October 27, 2021


I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, the son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anšan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anšan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anšan, of an eternal line of kingship, whose rule Bêl and Nabu love, whose kingship they desire for their hearts’ pleasure. When I entered Babylon in a peaceful manner, I took up my lordly abode in the royal palace amidst rejoicing and happiness. Marduk, the great lord, established as his fate for me a magnanimous heart of one who loves Babylon, and I daily attended to his worship.

The Cyrus cylinder (c. 538 B.C),

The Middle East has been in turmoil for millenniums.   Persia became a vast empire that ruled in a mostly fair way for centuries, their expansion stopped in Greece, and their rule terminated when the Arab Caliphates subdued them, forcing Islam as the religion, persecuting the Zoroastrian believers and burning any vestiges of that faith.   Zoroaster, the creator of that ancient monotheistic religion, established many moral concepts similar to the later Judeo-Christian values.   The Persian rule thus was based on a family oriented society that was laborious, and dedicated to improve the community and society, Cyrus being a mostly fair, tolerant leader.   Not so the Arab invaders that followed the Ottoman Empire, that imposed their faith by force to the extent that after a prolonged time of resistance, Persians now relegated to what is now Iran its population converted to Islam, and only able to maintain their language, Farsi, and some aspects of their culture.   Muslims themselves divided after Mohammed died when they disagreed on who would succeed the Prophet.   At that time in the mid 600 years, the Sunnis and Shiites began their feud.   A brief recount of history is necessary to understand the dilemma that the western nations and the United States face in their role and interests in that important region, complicated by the fact of the fairly recent presence of Israel in the area.   In recent times the US has aligned themselves with strong rulers like Egypt’s Mubarak, Iraq’s Hussein, and countries whose allegiance have been doubtful like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.   Throughout this period of “realpolitik”, Israel and its potent military have been an ally, and the only democracy in the region.   This delicate balance started to unravel when after invading Iraq, Bush following the “neoconservative” ideology tried to impose an American style democracy, instead of staying with the experienced army and substituting Saddam Hussein with a “friendlier” head of state.     In the last six years under the presidency of Obama, our policy in the area can only be described as “dangerous incompetence”, or in a worst case scenario a provoked conflict to stop our influence there.   Now we are witnessing a civil war that could easily be dismissed as “not our problem”, if not for the fact that these types of encounters always end involving the world powers, and passivity can be disastrous.   Theories about the reasons for the conflict differ, from an ambition of Iran to establish a new Persian empire, Arabs a new caliphate, or a Sunni- Shiite religious conflict.   Again, Iran leaders are not the same than the ones that ruled when Persia existed, and even if in constant dispute, Sunnis and Shiites have always shared geographical areas throughout the region.   I surmise we are in the middle of a dispute for power, with Iran in the forefront of desiring to expand its hegemony, first in the Middle East and then challenging Israel and the West.   To be perceived, as we are now, in a state of weakness is grave for our future.   We seem to be following the fail concept of Chamberlain when he came from Munich hopeful for peace with Germany’s Hitler in the way we are dealing now with Iran.   We have to return to reality, and ally ourselves with countries like Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other gulf states, affirm our support and alliance with Israel and once and for all terminate Iran’s ambitions, nuclear and territorial.   The alternative will be a Russia and/or China stepping in our vacuum, and an inevitable participation by us in a global conflict, one with a potential of becoming nuclear.

Fernando J. Milanes, MD