On this day in 331 B.C.J. (Before Cousin Jesus), Alexander of Macedonia–as well as Greece and every leather bar from Athens to Babylon–completely justified his megalomania by defeating the Persian horde at the battle of Gaugemela. So it can be done. Notify the President immediately.
In fact, I am providing him with this Executive summary.
How to Conquer Iran
Iran couldn’t be more belligerent if it were broadcasting Wagner from minarets. So as long as we are in the neighborhood, transforming Iraq into Norway, we might as well change Iran into Sweden. However, let’s not be as giddy as we were invading Iraq. That adventure was planned by intellectuals who had no military experience, unless you count playing Risk at Cornell. This time we should first consider the successful invasions of Iran.
Iran wasn’t born Moslem, and you can’t attribute the conversion just to Arab charm. In the seventh century, religious fanaticism and cavalry made Islam nearly irresistible. Even the desolation of Iran was no hindrance to an army accustomed to the deserts of Arabia. The conquered pagans were presented with a compelling argument for Islam: conversion or death. Since the indigenous theological mix of Zoroastrianism and animism hadn’t proved much of a protection, the Iranians conceded the superiority of Allah.
So strategy #1: We have to be more psychotically devout than the Iranians. The armed forces could dispense with intelligence tests and let Pat Robertson recruit for us.
In the thirteenth century, Iran was introduced to the renowned entrepreneur Genghis Khan. A master of marketing, he demonstrated free samples of massacres and then let word-of-mouth do the rest. The towns that did not comply with immediate and abject surrender would learn the Mongol hobby of collecting decapitated heads and building them into pyramids. Such recreation perpetrated Mongol rule in Iran for more than two centuries. Over time, the Mongols did convert to Islam; jihads and harems had such a spiritual appeal. Known by the more Arabic pronunciation of Mogul, they overran India and made Islam so very popular there.
So strategy #2: We have to be more barbaric than the Iranians. Our recruiting ads should be developed by Wes Craven and broadcast on “South Park.”
The only successful invasion by a western army was by-who else—Alexander the Great. The unnatural wonder of the world really knew how to shock and awe. Beholding Alexander’s resplendent phalanxes, the Iranians felt so shabby. Chic yet practical, Greek bronze could stop weapons and conversation. The Persian Empire was embarrassed into extinction.
So strategy #3: We have to stress the camp in campaign. Of course, that would require one particular change in military policy. Instead of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” now we would have to insist upon it. However, the transition from Sousa to Sondheim might be surprisingly easy. Our officers already adorn themselves with garish costumes and have a habit of accosting young men.
Of course, any of these strategies would require armed forces; but ours are currently preoccupied in Iraq, on loan to Halliburton. That leaves us with the Byzantine approach: let someone else do the fighting for us. Through guile and manipulation, the medieval Greeks maintained an empire extending from Italy to Persia. Without the military resources to overwhelm Persia, the Byzantines made an art of undermining it. Where there was an idle tribe of barbarians on Persia’s border, Byzantium would subsidize an invasion. If there were a surplus of Persian princes, the Greeks would generously encourage a civil war. Through its pawns and proxies, Byzantium divided and distracted its eastern enemy; yet Constantinople could claim a sanctimonious innocence.
So, strategy #4: find a convenient but unincriminating ally. Israel would love to help, but how would we explain its air force refueling in Baghdad? No, we need an Arab leader who loves war and hates Iran. Fortunately, one comes readily to mind. Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein now is unavailable.