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Gary Brecher

“I intend to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.”

U. S. Grant at Spotsylvania Court House

***

I’m switching tactics today. No more of those cumbersome massed offensives, meaning columns four or five thousand words long that take weeks to research. From now on I’m going to blog every day. Scout’s honor. (I was one too—well, a Cub Scout, got as far as Webelos. The rule was, if you went further than that you were a fag.)

It comes down to logistics, like it usually does. I can’t sustain these massed offensives anymore, these 5000 word columns that take weeks to research. That assassination column nearly assassinated me, so many angles to consider, and even then, no sooner was it up than people were posting objections, absolutely right objections too, about stuff I’d left out. (more…)

Posted: March 21st, 2011

bhutto-assassination-big

There’ve been a few interesting assassinations recently. Not around here, unfortunately. Definitely not the one in Tucson. The dork empties a huge magazine into a crowd, kills nine people including a little girl, and doesn’t even kill the congresswoman he went there to get. And why her, anyway? She may’ve been just another plastic blonde, nothing special–but there’s way worse, WAY worse, crawling around Arizona. Just one example: I can’t believe there’s not one Mexican in Phoenix with enough cojones to blast that bigmouth sheriff, Arpaio. Jared the Retard could’ve done it without leaving his home state. If you expand your search to DC, I can think of dozens…uh, think I’ll stop right there.

Anyway, just saying: DC. Target-rich environment. That’s why the most annoying waste of killing power was that DC Sniper and his little boyfriend. The guy had a good setup, that false-backed car, a spotter, good Army training, he’s right there, could’ve picked off two dozen lobbyists and been a national hero—and instead he shoots random civilians filling their gas tanks. Wasted potential, as my guidance counselor used to say. (more…)

Posted: February 17th, 2011

war-nerd-afghanistan-vid1

Want to see how we lose men in Afghanistan?

Are you sure?

Well, if you really want to, you can, thanks to this clip from French TV (scroll down to view it ). I warn you though, it’s pretty nasty stuff. (more…)

Posted: February 10th, 2011

Egypt Battle

While we wait for Egypt to finish cooking, there’s some great footage to watch. It may not be warfare as practiced by Lee and Grant, but it’s weirdly close to what urban combat must have been like before firearms. If you watch this clip from Al Jazeera—and let me say now, thank God, Allah or Odin, whoever, for Al Jazeera. Best network around, actual reporters on the ground in places other networks are too cheap or chicken to go.

What you’ll see in this clip is the quick transition from “peaceful demonstration” to urban warfare in Tahrir Square, the big zocalo in Cairo. Of course these transitions from “peaceful” to violence aren’t all that clear down at street level. Even before rocks start flying, you’ve got a huge crowd of young males screaming as loud as they can, pushing each other to do something. And in a place like Egypt, just standing out in the street facing the cops is doing something in a big way. You can die that way, like one demonstrator did in another video from Egypt. It’s a classic video. What it shows you is the answer to the question, “Who’d be the first to die of all the guys you know?” And the answer, unfortunately, is, “The bravest one, the one who really believes in what he’s doing.” That’s what you see here: this guy doesn’t notice that all his friends have slunk off, and he keeps flinging rocks at the cops. Then there’s one shot. He falls down with a bullet in his head. It’s funny, you know: you could make an argument against war from that, you could say that the first thing war does is weed all the bravest guys out of the gene pool. It would explain a lot, actually, like what happened to the Italians. Maybe the Romans just used up the brave ones. (more…)

Posted: February 2nd, 2011

pushtun smiling

“You know, win or lose, I gotta say I love my day job”: The Pashtun positive work ethic

I’ve been watching the news out of Afg—I like it spelled that way, “Afg”; kinda gets the spirit of the thing. The Afg news is simple: those Pashtun boys are keeping a hand in, having a good time, while they wait for a better offer.

