Last week, President Donald Trump okayed an airstrike which killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
The killing of one of Iran's most powerful figures led Americans to question if the hasty development would trigger yet another American war in the Middle East.
Iran promised it would take revenge.
Trump only made things worse in a Twitter thread when he threatened to destroy Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated.
....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very… https://t.co/p1wqtpTcpt— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1578178325.0
The action could be considered a war crime under U.N. Resolution 2347, which states:
"'[T]he unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, including the destruction of religious sites and artefacts, and the looting and smuggling of cultural property from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives, and other sites, notably by terrorist groups."
That's likely why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is stretching himself thin to deny that Trump ever threatened to destroy Iran's cultural sites.
Pompeo claims President Trump didn’t say he would target cultural sites https://t.co/lvHCTt4vg3— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn Torabi)1578240714.0
Pompeo flatly denied that Trump said he'd target cultural sites:
"As for these critiques, President Trump didn't say he'd go after a cultural site. Read what he said very closely. We've made clear that the cost, if they use proxy-forces in the region, will not just be borne just by those proxies. They'll be borne by Iran and its leadership itself."
Trump later said explicitly that the United States should be allowed to bomb cultural sites in Iran:
"They're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we're not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn't work that way."
CNN fact checker Daniel Dale pointed out that the denial was just part of a totally normal cycle for the Trump administration.
The eternal three-step: 1) Trump says inflammatory thing 2) Trump officials say he didn’t say what people are sayi… https://t.co/NGNqpx7mph— Daniel Dale (@Daniel Dale)1578279104.0
Some weren't falling for Pompeo's lie.
This didn't age well. https://t.co/2R8AQjuVTr— Judd Legum (@Judd Legum)1578273450.0
"The Emperor has the most beautiful new robe. PERIOD!" https://t.co/2BEkYJQVEB— KevinlyFather 🇺🇲🇨🇦🇲🇼🇸🇿 (@KevinlyFather 🇺🇲🇨🇦🇲🇼🇸🇿)1578241569.0
Like I predicted, this is exactly what they'd do, their sole purpose is to make us not believe what we see & what w… https://t.co/1xqzd7kvmr— lisa bz ✡🕉☯🆘️ (@lisa bz ✡🕉☯🆘️)1578278447.0
This answer by Pompeo on Fox News is interesting because he's lying wayyyyyy more blatantly than he did on the majo… https://t.co/MarncBWBQX— Lis Power (@Lis Power)1578250399.0
Others called out Trump for considering the action.
This is a war crime. Threatening to target and kill innocent families, women and children - which is what you’re d… https://t.co/QEwG0msq3B— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1578192809.0
Certain war crimes under international law—in particular, attacking cultural sites with resulting death—would const… https://t.co/a0UcEiZ2St— George Conway (@George Conway)1578234082.0
Targeting cultural sites is a war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention. Doing so to protect a president’s ego and… https://t.co/jwKZ24KIV6— Laurence Tribe (@Laurence Tribe)1578246123.0
TO MY TARGETEERS: Attacking cultural sites is a war crime. The Uniform Code of Military Justice obligés service mem… https://t.co/AWH0ZVUlvp— Malcolm Nance (@Malcolm Nance)1578306026.0
The discord is just the latest development in the relationship between the U.S. and Iran—a relationship that's been souring under the current administration.