Q&A with Gary Brecher, the "War Nerd"
by Steve Sailer
UPI, August 20, 2003
One of the great things about the Internet is it allows writing talent to emerge from anywhere, including the outrageous, sickly funny, and bleakly insightful brain of a fat guy in Fresno named Gary Brecher. He writes in a profane, blackly humorous style that makes the better-known war commentator-humorists P.J. O'Rourke and Fred Reed sound like editorials in the Christian Science Monitor.
With President Bush sending 200 more U.S. troops to the civil war in Liberia, some charge the American public needs to know more about the wars going on all over the world. A few citizens make this possible, obsessively searching the Internet for information. They call themselves "war nerds."
Data entry clerk and self-proclaimed "war nerd" Gary Brecher, from Fresno, Calif., writes the War Nerd column for Moscow's English-language alternative newspaper, The eXile (eXile.ru).
Brecher took time out to answer some questions for United Press International about war and war nerds.
United Press International: You often say that in places like Liberia, there is "war without battles." What does that mean?
Brecher: When people think about war, they think big battles. But that's just one kind of war and it's not even the commonest. Why risk it all fighting the other army when what you want is to scare the other tribe out of their houses and steal their stuff and rape their women. That's what most war is like. Always has been, only you mainstream people won't look cold-blooded at the way things are, you only look at the fancy stuff.
People talk about the war in the Balkans and act shocked that there's "ethnic cleaning," but the fact is -- it's not weird at all, it's how most tribes fight. Get it straight: massacres are normal, battles are unusual.
Q. When journalists like Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times op-ed page describes various wars in Africa as "senseless," are they making sense?
A. That's the best question you asked. No, it's absolute BS but nobody calls them on it. If you guys were doing your job, they couldn't get away with it, but they do. When Kristof says "senseless," he means he doesn't WANT TO KNOW about it. He won't even try to think like the people doing the fighting. Try doing that and see if it still seems senseless.
Here you've got one kind of war, the "sensible" kind with uniforms, "rules of war," and big battles like Jena or Verdun. That kind means you stand up and walk into cannon fire, grapeshot or machine-gun fire and massed artillery, and all you get out of it is a few dollars a month, and if you decide to quit on your own, they hang you. How is that sensible?
Now take African war. You have these neighbors you hated since forever, and you decide to do something about it. You get together quiet with the rest of your tribe and jump the enemy village while they're sleeping and kill everybody except maybe the cute girls, then you take all their stuff and burn their houses and take the girls home to be slaves.
Maybe I'm crazy, but that sure makes more sense to me than getting your head blown off for the glory of king and country. Kristof makes a living not even trying to understand how there are people in the world who don't think like him. Nobody wants to see how other people think, it's disgusting.
Q. What are war nerds?
A. Just what it sounds like, nerds who are into war. People like me, normal Americans, fat and alone and stuck in a stupid white-collar slave job. We get off on reading about war because we hate our lives. I admitted all that in my first column for the eXile.ru, just so nobody'd write in trying to be Sigmund Freud about how it's all sexual frustration.
It's that, all right, but it's totally natural, too. Every boy was a war nerd once. Some of us just flunked puberty, and got turned into punching bags by the jocks who run the country. And now all we've got is war.
Most of the war Web sites you see are run by guys pretending to be macho adventure types. Yeah, right. Macho guys got it out of their systems dating cheerleaders and playing some stupid "sport." What do they need war for?
So I wanted to make it real clear: I'm a war nerd. I'm not pretending to be a cool macho guy. I hate those people. I want it all to burn right down. And like I said, I'm normal. There are a lot more of me than there are of you in America. You just don't want to see us.
Q. What kind of people become war nerds?
A.: I'll say it again: normal Americans. Meaning fat and alone and living paycheck to paycheck in some sweaty shoe box in the Sun Belt. For me it's Fresno, but the guys who write to me come from all over the country. We're pro-war and anti-BS. We started out conservative, I guess, or I did anyway. But for me, that's not good enough any more.
