Who controls weapons of mass destruction?  What if we all did?  What if each person had within himself or herself the power to kill indiscriminately?  Would we all be Saddam Hussein's?  Would we all be the targets of America's wrath?   I've seen and used weapons of mass destruction in the battlefield as well in life.  So have most of us.   Find out how we can end war by neutralizing first our personal "weapons of mass destruction," and then, once that is achieved, wipe them from the face of the earth.


Saturday--February 8, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 514
 My Reflections On Using Minor
Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 8--War has but one purpose--to kill or be killed.   It's all about death.  It's end result is to create a feast for the maggots.  It's about snuffing out life.  About carving notches in your rifle when you take another's life, or painting a picture of the enemy's aircraft you shot down on your fuselage, or racking up "KIAs" on a war room board so commanders can measure the total blood spilled to see whose blood pool is the deepest.
      War is about graveyards.  It's about bleached white bones in steaming battlefields picked clean by ants, vultures and other vermin who scoop up the flesh and recycle it.

The Beast of War triumphs over the Graveyards of Warriors

      We struggle to whitewash war's ethical righteousness before it launches, but once the bell sounds, the two forces leap from their corners like starved Pit Bulls in a dog fight, every sinew of their body coiled to strike deadly blows against the opponent before the opponent strikes them.
      Like any animal in a life-and-death battle, a warrior's eyes glaze over so that any ounce of humanity in the enemy is blinded from sight.  To allow compassion or empathy for the enemy is to flinch, and in that flinch the enemy might well drive a bayonet or bullet into the hesitant warrior's belly.   A warrior is trained to see only "evil" before him.  The scales of war blind him to the fact the man or woman he is about to kill may be a mother, father, son, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, cousin, nephew or niece of humanity.   
       The rule is:  "You kill the Beast of Terror or it kills you."  
       Only in war's aftermath--when the blood of your victims sticks like glue to your hands, and the wet-blanket stench of death chokes your nostrils, and the dead gaze of lifeless human eyes stare into the nothingness--do you have time, if at all, to feel sick, to sense the maggots of disgust crawling just under your skin, wriggling into the space behind your eyes as you gaze upon the twisted remains of your victims, as you search their ripped and shredded bodies for papers or other forms of military intelligence.  You feel like a ghoul, a grave robber as you touch their cold flesh, trying not to let his or her face emboss itself upon your mind.  You try not to wonder about the lives of those your bullets or bayonets just carved to death.

Skull map of KILLINGs in Cambodia

       It is ugly, especially when the mind takes pictures of its wake.   The pictures never go away.
       But during battle, killing is as easy as breathing.
       The mind disengages all its moral threads.   Compassion goes into blackout mode.  The Beast of One's Terror is unleashed.  Its amoral nature reminds you to kill anything that moves.  It feeds you with the thrill of wanting life at the expense of another's death.  It makes you happy to kill.
       In the most brutal sense, I was a paid killer.   An assassin.  
       All warriors are. 
       I joined the United States Marine Corps just prior to the Vietnam War to learn how to be the best warrior I could be.   When the war broke out, that meant I was a fully trained killer of the most primal ilk--the ones who volunteer for the worst of battle, who prefer the front lines of bloodshed rather the security of some headquarters where others direct the war but never come near a bullet.
       Like most young men who aspire the "rites of manhood," I saw the Marine Corps as an indemnification of my masculinity as well as part of my duty to serve my country.   My step-father (who had adopted me when I was five years old), was a career military man.   I grew up with the belief that serving one's country was an obligation, and anyone who refused to do so was both a coward and a traitor

Cliff McKenzie, a young Marine, prepared for 'manhood'

       I understood the few exceptions--the conscientious objectors--but they still could serve a role as a non-combatant.  It was those who ducked their duty that I despised, the ones who ran from war for selfish reasons and used anti-war as a shield for their coward ness.   I believed they were not unlike the enemy, turncoats, Benedict Arnolds, fellow travelers who burned and spat upon the American Flag.
      So when war broke out and I was among the first troops to land in Vietnam, I went with the same eagerness the young Masai warrior does in Africa when he undergoes his rite of manhood and enters the jungle alone with only a spear and is expected to single-handedly kill a lion to prove his worth to the other men and women of the village.   

