There’s an excellent commentary article by Philip Kennicott in the 1/6/2020 edition of the Washington Post that examines the unrest following statements from President Trump about his intent to order the US Armed Forces to attack cultural sites inside Iran should tensions continue to escalate.
While there are no shortage of commentary decrying the position, Kennicott does an excellent job providing broader historic context and trends inside the US military and abroad.
The odd thing is that the United States has been moving toward a more holistic understanding of the need to preserve and protect culture. In 2018, as part of the military budget, Congress created the position of coordinator for cultural heritage protection. A statement Sunday decrying Trump’s words, signed by cultural heritage experts in anthropology, archaeology and the museum world, details recent progress during the Trump administration, including the Smithsonian Institution’s plans to assist the Army in training a new corps of “monuments men,” experts who can help the military avoid cultural destruction.
The topic of cultural diplomacy is one we’ve examined for nearly two decades. Traditionally, we focus on its ability to transcend other socioeconomic benchmarks that tend to generate tension and help realize that what brings us together outweighs what keeps us apart.
Cultural diplomacy is at the very heart of the US Armed Forces military music programs. We took a deeper dive into that mission during recent efforts to gut military music programs.
Kennicott’s piece does a good job at reminding readers just how far society has come with integrating the value of culture into institutions like the US Armed Forces. Hopefully, it’s a reminder we won’t need more than once.