A few weeks ago I read a story about a Stryker brigade leaving the Pashtun zone of Afghanistan. The funniest bit was this quote by a staff sergeant: “We set the tone there, and the biggest worry that my guys have is that what we did there will be forgotten. One thing is certain. If you ask the Taliban, they know who we are.” In my day they had a name for that kind of talk: selling woof tickets. It’s just plain sad when you leave a combat zone and the best you can say is that they won’t forget me, like some Summer Bible Study girl making the guy she held hands with in the pew swear he won’t forget her back home in Camarillo.

(more…)

Posted: December 30th, 2010

xm-25

This article was first published by AlterNet.

If you didn’t know better, you’d get all excited reading about the Army’s new shoulder-fired cannon, the XM-25. It’s being hyped as a “game-changing” weapon that will literally blow the Taliban out of their hiding places and turn the tide in Afghanistan.

The XM25 is the kind of weapon a kid likes to dream about. It’s basically a “smart,” user-friendly shoulder-fired grenade launcher. It shoots 25mm fragmentation grenades that explode at a pre-set distance. And you don’t need to be a math prof to calculate the distance; the weapon talks to itself, the laser sight basically telling the round when it has to explode.

So suppose I’m a soldier trying to deal with a sniper firing from behind a window in an Iraqi city, or popping up from behind some adobe wall, irrigation ditch or boulder in  Afghanistan. In that situation you could blast away all day with a pure line-of-sight weapon like a typical automatic rifle, and you’d just make a lot of dust without hitting anybody. (more…)

Posted: December 20th, 2010

north korea shelling1

Guess I should start this off with Korea, the North hammering that Southern island and the South responding like a big sister dealing with her autistic little brother: “Ow, I wonder what made him hit me in the face that time. Maybe his diaper needs changing.” We knew a family who actually had an autistic son like that, a huge handsome athletic-looking guy whose stereo wires had come unhooked some time around second grade, and if you went over to their house when he was around you definitely wanted to stay out of kicking, biting and punching range. He never telegraphed his bites or punches. Pro fighters could have taken lessons from him. He’s giggling at some private brain-damaged little joke on the sofa next to you and wham! You’re seeing cartoon birdies, and his sister and mom are busy trying to help him relax. “What’s wrong, Kenny? Kenny? Honey?” And you’re lying sideways on the couch like Chuck Liddell after his manager talked him into trying the Rampage Jackson road to the title one more time. They don’t even notice you; all they care about is calming “little” Kenny (who was a head taller than me) down again.

I can understand that kind of behavior—Korea hasn’t had a very cheerful history, they lost God knows how many people in the last war, maybe two million, they have a lot of good reasons not to go to war with themselves again—but excuse me if it doesn’t turn me on much.

(more…)

Posted: November 26th, 2010


War Nerd Return

I know, I know, I’ve been AWOL a long time. Shoot me. No, seriously. I wouldn’t object. It’d be great to get shot, as long as it was quick and fatal, not somewhere like the shin, where you scream like a raccoon from the pain and don’t even die. Shot nice and quick by a firing squad, that’s the dream. When that redneck demanded capital punishment by firing squad in Utah, I was as jealous as I used to get reading about Hannibal and Forrest. Lucky bald-headed Aryan Brotherhood bastard: what a way to go! He suckered those Mormons all the way. Lethal injection, now that’s scary: die on a table with tubes going up your elbow? That’s too much like how I’m going to die for reals (and how you’ll die too, even if you don’t want to think about it). But getting shot in the heart—that’s making something of yourself. Be shot. (more…)

Posted: July 19th, 2010

Gettysburg-Dead-Soldiers

When the fourth of July rolls around, you’re supposed to think of, I don’t know, the Constitution and backyard cookouts like in old Chevy ads—but for me, it’s really Gettysburg we’re celebrating. Greatest battle in American history.

But the battle, for me and millions of other war-nerd kids growing up on stories of Little Round Top, the fish-hook line, and what Ewell coulda shoulda woulda done at Cemetery Hill. My grandfather from my mom’s side, the more hardcore side of the family, used to mutter about “that man” who lost the war for us, “us” being the Confederacy, but he’d never say a name, so I grew up with this real downer of a notion that there was some kind of traitor in the ranks so plain evil you couldn’t say his name, like the bad wizard in those Potter movies. (more…)

Posted: May 30th, 2010

haiti_violence_0410

This article was first published in The eXile on February 19, 2004.

