Dr. Laurie Rush on "Cultural Property Protection as a Force Multiplier"

Laurie Rush, and Army archaeologist who has directed the In Theater Heritage Training Program for Deploying Personnel has a very interesting piece tin the March-April edition of Military Review, Cultural Property Protection as a Force Multiplier in Stability Operations The piece focuses on the work of the Monuments officers during WWII, but has much to say about the continued importance of heritage protection today. An excerpt:

Few contest the long-term value of cultural property protection during fullspectrum operations. However, one might reasonably question its immediate benefits to Western military personnel facing hostile engagements in today’s complex conflict situations. One immediate response refers to the media battle that is an inevitable part of all modern conflict. Just as the Italians and Germans used propaganda effectively to advance their causes during the African and Italian campaigns, the terrorists and insurgents of today are often on the scene with video cameras. The British monuments program in 1943 began in part as a response to an Italian propaganda effort centering on the ancient Roman city of Cyrenica in Libya. After the ancient site changed hands from the Italians to the British and back to the Italians, the Italian government put together a propaganda campaign with the message that the British had shown no respect for the glory of ancient Rome. The Italians faked damage to the museum, photographed statues under reconstruction and added captions accusing the British of deliberately breaking them, and offered examples of graffiti written in English. The power of these materials was manifest. They helped convince the Italian people that the British had no respect for any element of Italian or Roman history and culture.

The whole piece merits a good read, highly recommended. I wonder if the protection of these sites and objects can be considered an economic, cultural or other ‘multiplier’ as well, extending the arguments and resources we might dedicate to their protection outside of conflict zones as well.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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