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The War Nerd / November 11, 2008
By Gary Brecher

Laurent Nkunda: War Nerd Hero

If you ever want to find a real hero, here’s one way to recognize him: the TV news will be making him into a monster 24/7. Today’s monster hero is the Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda, the leader of the “rebel” forces that are supposedly “closing in” on Goma in Eastern Congo.

The BBC, the only news agency that even pretends to take Africa seriously, has its number-one ghoul reporter, Orla Guerin, on Nkunda’s case every day.

You may not know Guerin’s name but if you like war news you’ll recognize her, because you’ve probably seen her reporting from some African death zone. She fits right in in those places, really comes into her own. She’s got the face of a skull, except skulls smile, and some creepy accent that makes you think of cold porridge and leftover damnation. Wherever she’s from, they must have had a party when she left.

In this BBC video you’ll see Orla talking about what a shame it is that the “refugees” at Kibati Refugee Camp have to stampede for food, worried as they are about being overrun by Nkunda’s “rebels.” The way Orla and the other networks are telling it, everything was just fine in Eastern Congo until the bad “rebel” leader Nkunda ordered his troops to advance. When the innocent “refugees” heard Nkunda was coming, they started running, creating a “human rights crisis.”

The print media is getting in on it too, with the Brit rag The Guardian saying that Nkunda’s troops may have actually “killed civilians,” as if that was anything unusual in Central Africa.

The Guardian’s account barely mentions that the “civilians” killed were in a “stronghold of Hutu militias”—the same militias that killed most of the Tutsi population in Rwanda back in ’94. It’s like if the Jews had formed an army to push back the Nazis, and when the poor Nazis fled next door, the Jews did an occasional incursion to discourage the Nazi “refugees” from returning to their genocidal ways. And that’s an atrocity. Except the Nazis, give them their due, were brave as Hell and fought to the last man; the Hutu “militias” were only good a hacking babies and raping little girls, and fled at the first rumor that the enemy was approaching. That’s why they’re still around.

Every word, every disgusting damn word, of these BBC and Guardian stories is bullshit. actually makes me sick, listening to these stupid lies over and over. The reason Nkunda’s little army (estimates range from 5000 to 10000 men) advanced into Eastern Congo this week is that the Hutu gangs were getting a little too aggressive about jumping ethnic-Tutsi villages in eastern Congo, killing the men and kidnapping women and girls as sex slaves. Nkunda knows very well nobody else will protect the Tutsi, for the simple reason nobody ever has. So he went in to do it himself.

Nkunda is a great man, a brilliant man, a hero, a military genius who speaks four languages and has beaten the biggest armies around with a force of less than 10,000 men. He’s the only decent leader that part of Africa’s ever seen. It’s worth looking at the way they’ve been slandering him, because you’ll see the same techniques used to slam any real hero.

Let’s start with the oldest trick in the book, calling somebody you don’t like a “rebel.” How did the BBC decide that Nkunda is a “rebel”? Doesn’t there have to be a government, law and order, before you can rebel against it? Who is Nkunda supposed to be rebelling against? There’s no law in the forests of Eastern Congo. The UN has a pitiful token force of blue helmets wandering around slapping mosquitoes and bargaining for blow jobs with the local girls, but the real power there before Nkunda’s forces marched in was held by the leaders of the Hutu “refugees.”

“Refugee”; now there’s another wonderful word, a good match for “rebel.” It makes the Hutu the innocent victims, shivering in fright at the approach of the bad ol’ Tutsi. Well, of course that’s another do-gooder lie. These “refugees” are gangs run by the worst people in the world: the leaders of the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambe, the Hutu “militias” who massacred 800,000 Tutsi men, women, children and babies in Rwanda in 1994.

In fact, “militia” is way too good a name for these overgrown death squads. You’ll find the BBC and the other networks have a whole range of names for kill groups: “terrorist” if they hate you, “paramilitary” if they’re not sure but wouldn’t invite you to their kids’ birthday parties, and “militia” if they like you. Calling the Hutu genocide squads a “militia” is like calling Columbine a kids’ prank.