Haiti popped into the news again, and I decided it was time to tell the whole military history of the place. It’s got to be the most amazing, bloodsoaked, heroic, messed-up story in the Western Hemisphere: slave armies defeating Napoleon’s troops, huge castles built in the middle of the jungle, endless three-cornered war between whites, blacks and mulattos…it’s just incredible. In fact, it’s so wild and complex I’m going to have to divide it into two columns. This one will cover Haiti up to independence in 1803. Next issue I’ll bring it from there to the present.

Haiti is like the big slaughterhouse across the tracks: you kind of know what goes on in there, but you’d rather not think about it. (more…)

Posted: January 13th, 2010

minnet

This article was first published in The eXile on November 13, 2002.

Reading the leaks from Washington, you can tell we’re gearing up to do something in Yemen. A little regime-change action maybe, a sideshow to the big production number in Iraq. Hitting Yemen makes sense–a lot more sense than occupying Iraq. (more…)

Posted: December 31st, 2009

Iraq Bats from Hell

This article first appeared in The eXile on February 21, 2008.

FRESNO, CA — OK, let’s talk hardware for once. I love the hardware, always have; the reason I don’t talk much about it is that what we’ve got is mostly useless, and what we really do need is always getting slammed. I’ll give you two examples: the F/A-18 and the V-22. (more…)

Posted: December 4th, 2009

nepal-peoples-liberation-army

This article was first published in The eXile on November 27, 2002

Ever wanna go to Kathmandu? Not me. I was never a hippie. The hippie types always talked about heading off to Nepal for spiritual enlightenment, but it sounded like my idea of Hell: a bunch of grimy beggars grabbing at you, yelling gibberish, trying to sell you yak dung as prime-grade hash. Some of the old acid casualties in my community college classes had been there and always said it was a real deep experience, but it didn’t seem to’ve done those zombie trolls much good. Most of them were on SSI, paid by the State of California to watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island and not bother anybody with their acid flashbacks. (more…)

Posted: October 12th, 2009

Hey, boss, where them bitches at?

One thing you notice more and more the longer you hang around this sleazy world is the way mainstream types can’t admit to the obvious. They always have to act shocked. So it’s like, “Bond Mogul Convicted of Fraud”-oh, the shock! Like they didn’t know, like everybody over the age of nine doesn’t know, that insider trading is the whole point of the market. So much lying. Makes me sick.

And if you say you weren’t surprised, you’re the bad guy. You’re “cynical.” I love that word, “cynical.” Why not call the guy who discovered germs “cynical”? That’s a nasty theory if I ever heard one: armies of little monsters too small to see, just waiting to turn your mucus membranes into their orgy pools. It’s true, sure, but gosh it’s so darn “cynical”! Let’s pretend it isn’t true. (more…)

Posted: August 11th, 2009

Gettysburg Museum

When the fourth of July rolls around, you’re supposed to think of, I don’t know, the Constitution and backyard cookouts like in old Chevy ads—but for me, it’s really Gettysburg we’re celebrating. Greatest battle in American history.

(more…)

Posted: July 7th, 2009

Banquo’s Ghosts

Summer Reading: Banquo’s Ghosts, by Richard Lowry and Keith Korman, Vanguard Press (2009), 352 pages.

You have to feel a little sorry for the two neocons who co-wrote Banquo’s Ghosts. The idea seems simple enough: a Tom Clancy-style thriller about a plot to kill an Iranian physicist before he can cook up a nuke for the mullahs. The problem is, where do you get your hero these days? Back in the day, when Clancy was keeping Reagan awake way past 9 pm with Hunt for Red October, it was easy to make US agents like Jack Ryan look good; after all, they were going up against the dregs of the poor old USSR. (more…)

Posted: June 26th, 2009

i19_19370025

It took me a while to figure out why everybody was nagging me to do a column on the Iranian elections. Everybody seemed to think it was all mysterious and world-shaking. Finally I realized, you’re all het up because every news service in the US and England has been selling these riots like a new Star Wars episode, and people are just trying to figure out what’s going on and what it all means.

