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The War Nerd February 19, 2004
A Special War Nerd
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email

Fatso's Revenge!

It's payback time, boys. All you guys who wrote me these nyah-nyah emails about how Saddam's capture had broken the back of the Iraqi rebels, about how my gloom-and-doom take on the war ("A Body-Count Xmas," eXile #180) wereproved wrong.

Remember? Well, if you've forgotten, here.s a sample:

Hey Fatso

Last piece you wrote had us in a quagmire. Now that Fluffy has been captured I guess you are going to have to focus more on the African wars that seem to be more of your area of expertise. Any thoughts?

Joe Cumbria.

I decided to hold back for a while, let the quag get a little more mired before slapping down you unbelievers.

I knew it would. But Jesus, not even I knew it would get THIS bad.

I guess you'd agree, Joe, that the Iraqi quag is just about as miry as it could get, short of another Tet Offensive. Over 100 Iraqi cops were killed in two days last week. We've had 545 GIs killed. And scariest of all, there was a pitched battle in Fallujah between our Iraqi forces and the insurgents -- and the insurgents won. They had at least 50 men in several detachments, staging simultaneous attacks on every security installation in town with mortars, rocket launchers and machine guns. They blew the Hell out of the cops (at least 20 cops killed), freed dozens of prisoners and got away clean. This was an operation even the Viet Cong would've been proud of.

So Joe, I'd like to ask you and the 40 or 50 other guys who wrote me to tell me how wrong I was a simple little question: ANY THOUGHTS?

The fact is, only a sucker could ever have believed Saddam had anything to do with the insurgency. You really thought he was Mister Big, running things from his kiddie-fort in somebody's back yard? Holed up there with a few comic books and Milky Ways like a junior high kid hiding from the school district? He didn't even have any communication equipment. Kind of hard to run an insurgency when you can't even talk to anybody unless they sneak into the back yard, yank out the concrete plug and crawl into your secret hideout. That's just not how it's done.

An urban guerrilla war like we're facing now is about the most labor-intensive business in the world. You have to be on the street, checking things out every second. You've got to be what my asshole boss would call .a people person. You need to know who.s doing what, who can be trusted, who's going soft, whose cousin just got arrested, who's been complaining -- you have to know everything. Not just about your side, but about the occupiers too. Can't be done from a kiddie fort.

Can't be done without bigtime public support, either. I can tell just from the way the attacks are going that the insurgents have everybody, and I mean everybody, in these towns like Fallujah backing them. You can't stage these roadside-bomb attacks as successfully as these guys are doing unless everybody in town is with you. You really think a couple of hardcore deadenders sneak up to an intersection at night, plant the bomb, and nobody sees them?

You can't do anything secret in an Arab town. Jesus Christ, these are the most sociable, nosey people in the world. I used to live by this corner grocery store that was run by Arabs and I stopped going after a while because the guy always touched me, called me "my friend," asked me where I was last week. I got sick of it. I don't like people talking to me, never mind touching me. I started driving to Safeway instead.

But to an Arab, everything's personal, everything gets watched. I found that out one day when I was in a hurry. Instead of driving to Safeway I went back to this Arab's store for Diet Coke and donuts, and he glared at me like I was his worst enemy. I tried to give him the money and he just said, "You don.t like dees store, do you?" I go, "Uh, no, I like it fine," and he goes, "I see you, you go to Safeway." I was so spooked I left the stuff on the counter and got the Hell out. Never went back.

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

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