President Trump’s threat that he would destroy the cultural sites of Iran is barbaric and un-American to the extreme. The fact that he would seriously consider such an action illustrates his extreme short-sightedness and lack of sensitivity.

Destroying the worship places, museums, libraries, public buildings and historic locations of Iran would be cruel, thoughtless and highly counter-productive. It would generate a great storm of hatred toward the United States throughout the entire region and disrespect for us around the world.

We like to think of America as being an exceptional country, a beacon of freedom and a leader of the democracies. Of course, history reveals that we have not always lived up to this standard, but at least we hold it up as an ideal to strive toward. We want to be seen as the “Good Guys.” But in the real world, actions speak louder than words.

In a movie such as “The Monument Men,” we see how a special U.S. Army unit went to extraordinary lengths to save valuable cultural artifacts in Europe during World War II. A number of international treaties call for warring parties to respect historic and religious sites in enemy countries. Most of Europe’s magnificent cathedrals survived the war because planes on both sides intentionally avoided bombing them. 

For those of us who are Christians, the very heart of our religion is its call for respect for others—and especially for respect for those with whom we disagree. With his name-calling and personal insults, Mr. Trump violates this precept almost daily.

It is only fanatical, lawless groups such as the Taliban and Islamic State that on purpose destroy the places of worship and archaeological sites of their enemies. No civilized, modern state does this sort of thing. 

Such a course of action will do America far more harm than good, and the very fact that our president would seriously propose it demonstrates once again his unfitness for office.