Democracy may well be the best form of government. But what makes America great is not so much democracy, as it is its Bill Of Rights. And this is exactly what made Persia Great. Democracy can often lead to tyranny by the majority as was the case in democratic Athens, where women, slaves and foreigners did not have the right to vote.
In monarchic Persia, however, women enjoyed a level of gender equality unmatched even to this day, and slavery was not practiced. The fact is, Persia's monarchy was more free than Athens' democracy, all because of Persia's Bill Of Rights.
No one exemplifies Persia's freedom better than Herodotus himself. He describes Athens as the bastion of freedom, yet he chose to live in Persia. Xenophon, on the other hand, who actually lived in Athens, reminisces enviously about the monarchy of Cyrus The Great.
Herodotus claims Persia had enslaved most of the known world, yet we know Herodotus was not a slave. He traveled freely throughout the empire, openly criticizing it.
Why did Herodotus not live in Greece? Because Persia - the empire he is so quick to demonize - afforded him the very freedom to publish his scathing report of it. People want to live where their god-given rights are protected, regardless of whether its democratic or monarchic.
These god-given rights were first drafted into law by the founder of the Persian empire, Cyrus The Great. In fact, ancient Persia may well have served as the blue print for America's Bill Of Rights. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the architects of America's Constitution, were great admirers and owned several copies of Xenophon's Cyropaedia.
Today, no other country resembles ancient Persia as closely as does the United States. If any country should sympathize with, rather than celebrate, Persia's quagmire in Greece, it is the United States. Few events in history mirror America's war on terror as closely as Persia's war on Greece.
The Greeks had been carrying out terrorist attacks on Persian holdings for years. They had attacked Persian cities, set fire to Persian temples, disrupted key trade routes, and pirated merchant ships crossing the Bosphorus. They incited rebellions inside Persian provinces, but perhaps most abhorrent to the Persians was the ease by which the Greeks broke their treaties and betrayed Persia's trust.
Rather than resort to violence, however, Persia tried to keep the Greeks in check by financially supporting Greek politicians who were 'pro-Persian,' much the same way America fights its proxy wars. But what finally triggered Persia's wrath was an act rarely mentioned in the West, though well documented, even by Herodotus (7:11).
In 498 BCE, Athens carried out a terrorist attack on Sardis, a major Persian city, which made 9/11 seem like child's play. Aristagoras, an Athenian, set fire to the 'outlying parts' of Sardis trapping most of its population 'in a ring of fire.' (Herodotus 5:101)
More innocent civilians died at the hands of Aristagoras than Osama bin Laden could ever hope to kill. And just as most of the world supported America's retaliation against Al Qaeda, so did it rally in support of Persia's attack on Athens.
The Spartans were not even targets of Persia's attack, until they violated a universal protocol by killing a Persian messenger who Herodotus claims was asking for Sparta's submission but in reality was probably sent by Persia's king, Xerxes to convey the same message America sent to the entire world after 9/11: 'you're either with us, or against us.'
The Spartans were Greek Jihadists who lived only to die. They were by all accounts ruthless savages who murdered Greek slaves known as 'Helots' just for sport, cultivated a culture of thievery and rape, and practiced infanticide, as the movie '300' rightly points out in its opening scenes. Sparta was not even democratic. It was an oligarchy at best. Despite knowing all this