Good afternoon, everybody. As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end -- for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.
So today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.
October 21, 2011
I can still remember reading articles about the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan and thinking what a horrible crime, not against religion, but against mankind and history. The world was shocked; it was not front-page news or widely known-even today.
Those ancient Buddha statues at the time were the largest in the world. The taller of the two statues (before and after photo; 165 feet) would serve as a prelude to another target that represented mankind's advancement by reaching into the sky - the World Trade Center Towers.
The Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed in March 2001, despite pleading from the world community, including UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.
The tale of the statues is a reminder that evil never dies- it is just reincarnated in new forms, people, and organizations. Bamiyan Valley was the halfway point on Silk Road between Rome and the Han Chinese commerce centers that grew in trade and wealth. The nomadic settlers embraced Buddhism, which remained the religion for hundreds of years. Throughout that period, and long after, many made the pilgrimage to marvel at the statues craved out of a sandstone mountain.
Because of their majesty, and the fact they were symbols for a specific religion; Buddhas faced the wrath of world conquerors for ages.
In 1221, Genghis Khan, (Leader of the Mongol Empire), sent his grandson to negotiate with Shansabani Kings who ruled the region. They responded by slaying him, which sparked rage. The Mongol leader slaughtered every single living thing in the valley and considered destroying the statues as well.
Later, the Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb (1658-1707), whose empire stretched through the entire subcontinent and 150 million subjects, also attempted to destroy the statues by heavy artillery.