Young Masai Warrior prepared for 'manhood'

       The blood of others.  It is the baptism of manhood.
       Prior to landing, the enemy had been dehumanized sufficient enough for me and thousands of other Marines to want only to kill them for they were the "evil" of the "evil axis of communism."    They were the ones who tortured and maimed the innocent to bend them to their wills.  They were the ones who deprived the masses the right to Liberty and Freedom, and stuffed down their throats the tyranny of totalitarianism.
       Marines especially need little excuses to kill.   All Marine training is about killing, never about thinking.  To think is a battlefield crime.   Thinking involves hesitation, and to balk at a child running toward you because of some inner compassion for children could mean one's instant death when the child pulled the fuse on the satchel charge he or she was carrying on his or her back.  So you killed because it moved.  You killed because the human in your sights was in the "killing zone," which was simply anything your rifle pointed at.

     The war in Iraq won't be any different than Vietnam, or Korea, or Europe, or any ancient clash of Titans millenniums ago such as when the Spartans and Persians fought to the death in 480 B.C.   It will be hand-to-hand combat, young men and women killing young men and women, and anyone of any size or shape who gets between them.
       Bullets know no morality.  They can't distinguish between an innocent child and someone bent on lobbing a grenade into your position.   They can't stop at someone's forehead and read their thoughts to see if mens rea exists before smashing into the skull and corkscrewing through the gray matter.

Weapons of "Mass Destruction" used by the Military

       War is all about death--more of the enemies than our own until the sea of blood swells so deep that those remaining few throw down their weapons and beg for mercy.
        I think about my past participation in war more these days as I see the storm clouds close ranks and can hear the bayonets of young Marines being sharpened as they grit their teeth and try to press out of their minds any human qualities in their enemy--the ones they have been trained to kill--the ones who stand between them and their objectives.
        These thoughts drive me back to more than three decades ago when I was part of the use of "weapons of mass destruction" and witnessed the holocaust they caused.
        The unit I was with, the 2nd Battalion 7th Marines of the First Marine Division, was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Leon Utter.  He was a powerful leader who inspired his men as Knute Rockne did his Notre Dame football team, reminding us we were fighting for, and willing to die for, God, Country and the United States Marine Corps.
        He gave speeches to us before battle as we knelt in a makeshift church.  He would clutch the American Flag and display its colors in his fist, reminding us the red in the flag was the blood of warriors like us who fought and died for Freedom, and the white was the purity of our cause.
       Colonel Utter used the first weapons of mass destruction in Vietnam, albeit they were minuscule in comparison to those of today.

Vietnamese  cu chi tunnels

       He violated the Hague Convention by using tear gas to clear tunnels.  At the outset of the Vietnam War, the use of such gas was banned.   But Colonel Utter found the Viet Cong hid in tunnels and used villagers as shields, hiding behind the fact the only way we could get to them was to kill the innocent.  In a violation of orders, Utter chose the humane rather than primitive choice.  Rather than kill the innocent by throwing grenades into tunnels and caves, he ordered us to use tear gas.
       It gagged the enemy, forcing them to exit their caves.  Instead of killing them, we took them prisoner.   The communists screamed and ranted the United States was in violation of the ban on chemical warfare.   However humane the choice, Colonel Utter was singled out as "chemical warrior."    Ultimately, the charges against him and the United States were dropped.  Tear gas was allowed for humane reasons, but the stigma of its use clung to Colonel Utter's reputation.  He had made the first political faux pax of the war.   There were many more to come.
       While tear gas was a humane alternative to killing, napalm wasn't.
       If one wants to think of a "weapon of mass destruction" as one that indiscriminately kills everything in its wake--the guilty as well as the innocent, the non-combatants as well as combatants--then no more obvious a choice for such finger pointing is napalm.
       I still think it's beautiful.


