The War Nerd
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Self-described war nerd Gary Brecher knows he’s not alone, that there’s a legion of fat, lonely Americans, stuck in stupid, paper-pushing desk jobs, who get off on reading about war because they hate their lives. But Brecher writes about war, too. War Nerd collects his most opinionated, enraging, enlightening, and entertaining pieces. Part war commentator, part angry humorist àla Bill Hicks, Brecher inveighs against pieties of all stripes — Liberian generals, Dick Cheney, U.N. peacekeepers, the neo-cons — and the massive incompetence of military powers. A provocative free thinker, he finds much to admire in the most unlikely places, and not always for the most pacifistic reasons: the Tamil Tigers, the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Danes of 1,000 years ago, and so on, across the globe and through the centuries. Crude, scatological, un-P.C., yet deeply informed, Brecher provides a radically different, completely unvarnished perspective on the nature of warfare.
This page is the tribute to their indomitable will, their stoic courage, and their intense love for nation . . . [The Kargil campaign] ended with pakistani army (cowards) and its foreign mercenaries FLUSHED OUT WITH HEAVY LOSSES! I like the way the Web site guy put “cowards” in parentheses right after “pakistani army. ” Me being a writer myself, I can see that’s his way of making sure the reader gets the point. He’s also a fan of all-caps, to make sure you get the important bits, like “FLUSHED OUT. ” Finding these Web sites really cheered me up, made me realize that just because one part of the world gets all cool and tired doesn’t mean it’s all over for everybody.
Through it all, Uncle Sam kept his distance from his black nephews in Liberia. It was like he was a little embarrassed by them. One reason the United States might’ve been embarrassed by the Liberians is that they kept trying to look white. And they succeeded. Take a look at the pictures of Liberian leaders from the 1800s and they look like Confederate generals with a tan—a lot of white blood in there. The Liberians were proud of that; the United States wasn’t. These American-born Liberians were never more than 5 percent of the population, but they ran the coast, had the money, understood more about the outside world—so they considered themselves the elite.
It’s inland, and the reporters don’t like getting too far from the beach hotels. It’s hot and malarial country; the victims are nobody’s poster boys. I’ve had a soft spot for them, though, those Dinka, for quite a while, because I once saw a documentary that featured a yearly Dinka ritual where the young men compete to see who can get the fattest. You have to understand, these are the tallest and skinniest people on the planet. But every year, the cool guys of the tribe spend months doing nothing but sitting around drinking a mixture of blood and milk, trying to see how fat they can get.
The three rebel armies have some things in common: They all talk more or less like Commies. They all say they’re for the peasants, and they talk about cooperating—but they’d kill each other in a second if they weren’t too busy fighting the government. The three groups go by initials, natch: FARC, M19, and ELN. The biggest, by far, is the FARC, with around eighteen thousand combat troops. That may not seem like a lot by U. S. or Russian army standards, but you have to remember, most guerrilla groups are real small.
Here comes the bride, there goes the neighborhood”—in little tiny pieces. Maybe it was a mercy killing—compared with forty years as an Afghan wife, instant death probably looked good to the blushing bride. The funniest bit was that the shredded guests turned out to be relatives of Hamid Karzai. He was so upset he publicly scolded the USAF: “Be more careful which weddings you obliterate, for goodness sake! Those people were my cousins! ” The USAF apologized, sort of. It said some wedding guests had fired on one of its planes.