Dr. James Cuno has given an interesting interview to Scott Simon which is not only about recent massive destructions of large monuments and built cultural structures in the Middle East but seizes this deplorable situation to present one of his pet arguments: the need to distribute cultural artefacts around the world and not to keep them all at the places where they were produced. Cuno himself admits that a distribution of artefacts at several places would not have prevented any of the recent destructions of large cultural monuments and sites. So why do we have this interview? We can only assume that the intention was to give Dr. Cuno another opportunity to present his theory of distributing artefacts around the world as a means of their protection from destruction. As we have often stated, this idea of not accumulating many artefacts in one place would apply more directly to Western museums that have deliberately assembled artefacts of others over the past centuries.
Cuno’s idea is once again not more elaborated here than in his previous article in the American journal, Foreign Affairs. The learned scholar is, to be sure, not thinking of museums like the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum as candidates for spreading artefacts around the world. He is not contemplating the distribution of Western masterworks around the world, presumably they need no protection. He is thinking only about artefacts in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He leaves it understood by his western readers that these objects from those areas would come to Western museums. Who contribute to the troubles in those areas is, of course, not an issue for the learned scholar. Under what conditions those distributed objects would eventually be returned is, of course, not his concern. Indeed, Dr. Cuno suggests the repeal of an American law passed after the Iraqi invasion that required returning recently looted Iraqi artefacts found in the United States of America. Cuno states that, unlike the British Museum, a museum in America could not keep an artefact it knows to have been illegally exported from Iraq.