Friday, March 10, 2006

This week in status quo:

Hoping to do a regular feature here, where every Friday I list down what happened over the week that changed the status quo somewhere in the world. I'm not planning to scour the entire world wide web for every news article that reports on some change or other, rather I just plan to post those changes that might be helpful to you (either as analysis or as an example) in debate.

So for this week:

In other, related news, some other articles that might be useful:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Destruction of Architecture as a War Crime

The wanton destruction of culturally important buildings is now a war crime.

As is explained in this article, one of the crimes charged against Slobodan Milosevic is the "The intentional and wanton destruction of religious and cultural buildings of the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat communities.”

Which begs a very interesting question, particularly for debates - should the destruction of culturally significant architecture be considered a war crime? Something similar to this has been debated before in previous tournaments, should the destruction of heritage sites be considered a Crime Against Humanity. It was a debate that used the destruction of the giant buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban (a long long time ago before 9/11 happened) judiciously as an example. Take note of the differences, however, between a Crime Against Humanity, and a War Crime. Also take note of the difference between cultural heritage sites, and architecture. The differences might not be much, but the nuances have been known to make a difference in a debate. For example, the destruction of the Buddha Statues have a different cultural effect to that of, say, the attack on the World Trade Center.

One of the most important ideas presented by the article is how, if 'architectural creation' is a weapon of authority, the converse is also true - architectural destruction is as effective.

Architectural destruction is like a drug. It’s addictive. It’s instant proof of change, of authority. That’s why it is so popular. And that’s why it can become so rabid.

One last thing to take note of is the way that the article packaged architectural destruction that would probably be effective in debate - architectural destruction as cultural genocide.