Friday, April 11, 2003

Iraq's Aces and Eights: the secret revealed

The U.S. command created a deck of playing cards depicting Saddam Hussein and 51 other "wanted" members of his regime. The deck features Saddam on the Ace of Spades, and Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz appears on the Eight of Spades. Many sources reported this but missed the very clever hidden meaning concealed here.
Beyond Saddam and his sons, only a few of the faces or names would likely be familiar to a soldier.
One, perhaps, is Tariq Aziz, the longtime foreign minister, who for some reason is the lowly eight of spades.(link)

This probably alludes to an incident from America's Wild West. The poker hand that "Wild Bill" Hickok was holding when he was killed, known afterwards as the "Dead Man's Hand," was a pair of aces and a pair of eights.

Hickok was losing by the time Jack McCall, a barfly and odd-job man who loafed in the No. 10, slipped into the saloon, walked to within three feet of Hickok and shot him in the back of the head with a .45 he pulled from his coat pocket. The bullet passed through Wild Bill's skull and exited his right cheek before lodging in the wrist of another poker player. As Hickok fell away from the table, he spilled his hand -- pairs of black aces and eights -- known forever after as the "deadman's hand." (link)

So this arrangement of the deck subtly implies that Iraq's top leaders are "dead men" who have played their last hand. (The deck's creators missed their chance for a master stroke, though, by not putting Mohammed al-Sahaf in as the Joker.) Now here is where it gets interesting. Hickok was killed on August 2, 1876. August 2 is the same day (in 1990) when Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait, which started the first Gulf War!

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