The reason these Hutu are out in the jungle is simple: they massacred almost a million fellow Rwandans in less than four months, back in those happy Clinton years, and then ran when the Tutsi, who’ve always been braver than the Hutu, formed a small army, the RPF, and chased the much bigger “militias” out. The truth is that the Tutsi behaved so well through the whole thing that the world ought to be cheering them. I tell you, if I’d been in command of the RPF when it marched back into Rwanda stepping over piles of stinking corpses chopped up with machetes, I would have taken my cue from Foday Sankoh’s name for his nutcase army’s advance on Freetown up in Sierra Leone: “Operation Kill Every Living Thing.” But the Tutsi didn’t do that. They took no revenge, let the Hutu live and even tried to set up a decent government from both tribes. They’re fucking saints, and they’re supposed to be the bad guys here?

Let me remind you again, since nobody seems to want to remember: eight hundred thousand Tutsi civilians chopped to death with machetes in less than four months. It was a real community effort by the Hutu, like one of the Amish barn raisings, only bloodier. If you want a good look at how they did it, I recommend a book called Machete Season.

It’s very simple, totally straightforward, just interviews with a gang of Hutu farmers who spent three months making daily expeditions into the local swamp, where surviving Tutsi civilians were trying to hide. They all tell the same story: “Every morning we got up, took our machetes and looked for Tutsis to hack to death. Sometimes we gang-raped the pretty girls, because those Tutsi girls have such soft skin from all the milk they drink. But we’d kill them too when we were done. After weeks of killing the Tutsi didn’t even resist any more. They just stood there and waited for us to finish them off. We had the time of our lives.”

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Add your own

  • 1. Raad  |  November 17th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    I honestly don’t think anything is going to happen to him, its not like there is a vested interest in the whole hutu/tutsi affair from anyone powerful so I’d think its just going to pass and this guy is going to continue handing out pain.

  • 2. Jim Pivonka  |  November 17th, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Raad, did you miss the point about the French interest in and support of the Hutu gangster army? Did you miss the recent arrest by Germany of one of the Rwandan President’s chief aides, on the request of France, while the President and his aide were visiting Germany?

    There is game afoot here, I think. And I believe it bodes ill for not just Nkunda, but for Rwanda and the Tutsi people ther and in the eastern Congo.

    Maybe there are exploitable minerals in that region.

  • 3. Raad  |  November 17th, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I did actually I don’t follow much new so apologies for that. But if there were, wouldn’t there already be something about it(Like say bigger news about those “vile tutsi rebels” threatning poor innocent foreign aides working for a mining company)?

    And why only France? I would think the US would be the first to get its hands on this.

    All shots are open I guess.

  • 4. Raad  |  November 17th, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Correction for the above : news*.

  • 5. Jeff  |  November 17th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    My god, even though there likely isn’t one, you guys nailed this on the head completely.

    I must say, there is not a better truth written on this subject. It seems that sides are chosen long before anything actually happens.

    Kudos for the well thought out script.

  • 6. Mike  |  November 17th, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Interesting, I suspect the Tutsi’s are being demonized for one of the usual two 21st century reasons, either they are resisting the destruction of their culture, or there is oil in their area.

    Cut to the USA White House, where the cartoonish super-villain Dick Cheney is ranting about how we need to go and rescue all that oil, but we need a reason, ahhh, let’s accuse the Tutsi’s of having weapons of mass destruction.

  • 7. Tam  |  November 18th, 2008 at 2:52 am

    Mostly interesting stuff as ever but you’re wrong about the Guardian’s reporting, in this case at least.

    Many foreign correspondants do seem to conform to the usual lazy ‘hotel journalism’ stereotypes but Chris McGreal does his research as carefully as you do.
    Admittedly, his lack of nihilism may not be to your taste, but if McGreal has an agenda it has less to do with Perfidious Albion than the fact he was around to witness the Rwandan genocide first hand, (and gave evidence to the International Criminal Tribunal afterwards) and thus probably doesn’t find people killing each other as entertaining as you do, regardless of which side they’re on.
    Also, if you’d spent some time investigating him before you decided to start laying into his reporting you’d have found out about the French scumminess in Rwanda a couple of years ago and wouldn’t be so surprised by it now…

  • 8. shMiller  |  November 18th, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Great article… this is Gary in his best form.

