15 MARCH 2015


UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova got it right. She strongly condemned the destruction of the archaeological site of Nimrud in Iraq, and the other systematic attacks on humanity's ancient heritage.

"We cannot remain silent. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime," she said, calling on all political and religious leaders in the region to stand up and remind everyone that "there is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity's cultural heritage."

Ms. Bokova added that she had alerted the President of the Security Council, as well as the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. "The entire international community must join its efforts, in solidarity with the government and the people of Iraq, to put an end to this catastrophe."

The city of Nimrud was founded more than 3,300 years ago. It was one of the capitals of the Assyrian emprise. Its frescos and works are celebrated around the world and revered in literature and sacred texts.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al-Hussein, came out strongly denouncing that blatant violation of human rights was a violation of the holy tenants of Islam's real message of compassion and mercy.

Secretary Ban Ki-moon issued a statement that "the deliberate destruction of our common cultural heritage constitutes a war crime."

The Security Council seemed otherwise pre-occupied despite paying politically correct attention. There were more maneuvers than resolutions -- mainstream media covered the story among others. One or two evenings of TV coverage and then off to other sensations. Good intentions were expressed everywhere but no real action was taken.

No leadership role was effectively displayed in response to a savage crime against human heritage -- against the value of life. Wouldn't the destruction of human heritage constitute a threat to international peace and security? It does.

The utter silence of several countries within the region directly involved is puzzling. For example, the U.N. representative of Kuwait, some of whose citizens had openly financed the "Islamic State" and joined openly in the cultural attacks, did not utter a simple protest.

The most glaring absence was of the so-called "U.N. High Representative" for Dialogue Among Cultures, a former representative of Qatar when certain Qatari were subsidizing mercenaries to invade Arab countries under false pretenses, from Libya to Syria to Iraq. Nassir Abdulaziz El-Nasser, that politically (and financially?) expedient appointment to "High Representative," is not known for his oratorical qualities, generally sticking to what is drafted for him. He would also prefer to take diplomatic groups to Iceland rather than make at least one visit to the Arab region where millions of refugees have been dispersed. Obviously, the balmy Indonesia resort of Bali, where he chaired the last meeting held in December, is by far more relaxing than the troubled city of Aleppo.

It is not just an ineffectiveness of a clearly ineffective office. Nor a lackluster response by a clearly confused, overwhelmed and stalemated Council. Nor of a vastly overstretched international focal point shifting from Climate Change to Ebola to rhetorical conferences on Terrorism to vetting senior appointments to hoping all is well on all fronts. Recent glaring assaults on human life did not only expose the corrupt regions in the Middle East region, but it also clearly exposed the confused ineffectiveness of an international leadership where "the centre cannot hold anymore:"

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."