First of all, it is important to discuss the Assyrian culture and understand the philosophies that guided their actions as a great empire. It was purposely against the law for anyone to recount any war or battle that was not deemed a victory. The Assyrians believed that they were impervious to all enemies. In fact, they defined their enemies as barbarians and ruthless hordes of monsters that must be eliminated to help spread the light of God unto the rest of the world (Galter par. 2). Although many accounts believe that Assyrian warfare was the dominant concern in political life, this was not necessarily the case. When looking into the economic and administrative texts, it becomes clear that the same, if not more, effort was put into the maintenance of internal stability and economic growth as into creating havoc and fear abroad (Galter par. 4). It was through these desires for stability and economic growth that researchers were able to inquire the specific philosophies and principles that described the Assyrian way of life.
Assyrians based their beliefs of expansion and warfare on the major principle that it was based on the “Command of God.” War represented a direct consequence of the wickedness of the enemy, and it was maintained as a punitive and legal act whereby the conflict becomes an ordeal in which divine justice manifests itself (Galter par. 6). It was the divine right and power of the Assyrians to expand Assyrian territory and to extend the boundaries to create a world where evil was eliminated and only justice was allowed to prevail. Of course, the biased views of the Assyrians made them believe that their religious views and cultural actions were proper, while everyone else was against the natural law of God. The king of the Assyrians was presented as the defender of law, justice, peace, and abundance (Galter par. 6).
The Persians also acquired much land and sought to constantly increase their territories, but for a much different reason. While the Assyrians believed in destruction of evil as a means to spreading good and justice throughout the world, the Persians believed in peace and the development of the mind to help spread rationale, logic and intelligence throughout the world. The Assyrians destroyed the areas that they conquered, while the Persians sought to end conflict with the least amount of bloodshed and allowed the conquered kings and rulers to continue to live in their lands and rule over their people to continue to maintain their own ways of life (Rahnamoon par. 3). The Iranians avoided displacing the population or taking slaves but instead are known to have released those who were enslaved and helped the displaced population to return to their homeland (par. 5). These peaceful actions stemmed from the religious beliefs that were taught to the Persians centuries before by Zarathushtra. Zarathushtra taught truth and nothing but the truth. He asks everyone to use their good mind to seek the truth that could be used in a good way by making good rules, producing good products, and giving good services (Rahnamoon par. 4). Through these religious teachings, the Persians set out to advance in the areas of philosophy, psychology, astronomy, geology, mathematics, music, medicine and chemistry, just to name a few. The goal was to use the knowledge that the empire had obtained for the benefit of mankind, which was a continuous process that demanded progress towards betterment and perfection (Rahnamoon par. 5).
Today, many of these two empires’ philosophical beliefs continue to exist. Throughout history, the Persians are the more well-known of the two empires and had achieved great success until its ultimate defeat at the hands of the Greeks. Still, many of the Iranian and Middle Eastern methodologies and principles are geared around spreading peace and knowledge throughout the world and striving for perfection. The United States uses the philosophies of the Persians much more than those of the Assyrians. The U.S. military attempts to end all conflicts with the least amount of blood shed and work to spread democracy and peace to all regions of the world where peace can be accepted. Although the United States does not directly credit God for its actions, it does maintain similar principles as the Assyrians and Persians that they have a natural obligation to spread their ways of life upon other continents and cultures. Whether this is a correct thought process or belief system is unknown, but the goal of the United States government is to continue to help others whenever possible. This is the main principle behind the War on Terror and the conflicts in the Middle East. Perhaps, if the United States is lucky enough, they will be revered throughout future historical retellings of today’s events as the Assyrians and Persians; although only time will tell if Americans are to be viewed as peacekeepers or destroyers of evil.
Galter, Hannes D. “War, Peace, and Empire: Justifications for War in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions.” The Journal of the American Oriental Society (1998). BNet.com, Spring 1998. Web. 30 Oct. 2009.
Rahnamoon, Fariborz. “Benevolent Persian Empire.” University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Web. 30 Oct. 2009.