak. Their total fertility rate has tanked in recent decades and is now similar to that of a European country.

      The Shia are the majority in Bahrain and Iraq, but don’t have a large enough majority to dominate the way they do in Iran (the ruling house in Bahrain is Sunni, btw). Religious observance in post-Soviet republics is pretty hit-and-miss.

      1. Iran’s median age right now is about 7 years younger than that of the United Statesand

        And their BMI is half of what Americans “enjoy”. In other words they are stronger and fitter than Americans, and they can beat the tar out of most Americans mano-a-mano. Not encouraging

        Religious observance in post-Soviet republics is pretty hit-and-miss.

        There is religion, and there is religion. It would be an insult to Islam to call Iranian Shia Muslims religious. They are fanatics. As stated they got their footing in Iran by kilingl other Muslims for sport. That is not a religion nor is it in response to “religious observance”

        Either way, I disagree with Professor Turley as to “cultural sites” in Iran. As others have stated, Iranians decimate people, places, anything bigger than a bread box just for kicks. This is war and the war with Iran has been ongoing since Barack “numb nuts” Obama. I did not vote for Trump, never will vote for Tump, and he is a disgrace to America. So are Democrats and this Iranian mess is Hillary & Obama’s fault for bending over while Iran ignored the 2015 whatever its called

        Nuke em. Most real (90%) Muslims will be thankful and the world will sleep better without them

        1. And their BMI is half of what Americans “enjoy”. In other words they are stronger and fitter than Americans, and they can beat the tar out of most Americans mano-a-mano. Not encouraging

          They won’t be fighting your middle-aged diabetic patients. They’ll be fighting the Army and the Marines.

          1. They’ll be fighting the Army and the Marines.

            Well we live in Richmond and thankfully Iran can produce at most 1 Nuke. DC is a far better choice to Nuke than Richmond

            ….

            “More than 17% of military personnel were considered obese across DOD, up from less than 16% four years earlier, said the report, published in the August edition of the military’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report.

            For the Navy, the rate was 22%, compared to 8.3% of Marines. The Army’s rate matched the overall average and the Air Force was slightly higher at about 18%.”

            https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/03/navy-fattest-obesity-rates-across-services.html

  11. “Fight fire with fire.”

    – Anonymous
    ___________

    In the case of an existential threat, fighting fire with fire is not only justified but imperative.

    Cultural sites and law are not material after a nation has been annihilated.

    Iran has sworn to destroy Israel, push Israel into the sea, kill Americans and cause “death to America.”

    After being overrun, artillery is called in “danger close” or directly on the position as a last resort, cultural site or no cultural site.

  12. I think it is very misguided to threaten “cultural sites.” This was a foolish remark on Trump’s part

    That being said, I think the strike at Sulemani was legit and licit act of war, and very impressive result.

    The Iranian regime must be riddled with informants such that they knew when and where this high value target was sneaking about at the time.

  13. Olly, Iran is not using cultural sites as cover. These sites are in their nation. That is like saying that the US uses the Washington monument as cover.

    You acceptance of and support of illegalities by this president shocks the conscience. It tells me you do not support our Constitution and the rule of law. This was exactly the way Obama supporters treated Obama’s illegal and immoral actions-they said, it’s fine, we love you, just keep on doing anything, you’re the bestest!

    This is not worthy of a citizen. I don’t care how much you love Trump, when he is doing something illegal and immoral, as a citizen, you need to speak against it. We need ethical citizens whose principles don not change due to leader worship. You should be contacting the president and telling him to keep his actions according to his oath of office, that you will not accept less than this.

    1. Iran is not using cultural sites as cover. These sites are in their nation.

      Then they should have no concerns, as the President is not going to target cultural sites that have no legally justifiable strategic value.

      That being said, the Iranian government appreciates your wokeness and loyalty.

    2. while i think cultural sites should not be targeted, and trump should not have said this foolish thing, i also think the QUDS battallions are cunning experts in partisan tactics and strategy. and, since time immemorial, partisans have used civilian cover to mask their covert activities. “human shields” is the concept. This is why the Hague convention says what it says

      by inviting attacks that will create large amounts of collateral damage, the partisan advances his cause
      or, if if he is not attacked, he advances his cause
      that’s why they do it the way they do it.
      the larger force faced with conflict, faces a perplexing choice. this is asymmetrical warfare.

      Quds has been around for a while, they are very cunning. see the book “Tactics of the crescent moon”

  14. Although America’s First Amendment and Article VI protects “freedom to practice religion” and “freedom from religion” – which is the polar opposite of Middle Eastern “theocracies” [where the government imposes a national religion onto citizens], many Americans perceive the United States as having a national religion.

    If the United States is a “theocracy” like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. then Americans we would oppose Islamic justice systems (“an-eye-for-an-eye”) and support the Judeo-Christian “turning the other cheek” justice system. Many posts on this blog appear to embrace the unAmerican theocratic view of government but not even a Judeo-Christian theocracy but an Islamic-theocratic view, some are closer to Islamic-theocracies than to James Madison.

    For example: we aren’t suppose to match the tactics of foreign-theocracies instead of following the James Madison (or the Jesus model for theocrats). Americans are held to a higher standard. It violates the American oath of office to torture, assassinate or participate in war crimes. Our presidents aren’t dictators but have limited powers. Ronald Reagan and conservatives used to follow this American constitutional rule of law system. We don’t match the evil of despotic regimes.

  15. The destruction of cultural sites in the United States has been celebrated by the Left over the last 3 years. And somehow, they are outraged that President Trump is warning a state sponsor of terrorism that they will not be able to hide their terrorist apparatus within alleged cultural sites. If these sites are so sacred, they wouldn’t put their destruction at risk by using them as cover.

    1. “The destruction of cultural sites in the United States has been celebrated by the Left over the last 3 years.”

      What, pray tell, are you talking about? Which sites have been destroyed? When was this alleged destruction “celebrated”?

      C’mon, if you’re going to pull stuff right out of your posterior, make it *slightly* believable. Nonsense like this just makes you look like a mindless troll.

      1. For your reading pleasure. 🙂 Now GFY!

        The desecration of sacred and public art reveals what both groups consider their most bitter enemy. For Islamists, it’s all that is not Islam, especially Christians, Jews, and the United States. For the U.S. vigilantes pulling down statues, it’s also the United States: Its history, people, traditions, religious and political connections with Christianity, and animating ideas. In their secularist version of hatred for “the great Satan,” they consider the United States, as the demonstration chant summarizes handily, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay!” This is their Marxist creed,
        https://thefederalist.com/2017/08/22/vandals-destroying-monuments-theyve-taught-hate-america/

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