(RNS) — When President Donald Trump tweeted about the possibility of retaliatory strikes on “52 Iranian sites,” including some that are important to “the Iranian culture,” the world reacted with alarm.
Strikes on cultural sites are considered illegal — some would even say a war crime. The U.S. is a signatory to several international agreements, including the 1954 Hague Convention, which calls on warring parties “to protect cultural property.”
Trump’s own defense secretary, Mark Esper, followed up Monday (Jan. 6) by saying the United States would not target Iranian cultural sites, should Tehran retaliate for America’s targeted killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.
But scholars say it’s important to distinguish today’s Iranian leadership from the rich legacy of Persian culture, which predates the