|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 1.26.15
Monday, January 26, 2015 â
Iran: Xerxes, Pericles, Obama, and Netanyahu
The Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean is a complicated world. Not only do you have it as the birthplace of three of the worldâs major religions, but it is also home to numerous smaller sects of religious faiths as well. For example, a small sample of Samaritans still exists. I have also heard there are still Zoroastrians, and many of the sects that have recently made the news such as the Druze, Alawi Islamists (religion of Bashar al-Assad), and Yazidis (who follow some Christian tenets along with influences from other religions, and who are being attacked by ISIS).
Likewise, 2500 years ago, the conflicts between Darius and Xerxes with the ancient Greeks began the concept of âfreedomâ in Periclesâ Athens.
While freedom is referenced in Aeschylusâ The Persians, produced in 472 B.C., eight years after the defeat of Xerxesâ navy, it is probably summed up better in Euripidesâ The Suppliants, first performed in 423 B.C. Referencing Athens, Theseus (the mythological founder of Athens) informs the herald from another city-state, âSir Stranger, thou has made a false beginning to thy speech, in seeking here a despot. For this city is not ruled by one man, but is free. The people rule in succession year by year, allowing no preference to wealth, but the poor man shares equally with the rich.*â
Just as Western civilization was being born, among others, the great Persian Empire found the concepts to be alien and odd. But those concepts of freedom evolved into what is known today as Western civilization and its belief in inalienable rights and individual freedoms.
Many in the Middle East still have a hard time understanding and accepting Western civilizationâs core concepts.
While certainly not alone, Iran (the descendants of the Persians) has a hard time accepting not only the concepts of Western civilization, but the wealth and power the concepts of individual freedom have brought to the West.
Some have already stopped reading this column. The rest are likely asking what this has to do with today.
The answer is that I firmly believe, if allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, modern day Persia (aka Iran) will attempt to end Western civilizationâs individual freedoms just as Darius and Xerxes wished to eradicate the upstart Greeks. Just as the Greeks defeated Darius at the Battle of Marathon and as they fought Xerxes at Thermopylae (which led to Persiaâs defeat in subsequent naval and land battles), it is our duty to contain Iranâs thirst for nuclear weapons. If we donât, we will face a nuclear Iran bent on domination of the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean.
In order to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, we must consider all options. I anticipate hearing proposals from President Obama regarding Iran, which I didnât hear with clarity in his recent State of the Union address. And I also look forward to hearing the suggestions from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu lives in the complicated world of the Middle East every day.
Our course of action must be strong. While President Obama is Commander in Chief of our armed forces, it is the duty of Congress to determine trade sanctions. Accordingly, I support House Speaker John Boehnerâs invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress in order to discuss trade sanctions on Iran.
2015 Congressional Issues Survey
If you have not yet filled out our annual congressional issues survey and shared your views with me, I encourage you to do so. The survey can be found at http://morgangriffith.house.gov/2015issuessurvey/, or you may contact my offices to request a physical copy.
February Traveling Staff Office Hours
My staff travels regularly through the Ninth District to hold traveling staff office hours, where they meet with constituents and help interact with federal agencies. A complete schedule of Februaryâs traveling staff office hours can be found on my website, www.morgangriffith.house.gov.
Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.
* Athenian democracy was nascent, and was vastly different than what we think of today as democratic principles. For example, roughly three percent of the population were citizens and had voting rights.