All your cultural treasures are belong to us!
March 1, 2001 10:39 AM   Subscribe

All your cultural treasures are belong to us! At least in China it was the accidental kind of stupidity...
posted by rushmc (6 comments total)
The Taliban needs a big ass whopping. I think we have a few missles left over from the last time we bombed Afghanistan...
posted by Brilliantcrank at 11:14 AM on March 1, 2001

Just goes to show what happens when fundamentalists of any organized religion get political power.


So how's that religious office in the White House thing working out?
posted by darren at 12:00 PM on March 1, 2001

So let's see ... The Taliban have been operating for several years now with a level of human oppression that would disturb the average North Korean apparatchik, and the rest of the world just mumbles "well, that's not very nice." But when they start breaking up pieces of pottery, they're met with a resounding international outcry.

"UNESCO considers this to be a crisis," Christian Manhart, head of UNESCO's Asian division in the cultural heritage department, told Reuters.

And people wonder why the UN is considered a joke.
posted by aaron at 1:01 PM on March 1, 2001

Has not the world been doing more than mumbling? Just because it doesn't make the CBS Evening News doesn't mean there aren't UN economic actions being undertaken. Or am I wrong here? I'll admit I'm only dimly aware of all the crap going on in this big mean world. But the fact that only three governments even recognize them (all of whom have condemned this action) has got to count for something.

Isolationism is the only way the Taliban's been able to hold power, and since there's been so few CNN correspondents crawling around in the hills, not much gets reported on a day-to-day basis. But what do you expect the UN to do? They're not all-powerful. Far from it.

Sure, things have been bad there forever now. But this is a crisis. They're destroying irreplaceable and historically vital artifacts from past ages. And if this dumb move belatedly brings to light that the civil war of a decade ago has brought Afghanistan to this point, then maybe something good will come of all this.

At the price of who-knows-how-many lives and a huge cache of irreplaceable art.
posted by chicobangs at 2:09 PM on March 1, 2001

Well, let's see, the Afghan government is only recognized by, like, three countries. That's pretty significant as things go. And UNESCO isn't "the UN", it's a UN agency unto itself and has responsibility for this sort of thing. I think in general what has been done is about all that could be done. Nobody's going to send peacekeeping troops into Russia's Vietnam, after all.

The Taliban swore they'd do this back in '97, when they were trying to capture the valley, but UNESCO appeals then were successful.

The only bright spot here is that there are some signs of division between the Taliban rulers and the military. Ironically, it may be the military who are enforcing a more radical Muslim diktat.
posted by dhartung at 3:38 PM on March 1, 2001

Religious (and political) desecration is, alas, as old as religion itself. The first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, the second by the Romans; the Iconoclasts smashed up the glories of the Byzantine empire; the pioneers against the Native Americans; and so on with depressing regularity right up to the present day.

To act now would set a precedent, whether we like it or not. Should there be external action against the Taliban, then pressure mounts to decide the fate of the contentious sites in India, or even Israel. And if we can't trust WIPO to decide the fate of domain names, there's not going to be an "independent" way to address this.

And the Taliban is a nasty pariah government in many ways, but their pre-eminence is simply the final irony after 20 years of superpower-sponsored war in Afghanistan. They were the unbacked horse, and for the moment, they're in charge.
posted by holgate at 3:53 PM on March 1, 2001

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