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.
In the 18th century, the Persian king, Nader Afshar, proclaimed the title of Shah, and took possession of the Peacock Throne from his exploits in the Mughals. His victory in northern India was so complete that the treasuries allowed for the suspension of taxes in Iran. (In the process, he alerted the British Empire on how vulnerable the Mughal leaders were.) During his campaign of destruction, he used direct cannon fire in an attempt to bring down the Buddha statutes.
We talk these days about allowing people in foreign lands to destroy each other while we look the other way. The problem is that in the history of mankind these were not isolated threats. In one single day, Nader Shah's forces killed 30,000 people. The attack on the Buddhas of Bamiyan was not by locals, but by would-be world conquers. Even after using anti-aircraft and tank fire, this failed to bring down the statues. The Taliban brought in sophisticated engineers to place explosive charges in strategic spots; finally bringing them down.
A few months later, terrorists would bring down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
The world was only large for a brief period of time as man travelled first by foot, then by horseback, and later, ships and wagons to connect to all four corners of the world. Today its smaller than ever, and the idea people who were slaughtered over there isn't a big deal, or our business, is why we couldn't see those Buddha statues fall, and conceive that this could be the fate of our monumental buildings in lower Manhattan; six months later.
No, we are not going back into Iraq with ground forces, but we should bring power and might to destroy ISIS because unchecked, they will show up on our doorstep- and sooner than anyone thinks.
Moreover, it is going to take more bombs, and even then, those savages are determined to wreck havoc on the world.