    “You’ll find the BBC and the other networks have a whole range of names for kill groups: “terrorist” if they hate you, “paramilitary” if they’re not sure but wouldn’t invite you to their kids’ birthday parties, and “militia” if they like you. ”

    nicely said.

  • 9. Ivan  |  November 18th, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Good article. As always.

  • 10. Captain Morel  |  November 18th, 2008 at 11:02 am

    This is not the Gary I worship. I would not be surprised if this were not Gary at all. Hero ? You must be kidding. You are sounding just like CNN. Warlord and hero don’t belong in the same sentence, or article.

    Don’t go soft on us.

  • 11. Jim Pivonka  |  November 18th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Aaaah, Captain Morel. And where might you hail from?

    Clearly, Warlord and Hero do not appear often in the same context – which word is used depends opon the nature of the reader response the writer wants to elicit.

    Military forces the North Atlantic alliance finds inconvenient are led by warlords. The Contras in Nicaragua, however were not led by Warlords – though in fact their leaders fit the type totally, in goals, organization, and tactics.

    When the leader of an organized but irregular military force intervenes to prevent the slaughter and rape of a large number of people, to you he apparently is a warlord – not because he is more so than another military leader, but because you want to elicit a set of pre programmed responses to him from careless and ill informed readers.

    Raab, our “msm” which you are so proud of not reading, does not and probably will not cover the points in this story. We who do read it know that from experience; we have many ideas about why and those resolve, basically to ignorance and careless on the part of reporters and editors, and mendacity and bias on the part of editors and publishers.

    With regard to your not following much news, I would recommend that you read, carefully, John Dolans article “Frey’s Fall” at the old Exile site [

    Tam, though I read the Gaurdian fairly often for a US’r I am not familiar enou to confirm or dispute your compassionate assessment of Chris McGreal’s writing on Rwanda.

    Your implication that Brecher in this piece displays a tendency to “nihilism” seems forced, even strident. Maybe you spent too much time reading criticisms of Noam Chomsky’s criticism of Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo, which was described as nihilist by defenders of that air war. I supported Clinton, opposed the Repug skeptics in that, but now am struck by the assymetry of WJC’s response in Kosovo and that in Rwanda.

    (I’d still support our action in Kosovo – as I’d support intervention by stable, pluralist and tolerant states to protect ethnic or religious groups living regions where they are threatened by rogue states or by the failure of the national governments to protect them from rogue militias and group violence. Those failures are no longer the “internal affairs” of the states which sponsor or permit them – the are threats to the entire world and warrant full and decisive preventive engagement.)

    Becher’s willingess to describe in plain and easily understood terms the actual acts involved in and human consequences of the Hutu murder and rape of Tutsis in Rwanda and the Eastern Congo does not warrant your snide “doesn’t find people killing each other as entertaining as you do” aspersion, either. I mean, your sarcasm in that remark is distasteful, and uncalled for.

    Becher may want his audience to face the character of the violence of the Hutu militias during their time in Rwanda and now in the Congo in a way that is uncomfortable to you, or to any good Whig. Whigs are good people, but their squeamishness about facing the truth of much of human behavior makes them useless when the moral impications of particularily reprehensible human behaviors (slavery, genocide, totalitarinism, theocratic sedition) call for radical responses. Becher may take more satisfaction from seeing the perpetrators of that kind of violence get some of what they so love to give out than you are comfortable with.

    That does not make him “nihilist” or indicate that he finds the rape and murder of innocents “entertaining” as you imply. It makes you, in my eyes, simply too squeamish to face the truth of what has been happening, and too much of a Whig to accept that it calls for radical action in response – action that – in the utter absence of action by the North Atlantic alliance – we can be grateful is coming from even an irregular force under General Nkunda.

  • 12. Raad  |  November 18th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Curiously, how _would_ you wear a puppy? Just as underwear? ’cause it sure doesn’t seem like it’ll cover alot of area.

  • 13. Raad  |  November 18th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Oh and Jim, I don’t live in the US so the msm thing is kinda moot to me. I don’t follow major news because Gary nicely sums up most of the imortant things and I only have a peek every now and then on other sites like these to see whats happening. But most of the ignorance stems from you know, me being a nerd and sticking to other things.

    As for that article, I don’t know why you told me to read it, it’s a good article but if your comparing me to an American suburban wife who buys into sob stories and loves saying s/he only read one or two books, here’s the thing, I’ve been living in the UK for a few years and am not from the west. Oh yeah and I love books.