I hate Bush as much as I hate the liberals. He's a jock straight out of my high school yearbook, and a draft dodger phony, too. He went AWOL and you suckers go all gooey when he puts on his bomber jacket. Makes me sick. I sit in traffic for an hour each way and spend all day in a fuzzy cubicle just so these chicken hawks can talk war when all they care about is money. Only thing in this world I respect, only thing that isn't total PR, BS yet, is war.
I was born in 1965. I'm not saying I'd've been a good soldier in Vietnam. I'd've sucked -- but I'd've gone. And died. It probably sounds like bragging but
it's not. I know how I'd've died, some dumb way like stepping on a mine. Entrails dragging in a rice paddy. All the cool dudes in the squad laughing at me, listening to Hendrix, passing around a joint while I bled out.
Q. Do Americans know enough about the rest of the world to successfully run a modern day empire?
A. If you elite media guys lived in places like Fresno you'd see fast how just plain dumb most Americans are. People at my office used to talk to me about
Iraq until I said it wasn't a good idea. Said we'd win the war and lose the peace. Nobody wanted to hear it.
Nobody wanted to argue it even, they just walked away. Nobody argued it because the stupid suckers couldn't find Iraq on a map. They just 'KNEW' it was gonna go just FINE because the president said so on TV and he looks so good in his bomber jacket.
Now it's gone bad and we're losing the peace just like I said. I used to be the biggest flag-waving sucker in the world, but the last couple years showed me we're too dumb to run a birthday party and we should stay home and hope the rest of the world doesn't find out.
Q. Will U.S. military aid help bring an end to the civil war in Colombia?
A. Short answer: Hell no. Long answer, Colombians fight, that's just what they do. Only way to stop them doing it is kill them all and we won't do that. You won't turn Colombia into Ohio, all you'll do is get some dumb suckers who joined the U.S. Army to get college money killed, and make us look even weaker and dumber to the rest of the world than we do now. Only reason to join in is if you like it.
Q. You must just love techno-war novelist Tom Clancy, right?
A. Clancy tried to buy the Minnesota Vikings for $200 million, and ended up settling for part of the Orioles. A baseball team. Football is war for office slaves, but baseball? That's not war at all.
Q. Who'd be easiest to attack next: Syria, Iran or North Korea?
A. Kinda like asking what'd be smartest, throwing rocks at a beehive or a yellow jacket hive or a car full of Crips. They're all pretty dumb ideas but one is dumber than the others. If we attack North Korea, it's over, America is over. These are the craziest bravest people on Earth.
And they're smart which is how they developed their own bomb. You need smart guys, physicists, to do that.
And they have the best special services in the world even better than the British SAS or Israeli Mossad. They managed to wipe out the South Korean Cabinet, the whole Cabinet, in BURMA!!
So how does anybody know the North Korean special services haven't already buried a nice little nuke in San Fran harbor or Long Beach? They could do it and maybe they already have. Picking a fight with the craziest people on earth, that's just the stupidest idea I ever heard.
Q. Who are you? Are you really a fat guy in Fresno who works in data entry and lives in a duplex and can't stand the heat, or is that a literary character you made up?
A. I'm the normal one here. I'm a typical American and you won't see it. Here, do this, get a list of all the men in your company who don't get to go to cool places and write stories and pick 10 or so of them just at random and you will see they're all like me, exactly like me.
The only difference is I met this Mark Ames guy (the editor of The exile) and he thought it would be a funny idea to give me this column. So I can talk and people read it, but there are maybe 50 million guys like me out there, just like me, and you won't see it.
All of us are fat, everybody who isn't "a somebody" in America is fat, but you never let any of them on TV or The New York Times so it's like we don't exist.
This is the dumbest question because it's just like that stupid Kristof quote, it just PROVES YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE WHAT'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, which is millions of guys like me waiting for the heart attack.
The question of exactly who the War Nerd is remains open. The picture he uses is of an amateur musician in Norway. I've gone through a lot of theories, but at this point I'm back to believing he is pretty much who he says he is, with some details changed to protect his privacy.