Donald Trump’s belligerent threats to Iran’s cultural sites are grotesque

The Guardian | : Donald Trump’s threat to destroy the sites of ancient Persia should send a shiver down the spine of any civilised person. How can anything justify American bombing of Persepolis or the mosques of Isfahan? Only the demented can see them as “threatening America”. It is on the same ethical plane as the Islamic State vandalism of Palmyra and Mosul.

The destruction of cultural artefacts in war is specifically outlawed under the Hague convention of 1954 and subsequent protocols. It ranks with genocide, chemical weapons and the “strategic” bombing of civilians as beyond the pale of human behaviour. The US does not recognise most of these treaties as it concedes extraterritorial sovereignty, but it normally obeys them.

What is clear is that modern weaponry is making a mockery of the legality – let alone the ethics – of war. The drone has turned an onscreen war game into reality. Its invulnerability has raised it beyond the realm of international law. The drone is its own ethicist. Even Barack Obama caught the bug in 2011, justifying a drone assassination in Yemen despite national and international laws and conventions. British governments have behaved likewise. Superpowers don’t obey laws, they make them.

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