"The strategy of the opponents of collecting is "divide and conquer." First Germany, tomorrow the world - one nation at a time."
Oh, I do wish he would spare us the melodramatic histrionics. Temecula is almost 100 miles away from Hollywood.
Curiously enough, although the fight against looting is already a worldwide concern, laws are normally passed by individual nations - one nation at a time. That's typically how law works. We don't yet live in a single World Empire (the UN is merely advisory); there's nothing to "divide".
After giving valid reasons why dealers prefer not to divulge their sources, he then went on to rant that the "anticollecting ideologues [...] aren't interested in arriving at a reasonable compromise" and bitterly cried that "Barford and his ilk" will have triumphed if the law is passed.
Ah! I'm hoping that Welsh appreciated the usual meaning of the word 'compromise' - an agreement reached by both sides making concessions. It's a two-way street. Surely he wasn't suggesting that all the concessions should come solely from those concerned about looting and smuggling while the antiquities trade should do absolutely nothing to meet them halfway.
Let's assume he was being sensible. Well, I hate to say I told you so but ...
I proposed a "reasonable compromise" years ago - long before the present looting crisis in the Middle East - and I predicted what would happen if dealers ignored it. As it happens, Paul Barford was quite amenable to the proposal. It was Welsh and his "ilk" who were not "interested". He opposed it. He opposes pretty much everything except the status quo.
The current German law of 2007 concerns objects imported into Germany from another EU nation after 31 December 1992 or imported into Germany from any other UNESCO Convention signatory after 26 April 2007. Those dates are the current thresholds. The proposed amendment is rumoured to demand a provenance of twenty years (it is unclear which category this refers to; the EU category already extends back 23 years). At any rate, the legal thresholds are considerably more recent than 1970. Welsh's excuse for ignoring my scheme was purportedly based on his assumption that any laws would inevitably insist on the same threshold as the ideal mooted by the "archaeological community" and that is clearly not the case. So much for that irrelevant condition.
I patiently tried to explain years ago that laws are passed by politicians, not archaeologists. And the only people that politicians really care about are the electorate. Show the public that all dealers care about looting enough to have taken a "reasonable compromise" to combat it and I dare say the politicians representing the public might feel less urgency to tighten existing laws and be more open to accommodation on matters such as publicly divulging sources and graduating thresholds. But no, it seems that this dealer would rather pretend that proposals such as mine are impossible in the hope that he can just carry on with the status quo forever and not have to do anything.
And now, when events in Germany suggest my prediction may have been only too accurate, he complains that it's all the fault of "anticollecting ideologues" and everyone else. Sigh ...
Compromise means compromise; it involves mutual concessions. I wonder if Welsh has questioned why I, as a former collector myself and someone ardently in favour of collecting, so often ridicule the ACCG. I wonder if he realises that my criticism of them is based on my perception that, in a world where public image is so vital, the blinkered, arrogant, hideously uninformed, rabidly anti-academic and recklessly intransigent attitudes of that lobby group pose as great, if not greater, a threat to the future of collecting than most of the "anticollecting ideologues" put together.
Maybe if the ACCG and other groups like them actually got off their backsides, showed that they themselves genuinely cared about the looting crisis by proactively taking concrete steps to combat it instead of merely whining when someone else does, things would be different. And the public - represented by the politicians who actually pass laws - might take them more sympathetically and less cynically.
My proposal may not have made a huge practical difference, beyond improving image, to the antiquities trade in Germany itself (the legal thresholds already predate it) but the advantage of it as a universal database and deterrent to looting is undeniable. And, if the "tomorrow the world" prediction is correct and artefacts currently unrecorded apart from on precarious bits of paper are to stand a realistic chance of being traded almost anywhere in future, the adoption of such a secure and permanent scheme is patently urgent.
Regarding the IAR: I have no huge personal incentive to develop it into reality. I no longer collect antiquities myself. If people want me to develop it, they will have to back it enthusiastically and consider eventually forming a way to support it financially. I have already explained its potential. But I am not prepared to go it alone.