The forgotten empire
Read the rest of US forces should take a lesson from the Persian kings .
Cyrus and his successors, Xerxes and Darius, created the world's first superpower in 550BC, ruling territories from central Asia and the Indus valley to Arabia and north Africa. But the Persian kings appear to have had better luck in Iraq than President George Bush has had.
When Persian forces overran Babylonia (in modern Iraq - Faramin) in 539BC, the inhabitants surrendered peacefully. According to contemporary accounts, Cyrus was greeted as a liberator because of his just policies - and tough attitude to terrorists.
"When I entered Babylon I did not allow anyone to terrorise the land," a text known as the Cyrus Cylinder quotes him as saying. "I strove for peace in Babylon and all other sacred cities. I put an end to the inhabitants' misfortune."
John Curtis, the curator of the exhibition, Forgotten Empire: the World of Ancient Persia, said: "Cyrus was no despot, more an enlightened autocrat. He was surprisingly tolerant. He made no attempt to establish a state religion. He is said to have freed the Jews from captivity,
allowing them to return to Jerusalem..."
....There are other historical echoes for modern-day empires to ponder. Even the poorest subject had the right to a royal audience, Mr Curtis said. The Persians developed an early form of federalism, governing through client rulers and provincial governors, known as satraps. Darius built a canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea - a forerunner of the Suez canal; introduced the first dollar-like global currency, the darik, and tax and communications systems; and created an empire-wide postal service whose "we always deliver" motto and emblem were supposedly imitated more than 2,000 years later by the US Mail and Pony Express.
Technologically, the Persian military machine was state of the art. Its elite troops were known as the Immortals, equivalent to US special forces. And pre-emptive wars and regime change were all in a day's work for the great kings... .