Mankind's only alternative 6   FEB.   23  
Mankind's only alternative

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

The War Nerd June 24, 2004
Torture & Truth
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email

I've stayed off the torture debate because to talk honestly about torture, you have to rip open so many layers of bullshit, it's like trying to get eighty years of bad wallpaper off a bedroom wall. Ever help a "friend" get a dozen layers of old wallpaper off? You don't need to fear Hell if you've done that.

But readers keep wanting my take on the whole Abu Ghraib mess, so put on your Beijing surgical masks and stand back while I start stripping the lies. The first and biggest lie is that you can do counterinsurgency (CI) warfare without torture. Bullshit. No army ever fought a CI campaign without resorting to torture. Goes with the territory. At most, it's like holding by your offensive line: you don't want them doing it where the ref can see it, but if you had an OG or tight end who refused to do it, you'd fire his ass.

Because you can't win without it.

So why did everybody from Bush on down act surprised? Well, the key word is "act." And the answer is: they were lying. After all, lying's a big, legitimate part of warfare. It's the President's job to go on TV and act shocked when pictures like the ones from Abu Ghraib come out. Nobody with a grain of sense believes he's actually lying awake at night worrying that we might have violated the Geneva convention by dunking some Jihadi's head in a bucket to give him time to rethink his whole position re: drowning for Allah vs. telling us where his friends are hiding out. Maybe Jimmy "the Parson" Carter would've been really, truly upset, but the less said about that pansy-ass mama's boy, the better.

The only thing Bush did wrong was mess up the lie. He was supposed to do the interview with those two Arab TV networks and say, "I'm just so sorry we brutalized those poor Iraqis." Only he messed that up like he messes everything up. He didn't manage to say he was sorry, so that was the headline all over the world: "Bush refuses to apologize."

As for all this stuff about how America was shocked -- well, as far as I could tell that's another lie. I listened to a lot of conversations at the office about those pictures, and most people said they were totally OK with us torturing Iraqis, but they were upset by the whole gay sex thing with those pictures of naked Iraqi guys piled up in mounds. That bothered them more than Janet Jackson's saggy Superbowl tit. "My children read that paper," that was what one lady said.

To understand why torture is so fundamental to CI warfare, you have to remember that in guerrilla wars there are no battles, there are just ambushes. And an ambush is totally different from a battle. Let's say your squad is patrolling through a village just like it's done for the past two weeks, right? Everything's hunky-dory: the little old lady who sells veggies waves and smiles when you go past, the kids ask for gum, and you start to feel like a liberator. You're just turning a corner when there's a big boom and two of your buddies are on the ground screaming, two others are dead. You look around -- where's the old lady? Where are all the smiling kiddies? A blast that big should've killed a dozen locals, but somehow the only casualties are your buddies.

Somehow the smiling locals magically disappeared two seconds before the IED went off. So either they all have some pretty effective ESP...or they knew it was going to go off. In fact, they were part of the set-up. The smiling kids, the friendly grandma -- all a set-up to relax you, make you walk into the kill zone.

That's how torture starts. You know they know. They're weaker than you. But they won't tell you anything. You start hating them more and more. Sooner or later the idea of grabbing some of them and making them talk is going to occur to you, or somebody higher up.

If you've got good NCOs, they'll try to keep you under control, because you're likely to pick the wrong people to start whacking around. That's the nastiest part of the whole CI picture: the villagers may not be involved by choice. They may not want to mess with you at all. Most people, even crazy tribes like Chechens, just want to get by. But they have to deal with the insurgents, who are putting as much pressure on them in the nighttime as you are during the day. Maybe the little old lady's grandson is being held with a knife at his throat to make sure she goes to her usual veggie stand and looks cheerful, just to make the set-up more convincing. You can't know.

SHARE:  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit
Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at, but, more importantly, buy his book.
Book Review
Naomi Klein Takes Down The Shock Therapy Quacks :

Hell On Wheels: 24 Hours Without Legs In Moscow : How do the disabled live?
Book Review
A Million Pieces Of Shit :
Metro Escalator Sentinel
Field Guide To Moscow: Cadaverosus Antiquus :


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.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442