"Rather than protect cultural heritage, UNESCO's corruption has made it a catalyst for destruction. In Afghanistan, the world should hold the Taliban responsible", Rubin writes in the Washington Examiner.
"In Afghanistan, the Taliban seek systematically to erase Afghanistan's cultural heritage. They may do so at the behest of Pakistani officials who fear Pashtun nationalism and wish to erase the legacy of various Afghan dynasties as well as the depth of its history. By eliminating Afghan heritage, Pakistan can also justify its own future land grabs and mitigate its own lack of self-confidence as a nation", Rubin added.
The Taliban are not alone in seeking to erase history and any remnants of past plurality. Rubin said Palestinians at the Temple Mount have deliberately ruined archaeological sites and dumped ancient artifacts in trash dumps.
"Beginning in 1949, Communist China systematically destroyed more than 6,000 monasteries and much of Tibet's cultural heritage. They are now implementing the same plan to erase Uyghur heritage", he added.
China, too, seeks to rewrite history and erase the diversity of the lands they once conquered in pursuit of a Han Chinese narrative that is essentially supremacist, he said.
The Taliban took a bulldozer to a centuries-old fort whose defenders once wounded the 14th-century warrior Timur, earning him the nickname Timur the Lame or, in its Anglicized form, Tamerlane, he said.
While Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad repeatedly assured that the Taliban had changed, the Taliban appears to be the same group that, in 2001, destroyed the famous 6th-century Bamiyan Buddhas that, until the Taliban dynamited them, were a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization today symbolizes the problem more than the solution, Rubin said.
In 2005, Azerbaijan destroyed the Julfa Graveyard and its unique collection of centuries-old khachkars, despite UNESCO's calls to cease its destruction. Rather than punish Azerbaijan, UNESCO rewarded Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev by appointing his wife Mehriban Aliyeva to be a goodwill ambassador. After such venality, it should surprise no one that Aliyev now erases Armenian heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh, control over which Armenians and Azeris still dispute, Rubin added.