Physical protection of cultural property closely aligns with traditional definitions of security. Protection of historic structures and religious monuments secures culture by enabling future generations to appreciate and learn about their heritage. Conversely, the destruction of cultural property compromises culture.
Non-state actors have exploited cultural property to strategic and tactical advantage accordingly. In particular, ideological conflict of the post-Cold War has led to targeting of religious monuments in acts of political violence.
The Taliban's destruction of the giant statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley of Afghanistan in 2001 serves as a poignant example of targeting. The image shows the cavern left after the demolition of one of the statues. The figures at the base of the cavern provide perspective for the immense height of the statues. The size of the statues and drawn out threat of destruction increased the strategic value of the act of political violence against 'the other'.
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