Who is the real Terrorist?  France?  German?  Iraq?  or the United States?


Sunday--February 9, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 515
 Casting Lots Over The
Crucified Body Of Iraq

Cliff McKenzie
   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.

Soldiers casting lots for Jesus' robe

        After all, 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."

        Der 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. weapons inspectors.
       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.

      Metaphorically, Saddam 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.

Victor Paine's "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 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, Quang Ngai.


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.

       Solemn after 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 until today.
       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 last minute.
       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, however undeserving.
       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 United States.
       Under the Marshall Plan in Europe, the same process occurred.
       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 efforts.

"Down with America....Down with America"

        They are crucifying America, cheering as the rabble rousers did before Pontius Pilate:  "Down with America....Down with America..."
        France and 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.
         It makes 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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