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The Limits of Protecting Cultural Properties of the US in Armed Conflict through the Iraq War and Imperialism

Kim, Kyungmin 1

1해군사관학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The efforts of the international communities to protect the cultural properties in armed conflict have mainly developed in the experience of war. Finally, after the First and Second World Wars of the first half of the 20th century, a comprehensive international law was enacted that take together the discussions since the end of the war. This is the first comprehensive international treaty for the protection of cultural property in conflict, which was ‘Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention 1954’ initiated by UNESCO. Despite these efforts, however, destruction and looting of cultural property still have taken place in disputed areas around the world. In particular, the outbreak of the Iraq war, which started with the invasion of Iraq by the US on March 20, 2003, became a crucial reminder of the awareness of the preservation of the cultural heritage. With the looting of the Iraqi museum as well as cultural properties throughout Baghdad, the entire world was saddened by the loss of cultural heritage in Mesopotamia, one of the birthplace of civilization. Then, it was internationally criticised that the occupation forces, the US military, stood by and watched the situation. This essay examines the significance and limitations of the 1954 Hague Convention, and explores the legal and ethical background of how the US military responded during the Iraq war. First of all, I will look at the paragraphs related to the protection of cultural heritage in the Army Field Manual(FM 27-10), the most representative guide of the US military, and point out the limitations. And I will examine the role and limitations of the military-archeology complex organized with archaeologists in order to protect the cultural properties during the Iraq war, and criticize the false perception of the US military of cultural properties revealed in its limits. Conclusively, pointing out that the attitude toward the preservation of the cultural heritage of the 21st century US Army is similar to that of the 19th century imperialism, it argues that, like the empires of the past, the US has also treated cultural properties as a superpower.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.