The  United States killed Iranian Quds Forces Commander General Qassam Soleimani. There is no hyperbole or exaggeration too great to encapsulate what may befall tens of millions of families. 

The equivalent of the killing of General Soleimani would be as if the Iranians assassinated General Richard Clarke, the US four-star general in charge of all US special operations, but only if General Clarke had the name recognition of Colin Powell and the competency of Dwight Eisenhower. 

Medieval representation of Mars, sitting on a rainbow with a sword and a sceptre, excites men to war is from Othea's Epistle
Mars (sitting on the rainbow) excites men to war

Those Iranians in government and civil society who want restraint, de-escalation and dialogue will find it hard to argue against retaliation. After more than 20 years of Iran enduring insult after insult, provocation after provocation, and attack after attack, I find it hard to believe there are many Barbara Lees in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (she was the only member of the US Congress to vote restraint after 9.11.01).

A young man, better and brighter than those who sent him to Iraq to be in my command in the Marines in 2006, asked me last evening:

“So let’s assume Soleimani is responsible for the embassy raid on the 27th. What should the proper response be? I think it would have been a great reason to talk to the Iranians and start from a 0-0 standpoint.”

That is what we are promised each election cycle by the two war parties: thoughtful, wise and judicious leadership – recognize the abyss and don’t step into it.

Imagine if President Trump were to say before Congress and the American people: “I know the danger of where we are, I respect Iran’s grievances and I ask them to respect ours, I am going to Tehran to meet with President Rhouhani. I have seen what Bush and Obama wrought, I will do different.” 

Pluto riding a Unicorn - The Abduction of Proserpina
The Abduction of Proserpina (Pluto’s on the Unicorn)

And what if then he told every member of Congress or the media who criticized him to stand and to offer up what they had sacrificed in the last 20 years. Would not that kind of leadership get him re-elected? Would there ever be a tally of the bodies, minds and souls saved? Yes, a late night fantasy of mine, pushed by the eternal hope of the too many unforgiving ghosts of these wars, but hope seems to be all we have right now.

2000 years ago in Rome a bull would have been slaughtered in the Temple of Mars to placate and appeal to the God of War. This weekend in DC, as well as most assuredly in Tel Aviv, and quite possibly London, the finest wines and liquors will be opened, without a seeming care that the sacrifice required will not be measured in a single animal, but in millions of dead and destroyed humans.

In Rome they worshiped Pluto as the God of the Underworld and of Death. Fittingly, Pluto was also the God of Money and Wealth. In these times it seems neither Mars or Pluto seems sated by the bodily and spiritual forms of the dead. If we pull down Lincoln and Jefferson in DC and hoist Mars and Pluto in their places I doubt Mars and Pluto’s appetites will be met, but as least we would be honoring those who are served.

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Image Credits: Medieval representation of Mars, sitting on a rainbow with a sword and a sceptre, excites men to war is from Othea's Epistle (Queen's Manuscript) via Wikipedia Commons; and Die Entführung auf dem Einhorn aka: The Abduction of Proserpina (Pluto riding a Unicorn) is an etching (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and created by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) via Wikipedia.org – both are in the public domain.

Matthew Hoh

Matthew Hoh

Matthew has nearly twelve years experience with America’s wars overseas with the United States Marine Corps, Department of Defense and State Department. He has been a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy since 2010. In 2009, Matthew resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan with the State Department over the American escalation of the war. Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Matthew took part in the American occupation of Iraq; first in 2004-5 in Salah ad Din Province with a State Department reconstruction and governance team and then in 2006-7 in Anbar Province as a Marine Corps company commander. When not deployed, Matthew worked on Afghanistan and Iraq war policy and operations issues at the Pentagon and State Department from 2002-8.

Matthew’s writings have appeared in online and print periodicals such as the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Defense News, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. He has been a guest on hundreds of news programs on radio and television networks including the BBC, CBS, CNN, CSPAN, Fox, NBC, MSNBC, NPR, Pacifica. and RT. The Council on Foreign Relations has cited Matthew’s resignation letter from his post in Afghanistan as an Essential Document. In 2010, Matthew was named the Ridenhour Prize Recipient for Truth Telling. Matthew is a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute for Public Accuracy, an Advisory Board Member for Expose Facts, North Carolina Committee to Investigate Torture, Veterans For Peace, and World Beyond War, and is an Associate Member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He is a 100% disabled veteran and has been certified by North Carolina as a Peer Support Specialist for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder.