Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Forging a Public/Private Response to Save Endangered Patrimony of Iraq and Syria

CPO appreciates being invited to this event.  A few observations.

It was nice to see a recognition that it is important to work with collectors and dealers on these issues. CPO supports efforts to encourage more due diligence, but the level of it must depend on the value  of the object and what information about it is likely available.  The presumption should never be that an artifact is "illicit" merely because of where it was made thousands of years ago.

After hearing Michael Danti speak twice now, CPO has come to the conclusion that Danti is reporting the facts as accurately as he can, but then they are "spun" by others to achieve another purpose.  For example, Danti said point blank that all sides are involved in looting and that Apamea has always been in Assad's hands.  The problem is what Danti says is selectively reported so it makes it sound like ISIS is the only problem in the region.  So, over and over again we have that same picture of all those holes at Apamea which are then by implication attributed to ISIS rather than the Assad regime.

CPO is now even more dubious that looted antiquities are a major ISIS funding source.  Assistant Secretary Keller of the State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs said that ISIS has probably netted several million dollars from antiquities sales, but he also put all ISIS income at over $1 billion.

This again begs the question whether the value of "conflict antiquities" from Syria really justifies major changes in the law both here and in Germany or whether it's all being purposefully overblown in the effort to justify the creation of intrusive new government bureaucracies in both countries.

1 comment:

Ed Snible said...

I wasn't able to get the Live Stream working. I was able to access a six minute video by Deputy Secretary Blinken and a two minute panel introduction.

Is the audio or video available elsewhere?