|Who is the real
Terrorist? France? German? Iraq? or the United
Sunday--February 9, 2003—Ground Zero Plus
Casting Lots Over The
Crucified Body Of Iraq
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 9-- Over two
thousand years ago, Roman soldiers guarding three recently crucified
"criminals" sentenced to death, tossed lots for one of the
"criminal's" clothing. The "criminal" was a man named Jesus Christ
whom a crowd sentenced to death after Pontius Pilate washed his hands
and asked the crowd to decide his fate. Christ hung alive
on the cross at a place called Golgotha, (Place of a Skull), as the
Roman soldiers gambled for his effects.
casting lots for Jesus' robe
the soldiers figured he would soon be dead and not need them.
Dividing up the estate of the
condemned is not new news.
Yesterday, France and Germany were
caught casting lots for the "clothing of Iraq."
Spiegel, Germany's political news magazine, leaked a story
involving a secret plan developed by French and German leaders called
Project Mirage. It was a sucker punch to Donald
Rumsfeld's efforts to force the U.N. Security Council to take
immediate action against Iraq for what he claims are countless
violations of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, in which force
has been authorized if Saddam Hussein does not comply with U.N.
America has been publicly championing its
policy of invading Iraq if Saddam Hussein defies disarmament demands,
even it that means unilateral action.
Rumsfeld was angered at finding Project
Mirage, a plan to employ 2,000 weapons inspectors in Iraq backed up by
50,000 troops, had been kept from him and members of the Security
Council. It was evidence that France and Germany, and
others who are attempting to cripple U.S. power as "Policeman of
Terrorism," to turn the solution of Iraq over to European national
management and away from U.S. control.
Critics of the U.S. plan believe that
America wants to invade Iraq not just to remove Saddam Hussein, but to
capture and control the oil-rich nation's raw petroleum supplies.
If the U.S. were the "conquering nation" over Iraq, it would have the
upper hand in dividing the "spoils of oil."
A secondary issue is that Europe has been
steadily growing in unity as part of the European Economic Union, and
less dependent on the United States. It seeks to establish
its power over America. Recently, it formed the
International Criminal Court, seeking jurisdiction over American
citizens alleged to commit war crimes. The U.S. refused to
participate, arguing its sovereign right to protect Americans under
U.S. Constitutional law.
Project Mirage, however, is another
example of Europe's tossing of lots over Iraq. Few
question that the pressure forced upon Iraq by the United States will
result in anything less than the collapse of the current regime and
the formation of new leadership coalition within the country.
Iraq is currently surrounded by U.S. and British forces and the war
clock is ticking.
Hussein is hanging on the cross refusing to drink the vinegar wine
that U.S. Roman soldiers offer to him. If he did, they would
take him down and allow him to be put in exile, but few, if any
geopolitical observers believe Saddam will capitulate.
He has ruled Iraq for over 23 years. He sleeps in a different
bed each night and every morsel of his food is pre-tasted for poisons.
He is skilled at avoiding attacks on his domain as the despotic leader
of one of the Middle East's richest oil reserve nations.
I looked at the Franco-Germanic
Project Mirage with jaundiced eyes.
Back in my combat days in
Vietnam we used to cast lots for each other's personal possessions
before battles. Death in war is always an imminent
reality and you quickly learn to laugh in its face. If you
don't, it will laugh in yours. Facing the Grim Reaper with
a smile and jocular attitude relieves the Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency of death. It turns life and death into a game.
So we Marines played a
macabre game in which we divided up our belongings before we left.
Often, we gambled for them. Say, for example,
someone had a fine bottle of booze he kept secured in his footlocker,
we would play for the rights to that bottle if he got "zapped."
The deal was, if he didn't return, whomever won would have the right
to open the footlocker and "own" the bottle.
Mundane items were turned into
treasures. Jungle boots, for example, were always at a
premium. Betting would be high for the right to acquire a fellow
Marines jungle boots and his socks--another treasure since they were
hard to get. Of course there was money, but hard
currency ranked low in the betting. Since on the front
lines there aren't many places to buy things, clothing and or weapons
became high priority.
If someone had, for example, a great
Bowie Knife, it would rise to the surface as a prize long before the
"funny money," military currency, that had little meaning when you
spent your days and nights in a foxhole.
I recall one of our buddies, a young
foolish boy named Victor Paine, eager to go into the combat zone.
He spent most of his time back at First Marine Corps Division
headquarters and had come out to the front lines to beg myself and my
buddy, Warren Esterline, the right to go on combat patrol.
Victor was an immature kid, barely 19, and his boyish face was adorned
with pimples and claimed only a few scraggly whiskers.
He was adamant about venturing out into the "jungle" so he could tell
his kids someday he had "fought the big war." The
vast majority of troops in Vietnam never saw combat. They
supported the combat troops, for it takes at least a ratio of ten
support people to supply one front liner.
So Warren and I searched around for a
patrol that would be what is called a "walk in the sun." We
found one where a number of U.S. and foreign journalists were to be
taken out to an area where a battle had been recently fought.
The area was secured, and it was to be a "safe patrol," with a number
of correspondents including one from Time Magazine. We
figured that Victor would be safe.
"walk in the sun"
Warren and I
loaded him up with combat gear so he would feel the part.
