Who Mourns Soleimani?

If Trump made a wise strategic decision, then I will be grateful but I will not need to pretend the US President showed moral vision.  Please. I am not trying to excuse Soleimani but calling him “the world’s top terrorist” or painting him as anything other than a very successful general is just false.

What is terrorism?  Is terrorism the evil behind 911?  Is it the drug wars in Mexico?  Is it the shootings in Paris? the Munich massacre?  Was it the struggle led by Ho Chih Minh or our own atrocities as in My Lai or the carpet bombing of North Vietnam? Were Hiroshima or the Nanjing Massacre OK because they were during war time? Were Israeli leaders of the Irgun justified because they were fighting for the creation of a Jewish state?

IAmid widespread misgivings in the US Congress and among American analysts about the assassination of a serving general of a sovereign nation, the Trump administration is belatedly making the case that Iranian General Qassim Suleimani was a terrorist, a war criminal who should have been targeted a long time ago, even though he was not on any global proscribed list. The targetted killing of Qassim Suleimani is being seen as bigger than killings of Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as it brings the US and Iran closer to war. Experts explain, it is one thing to kill a globally designated terrorist but another to kill someone who is designated as a terrorist by the US but not by the host country — Iraq, in this case. US President Donald Trump on Friday drew India into the geo-political fracas by claiming that Qassim Suleimani was contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London. The reference seems to be 2012 bombing of an Israeli diplomat’s car in Delhi which police investigation revealed was connected to Suleimani-led Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Americans are celebrating the assassination of Soleimani because of deaths in Iraq.  My fellow citizens have justice on our side. But, we should remember we invaded Iraq.  Before invoking moral judgment, Americans should look and see that there have been no Iranian led atrocities in Europe or the US.;  911 was led by Saudis, el Qaeda grew out of US-supported militants in Afghanistan.  And, of course, as an American Jew I am all too aware of this country’s own domestic terrorists and a president who offers succor to the alt-right.

Before our Iraq war, Soleimani led troops in defense of Iran when the US-backed forces of Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and slaughtered 1 million Iranians.  Iran, among other things, remembers that war for the use of poison gas by the US-sponsored Iraqi forces.

Later when the US invaded Iraq, Solemaini sponsored Shia led Iraqi forces in their resistance not to the Americans, but to the Sunni forces of Hussein.  The new and now the present government of Iraq is led by Shia grateful for Iran’s involvement including the ultimate destruction of ISIS largely by Iraqui Shia militias under Soleimani’s sponsorship.

Iran pulling out of nuclear deal commitment after U.S. strike that killed Soleimani State TV reported Iran will no longer restrict uranium enrichment, part of the 2015 deal limiting the country’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.

In Lebanon, Soleimani was behind Hezbollah .. like it or not a successful insurgency that now dominates that state. Israel, of course, considers Hezbollah as a terrorist organization but it is hard to use that word when we are looking at the kind of asymmetric warfare that has led to insurgent victories in China, Vietnam, and Cuba.  Were Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Castro also just terrorists?  For that matter, who were the terrorists in our own war on the Native Americans?

Whose side would I take in the war in Yemen, where Soleimani’s Houthi rebels have successfully resisted a coalition led by a real monster, MBS, aided by the US.

To me, for better or worse, the story of Soleimani is a story of a man who was a great general and a patriot in terms of his people and their causes.


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  1. Roger Rabbit #

    Soleimani had it coming. The question is whether liquidating him was wise. Both Bush and Obama thought not. This president thinks differently, if he thinks at all. One of the big questions hanging over this affair is what advance preparations, if any, were undertaken to protect our foreign embassies and other obvious targets from the inevitable Iranian retaliation. Is there anyone left in the State Dep’t who knows how to do that? Trump could shortly have half a dozen Benghazis on his hands. Given how he operates, i.e. impulsively, it’s unlikely this was considered or provided for ahead of time.

  2. theaveeditor #

    In writing this piece I thought long and hard about how others would react. I have one friend who is an Iraqi-American. His family has suffered hugely at the hands of Soleimani. I also understand how the families of Americans, 600 of us, who died in Iraq from acts of the Shia militias. BUT. There is a huge difference between acts of war and the kind of blind terror that people like bin Laden, al Baghdadi, or Muhammad ibn Salman practice. We diminish that horror by calling Soleimani a major terrorist.

  3. Mark Adams #

    This Iranian General was not in Iraq on our behalf or on the behalf of the Iraqi people. He was there to bring about bringing Iraq into the Persian sphere without the spilling of much blood, but a lot if necessary. Forces had just killed an American contractor and invaded the American embassy in Iraq, making the general a legitimate military target. Erasing the veneer that we are not in a conflict with Iran once again. Congress members demanded action, and they got it in spades. Now they are upset. I suppose they could impeach the President, there could be an actual high crime at work here, but the military industrial complex really looks forward to the coming profits from conflict that is open or not so open. Congress okayed the laws that allowed the action, and the previous two administrations thought about similar action, yet because Trump did it, we must call fowl and be morally upset because the President ignored Democratic leaders complicit in the current impeachment farce going on. Please add this on as another charge…at least then maybe Congress has the discussion they should have had 20 years age, but since no Senators sons and daughters will not be drafted, and we won’t demand these scion will go to war and to the front our Senators can ignor their duties the institution and the American people, but play political games. Now the Iranians will decide to put up or shut up, and we will may have a bloody real war. Maybe even a declaration of war, so unlike Congress….well the sinking of American naval ships would probably do it, and then an impeachment trial or is the Speaker going to put the charges where the sun don’t sign.

  4. Roger Rabbit #

    Mark, two previous presidents took a pass on doing this, so maybe there were reasons for not doing it, even if he was a legitimate military target. The most obvious reason is that it sharply escalates the conflict — not yet a shooting war — between the U.S. and Iran, risking a costly war. Another reason is it gives Iran an excuse to tear up the nuclear agreement, and it now seems certain Iran will be nuclear-armed within a couple years. But you can rest easy that Trump won’t be impeached for this; what’s in question is the wisdom of his decision, not its constitutionality, and that’s an issue for voters to decide. CNN framed the question in two words: Will voters view it as “decisive” or “impulsive”? We know the answer: Trump does things impulsively, not thoughtfully; but I expect the public to split on that along party lines.

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