  • 14. Tam  |  November 19th, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Jim Pivonka :”your sarcasm in that remark is distasteful, and uncalled for.”

    Boy, have you come to the wrong website.

    Nevertheless I apologise for insulting your hero and will send you a ‘What Would Gary Brecher Do?’ bracelet to make amends if you provide your contact details.

  • 15. tomarse  |  November 19th, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Sorry folks, but this is bar none, the worst thing Brecker has written, full stop.

    This article is so full of lies and misrepresentations, it’s virtually Victor Davis Hanson material. I’m sad to say, Gary seems to have supped from the Kagame kool aid cup.

    The stunning lack of relevant facts and context, mixed with the outright lies, suggest that his entire research for this is based on pro-Tutsi proaganda websites.

    And you lot lapped it up like, well, lap dogs.

    For shame, Brecker. You’ve tarnished yourself with this. Next thing you’ll be cheering HR Clinton as the next Sec of State.

  • 16. Raad  |  November 19th, 2008 at 3:50 am

    “This article is so full of lies and misrepresentations, it’s virtually Victor Davis Hanson material. I’m sad to say, Gary seems to have supped from the Kagame kool aid cup.”

    Tell me what they are along with links to back yourself up. Not saying he isn’t wrong, just want to know the other side.

  • 17. Raad  |  November 19th, 2008 at 3:56 am

    @14 It’s already there.

  • 18. George  |  November 19th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Guerin’s name even invokes war.

  • 19. tomarse  |  November 20th, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Raad, I’m inclined to say go find it yourself.

    However, this subject is so totally misrepresented that I will put a little effort into it. I won’t respond point by point. Instead I’ll just pick on what comes to mind in no particular order.

    First though, I want to say I’m a big fan of Gary’s work. There’s plenty of stuff I disagree with, but nothing is as badly off the mark as this. One thing I really like about his work is that he usually doesn’t fall for the bullshit. Sadly in this case he’s gone tonsil deep in it.

    First point, the so-called independent report about what the French forces did. This report was commissioned by the Rwandan goverment, which is led by the virtually dictatorial Paul Kagame, erstwhile leader of the RPF/RPA. Last year, a French judge issued arrest warants for Kagame and several others for the murders of the Rwandan and Burundi presidents in April 1994 which triggered the ‘genocide.’ This year, they just happen to come up with this ‘independent’ report? For details of the charges against Kagame you can google Jean-Louis Bruguière. For info about a UN knobbled ICTR investigation into tha same google Michael Hourigan Rwanda.

    Second, Gary said the RPF raised a small army in response to the Hutu’s genocidal rampage. This is absolute crap. The RPA, which is the military wing of the RPF, invaded Rwanda on Oct 1, 1990, and occupied the northwest of the country, committing massacres and ethnic cleansing. So many Hutus were forced of their land and made internal refugees that it almost crippled the Rwandan economy. The RPA was a ‘breakaway faction’ of the Ugandan military, led by Kagame who had been a high level intelligence officer. Under the guise of the Ugandan military they’d received training and assistance from…the US military. And remember this all kicked off right about the time that Bush Snr was telling the world we must not let naked aggression stand. Of course he was referring to Saddam Husseins naked aggression.

    So three and a half years later the RPF murders the president of Rwanda and Brecher either isn’t aware of the history, a war nerd sin, or is aware but chooses to ignore it, intellectual dishonesty. So rather than the Hutu’s reacting to a historical situation, Gary puts their violent rampage down to a savage bloodlust. That’s inexcusable.

    Believe me, what I’ve mentioned here only barely scratches the surface of the historical context.

    I’ll leave it there. If you’re interested in more details, check out, particularly the translation of Robin Philpott’s book and the interviews with and articles by Paul Rusesabagina, the real manager of the ‘Hotel Rwanda’. Also see more articles at and google Keith Harmon Snow.

  • 20. Raad  |  November 20th, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Thanks for that, I see where your coming from. I’d love to see Gary’s response to this since it does have water to its claims.