I witnessed the beauty and horror of napalm in Vietnam

      Despite its ugly effect on all living creatures and things in its path, nothing is more powerful than to see it explode into great roiling balls of orange and black, braced by the verdant green background of the jungle, and back lighted by azure Southeast Asian skies.
        As a U.S. Marine Combat Correspondent, my dual role was to fight and kill first, then write and preserve for history the battle second.  I was a painter and sculptor of war.   I caught its beauty and horror through the lens of my Nikonos, and carved its architecture with the sharp tip my pen against my notepad.
        Often when we were pinned down and it seemed the end of us, air strikes would be called.  Our jets would sweep down and drop great silver oblong eggs full of napalm, and the treeline would erupt as though the bowels of earth had been opened exposing the core of molten lava from deep in its epicenter.
        And the smell.  It was sickeningly sweet.   The kerosene perfume sweeping over us as it exploded meant the enemy was dead.  It meant all life in and around it had just been exhausted.  Napalm sucks all the oxygen from air as it burns, suffocating those who are not burned to a crisp.
       I never gave much thought to how many innocent people might be in its path, or all the living creatures who vanished into crusted charred ashes after the fires stopped.   I was only glad that I was alive and that those who were about to kill me and all my friends were no longer a threat.   Who and what else died in the process didn't concern me.  At least, not then.

The sea of artillery casings testifies to the volume of artillery fired back at the enemy. Khe Sanh, 1968

       Then there was artillery.   Ships off shore as well as howitzer batteries on land, fired endless rounds of explosives on selected targets.   Often they included villages where the innocent lived.  No one knew whether the innocent had abandoned the village.  We only knew enemy fire came from the target, and to remove the threat included obliterating it.  
      Anyone who has seen the photographs of World War II after Allied bombing runs and the mass destruction of buildings reduced to rubble, understands no one could ever say who was or was not buried below.    Mass destruction was the only solution that worked at the time, as it will be in Baghdad.   Troops will not be able to wave a white flag and rush in to see who isn't supposed to be there before they call in air strikes on a building issuing enemy fire.   The building will be destroyed, and everything in it.
      On a much smaller scale, I carried a personal weapon of mass destruction.  It was a shotgun.   I went on countless patrols and ambushes, and a friend suggested I carry the shotgun.  It had two special rounds.  The first was loaded with steel "toothpicks."   The .12 gauge round contained tightly packed steel needles that when shot would spin wildly through the air and strike the enemy.   Because they were small, they had little killing power.  But they created much pain.  
      In close jungle warfare, thick brush often hides the enemy.   Rooting the enemy out of a hidden position so he or she becomes a viable target is the first goal.   The shards of steel would strike the enemy, forcing him to scream or stand or move upon impact, reveling his position.   The second round in the shotgun was double ought buck, heavy lead that went in like a quarter and exited like a watermelon.  
     The weapon was like artillery.  It allowed you to disorient the enemy and wound him enough so you could see him and kill him.

Jungle warrior in Vietnam with minor weapon of mass destruction

     Shotguns are minor weapons of mass destruction.
     Then there were the little land mines.   On ambushes we carried them.  If we got attacked and had to disperse, we ran to a rally point, every man for himself.   The personal land mines were small buttons of explosives you threw over your shoulder as you dashed.  They contained enough explosives so that the enemy chasing you upon stepping on them would lose a toe or foot.  It slowed them down so you could escape.   Again, the ones that remained became "weapons of mass destruction" for the innocent who might stumble upon them by accident a day or week later when the battle was finished and the people came back to work the fields.
       We call our weapons of mass destruction today "smart bombs" and "smart weapons," and pride ourselves on the fact they have been designed to limit collateral deaths.
       We try to civilize killing.
       It is oxymoronic, but we still try.
       But the warriors who are about to embark on the horror of war know they cannot hesitate to use whatever force is necessary to kill before being killed.   Survival requires the ability to do what needs to get done to secure the objective.
       All the humanity training in the world will not displace that primal thirst to survive when the bullets fly.   Like sharks in a feeding frenzy, warriors stop seeing faces or recognize the difference between a man or woman, a child or adult in the kill zone.   It becomes about spilling blood--more of theirs than ours.
       Finally, there is one other weapon of mass destruction I cannot forget.  It is fire.
      In Vietnam, in the early stages of the war, we burned every village we went through that fired upon us.   We razed them to the ground, a symbol to the people that harboring the enemy meant the destruction of their homes, their crops.
      It was a brutal price to exact.  I can still see the stoic faces of the villagers as flames shot up from the top of their thatched roofs, curling into a black stripe of smoke as their homesteads were consumed.  
      Once Baghdad begins to burn, little can stop it.
      Few firefighters will want to venture forward to douse the flames for fear of being killed.  It would be easy for a trigger-happy warrior to mistake a fire hose for a weapon.
      I have no idea about using "modern weapons" today.   I think the weapons are all the same.  They are bullets and bombs and fire-based igniters that burn things.   They are the tips of bayonets, and in some cases, bare hands used to strangle the enemy to death in hand-to-hand combat.
      I don't think much has changed over hundreds and hundreds of years of war.

