Friday, October 14, 2005

Meet the War Nerd

Ever had a friend you're sometimes ashamed of?

I have, and still do. Several in fact.

Gary Brecher a.k.a the War Nerd, isn't a friend.

In fact we've never met, and in any case it may be impossible to meet Gary, a data entry clerk from Fresno, because he doesn't exist.

The War Nerd definitely exists though - he's the best military correspondent of our time (yes really) and he writes for a cult website aimed at ex-pat Americans in Moscow called

Here's how the War Nerd describes himself:

I'm a war nerd. A backseat sergeant. I know what I am. All I have to do is look down at the keyboard and there's my hairy white gut slopping over it, and there's crumbs between the keys from the fake homemade soft'n'chewy big cookies in the vending machine downstairs. I mean they made me pay for the last keyboard because I spilled Diet Coke all over it. Diet Coke, the most fattening drink in the world. Every web pig in the world is
swimming in it, farting off the side of the swivel chair, aroma-free carbonation farts, or at least you hope they are.

So I'm unhealthy. No shit, Sigmund. I live in Fresno which is a death sentence already, and I do about fifteen hours a day at this desk. 6 or 7 hours entering civilian numbers for the pay check and the rest surfing the war news. I like war. So do you or you wouldn't still be reading. So shut up or leave.

Brilliant isn't it?

But that's just the aperitif. The war nerd has written so many great articles, it's really hard to pick a few of the best ones, so here's a semi-random sample.

On the French:

...the notion that the French are cowards is total bullshit, and anybody who knows anything about European military history knows damn well that over the past thousand years, the French have the most glorious military history in Europe, maybe the world.

It takes considerable courage to write stuff like that in today's climate, especially when you think of the War Nerd's core readership of Republican, (and moderate Democratic party) patriots and extremists...

On the RPG:

I love the hardware as much as anybody. I used to spend every free hour, back before there was an internet, going over those big heavy reference books in the library: Jane's Tanks, Jane's Missile Systems, Jane's Combat Vehicles. I had those things memorized.
Seriously, you could open any of Jane's handbooks at random, read me the name of a weapons system, and I'd recite its stats from memory -- Norwegian anti-ship missiles, South African APCs, you name it.

But eventually I had to face the facts: most of those weapons are never going to get used. If you look at all the real wars going on right now, you come across the same two weapons, over and over: the AK-47 and the RPG-7 -- both Russian designs, and both older than your Dad.

Again, this flies completely in the face of most Internet conflict discussion, where the equipment fetishists never fail to post less than 1000 illiterate words.

But the War Nerd's finest moments thus far have come in his objective and illuminating analysis of the current war in Iraq. Here's a tiny extract, I urge you strongly to read them all, then write to the politician who represents you and ask him or her to vote for pulling our troops out. Now.

Insurgencies don't start right away. For a while after the invading army grinds in, the locals are intimidated by all that firepower. And depressed at what a bad showing their conventional army made against it. We saw a clear case of this after the fall of Baghdad: it was months before the Iraqis' morale rose again, and it wasn't until November 2003, eight months later, that the attacks on our troops really spiked.

What happened in those eight months is that the invincible invaders turned into occupiers, and the locals started to see what dummies they were when it came to running the neighbourhood. Going against the Brit generals' advice, Rumsfeld dissolved the Iraqi army, so we had no native allies to work with. That meant our GIs were running security without a clue. They couldn't speak the language or read faces, tell friends from enemies, or even get the power and water working.

I'm tempted to cut and paste even more for you, but it's getting late and the week-end is here.

The War Nerd's archive is


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