Well, I can answer that in one note: nothing much is going on, just letting off steam; and what little is happening isn’t mysterious at all. Basically, this is simple steam release, something the Mullahs have to allow now and then when the kids, and there are a lot of young adults in Iran, need to remind everybody they’re tired of being bossed around. There’s a huge, huge difference between that kind of “revolution” and the kind that has a real foundation in tribal differences or religion or city/country, the real fault lines. What’s going on in Iran now is a lot like the big fizzle in Lebanon after Hariri’s assassination in 2005. So if y’all will permit me to digress, let me take you back to the Cedar Revolution that supposedly “gripped” Lebanon. All that really happened was that some of the few Christian/Sunni elite Lebanese kids who hadn’t emigrated yet got so pissed off at the Syrians for just blowing Hariri away in broad daylight that they came out and waved the Lebanese flag–the one with the Cedar tree on it. Well, you’d have thought the Berlin Wall had fallen all over again. The same Anglo news networks that are declaring an outbreak of democracy in Iran now were screaming into microphones all over Lebanon, just so touched by these rich Christian/”Phoenician” Lebanese kids announcing that no durn Hezbollah Iranian-puppet thugs were gonna repress their craving for freedom…and discos, and wearing about a quart of perfume, and all the other accessories that go with what they call a Western orientation in the Middle East. (more…)

Posted: June 18th, 2009

sinhalese

Kandy Man with long name who fought the Brits.

Key fact: in Sri Lanka heroes were allowed to get fat, another reason to like the place.

You see some pretty sick stuff when you do my job, but I just read something sicker than any Congo cannibal buffet. It’s an article by a posh little limey named Jeremey Brown condemning the Sri Lankan government for being too messy in putting down the LTTE, and demanding that we stop buying the cheap textiles the poor Sinhalese make their living churning out.

What’s sick about this is that the British establishment destroyed the Sinhalese people completely. Completely and purposely, sadistically. Stole their land, humiliated and massacred their government, made it Imperial policy to erase every shred of self-respect the Sinhalese had left.  You can talk about the Nazis all day long, but for my money nothing they did was as gross as what you find out when you actually look into the history of British-Sinhalese relations. If you can even call them “relations”; I guess a murder-rape is a relation, sort of.

(more…)

Posted: May 22nd, 2009

Dead

Cheech Marin moonlighting as the leader of the Tamil Tigers?

I have to say “Thank you, God of War,” because we just saw a decisive victory in a war, for once. I never thought I’d live to see the day. Most wars these days are half-assed policy tussles, “politics by other means” way, way too much. But the war between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, that was a war, dude. With one side wiped out, just like the good old days. The Sinhalese Army rolled up the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE for people who know what they’re talking about, pushing them back into their “heartland” (I love those war-correspondent words, like “heartland”) in the North of the island. For once, war maps you could make sense of! Every month, the Tamil Tigers’ range got smaller and smaller, like Grizzlies coming up against real-estate developers. It was that one-sided. And last week, the LTTE finally got erased from that last “football-field sized” patch of coastal scrub where they were doing their Alamo thing. (more…)

Posted: May 20th, 2009

prabhakaran

Velupillai Prabhakaran: LTTE’s Guerrilla Generalissimo

One thing you have to give the doomed Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka credit for: their supporters sitting in comfortable first-world cities have no shame when it comes to begging for help. Militarily the Sri Lankan Tamils are o-vuh, but when it comes to demanding favors from people who have every reason to hate their guts, these guys are world-class. For some hilarious examples of propaganda from a doomed army, check out the LTTE’s glossy but totally insane website, Tamilnet.

(more…)

Posted: May 11th, 2009