The mass destruction of fire in Vietnam

     America has it weapons of mass destruction just as Baghdad has.  
     I'm quite certain nuclear weapons will be on-line, and in a moment of desperation if all goes bad, there is a plan to sue them as a last resort.  Since the goal of war is the obliteration of the enemy, it would be naive to think otherwise.
     Right now, it's about bullets and bombs and bayonets and bloody hands.
     When war commences, it could be about anything.   There are no rules in war except to kill or be killed.   Of course, there is another option--retreat.   But no one wants to talk about that option.
     Strangely, I can hear the Beast of Terror licking his chops.
     I know he doesn't prefer either side.  His preference is bloodshed.  Whose blood is spilled, he doesn't care.  He just likes swimming in it.
     He likes to blind human beings to their humanity, and nothing feeds his wishes more than war.   Humanity and war cannot coexist, not fundamentally.  There will be countless acts of inhumanity delivered by both sides, and the measure of their "horror" degree will be history and those who judge history.  |
     The anti-war mavens caw about the waste of war, as well as its immorality.   The hawks caw that without it, no one is safe.
      In between, as many degrees as exist on a compass wait to speak their piece.   The moral compass on the Far Anti-War Left is swings to One Degree and on the Far Right it fixes at Three Hundred and Fifty-Nine Degrees.  Only One Degree separates the two radical views--one held by those human shields who are offering their lives as protest to war, and the other to those who won't blink an eye as our smart bombs blow the human shields to pieces en route to Saddam Hussein's bunker.
      The majority swivel back and forth on either side.   The Complacent are frozen at One Hundred and Eighty Degrees, their heads buried so deep they are more interested in the Michael Jackson interview with Barbara Walters than whether the sun will rise and set on their children, or their Children's Children's Children.
       That's humanity.   We are this odd mixture of good and bad, right and wrong, Terrorist and Sentinel of Vigilance, saint and sinner, warrior and human shield.

      As a warrior, I chose to fight today not with weapons of mass destruction, but with weapons of mass construction.   I prefer to believe that one day we might all have our Moral Compass pointed at 360/0 Degrees, the point where Hawks and Doves meet, where Saint and Sinner marry, were Good and Bad morph into Vigilance.
        We continue to resolve the conflicts of human nature by war, and, in so doing, we continue to use "weapons of mass destruction."   When the bow and arrow replaced the club, those who had the bows and arrows had weapons of mass destruction in relation to the club.   When guns replaced swords, those who had them versus those who didn't were the Saddam Hussein's of the world. 
        When America dropped the first nuclear bomb, it was the Saddam Hussein.  
        Now, we are trying to stop war by fighting war, as we have so many countless times in the past.  
       We bandy about the words: "weapons of mass destruction" as though we forget an errant bullet isn't one, or, more insidiously, the rapier tongue of a parent who lashes out at a child and barks:  "I wish you were never born," isn't as devastating to the child as a cloud of biochemical poisons descending on troops in some far distant land.
        The back of an abusive parent's hand can be a weapon of mass destruction when it swings out and smashes a child or innocent member of the family against a wall.
        The sexual organs or body of a child molester is a "weapon of mass destruction" when it casts its ugliness upon the innocent, the vulnerable.
        A three-thousand pound vehicle driven by a drunk driver careening toward a group of people standing on a corner, or smashing head-on into a car filled with family members returning from a picnic, is a weapon of mass destruction.   Over 20,000 Americans are killed this way alone each year.

