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”
Oh, those international conventions! They make me tremble so. Somehow the destruction of a statue is a “war crime”, but when ISIS and other maniacs take over hospitals and schools so attacks against their fighters will also kill children and sick people, oh, that’s not worth mentioning!
We should respond to Iran on their terms. They hit a military target we hit a military target. They hit civilians we hit civilians. It makes no sense to observe international rules when your adversary chooses to ignore those same rules.
Attacking cultural sites is a war crime! I wish the International Criminal Court would investigate. This verbal fighting is all that Trump is capable of. Acting like a “man” but expecting others to fight and die for his arrogance.
Professor Turley, why is it necessary that we “make the case to the world that we have a legitimate cause against Iran”? How do you know “we” have a legitimate cause? Are you basing that on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, its illegal assassination of Suleimani, or on the hazy idea, unsupported by this post, that Iran “engages in terrorism”? If it is any of these, then this is not good enough for any “case”. Now is not the time for anything less than the most ruthless skepticism of any claims coming from the U.S. government about what it is up to anywhere in Middle East, including but not limited to Trump’s infantile blather, assuming you do not want World War III. Someone as intelligent as you are should not be dropping these empty statements as if they were given. I really hope you think about this situation more critically.
This Terrorist was the personification of Evil.
Worse than Hitler.
Worse than Stalin.
Worse than Bin Laden.
Worse than Sadam Hussein.
Thank you Mr President for protecting America.
And who said that? Oh Mr. Trump. Well, then I guess it’s true, not!
In the spirit of TIT for TAT, I guess they will then target one of our sites – Washington or Lincoln Memorial or worse …. This is called escalation..and since its now personal, anything is possible..
I wonder how the Military Code of Conduct would affect a drone operator in executing an order toward this regard.
Once again our President goes over the top and says something that is totally illegal….
Sheldon Adelson told him it was OK.
Cultural sites in Iran have dual purpose:
Radar facilities, SAM systems, weapons storage facilities & suicide bomb factories
I am not sure that as a terrorist state the cultural sites of Iran are sacred.
US is a terrorist state run by neo-Bolsheviks who want to impose Drag Queen Story Times on the children of the world along with drunken feminist sluts and other horrors.
I didn’t know that Trump and Mitchell were drag queens? Who is this feminist slut? Melania?
curri – and you propose?
You’re asking a Paulbot nitwit for a practical course of action?
We all know he will walk this back. It’s not as if he’s on an island making decisions alone. He’s simply exacerbating his contempt for an enemy which shouts, “Death to Americans everyday.” So let’s put it in perspective.
This situation fully portrays Trump. Ignorant of history and laws and totally corrupt and immoral while feeling completely vindicated due to the support of his followers
Cultural sites belong to the world. To destroy such sites is to behave like the Taliban.
So if President Barf receives intel about an imminent attack, knock Iran’s military back a century and let them join the terrorist general; but, separately, leave those sites alone.
We are not the Taliban. And we certainly wouldn’t invite them to Camp David days before 9/11.
I appreciate your opinion. I feel certain that our President will follow all of the laws and will be advised by his cabinet.
Never mind the cultural sites, WHAT ABOUT THE LIVING, BREATHING PEOPLE who will be killed when Trump starts this war (while we aren’t even finished with the last several). Endless war, designed to make the rich richer and to kill off poor people.
Trump doesn’t care.
Well stop helping him
Den Hague. Spull it like it should be. No more Cologne for Koln.
Bomb, bomb Iran. We need Gilda Radnor on CNN. Regarding Iraq and Iran: we are stuck between Iraq and a hard place. Pull out now like your father should have. Let no humans from Iran or Iraq come into the US.
Who ever abided by the Hague Convention? Ask the people of Dresden.
The point is that Trump treats the world the way it is and not the way we pretend that it is.
Don’t be mealy mouthed.
I assume you will be one of the first with Trump, his kids, cabinet and the Republican members of Congress to be on the front lines,
As to the Geneva Convention, we used to.
Now our view is if our enemies do it we do it even more unless of course they pay cash for Trumps condos and stay at his hotels. The Saudis are not our friends but Trump loves them and rents our soldiers to them.
It is not “mealy mouthed” to do the right thing. It used to be what we as Americans strived for.
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