The Killing of General Soleimani: Hail Mars! Hail Pluto!

I wrote this last evening upon hearing of the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani in Iraq by the United States.

Thanks to both and CounterPunch for publishing.

The Killing of General Soleimani: Hail Mars! Hail Pluto!

If it is true the United States killed Iranian Quds Forces Commander General Qassam Soleimani in Iraq yesterday, unverified by the Iranians as I write this, then 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. 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.

A young man, better and brighter than those who sent him to Iraq to be in my command in the Marines in 2006, asked 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.” 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.

11 thoughts on “The Killing of General Soleimani: Hail Mars! Hail Pluto!

  1. Thank you, Matt! So well said, and so necessary. Am writing Congressmembers, and will contact Peace Action to see what is being planned in the Triangle.

    In solidarity, Christina Cowger


  2. As a former enlisted Marine infantryman, I find the scariest part of preparing and going to battle is when you have a leader like Matthew Hoh leading you. His obvious selfishness put many Marines in needless jeopardy. Semper “I” Matthew


  3. Amen. The consciously copied Roman Temples are already there in D.C.– Jefferson, Lincoln, Supreme Court (Temple of Jus), et als., only the names have been changed to protect the sensibilities of the the plebs. Death and Money rule Washington the People by Force of Power.


    • It’s amazing Joel, I caught some of CNN this morning, and the way the issue is discussed, it’s as if it is happening in a vacuum, that there are no antecedents, no history whether it be modern or longevity. Let alone The culture of this country of militarism and warm making that continues to flow through this country since its inception.

      Sorry doing talk to text if this comes out funny 🙂


  4. Semper Fi brother. Just heard you on Scott Horton’s show and thought I would come check this out. I agree that the approach you outlined as an alternative way forward for Trump, or anyone for that mater, would be preferable, refreshing, and welcome but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    I wonder if you have any new thoughts now that we are more removed from the Soleimani killing? It for sure did not escalate the way many were predicting in the immediate aftermath. Not that I don’t think it was a mistake, just curious if you have changed any of your thinking on the matter?


    • Hi Scott,
      Thank you for leaving this comment.
      I am thankful of course that many of us have been wrong and the worst has not happened.
      My thoughts on why this is are a few fold:
      -The Iranians observe a 40 day mourning period for General Soleimani that may have restricted them in their operations. That mourning period ended a couple of weeks ago, so it may be possible, in line with some of their statements, that more attacks from them may occur.
      -The Iranians did make an honest try at retaliation. I am not in agreement with those that say the Iranians pulled their punches or missed on purpose. They fired (if I recall correctly) 16 ballistic missiles. 11 of them missed their target, but 5, according to the satellite imagery released by a private company of Al Asad air base, did strike the flight line and airfield operations area.
      The Iranians I believe were trying to cause harm and hit back strongly, but, because of decades of sanctions and embargoes, their weaponry and technology is not very good (another case of an overblown enemy threat). So they tried to hit Al Asad, but 2/3 of their missiles missed because their missiles just aren’t very good.
      Fortunately advanced warning was received, the Iranians telling the Iraqis who told us, and US forces at Al Asad were protected, so no deaths occurred. That might have been a different matter if more of the missiles struck the airbase. If deaths had occurred I think it would have been very difficult politically for Trump to not have responded and god knows where that could have ended up.
      -I also think that many in Iran understood the position they were in militarily and politically. Remember, they had just shot down an airliner and 2/3 of their missiles failed in their attack, rational Iranian military and political leaders would understand the danger they were in. The US Air Force and Navy would, in two or three weeks, destroy every Iranian ship, plane, airfield, port, installation, as well as much civilian infrastructure. If I was an Iranian leader, it would be hard, but certainly I would swallow my pride and urge restraint. This is something I actually said to Iranian audiences twice, that the danger of the US Air Force and Navy can not be exaggerated.
      -Finally, I think many in Iranian military and government circles understood their own elections to be coming up (held last weekend) and understand the US presidential elections to be coming up. I don’t how hawkish Benny Gantz is on Iran in Israel, but he can’t be worse than Netanyahu, and with Netanyahu’s indictment and another round of elections in Israel forthcoming, I think there are Iranian leaders who believe a change in US and Israeli leadership would be beneficial, that waiting for November for the US elections to occur is worthwhile and that doing anything that would make the US more antagonistic, hostile and violent would be foolish in both the short and long term.

      There are hardliners in Iran who want confrontation and war with the US, just as for decades now we have had hardliners in the US start, prolong and sustain war after war, stretching now from Western Africa to Pakistan. What we need to do, both Americans and Iranians, is not to do anything that allows these hardliners to feed off each other, escalate crisis and deliver the political space for war between the US and Iran to occur.

      I hope this answers your question. Thanks for asking the questions, I actually might turn this into a short essay.
      Peace brother.


  5. Thanks for the answer. I think your original point that there is a better way to handle all of this is still true but it seems like the human condition is one in which we get stuck in these cycles of retribution and it is the rare individual who can be a true leader and break that cycle. I am a Desert Storm veteran who has watched things over the last 30 years and been amazed that we basically are still involved in the same messes we were then. It was not until long after my service that I even realized my time there was basically a continuation of the 30 years of misadventures in the region prior to that. When will we learn?


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