- By Max StrasserMax Strasser is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Prior to joining FP, he lived and worked in Cairo from 2009 to 2012 and was the news editor at Egypt Independent, an English-language newspaper. He has been a freelance writer, covering everything from the fishing business in Turkey to international arms fairs in London to Islamist militancy on the Egypt-Gaza border. His writing has appeared online or in print in The Nation, The New Statesman, The London Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Newsweek, and elsewhere. Max is a proud New Jersey native and has a BA in History from Oberlin College and an MSc in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.
President Obama definitely has a lot on his mind after the drubbing congressional Democrats received yesterday. It seems unlikely that he’ll get himself involved in an international argument over antiquities, but that hasn’t stopped the Peruvian government from trying.
President Alan García formally asked US President Barack Obama his support behind Peru’s demands for Yale University to return thousands of artifacts removed from the Inca site of Machu Picchu a century ago for study at the US university.
In a letter, delivered to the US Ambassador to Peru Rose M. Likins, President Garcia said that Obama’s support was "fair and necessary" for Yale University to return the pieces removed from Machu Picchu.
According to the letter, Obama’s support is necessary as the US government led by William Howarf Taft in those years, was the one that authorized Hiram Bingham’s work in Peru.
Without a doubt it’s unfortunate and unfair American and European scientists and scholars pilfered artifacts from around the world to bolster collections at museums from Berlin to New Haven. But it’s difficult to imagine that Obama, with his myriad domestic and international concerns, will do much to return pottery, jewelry and bones to Machu Pichu.