  • 21. Tam  |  November 20th, 2008 at 4:08 am

    Good stuff Tom and thanks for the link. A few more people like you with a bit of invective but interesting stuff to say (and links to back it up) and fewer lickspittles and I might even become convinced enabling comments around here was a good idea. Hope they don’t change Brecher’s writing too much though. The refreshing thing about him is that he doesn’t seem to give a damn what anyone else thinks about his views and you feel like you’re reading someone who’s trying to figure things out for himself.

  • 22. Ben  |  November 26th, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Well, where is the “5.4 million dead” number coming from? Whose doing that, and is there any reason for me not to believe it? I don’t think it’s a small issue. Anyone care to address this?

  • 23. Joseph Robert  |  November 27th, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    The web site, , provides information about war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by troups under Nkunda ‘s command since 2002 . The website is also launching a petition calling on concerned people around the world to demand that MONUC immediately arrest Nkunda for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The U.N.’s biggest peacekeeping mission will soon be over 20,000 in Congo “must ensure that those responsible for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws are brought to justice” said Mr. Kyubwa.

    Nkunda is accused of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity of which most cases are well documented by various human right organzations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In September 2005, the Congolese government issued an arrest warrant for Nkunda, accusing him of numerous war crimes and crimes against human rights. Human Rights Watch, for example, which has been calling for his arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity since February 2006 has documented summary executions, torture and rape committed by soldiers under the command of Nkunda in Bukavu in 2004 and in Kisangani in 2002. Also armed groups loyal to warlord Nkunda have been repeatedly accused of using rape as a weapon of war and the recruitment of child soldiers, some as young as 12 after the abduction from their homes.

    According to Mr. Kyubwa, NKunda continues to be involved in the committing of crimes in DRC, and in particular in the province of North Kivu, where again groups armed acting under his command are reportedly responsible for killing civilian systematically in the town of Kiwanja. The continuing horrific killing of civilians testifies that Human Rights Watch was absolutely reasonable in its warning then in 2006 and it’s today. “So long as Nkunda is at large, the civilian population remains at grave risk”

    The website encourages concerned people around the world to sign a petition to demand that MONUC immediately arrest Nkunda for war crimes and crimes against humanity. For more information please call the project coordinator in the United States , Amede Kyubwa at (916) 753 5717 or email:

  • 24. Artyom  |  December 2nd, 2008 at 11:23 am

    It seems to me that Nkunda is not much different from other Congolese warlords, resourcefully using H&T factor to conceal his real agenda. His real worry is not the bitter fate of his tribesmen, but rather sweet and sour sauce that the Chinese bring to Congo as an alternative to the good old Western recipies. But Gary is right in one thing – Nkunda’s warlord look is really cool.

  • 25. tomarse  |  December 3rd, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Artyom, you’re 180 degrees off. Nkunda and his Rwandan backers are opposed to the Chinese presence in DRC. Which coincidentally fits in nicely with the wishes of their anglophone supporters. Go figure.

  • 26. Jilbo  |  March 31st, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I do not think Nukunka is bad guy because I have watched his interviews with Journalist at different time. As a result, I would say he would a good leader for the Congolese people in general; I do not see any intention to kill Congolese people. Mostly he is accused unfairly. By the way, I am not from his country, but I can see he is not one of the a bad guys.

  • 27. LeCongo Hebdo  |  August 5th, 2011 at 2:06 am

    A hero?

    Well Bin Laden might as well be hailed as one…

    This guy killed MY people like roaches and we’re still counting more than 5.4 million deads up to this day and YOU really believe he’s a hero because he loves making meaningless interviews to tell people what they wanna here?

    So pathetic

    Idiocy has taken a brand new height I see smh

  • 28. LeCongo Hebdo  |  August 5th, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Oh and for your info, he’s NOT a Congolese citizen, he’s a RWANDAN… Kagame’s buddy?

  • 29. John  |  May 6th, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Very stupid and misrepresentative article. The ignorant who wrote it should read a bit about Congo before talking non-sens.

  • 30. Richard  |  March 12th, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    “Warlord and hero don’t belong in the same sentence, or article.”

    WHAT?! Didn’t you ever read the FIRST FUCKING CHAPTER of Brecher’s book? You claim to be a fan of his and you don’t remember what he said about Warlord being his favorite word? About how for most of human history ALL HEROES were warriors?

    You’re a fraud.

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