He has returned to his idea of vandalism, blasphemy, and outrage as strategy. Contradicting his own secretary of state, Trump promised that the United States would respond to further Iranian provocation by deliberately bombing cultural sites in Iran. “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites,” he said. “It doesn’t work that way.”

This disgusting threat is in many ways worse than his promises of “fire and fury” in North Korea. The punishment would fall not on the government, or on the military that tortures and maims, but on the whole Iranian people — and really all of humanity that has an interest in the preservation of great treasures of antiquity, of which there are many in Iran. These are jewels of ancient civilization that ought to outlast Iran’s current government, and that deserve a better custodian than the mullahs. That aside, the threat carries zero strategic value for us while offering infinite propaganda value for the Iranian regime.