We gave him all the basic instructions and walked him to the truck
that was to ferry the group to a departure point, and then they would
walk through the jungle under heavy Marine guards to take pictures of
the battle aftermath.
Victor never came back.
Along the way Marine demolition crews
sweeping ahead found a booby trap. It was a mortar hanging
in a tree attached to trip wire. The Viet Cong set it so
that someone walking along the trail would trip it. The mortar
would fall from the tree and explode, taking as man out as possible.
The rule in combat is when the
engineers yell "Mine" or "Booby Trap" everyone freezes in their
tracks. Often the trip wire is located in a hidden place, away
from the actual mine or explosive so one person might trip it and
another person next to it be killed or wounded.
Victor didn't follow procedure.
He wanted to see the booby trap in
the tree and took a few steps forward and spread the branches of the
tree to get a better view. Curiosity killed not only the cat,
but Victor Paine. As he spread the branches the mortar
dropped from above, ending Victor's life and seriously wounding a
Time correspondent plus a number of others.
Warren and I were upset after hearing
the news. We felt responsible for Victor's death.
We were mad at ourselves for letting him go in the first place, and
angrier that he had been the cause of his own death and the maiming of
others. But we followed procedure.
VICTOR LLEWELLYN PAINE
VICTOR LLEWELLYN PAINE was born on October 30, 1946 and
joined the Armed Forces while in SOUTH FORK, CA.
He served as a 4312 in the Marine Corps. In 1 year of
service, he attained the rank of CPL/E4.
On July 7, 1966, at the age of 19, VICTOR LLEWELLYN PAINE
perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam,
You can find VICTOR LLEWELLYN PAINE honored on the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial on Panel 9E, Row 5.
Before Victor left, we had cast lots for
his belongings as part of the combat ritual. He was present, of
course, and we shared with him that real grungy combat vets had no
fear of death, and it was evidenced by dividing up his stuff before he
went. Vic had been eager to play the morbid game. We
figured that it was all in fun at the time because there was hardly
any chance this "walk in the sun" for him would endanger his life or
the lives of others.
hearing about his death, we sat down in tribute to Victor and
performed the task of dividing up his "stuff." All his personal
belongings, of course, went to his mother. But his clothing, the
stuff we bargained for, Warren and I divided up. Socks, jungle
fatigues, etc. Warren had the duty of going to Graves and
Registration and digging through the dead bodies for a visual positive
identification of Victor. It was a sad day.
From that point on, I never played the
"cast the lots" game again.
And, I hadn't thought about it much since
Project Mirage brought it back to memory.
I thought of France and Germany as the
Roman soldiers under the Cross, tossing lots for Jesus' clothing.
I thought of them seeing Saddam Hussein writhing on the Cross, his
hands and feet nailed securely, while Project Mirage decided what
spoils of war would be divided between whom--at, of course, either the
exclusion or disenfranchisement of U.S. claim over the territory.
Leadership, it has been said, is finding
out where everyone is heading and running and jumping out front at the
In the 11th hour of the impending war on
Iraq, France and German slip out of the pack and reveal their "secret
plan" to take control of the toppling of Hussein.
Few wonder why. If they rush to the forefront, they get
claim of the salvage rights.
It is like Russia
finally declaring war against Japan at the last minute during World
War II, and then running to the bargaining table to rake in the spoils
of war when Japan surrendered. Everyone knew the Russians
hadn't earned the right, but politics ruled and Russia got its share,
While America is not a conquering
nation--that is, it doesn't seek to rule the lands it helps
free--there are vast benefits to being "in charge" of a nation's
regime reconstruction. In Japan, America helped frame its new
Constitution, advising its leaders and providing assistance so that
the nation's formation was most favorable to the interests of the
Under the Marshall Plan in Europe, the same
And, few have any doubt that U.S. influence
in the Middle East is the ultimate prize sought. While
U.S. intentions certainly include long-range security considerations,
the short term effects is oil control.
What gripes me is that France and Germany,
in their continuous blocking of U.S. efforts to move swiftly against
Iraq, have not been anything by a diaphanous effort to cast their own
lots for defacto control over Iraq.
It is certainly an insult to have
those you help on one hand escape the boot heel of despotic rule just
fifty years ago, try and grind you under their boot heel a generation
and a half later.
So today, the United States is
standing naked and bruised. Unlike Pontius Pilate, the U.S. is
not washing its hands of its duty to battle the Beast of Terror before
he breaks out of his Iraqi cage. America has invested
billions and its reputation to force Saddam Hussein onto the Cross of
Terrorism, and as it is about to nail Saddam's hands and feet to it,
France and Germany are tossing lots for the spoils of America's
America....Down with America"
They are crucifying America, cheering as the rabble rousers
did before Pontius Pilate: "Down with America....Down
Germany want the spoils of war. They want to take
Saddam's clothing--his oil--and slip it in their pockets
while they cast stones at America.
The U.N., like
Pontius Pilate, seems to be washing its hands, feeding
upon the Beast of Terror's thirst for Complacency while
the ravens pick the bones clean.
one wonder who the real Beast of Terror is, Saddam Hussein?.....
or those who would pick his bones and steal his clothes
as he hangs on the Cross of Vigilance.
Feb 8.--Minor Weapons Of Mass Destruction
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