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The War Nerd April 16, 2004
It's Not Nam, But It'll Do
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email

I tried making a little fridge list of Iraq options. I came up with one: "nukes?" The nukes aren't much use now, with no Russia to do High Noon with. So dust off a Fallujah-sized neutron bomb, and let it do its thing.

It'd make more sense that what we're doing now, fighting the enemy's war. It's real simple: when we're fighting a combined-arms, mobile, armored war, we're fighting our war. When we're hunkered down in somebody's backyard trading potshots over the adobe fence, we're fighting their war all the way. At that point it's just rifleman vs. rifleman, and the enemy has the advantage, because he knows the neighborhood.

I just saw video of the Marines in Fallujah sniping by nightscope. They fire over the wall, some Ahmed fires back, it goes on all night and you've got just as good a chance of killing Ahmed's donkey or his two-year-old daughter as getting him.

There's another way. You do it the way we were starting to do in Nam, when Colby came up with the Phoenix program. You find out who's shooting at you, and then you send somebody quiet to kill him and anybody who works with him.

But to do that you have to have this little thing called intelligence, and we ain't got none, because if we did we'd have to admit the Iraqis are the enemy, and these crazymen, Bush and Wolfowitz, won't admit that. So all we can do when they get unfriendly is fire blind into those mud huts.

I heard a Marine officer complaining that the insurgents in Fallujah use the locals for human shields. Don't they teach you anything about guerrilla war in the service? The whole idea of guerrilla warfare is to hide in the civilian population. You snipe from the mosque or the kindergarten till finally the occupiers get mad enough to start firing blind at the mosque, the kindergarten, whatever. The people blame the occupiers, not the guerrilla. You're doing the guerrillas' recruiting for them.

It's a little weird, if you ask me, how nobody in charge seems to know all that. After all, we just went through a whole century of guerrilla warfare. Take a world map, point at random and you'll find a country that probably had a guerrilla war in the past 100 years.

But we're acting like it's a shock, like the Iraqis are breaking the rules. That's like calling a personal foul in a bar brawl.

Well, don't ask me, I just work here. If you want to know the truth, what's pissing me off most is I think the mess in Iraq is getting to me. I had to go to the doctor last week because my back's gone out again, and I was expecting just the usual lecture about losing weight, exercise, buying a bike and wheeling around in green lycra like some Italian or something. You know, painful but short.

Instead he puts the cuff on my arm and inflates it, then grunts and does it again, grunts again, does it for the third time and waves me over to sit down. In other words, we're going to have a serious talk. Turns out it's my blood pressure, and some other blood thing called "purines" -- sounds like a dog chow to me, but apparently it's a blood count, and mine is through the roof.

I told the guy maybe we could try again after Iraq settles down. He looked at me like I was crazy.

So then there was another ten minutes of serious lectures about how I need to take care of myself and so on. I was thinking, all I need is for us to get out of this Iraq mess, but I decided it was better not to try explaining that to him again. I took the brochures and the prescriptions and got out.

Now I'm on three medications, one for blood pressure, one for these purines, and one for my back disc. Like an old man. I just turned 38 and I've got little brown bottles all over the sink like my grandma did.

The other thing that's driving me nuts about the war is this stupid question, "Is Iraq actually Vietnam?" Answer: no, Vietnam is this place about 5,000 miles east of Fallujah.

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Gary Brecher
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Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.

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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

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