Our own bad thoughts are our "weapons of mass destruction

       Then there are the ugliest of all weapons of mass destruction--our Thoughts.   When we are frozen in our Fears, our Intimidations and our Complacencies, such thoughts are as crippling and inhumane as biochemical or nuclear attacks.   They destroy us.  They kill our self worth.  They suffocate our ability to stand up for ourselves, for others and for the future.
         The idea "I'm not good enough," or, "I'm not worthy enough," or, "I'm a victim," or, "I'm too fat," or, "I'm not as smart as," or, "I'm not as lucky as," all conspire as artillery shells to smash our innocence to death, to pulverize us into fragments so we become "nobody's," and "nothings." We are destroyed.
         This Triad of Terror--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--can drive us to the other side.  It can make us believe we're "better than others," or, "smarter than," or "more privileged than," and cause us to elevate ourselves above the masses so that we "use them" at our will and whim, immune to the "mass destruction" we might cause.
          The adage, "You don't have to be nice to the people on the way up if you never plan on coming down," applies in such cases.
           Weapons of mass destruction--whether bullets, bombs, nukes, biochemical's or our thoughts and actions against others or ourselves--exist everywhere.    They are not the privy of war on military battlefields, they are at the ends of our fingers and tongues, they secret themselves in our minds.
           When we think of "weapons of mass destruction," we need to think about Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   We need to see them for what they are--the sources of all wars.  

We must protect the children in future generations

          To battle them, we need to become Citizens of Vigilance.   We need to build a society in which we all look past our Beast of Terror at our Sentinel of Vigilance.  We need to see the safety and security of the Children's Children's Children as the real victory, and stop our rampant desire to fight for the "rights of today."
          The only just war is the one fought to protect the children in the future--not just ours, but all children, from the injustices of Terror--from its Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
          When we take and subscribe to the Pledge of Vigilance, we are vowing to employ Courage to replace Fear, Conviction to undermine Intimidation, and Right Actions to move us forward against the gravity of Complacency.
           We are neutralizing the true weapons of mass destruction when we take the Vow of Vigilance.  We are defusing future war, and future death and destruction by learning how to respect the present by committing to the future.
            When and if the war with Iraq launches, I will not see bullets and bombs and ugly weapons of war used to kill one another.  I've seen them.  

Vigilance unites us to stand up against the Beast of War

            Instead, I will see Fear attacking Fear, Intimidation fighting Intimidation, and Complacency strangling Complacency.   It will be a war of Terror against Terror, resolving nothing, for minuses fighting minuses add up to minuses.
             If war is about ending war, then we will never end it, for the Beast of Terror will never allow any war to end a war.
             Vigilance, however, will be the end to war.
             When the Parents of Vigilance stand up and vow within nations to protect their children and their Children's Children's Children of all races, colors, creeds--then the Beast of Terror will be on the run.   Vigilance's weapons of mass destruction--Courage, Conviction and Right Action--will snuff out the Beast's oxygen as napalm sucks life from the jungle.   The Swords and Shields of Vigilance that teach someone to stand up for future generations will cut the legs off the Beast of Terror, crippling him.
            And, when humans learn to shift their thinking One Degree, from Fear to Courage, from Intimidation to Conviction and from Complacency to Right Actions for the Children' s Children's Children, war will find a wall it cannot surmount.   Vigilance, the plus, will cancel Terrorism, the minus.
             The weapons of mass destruction will exist as long as we ignore Vigilance.
             They do not belong to Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il.
             They belong to us, as long as we hold onto them, as long as we let Fear, Intimidation and Complacency rule our lives.

Feb 7.--Al Sharpton: Beast of Racial Terror or Future President?

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